Written by Marloes

Tips for drilling tile

If you're planning to mount something on your bathroom or kitchen wall, the odds are high that you'll have to drill through tiles. "But how do I do that?!" I hear you think. It's not that complicated. Although, if you do it the wrong way, you can easily break the tile in half or get an ugly scratch on it, and you'll be looking at new tiles instead of mounting the toilet roll holder. In order to prevent that, I'll guide you step by step through the procedure called "drilling tile".

Tip 1: choose the right drill bit

The right tile drill

Almost every material has an ideal type of drill to match it, and that includes tiles. If you're using a tile drill to drill tile, you can be sure you'll drill through the first layer of glaze unscathed. These little drills are super tough and have very sharp points, which means they drill through the material very smoothly. If you're planning to drill several holes into tiles, it can be useful to purchase a tile drill set. That way, you can adjust the size of the drill hole, ensuring you'll fasten everything the right way. After you've picked out a drill and gotten through that first, delicate layer of the tile, you'll continue with a drill that suits the material beneath it.

Tip 2: drill carefully

Drilling tile carefully

A cordless drill without any bells and whistles suffices for drilling through tiles. Using an impact drill will yield a good result too, as long as you turn off the impact function. Start with a low RPM and slowly drill through the upper layer. Continue to increase the speed until you're all the way through the tile. Depending on the material beneath the tile, you may have to change drills here. If the tile is on a concrete wall, you can use a hammer drill to finish the job. If you need to get through a stone wall, you can suffice with turning on the impact function on your impact drill.

Tip 3: don't forget to cool

Cooling while drilling tile

When you're about to drill tile, it's a good idea to keep a plant spray bottle ready. Not for watering the plants in the meantime, but for cooling the drill and the tile. A lot of heat is released especially when drilling through harder materials such as earthenware, marble, or granite. To keep the tilework or the drill bit from overheating and getting damaged, it's not a bad idea to spray them with some cold water in between drilling. Instead of water, you could also use drilling oil. Apply this to both the drill head and the tile. That way, you can rest assured your stuff won't break.

Tip 4: avoid the joints.

Avoid drilling into the joints

Many people drill into the joints around the tiles, for more grip during drilling. They also wrongly think this means the tile won't crack or break. Nothing is further from the truth, though. Because of the material the joints are made of, the screw and plug will get looser and looser, especially in spaces that can get damp, such as bathrooms. You can bet your handy towel rack will be on the floor in no time that way. Another thing to consider is that if the drill's diameter is larger than the joint itself, you risk part of the tile breaking off, too.

Tip 5: avoid slipping off

Slipping off while drilling tile

When drilling slippery bathroom tile, there's a chance of slipping. This happens when the drill head doesn't have enough grip on the material and slips across the tile. The result is a damaged tile, never mind the pain you'll feel when a spinning drill hits your fingers. To prevent this, stick painter's tape in an X shape over the spot where you're drilling. Place the drill exactly in the middle, where the two pieces of tape meet. This ensures the drill head will have enough grip and won't 'run off'. Remove the tape after drilling and there you go, you just drilled the perfect hole for hanging the soap dish or herb rack.


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