How to Safely Drill Through Ceramic Tile

Video how to drill through tile

Drilling through ceramic tile can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done easily and without causing any damage. Whether you’re installing a towel bar or a new medicine cabinet, knowing how to navigate through tile is crucial. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to successfully drill through ceramic tile without any mishaps.

How to Safely Drill Through Ceramic Tile

Steps for Drilling Through Tile

Before we dive into the steps, let’s first understand the types of tile you may encounter:

  • Glazed ceramic tile: The most common type found in older homes, and the easiest to drill through.
  • Glass tile: Often used as an accent, it requires a diamond-tipped drill bit.
  • Porcelain tile: Resembles ceramic tile but is much harder and requires special attention.

Now that you know the types of tile, let’s move on to the steps:

Step 1: Determine the Tile Type

Identify the type of tile you have before selecting the right drill bit. This will ensure you choose the appropriate tool for the job.

Step 2: Choose the Correct Drill Bit

Standard drill bits won’t work on tile. For ceramic tile, a carbide-tipped bit will suffice, while glass and porcelain tiles require a diamond-tipped bit. Investing in a diamond bit will provide versatility, as it can handle any type of tile.

Diamond Tipped Drill Bit

Step 3: Prepare the Wall

Careful preparation is crucial to avoid any mistakes. Follow these tips:

  • Place masking tape on the area you plan to drill. This will help you mark the location accurately.
  • Use a level to ensure proper alignment if you are installing accessories with multiple brackets.
  • Position the hardware close to the center of the tile, as the edges are more susceptible to cracking.

Step 4: Drill Slowly

Take your time to drill slowly and accurately. Follow these guidelines:

  • The tape provides stability and prevents skidding when starting the hole.
  • Begin drilling at a slow speed to ensure the hole is properly placed.
  • As you progress, you can increase the drill speed, but avoid running it at full speed.
  • Apply steady pressure and a medium speed to prevent overheating and damage to the drill bit.

Step 5: Speed Up at the End

As you near the end of the drilling process, adjust the speed and pressure to minimize damage:

  • You’ll notice a change in resistance when the bit penetrates through the tile.
  • Increase the drill speed while reducing the pressure to extend the hole into the drywall or backer board.
  • Once drilling is complete, insert anchors, secure the hardware, and clean up any remaining dust.


Q: What is the best drill bit for tile?

A: A carbide-tipped masonry bit is the best option for drilling through ceramic tile. Regular twist-drill bits are unable to cut through the fire-hardened glaze.

Q: How can I drill a large hole in tile without a hole saw?

A: If you need to bore a large hole without a hole saw, follow these steps:

  1. Mark the hole outline using a felt-tip pen or grease pencil.
  2. Use a ¼-inch masonry bit to drill a series of closely-spaced holes around the circle.
  3. Gently tap the tile along the ring of holes with a hammer.
  4. Continue tapping inside the outline until the center of the hole breaks free. The edge of the hole may be rough, but this can be concealed with a decorative escutcheon plate.


Drilling through ceramic tile doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following these steps and using the right tools, you can successfully navigate through tile without causing damage. Remember to choose the appropriate drill bit for the tile type, take your time, and adjust the speed and pressure as needed. With the right approach, you’ll be able to complete your project smoothly and efficiently.

For more tips and recommendations on drilling through various materials, visit Best Drill Press For Metal. Happy drilling!

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