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What Are the Best Drill Bits for Drilling Tiles 

By  Enda McLarnon

If you have ever drilled through tile, you know that is one hard surface to get through. In this article we will look at the best type of drill bits, for getting through the different types of tiles. Having the right drill bit will make all the difference in the world, and save you a lot of heartache and grief as well.

What are the different types of tiles?

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. Primarily these are used on either walls or on floors for a tough finish that can be easily cleaned. They also have a really great appearance and available in many different shapes and designs.

There are 10 different types of tiles:

  1. Ceramic
  2. Porcelain
  3. Marble
  4. Glass
  5. Granite
  6. Cement
  7. Stone
  8. Quarry
  9. Mosaic
  10. Travertine

Ceramic and porcelain remain the most popular by a long way, but modern designers have opened up the range of materials that they are now using. In terms of drilling through these we will concentrate on ceramic, porcelain and glass as these are the most important. We will however also explain what drill bits to use for the other tile materials.

Below we have explained the different types of tiles and their uses.

Drilling Through Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles 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 usually 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.

The best drill bits for these are diamond tipped bits. We would recommend Bosch diamond tip bits which we have shown below.

Drilling Through Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are used porcelain as they can emulate natural stone, brick, or wood. There is a huge range of colors, and styles to allow a great deal of choice. A popular use of porcelain is to use it outdoors. That is because it will not freeze, fade, or crack.

The main use of this type of tile is in the bathroom and kitchen.

The best drill bits for these are diamond tipped bits. We would recommend Bosch diamond tip bits which we have shown below.

You can read our full article here on how to drill through porcelain tiles.

Drilling Through Glass Tiles

Glass tiles are very popular with some people. For those who design kitchens they tend to pick glass for customers who want to avoid having any type of stains. Glass is very good for that. Glass tiles are mainly used as a backsplash, on fireplaces and even table tops. They can also be used as a mirror style in the bathroom.

They are seldom used on any type of floor as they just wouldn't work there.

The best drill bits for these are diamond tipped bits. We would recommend Bosch diamond tip bits which we have shown below.

Drilling Through Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic tiles go way back to the days of Rome. These are small highly patterned tiles that come in a multitude of designs, colors, shapes and sizes. They are mainly used to create spectacular designs on walls. Some people will also use these for flooring but in this case they are usually embedded into cement.

The best drill bits for these are diamond tipped bits. We would recommend Bosch diamond tip bits which we have shown below.

Best Drill Bit Set for Ceramic, Porclain, Mosaic and Glass

88% buyer satisfaction based on 2,000+ online buyer reviews

This drill bit set from Bosch is a very popular choice suitable for drilling through glass, ceramic and porcelain tiles

The set offers 4 different hole sizes which is very useful for different types of project

Each drill bit has a carbide tip with a reinforced head to reduce stress, prevent bit cracking and they also have diamond ground cutting edges that help provide a longer life

These are very good quality and get very good reviews.

These can be used for ceramic, porcelain and glass which covers the main types of tiles.

Drilling Through Marble Tiles

Some people prefer the classic and stylish look of marble tiles. They are very expensive though so please be aware of that. They are particularly good at giving a sense of depth to a surface and are also useful if you want to introduce texture.

You should also be aware that marble tiles do take a lot of looking after as they don't deal that well with stains or scratches. That is why they are almost always used as decoration rather then for main surfaces.

The best drill bits for these are diamond tipped bits. We would recommend the Otter's Store diamond tip bits which we have shown below.

Best Drill Bit Set for Glass, Marble and Stone

86% buyer satisfaction based on 6,000+ online buyer reviews

This is a very popular choice for a hole saw set suitable for drilling through glass, marble, granite, stone and quarry tiles

The set offers 15 different hole sizes which is very useful for different types of project

These can also be used to drill through slate and most hard surfaces

They are diamond tipped and when in use you do need to keep adding water to the tips to help keep them cool

Drilling Through Cement Tiles

Some people like cement tiles and they are in fact making a bit of a come back. They were really the only option many years ago but were used less and less when better options came along. Cement tiles generally speaking are porous and they therefore need to be sealed regularly to be useful.

The benefits are you can get some really interesting shapes and designs. However, the advantages will outweigh the style and they should really only ever be used in very low traffic areas.

The best drill bits for these are masonry bits. We would recommend the Dewalt masonry bits which we have shown below.

Drilling Through Quarry Tiles

Quarry tiles are popular in halls and entrances to homes because of the brick looking color. It is made from a number of ground materials pretty similar to brick and it is baked until it is very hard, They are excellent for high traffic areas as they are water resistant and look really well. They can stain though so best avoided in kitchens.

The best drill bits for these are masonry bits. We would recommend the Dewalt masonry bits which we have shown below.

Drilling Through Granite, Stone,Travertine & Limestone Tiles

Some people like stone or granite tiles. Granite is of course just one type of natural stone. Granite also looks a lot like marble as it also has those small ticks throughout the appearance. Marble is however much more expensive. Granite does get used quite a lot in kitchens for worktops.

You can get either honed stone or polished stone. 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.

Limestone is not hugely popular as a tile though it is really good if you are trying to create a rustic look. Unfortunately limestone is very porous so will need regular sealing. It isn't a tile we would recommend.

Travertine offers neutral tones such as sandstone. Like limestone it is also very porous so will need regular sealing. If used in small amounts in walls it can look great but is subject to staining easily.

The best drill bits for these are masonry bits. We would recommend the Dewalt masonry bits which we have shown below

Best Drill Bit Set for Cement, Stone & Quarry Tiles

94% buyer satisfaction based on 6,000+ online buyer reviews

This drill bit set from Dewalt is best for any type of masonry drilling

For those tougher tiles such as cement, granite and stone you will need to use a masonry bit that is very good quality

This set offers 7 different sizes so plenty of choice for your tiling projects

You will also need a hammer drill to get the necessary results

When drilling through tough tiles like this you need to be careful that you don't apply too much pressure as that can lead to cracking the tiles.

Types of holes that need to be drilled in tiles

Now that we know of the different types of tile available, 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. 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. For some tile types such as cement, stone and granite you can use a masonry drill bit. Our 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 Tip Drill Bits

If you decide to go with these, you 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 us 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

Summary

We like the set from Bosch for drilling smaller holes.

Porcelain tiles need a special drill bit for best results, but any of the sets we 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.

Reference Resources Used in this Article

Enda McLarnon


Enda McLarnon is now retired and is now enjoying writing about his love of power tools. All types of these tools are now available and they make working on projects and DIY jobs around the home a great deal of fun

Enda McLarnon

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