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Which Drill bits for tilesFrequently we get customers coming in and asking us for advice on how to drill into their tiles. Although basic rules are similar, it’s not necessarily altogether obvious what to do and how to do it. So take a couple of minutes reading this first before you embark on your DIY quest. Ordinary drill bits just won’t cut the mustard. 

  1. Is your tile ceramic or porcelain? There is a massive difference between the two materials with porcelain being incredibly tough. 
  2. Make sure there are no pipes or wires buried behind the area where you will be drilling into. Yes, it does seem obvious, but it’s all too easy to forget when all you want to do is get the job done. 
  3. Cover the area you wish to drill with masking tape. This will give the drill bit a little more traction as well as helping to ensure your drill bit doesn’t slip and damage the tile. Equally, the tape will help ensure that the glaze around the hole doesn’t chip. 
  4. Slip a rubber washer over your drill bit and push it down to the bottom where it feeds into the drill. This will help protect your tile should the drill follow through to rapidly once the whole is made. 
  5. Make sure your drill is not set to hammer mode. You need to take your time drilling into tiles, so take it nice and slow and do not apply too much pressure. 
  6. Get yourself a cup of water to have on standby. Drilling into tiles, especially porcelain, can make your drill bit extremely hot. So even though you are drilling slowly your drill bit might well benefit from being dipped into water to keep it cool. 
  7. Make sure you have the right drill bits for the job. Ceramic tiles can generally take a pointed ceramic drill bit which makes things a bit easier to start with. However, porcelain tiles will require a diamond-tipped drill bit. Ask your local supplier for more information as these types of drill bits are not cheap, especially as they will only last long enough to do a few holes. If you are drilling into porcelain, the pointed ceramic drill bit will be useless for starting things off. Instead, use your diamond drill bit at a slight angle to get that initial bite hole, and then straighten up your drill as normal once the entry point has been started. 
  8. Don’t get tempted by the short cut of drilling into the grout line instead of into the tile. This will provide weak support and also make your tiles more vulnerable to popping off after some time. 
  9. Know what you are drilling into. What is behind the tile? Is it plasterboard, cement board, brick block or stud work? This will help decide what weight of hanging will be ok. 
  10. Before you start to drill, tap around the tiles. You need to be sure your tiles have been fitted correctly and that there are no hollow spots behind them. You will soon notice the difference in sound if there is a hollow spot. 

Bonus Tip: as a reward for having managed to read this far, another good tip is that if you are looking to drill a fairly wide hole, try starting with a narrower bit than you need. It’s much easier to widen the drill hole afterwards than to start as wide as you need.