Trying to drill through porcelain tile is one of hardest drilling jobs to get right. Just imagine that you have tiled a new bathroom, and you want to put up a towel holder. That means drilling a hole in your new tiles, and that as you know is just one of those jobs, that can prove to be darned awkward. One false move, one slip and you have one cracked and ugly looking tile.
It is slightly harder to drill through glass, but porcelain tiles certainly provide their own special challenge. In the main though it does come down to the size of the hole that you need to drill. A standard small hole for holding a screw or fixing is the easiest, but if you had to drill a hole for a pipe, then that makes it slightly more difficult.
So here are a few tips and tricks that will get your hole drilled without actually breaking the tile, or causing the tile to crack.
How Are Porcelain Tiles Made?
Like all my guides, I believe that if you know exactly what material you are trying to get through, then that helps you understand the size of the task you have to do. They are basically a ceramic tile with a very low water absorption rate, making them ideal for anywhere there is water or steam, such as a shower, bathroom or kitchen. They can be used on either walls or floors. You can get them with a glazed look or an unglazed look.
In the main though porcelain has a hard, highly dense and is much heavier than an ordinary ceramic tile. That is why you will find they are used mainly on floors, as they can withstand those areas of high wear. Then because of the way that porcelain tiles are “fired” in a kiln, it really does make them a great deal harder. As a consequence it also makes drilling through them a lot harder as well.
So now that you know what you are up against, let’s have a look at the options for trying to drill your way through them.
Drill Bits Required To Go Through Porcelain Tile
There are three different types of drill bit, that you can use to drill through porcelain tile and these are:
- Diamond tipped
- A tile Bit
- A masonry bit
Ideally you want to have “diamond tipped bits.” I have managed to do this with masonry bits, so if you want to save yourself the expense of buying the more expensive bits, then masonry will do your job. That said, having the proper diamond bits makes this a lot easier, and is a less damage option. It really does come down to just how hard, dense and thick the tile you are trying to get through actually is. The higher the grade of tile, the tougher it is to make your way through it.
Have a look at the video below for further explanation.
I have tried different brands and types of these over the years and recently I have used this diamond bits made by Rhino. I have to say I like them a lot. I used them on granite which is a tough material and they went through that with some ease.
They are well reviewed by users and can also be used on stone as well as porcelain, so drill bits like this are always very handy to keep in your tool box. For under $7 you get a couple of 8 mm diamond bits. I had actually burned out a couple of the tungsten carbide bits that I had, which were a bit old, so just bought these because they were so cheap, and I was really impressed.
If you want a full set of bigger hole cutting drill bit, then these bits from Diamond City, do get good reviews and you get a lot for your money. There are ten different sizes in this drill bit kit, and they can be used on porcelain, marble, granite, ceramic, glass and they will even go through most types of rock.
These are very good and I keep these as what I call my stock set. In other words the bit that I use every day for those difficult drilling jobs. They are pretty new to the market but I have used them now over a few months with some really good results. So far so good in terms of keeping their sharpness.
A 10-piece set can cost around $45-50 and for me you would need to be doing a lot of drilling to justify that type of spend. If you were for example changing out a bathroom or kitchen then these would be a good purchase. You will also need to use these at a slow speed on your actual drill otherwise they will get burned out, and you could experience jarring at high speeds.
You can also buy these as single bits if you just have a one size larger hole to drill. In most cases these will be to allow a pipe to go out through a tile, or something similar of that nature. These are also available to buy as a single drill bit size, and you can also buy packs of 5 bits in a set, depending on what sizes you need and how much you are going to be using them.
Tips for Drilling Through Porcelain
- When you mark the centre of your hole, than cover it with a strip of masking tape and re-mark the hole. The tape will help stop the bit from slipping when you apply the pressure to it. If the drill does slip, then at least the masking tape will help protect the tile.
- Start slowly if you have a variable drill, and until you have at least broken the surface
- Spray the drilling area with water or a purchased coolant
- Only use enough force to keep the drill working and never over exert pressure or the tile will crack or split.