How to Cut a Hole in Tile Safely

Cut a round hole in tile

Cutting a hole in tile safely can be a little trickier than most people think. However it is a necessary skill to have for just about any DIY tile installation project.

To cut a hole in tile safely you must know the tile properties you are dealing with so that you can choose the correct tools. Then you need to double check each measurement to be sure they are accurate to avoid mistakes. Also as you drill it is important to keep your bits cool to reduce their wear and be sure they cut accurately. Finally once you get through the tile, change your bit to one designed to drill through the wall material. You don’t want to wear out your tile bits cutting materials they were not designed to cut.

In this article we are going to take you through this process step by step and make it simple and easy for you. We also included a short video showing how to cut through tile as well. By the time you get through this article I promise you will know how to cut through tile safely. Let’s get going!

Step 1: know the Tile Properties

The first and foremost thing you should know before drilling your tile is what the tile is made of. Each tile material has its own property, and they require varying amounts of consciousness and precision to drill through. For example, porcelain tiles are the most denser tile material; therefore, they require more work and preparation to drill a hole. Similarly, stone tiles have more or less the same properties, and they need specialized drill bits to effectively make a hole in them. Now that you know what material you are drilling with, it’s time to arm yourself with the right tools.

Step 2: Gathering the Right Tools

The right tools can make your work much easier and help you get the best result. I mean, you won’t try to dig a hole in the ground with a spoon and hope for the best result, will you? So, when you are drilling a hole in the tile surface, always use a new drill bit regardless of tile material. The old drill bits are not as efficient as the new ones, and they can increase the risk of damaging the tiled surface drastically. Additionally, the regular drill bits cannot drill through tiles effectively. Tiles are designed to withstand a lot of abuse, which makes them highly resistant to drilling. So, a powerful drill bit is required, which can penetrate the tile. Diamond-tipped drill bits or carbide-tipped drill bits are capable of drilling tiles without any problems. However, diamond-tipped bits are more suitable to drill the tiles as they are highly durable, don’t burn out easily, and can penetrate the hardest material like porcelain tiles. Therefore, they are more expensive than the other drill bits.

Carbide-tipped drill bits are used commonly, and they are pretty suitable for drilling glazed tiles and stoneware. They are cheaper than diamond-tipped bits but not very ideal for drilling dense tiles.

Step 3: Measure Twice, Drill Once

Measure carefully before starting drilling your tiles. Measuring is very important as you cannot reverse it once it’s drilled. Measure twice, then mark the place with an ‘x.’ Often, it is seen that the drill bit cannot be set in place for the tile surface to be smooth, and the drill bit can slip from the place. As a result, your tiled surface can get scratched or, worse, can get chipped. To avoid such a scenario, you can use masking tape on your marked surface, which will give you some additional traction. Don’t forget to measure again after placing the tape in the place to check if you are going to drill in the right place.

Step 4: Drill the Hole

Drilling through the tile surface requires patience. As mentioned before, tile surfaces are stubborn and can be pretty resistant to drilling. Therefore, it might take a while to penetrate the surface of the tile. Start drilling at low speed and progress slowly. You may think high speed will give you more merit only to discover that it’s heating up your bit faster and damaging. If you rush through this process, your tile surface can get damaged violently. Apply constant pressure, but not too much. Otherwise, your tile surface can get broken.

Step 5: Cool the Drill

Keeping the drill cool can give you more effectiveness in drilling the tile surface. When the drill gets heated, it starts damaging the drill bit. Also, if the heat is transferred to the tile due to uneven heating, the tile surface can get damaged. You can hold a wet sponge under your drill bit. This way, your drill bit will stay cooler, and the sponge will also catch the dust generated by the tile drilling.

The diamond bits are more durable and can resist heat as long as you let them cool properly before working again. However, keeping it cool will increase the lifespan of diamond-tipped drill bits or any other tools you are using.

Step 6: Change the Bit as soon as You Reach the Wall

You have already drilled through the tile surface without damage, so you are kind of out of the wood now. All you have to do now is to drill through the wall to mount the accents. Choose the right kind of drill for penetrating the wall, and don’t blow through the wall. Otherwise, the anchor cannot properly hold the accents, and they may get loose. Always remember. Slow and steady wins the race; in this case, dig a hole through the tile surface.

Step 7: Finish the Work

Now you have successfully drilled a hole through your tile surface without damaging it, and you are ready to decorate the surface with amazing accents and accessories. If you require to drill more than one hole within certain distances, consider creating a wood template and place it where you need to drill. The holes in your template should be of similar diameter to your drill bits. Thus, you can achieve the best results with minimal effort. Make sure to gather your tools, clean the surface for dust and debris, and you are golden.

To effectively cut a hole in your tile surface, all you need is the right tools and a lot of patience. You need to be persistent and practice to do this work properly. With time, you can master drilling into tiles and won’t be as nervous as you were the first time.


David has been an avid DIYer for years. Recently he's really taken to home security, but he has a lot of experience with all sorts of projects from Plumbing to Electrical and Framing to Tiling.

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