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Drilling holes in tiles - Ultimate guide with tips

Drilling tiles - That's how it's done!

Difficulty: Easy | Costs: approx. 20 euros | Workload: approx. 10 minutes

Drilling tiles in bathrooms, kitchens or other rooms that are equipped with tiles is part of the daily business for many craftsmen. Holes have to be drilled in order to be able to attach sanitary products such as washbasin fixtures, soap dispensers, towel rails to lamps, wall mirrors and wall shelves. This requires a certain amount of care and technique in execution to avoid damage to the tile. In this article, we explain in detail how you can successfully drill tiles with a diamond tile drill bit.

Craftsmen drilling tiles with a cordless screwdriver

Figure 1: Do the tile drilling for the home projects!

Table of contents

1. How does tile drilling work?

In order to be able to drill into tiles successfully, you should obtain the necessary tools and machines in advance. In addition, before you start drilling in tiles, you should put on certain protective equipment such as safety goggles, protective gloves and hearing protection to protect your health.


1.1 What is required for drilling tiles?

As already described above, certain equipment is required to protect occupational safety. This includes safety goggles, protective gloves and hearing protection. Either a drill, a cordless screwdriver or an angle grinder can be used for drilling tiles. These can usually be bought or rented at any large hardware store. Diamond tile drill bits of different diameters are required to drill through the tiles. Here, the size of the drilling diameter depends on the subsequent installation work. For the installation of small, light objects such as towel holders, soap dispensers or lighting, dowel diameters of 6mm - 8mm are usually used. For medium to large objects such as hanger bolts for attaching wall tables, toilets or bidets, dowel sizes of 10mm - 12mm are usually used. Here again summarized at a glance:

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1.2 How much does drilling in tiles cost me?

Drilling tiles depends on the size of the drill diameter and the number of holes in relation to the purchase number of diamond tile drills. For the attachment of objects in the kitchen or sanitary area with approx. 20 holes and the purchase or rental of the necessary machines and tools, you can expect around 74 - 96 euros for your project:

Personal protective equipment (approx. 13 – 23 euros):

Safety goggles approx. 1 – 3 euros
Protective gloves approx. 6 – 10 euros
Hearing protection approx. 6 – 10 euros


Machine rental / machine purchase (approx. 44 - 48 euros):

Cordless screwdriver approx. 18 euros (daily rate)
Drill approx. 18 euros (daily rate)
Angle grinder approx. 14 euros (daily rate)
Line finder for electrical lines approx. 30 euros


Tools (approx. 17 – 25 euros):

Pencil or marker about 1 euro
Masking tape approx. 2 euros
iynx Tools diamond tile drill 5mm - 14mm approx. 13.90 - 21.90 euros -> Click here

Prices are from current internet research (03/11/2023).


1.3 Drilling holes in tiles – what drilling diameter?

Different drill diameters are used for drilling tiles in rooms such as the bathroom or kitchen. It depends on the application or the installation specifications (anchor size, etc.) of the product manufacturer. These can be found on the assembly instructions for the respective products. For a little reference, here are some examples:

  • 6mm to 8mm:
    Toothbrush holders, soap dispensers, towel holders, toilet brush holders, toilet paper holders, wall mirrors, lighting, wall hooks

  • 10mm to 12mm:
    Washbasin attachment (hanger bolts), toilet attachment, bidet attachment, wall shelves

  • 30mm – 40mm:
    water connections, fittings

  • 40mm – 50mm:
    drain lines, pipelines

  • 60mm – 68mm:
    sockets, junction boxes

  • 80mm – 100mm:
    water meter

1.4 Which drill bit for tiles ?

There are a large number of different ones tile drills . If you want to get a new one, we can offer you a carbide drill or diamond drill for tiles. Those are the two best drills.


2. Drilling tiles - areas of application in sanitary and kitchen areas

In modern residential and industrial construction, tiles are being used more and more frequently in the form of floors, walls and ceilings due to their modern appearance. Not only does the optically stylish look play a role in the selection of the material, but also the technical advantages of the tiles compared to other building materials. Due to the moisture resistance, these are easy to clean and therefore indispensable in kitchens and bathrooms. In order to be able to equip these rooms with important extras such as paper roll holders, wall shelves, lighting and many other products, holes must be drilled in the tiles in advance in order to be able to attach them.

