If you have ever drilled through tile, you know that is one hard surface to get through. In this article I will look at the best type of drill bits, for getting through the different types of tiles in the market today.
Having the right drill bit will make all the difference in the world, and save you a lot of heartache and grief as well.
Different Types of Tiles That Need Drilled
Before we look at the actual type of drill bit to use, it is good to have an understanding of the different types of tiles that you may be using. If you think about there are different tiles for different jobs such as wall tiles and floor tiles. Essentially there are only two main types which are:
Within each of the above types, there are different variations available.
These are made from a mixture of clay, water and various minerals. They can either be glazed or unglazed and the glazed version has a slightly different finish applied and you will know these, as they have a mirror or polished finish.
Typically glazed tiles will be used on walls for a nice effect, and unglazed will be used on the floor as they can withstand constant traffic and foot fall.
Porcelain tile also sits in the ceramic tile category and is a popular choice for many home owners. This is because these type of tiles are highly resistant to water, and as such are used in bathrooms, and around sinks as splash backs.
Here is a separate article on how to drill through porcelain tiles.
Honed tends to be used on floors, and polished on walls or areas with a low foot fall. Slate is usually only used for great looking floors. Marble can also be used for worktops as can slate in some cases.
Now that we know of the different types of tile available, I think there should be a better understanding of what we need to be able to drill through them.
There is one other consideration to take in. What size of a hole will you need to drill. For most home owners this will be either:
- A small hole so as you can attach something to the wall, like a cabinet, toilet roll holder or a towel rail.
- A larger hole to allow a pipe through or something similar
To be able to drill these different size holes, you will need to have different types and sizes of drill bits. You can read this article if you want to find out how you actually drill through tiles without breaking them.
In the video below, you can watch someone show you how to drill through ceramic tiles using a masonry bit. As you will be able to see, it works fine, but it works even better when you use an actual tile bit. for porcelain tiles you absolutely need a proper tile bit.
The Right Drill Bits for Drilling Through Tiles
The ideal bits for drilling neat holes through tiles is either a tungsten carbide tip or a diamond tip. Before we look at those you can also use a masonry drill bit. That will work for sure and I have done it many times.
However, it doesn’t give a really neat hole and it really renders the masonry bit pretty useless to use afterwards.
If you look very closely at a hole that has been drilled using a masonry bit, then you will see a rather chipped surface around the drilled area. My advice would be that if you are just drilling a few holes and don’t want to buy expensive bits, then buy a cheap masonry bit, drill your holes, and then chuck it away.
Tungsten carbide bits make drilling through tiles pretty easy. You do need to use these with a drill that has a slow speed so a variable speed electric drill is a must.
Diamond ones, if you decide to go with them, will need water applied to the tip throughout the drilling, and they are more expensive. That said, they work like a treat and last for a very long time.
For me it all comes down to the amount of drilling that you will have to do. For most home owners that will be in the kitchen, the bathroom or the utility room.
If you just need to drill a few holes with the same diameter, then just buy a single drill. Most people though will need to drill different sized holes, and when that is the case, then a set of drill bits is more economical.
Personally I like this set from Bosch for drilling smaller holes. These are suitable for both tile and glass, and they work really well. You get 8 different sized drill bits for under $40 and that is good value, for quality bits.
The sizes are 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″ and 3/4″ and those are the most common sizes that you will need. they can handle all the tough surfaces as long as you keep them on a low setting on your drill.
They have a special design to them, that allows for easy starting and that is so very important. Once they get started, then it doesn’t take long to get through the tile.
When using these, just apply a moderate pressure to your drill and let it do the work. Far too many people try to force the drill through and that just burns out the bit, and really doesn’t give it a chance to cut through the tile.
BLENDX Diamond Bit Drill Bits
One of the guys at our website does a lot of work in bathrooms and he swears by this set of drill bits. This is a pack of 10 drill bits and he uses these to drill through all types of ceramic and porcelain tiles. I have also used these and they are good.
What makes them particularly useful is that they include a nice range of sizes. They range in size from 10 mm and all the way up to 50 mm, so a nice wide range. With this set a low drill speed, low drill pressure and water lubrication is required.
If you do that then these work really well and will last you for a very long time. This type of set are good for drilling down to about 1/2″ in depth. Any deeper than that and these will struggle.
Drilling Larger Holes Through Tiles
For larger holes, you will need something like this. Hopefully you will never have to do these types of holes as they can be pretty hard work.
Unless you are going to be drilling a lot of holes, I would avoid buying sets of these, as they are pretty expensive.
These type of bits come in different sizes so simply match the bit size to the size of the hole that you need, say to get a pipe through. With these you will have to drill a pilot hole first, and then attach this bit.
It takes a bit of time, patience and hard work to make it through the tile. Most of these will need to be used with water, to keep the actual bit cool.
These work well but they do take time and patience and more effort than you may first imagine.
Summary of Drill Bits for Drilling Through Tiles
So just to quickly summarise what I would recommend. Porcelain tiles need a special drill bit for best results, but any of the sets I mentioned above will get the job done.
Other types of tiles and hard surfaces like slate, marble and granite can be drilled through using a tungsten carbide bit, or a diamond tipped bit.
If you just need a single hole use a cheap masonry bit and then throw it away. If you need several holes then buy a set of decent quality bits.
For larger holes, you need to match the bit size to the size of the hole that you need. Our recommendation is to just buy these as a single drill bit, as the drill bite sets for these are pretty expensive.