How to drill a hole in bathroom tile

Written by ehow contributor
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Adding a towel bar, toilet paper holder or a new shower curtain can mean you need to drill a hole in your bathroom tiles. Unfortunately, tiles aren't made to have holes drilled through them and the tough glazing on their surface makes them particularly hard to drill.

However, by using the proper tools and a few tricks you will be able to drill holes for your new towel bars and not worry about cracking or breaking your tiles.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Carbide-tipped masonry or diamond-tipped drill bits
  • Variable-speed hand drill
  • Masking tape
  • Tape measure
  • Safety glasses

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  1. 1

    Put a piece of masking tape over the area where you want to drill the hole.

  2. 2

    Measure exactly where you want your hole to be and mark the spot on the masking tape with a pencil.

  3. 3

    Check your measurements and be sure it's right. Remember, once you start drilling you can't fix that hole in your tile.

  4. 4

    Leave the masking tape in place and put the tip of your drill bit on the mark. The masking tape will help hold the drill bit exactly in place when you start drilling (otherwise the bit will tend to "dance" around on the hard glazed surface of the tile). As well, if the bit does slip, the tape prevents scratches on the tile surface.

  5. 5

    Start drilling slowly while applying steady pressure. Drilling a hole in tile is a slow process and you never want to have your drill working at high speed, so be prepared to take your time.

  6. 6

    Cooling the tip of the drill bit will help it cut through the tile, so periodically stop drilling and cool the bit (tip only) by putting it in some water or by having a helper spray the bit/hole with water while you're drilling.

  7. 7

    Once you have drilled through the tile, it's a good idea to change to a regular drill bit for drilling into the underlying wall.

Tips and warnings

  • The secret to drilling through tile is to drill slowly, using low-bit speed and sharp bits.
  • A couple of alternatives to using masking tape to start your hole are to use an awl to scratch the surface of the tile or you could start drilling with your drill set on reverse. Both of these techniques will break through the glazed surface and provide a point-of-purchase for the drill bit to get started.
  • Don't try and drill a hole in tile using a single-speed drill. The odds are you will crack the tile and end up having to replace it.
  • If you are using a hammer drill be sure to turn the hammer OFF when drilling through tiles.
  • Regular drill bits aren't hard enough to drill through the tough glazed surface!

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