Bathroom with tiles in a visually stylish modern look

Figure 2: Bathroom with tiles in a visually stylish look

2.1 Drill hard tiles

Drilling hard tiles can be challenging with the wrong equipment due to the very high resilience of the tile material. In order to be able to penetrate hard tiles cleanly, diamond drill bits or hard metal drill bits should be used. Due to their sharp and resistant cutting segments, these are more suitable than conventional drills. In addition, the diamond drill or carbide drill should be cooled down at regular intervals due to the increased friction and the resulting high heat load.


2.2 Drill socket in tiles

When laying tiles, holes must be drilled into individual tiles in order to be able to install sockets or light switches. For this, the tile can be drilled through several times with a 6mm diamond tile drill, in order to then enlarge the recess to the required diameter with parrot pliers. The comparatively clean and simple solution to drilling a socket recess in tiles is to use a 68mm diamond core bit . Clean and round holes can be drilled in tiles with a diamond drill bit. These can easily be screwed onto the spindle of the angle grinder due to the M14 internal thread.


2.3 Drill porcelain stoneware tiles

Due to the higher density of a porcelain stoneware tile, created by the special production and processing of the raw materials, much more patience is required when drilling the porcelain stoneware tile compared to earthenware or stoneware tiles. Diamond tile drills can be used to drill fine stoneware due to their very high resistance and the self-sharpening diamond segments, which work through the material faster and easier than conventional stone drills.

2.3 Drilling tiles without a tile drill?

It is quite possible to drill a tile without a tile drill. However, you have to pay attention to a few things. In any case, it must be drilled into the tile joint . Make sure you use a suitable diameter for your ceramic, glass or stone drill. It should not exceed the tile joint.

Read more in our guide we wrote for this topic.

Guide: Drilling tiles without a tile drill banner image


3. How can I drill through tiles correctly?

Drilling through a tile can be done easily and precisely with a diamond tile drill bit. These are suitable due to the high-quality and self-sharpening diamond segments on the drill head, which means that the diamond tile drill bit can work through hard materials quickly and cleanly. Cordless screwdrivers, drills or angle grinders can be used as working machines.


3.1 Tile drilling with the cordless screwdriver / drill

Drilling tiles with a diamond tile drill and a cordless screwdriver or a drill is easier for beginners to use compared to the angle grinder due to the handling of the machine. The HEX diamond tile drills with the E6.3 mm bit holder are used for this, which can be clamped into the keyless chuck of all commercially available cordless screwdrivers or drills -> Click here to get to our HEX diamond tile drills.

Attention: It is important to ensure that the hammer drill function of the machine is switched off. Due to the mechanical impact on the tile, this could lead to unwanted damage or even break the tile!


3.2 Tile drilling with the Flex

The angle grinder, also known colloquially as Flex, is the alternative to a cordless screwdriver or drill for drilling tiles. This is preferred by professional craftsmen such as tilers due to the higher speed compared to a drill. The M14 diamond tile drills are suitable for the angle grinder. These have an M14 internal thread, which can be screwed onto the spindle of the angle grinder. You can find these in our diamond tile drill shop in diameters of 5mm - 130mm -> Click here to get to our M14 diamond tile drill bits.


3.3 Tile drilling tips

There are some tips that make drilling tiles much easier with small, simple actions and extras and can also significantly slow down the wear and tear of the diamond tile drill bit.

Tip - masking tape :

You can use masking tape to mask off the desired drilling position in advance. This leads to greater friction when the diamond tile drill bit is placed on the tile, reducing the risk of the drill bit slipping and possible damage to the tile. In addition, a kind of collecting container can be attached below the drill hole with the painter's masking tape, so that the dust ejected while drilling the tiles is caught in the painter's masking tape.


