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 our guides, we believe that if you know exactly what material you are trying to get through, then that helps you understand the size and nature of the task you have to do. Porcelain tiles 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 nature 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 and tear.
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 a diamond tipped bit. This task can however be accomplished with masonry bits, so if you want to save yourself the expense of buying the more expensive bits, then a masonry bit 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.
We have made a few recommendations for the best drill bits for porcelain tile just below
SE 30-Piece Set of Titanium-Coated Diamond Burrs, Grits 120-150 - 82331TF
We have tried different brands and types of these over the years and recently we have used this diamond bits made by SE. We have to say we like them a lot. We used them on granite which is an even tougher material than tiles and they went through that with some ease.
They are well reviewed by users and can also be used on a variety of other materials as well as porcelain. Drill bits like this are always very handy to keep in your tool box.
For under $10 you get a nice range of very useful drilling bits.
10 Pcs SET Diamond Hole Saw Drill Bit Set
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 we keep these as what we call my stock set. In other words the bit that we use every day for those difficult drilling jobs. They are pretty new to the market but we 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 $35-40 and for us 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.
You do however need to be patient with these and let the drill do the actual work. Keep them cooled with water as that will help extend their life. Many people when using these try to force them through, and you really shouldn't do that.
Porcelain Tile Drilling Tips
Use Water - It is worth mentioning that the use of water is really important when using these bits. By spraying water on to where you are drilling helps cool down the bit and it will give it some extra life. The sad reality is that these do not last a great length of time so my advice is spray plenty of water on them when drilling, and maximize its lifespan.
Use Tape - 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.
Drilling Speed - Start slowly if you have a variable drill, and until you have at least broken the surface
Drilling Force- Only use enough force to keep the drill working and never over exert pressure or the tile will crack or split.
Drilling porcelain tiles takes time and a gentle hand. Avoid at all costs using too much pressure and allow the drill to the main bulk of the work.