Tiling is not the most straight forward of tasks at the best of times but once you are finished it can be tempting to think the job is done. However, if you need to hang any accents in the space there is still some work to be done. Drilling into a tile may seem like a difficult task but with some simple preparation it can be done without breaking or damaging the material.
For anyone wondering how to drill into tile there are a number of things to take into consideration, such as the type of tile at hand and establishing the right level of grip to stop the bit from slipping. Read through our suggestions below and before you know it you’ll be a tile drilling expert in no time at all.
Understanding the tile
Before you can even begin to prepare for drilling into a tile you will need to understand a little more about the particular material you are working with. This will help you to approach the job from the right perspective as you will know exactly what is required to complete the job to a high standard.
For example, there is a difference between the resilience of porcelain versus ceramic tiles, with the former being far denser and much tougher to bore into. The impact on the person trying to drill through is that more preparation work is required as the task will be a little tougher.
Drilling through porcelain will also require a drill bit that is designed to break through the specific material. The Bosch Multi Construction 6.5x150mm Drill Bit has been made for that purpose, able to drill into both tiling and ceramics.
Choosing the drill bit
While it may appear that any type of drill should be able to bore through the surface of any material, this is not the case. Each one is manufactured for use on a particular type of surface and this is the first point to remember. While not made to drill holes, the Makita CC301DWAE Tile Cutter is an example of a power tool specifically designed for use on tiles.
Secondly, you must always ensure the drill bit is sharp and not dull. This ensures the drill can perform efficiently without placing unnecessary strain onto the motor that could shorten its lifespan. A dull drill bit is also more likely to damage the material you are working on as it can easily slip and create scratch marks.
Standard drill bits are not sufficient to drill into tiling and you will have to use either carbide-tipped masonry or diamond-tipped drill bits. Carbide-tipped masonry drill bits are the more cost-effective option and are commonly used to drill into stoneware and glazed tiles, although they are not recommended for porcelain.
Although diamond-tipped drill bits – like the Bosch 2608595362 4-Piece Multi-Purpose Pack - cost more to purchase they take a lot longer to wear down and their robust nature means they are easily able to bore into porcelain and similar harder stoneware.
Prepare the surface area
By their nature most tiles do not possess a lot of grip which can make it difficult to create a precise hole into the material. The key is to prepare the tile to avoid the drill bit slipping and damaging the surface.
A good way to avoid scratching or breaking the tile is to place masking tape over the area you are planning to drill into which will provide far better grip and reduce slippage. Measure across the surface of the tile and mark the entry point for the drill bit before placing the masking tape across it. Just to make sure you have the exact spot you can always measure again to double check.
Drilling into the tile
With the preparation out of the way it is time to get the drill ready for use. It must be remembered that tiles are manufactured to be resilient due to the high level of stress they are usually placed under, be it for bathroom walls or for flooring. Keep this in mind once you start to drill because tiles are not easy to bore into and require a steady hand and a considerable amount of patience.
The speed setting should be set to low and rather than applying too much force to push the drill bit through, take it slowly and let the tool do the work. Relying on a faster speed may seem like a sensible shortcut to save time but you are more likely to damage the surface due to the intense vibrations it will create.
Cool down the drill
Due to the rapid rotations generated by the drill’s motor this level of energy will quickly lead to a hot drill bit, even if the speed is on a slow setting. Avoid trying to handle the drill bit with your bare hands as it is likely to scald the skin. Instead, use a damp cloth to cool it down, or spray water on it, making sure it avoids coming into contact with the motor.
The reason you want to cool the drill down from time to time is to ensure it remains in good working order and doesn’t overheat. Carbide-tipped masonry drill bits will stop working as soon as they begin to overheat and must be kept cool. Diamond-tipped drill bits will keep on working providing you allow some time for the temperature to drop. While it does add a little more time to the drilling process keeping your drill cool will help it remain operational for a lot longer.
Switching drill bits
Once the drill has cut through the glazed surface, into the tile and hit the wall behind, you will need to stop the drill to change the bit. As you have managed to get this far without cracking or damaging the tile in any way, it makes sense to finish the job correctly rather than trying to push through another surface with an incorrect drill bit.
Using a drill bit intended for use in masonry, keep the speed slow and your hand steady so you can bore through the wall before mounting the accents. By not drilling too fast you will avoid blowing the surface area apart which means the anchor will hold properly and the accents will remain securely in place.
Although drilling into a tile may seem a little daunting at first, as you can see, by following a few simple steps you can complete the job without creating any issues. As with anything else, once you have done it a few times you will get even better, and it may even give you the confidence to tackle other surfaces that may seem even more difficult.