Tip – Active cooling of the drill :

In addition to the integrated cooling wax in the drill core, the diamond tile drill can also be actively cooled using the medium of water. This counteracts the wear of the diamond segments due to the high temperature load during the drilling process and can thus increase the service life of the diamond tile drill. You can do this very easily by immersing the diamond tile drill bit in a glass of water to cool it down between each drilling operation.


3.4 Drill tiles without breaking

Picture of a tile that has suffered a break (crack) while drilling the tile

Drilling tiles can be a tricky job, especially if you are inexperienced. However, it is not impossible to drill into tiles without damaging them.

Tiles are very delicate and can easily break if not treated properly. This is because tiles are usually made of clay or ceramic and can therefore be brittle.

If you don't use the right tools and techniques, you can easily provoke the tile to crack, which can lead to expensive repairs.

There are good ways to minimize the risk of tile breakage:

Step 1: Cover the drilled area with masking tape

Painter's masking tape is applied to the tile by the do-it-yourselfer when drilling the tile in order to provide additional protection for the tile

The masking tape protects you from slipping off the drill hole and prevents breakage.

Step 2: Use diamond drill for tiles

Diamond drill bits for tiles product image

A quality diamond drill has the lowest risk of damaging a tile. The diamond segment does not "drill" through the tile but removes the material bit by bit.

Step 3: Apply as little pressure as possible -

A reduction in pressure when drilling tiles makes a significant contribution to preventing the tile from cracking. A diamond tile bit can be used with significantly less pressure during the drilling process than a carbide tile bit.

Step 4: Practice on an old piece of tile

Drilling tiles without breaking is very easy with a diamond drill bit for tiles. The picture shows several test holes in an old tile.

Especially for inexperienced do-it-yourselfers, this step can be enough to be able to drill the tile without breaking it. After a few test holes you will get a very good feel for drilling tiles.

    4. Drilling tiles with a diamond drill - step-by-step instructions


    Craftsman drills into a light brown wall tile with a cordless screwdriver

    Figure 3: Instructions for drilling into a tile

    4.1 Testing of lines

    Since there are many lines in the walls or ceilings of bathrooms and kitchens, the drilling position should be checked in advance for gas, water and electrical lines. In today's construction industry there are specifications that define the laying of cables in walls and ceilings. Nevertheless, you should play it safe and take a look at the construction plan or use the measuring equipment specially developed for this purpose, such as a cable finder for electrical cables.


    4.2 Prepare drilling position

    Mark the drilling position on the tile with a pencil or a water-soluble marker. A small collecting strip can be glued to the tile below the drilling position with painter's masking tape in order to catch the dust particles that are produced by drilling the tile.


    4.3 Drill the tile

    Set the diamond drill at a 45° angle to the marked drilling position. This prevents the diamond drill bit from slipping on the tile. If a HEX diamond drill is used for the drill for the drilling process, make sure that the impact drill function is deselected for this. This would damage your tile. Start the drilling process carefully and tilt the diamond drill bit at right angles to the tile as soon as it grips.


    4.4 Drill through the tile

    Continue drilling until the desired drilling depth is reached. For example, with porcelain stoneware tiles, which are often used outdoors, a little more patience is required due to the higher material density. Do not apply increased pressure to the machine while drilling the tiles in order to force a shorter drilling time. On the contrary, it can lead to blunting of the diamond tile drill head.

    Tip: The service life of the diamond tile drill you can influence it positively by immersing it in a glass of water to cool it down between the drill holes.

    4.5 Clean the drill hole

    Remove the masking tape you put on and clean the drill hole with a vacuum cleaner to suck dust particles out of the drill hole. Then wipe the tile clean with a wet cloth.

    4.6 Alternative

    Alternatively, you have the option of cutting a hole in a tile.


    5. Conclusion - drilling tiles

    In summary, it can be said that drilling tiles with a diamond tile drill requires a certain basic knowledge in order to avoid damaging or even breaking a tile. For this, the right tool such as the diamond tile drill and the procedure is essential for a good and clean drilling in your tiles. If you follow the steps and information described in this guide, you can successfully drill holes in tiles yourself, for example to equip your bathroom or kitchen with sanitary products or electrical installations.

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