How to Drill a Hole into Tile

Tiles are especially hard to customize, you might want to hang a fine piece of art in your bathroom but are wondering how you can possibly get through the tile. The same goes for the kitchen, most kitchens have tiles in areas that you might want to add a floating shelf for a flower vase. Getting through tiles might seem difficult but with the right tools, you can easily drill a hole into tile without necessarily breaking them.

How to properly drill a hole into tile

Invest in the right drill bit

When it comes to drilling into tile, you get to choose between two types of drill bits, the diamond-tipped drill bits or the carbide-tipped masonry drill bits. The former is highly durable and equally expensive but the best to use on tiles without shattering them. The carbide-tipped masonry drill bit is less durable but can do a fantastic job when used with patience. With regards to your budget, you can settle with either for your project important to note is that carbide bits work best with ceramic tiles while diamond-tipped drills are good with porcelain tiles.

Prepare the surface

Getting through the hard glazed surface of tiles is difficult because it is slippery and the drill might start to wander off from the spot that is to be drilled. So, to avoid destroying the tile while drilling it, mark the area that is to be drilled with masking tape. The latter also provides traction for the drill bit when drilling.

Prepare the drill and drill bit

The hammer drill has for a long time been used for heavy projects that involve drilling on tough surfaces. But not for tiles, as it might crack it, so the best equipment to use is the regular drill. Before using the drill ensure that all the buttons and switches that you will use function properly and then insert the drill bit.

For precision drilling in terms of depth, you will have to use a masking tape to mark the drill bit. So that you only drill to the depth that you require.

Start drilling

As you place the drill bit on the tile ensure that it is perpendicular and not angled, your hands have to firmly hold the drill in position. Your right hand on the pistol and your left hand on the auxiliary handle if the drill has one. Start drilling with a moderate speed, don’t force the drill into the tile, patience for this process is a virtue that you must exercise if you aim at getting the job done accurately.

Once you have drilled past the hardened glaze, ensure to retain a moderate speed until you reach the desired depth.

Tip to prevent overheating

Drilling is a process that involves a lot of power, thus a lot of heat is generated. The latter can damage your drill bit and that is why when drilling into brick or concrete, the operator will constantly pull the drill bit out, to allow it to cool. So, as you drill the hole into the tile, you can pause from time to time as you dip the drill bit portion into water to cool it down. The reason for the above is because non-stop drilling will destroy the drill bit.

Decrease the drilling speed

After you have successfully drilled a hole into the tile, you are almost through but you must fast decrease the drilling speed before you completely remove the drill. Remove the drill bit slowly from the tile taking care not to cause cracks or destroy the tile altogether.

Drilling a hole into a single piece of tile

There are occasions that you might have to work with a single piece of tile, and which will require a whole new strategy like the one described below.

Drill the holes into a separate piece of wood

  1. The first step would be to make a template with a piece of wood. On the wood, you will drill the size of the hole or holes that you wish to achieve on the tile.
  2. Prepare a water bath that will help keep the drill bit cool as you drill. For this step, you can put some water in a 2-liter bottle. Poke a hole halfway through the bottle and use the cap to control the release of the water.
  3. Find a base that will support your tile as you drill a hole into it. Now the good thing with drilling holes into tiles, is that you can use different types of drill bits, either big or small with regard to the expected finish.
  4. Put the piece of tile on the firm base that you had prepared, and ensure to mark your drill bit for depth before drilling.
  5. Place the template with holes on top of the tile, this step is important because tiles have a slippery surface. So, apart from helping you drill, the template also prevents the drill from wandering on top of the tile and destroying it.
  6. Open the cap of the bottle for water to start flowing onto the area that is to be drilled. Place your drill on the template, ensure that it is perpendicular and not angled, don’t apply pressure, and drill with medium speed.
  7. For this process, you will not have to take the drill out to cool because the water from the bottle does exactly that. But you will have to remove the template once you have made the impression and continue drilling to the desired depth.
  8. Once you drill past the glazed surface maintain steadiness, don’t increase the speed, be a little patient and you will have the perfect hole on your tile.


To perfectly drill a hole into tile, you need a regular drill, and the right type of drill bit, as you drill ensure to cool the bit because it might get damaged as heat builds up. Whether you are working on a single piece or tiles that have already been installed on the wall, the above procedures will suffice.


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Arthur Allen has been using all sorts of power tools for the last 27 years, gaining a lot of experience on how they work, how to determine what makes a power good, and becoming an expert on the subject through many years of real world trial and error. Not only is Arthur and expert in tools, but various building jobs as well.