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Drilling Into Tiles: A Step-by-Step Guide

During your renovation project, you will likely need to do some drilling in order to install pipes, faucets, light fixtures, mirrors, or shelving brackets on top of tiled walls. This may seem intimidating, but with the right direction, you'll soon be a pro. Here are some tips and a step-by-step process for successfully drilling into tiles.

Tips for Success

Before you begin, read all instructions for the fixtures you're installing. They may include specifications and additional instructions needed for successful drilling and installation. You should also ensure that you have all required materials before you start your project. If you're unsure about what you'll need, ask your retailer for help. Be sure to specify the type of tile you will be drilling. You'll also want to plan your project to allow for extra time, and be patient. If you rush through the drilling process, you may run into problems.

What You'll Need

Aside from needing a power drill, you'll need a carbide-tipped drill bit that's for drilling glass, ceramic, and stone. If you're drilling porcelain, you'll need a specialized drill bit due to the hardness of porcelain. You'll also need safety goggles for your own protection, masking or painter's tape, a pencil, a scrap piece of wood for drilling loose tile, a cup of water, and towels or something similar to protect the surrounding area from dust.

Drilling into Tiles: Step-by-Step

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to drill into tile. Keep in mind that every project is different, and these are general guidelines and may vary depending on the tile you're using and what you're installing.

  1. Start by putting on your safety goggles to protect your eyes from any tile shards or dust.
  2. If you're working in a finished room, start by protecting the areas around the tile with towels or other coverings. Spare bits of tile can damage surrounding surfaces, and this will make it easier to clean up any tile dust left behind.
  3. If you're drilling into loose tile, place a piece of scrap wood behind it as a backing.
  4. Use masking or painter's tape to make an X on the tile over where you want to drill. Use a pencil to mark the exact spot you want to drill on the tape. The tape will help keep the tile and glaze from cracking. If you're drilling into stone or porcelain tile, use a second layer of tape. This will also keep the drill bit from wandering and potentially damaging your tile.
  5. Insert your drill bit into the drill and lock it in. Always check your drill to make sure it's on the "normal" drilling. Accidentally using the "hammer" setting will ruin your tile.
  6. Power on your drill. Using moderate speed and pressure, begin drilling at the point marked on your tile. Be patient because increasing speed or pressure will crack the tile. Maintain consistent speed until you feel the drill bit perforate the back side of the tile. Release pressure on the drill as soon as the drill bit comes through the tile; this will help to create a clean hole. If you're drilling into installed tile, continue drilling through the backer board. If your drill bit overheats, stop the drill and dip the bit into water.
  7. Remove the drill from the hole and turn the power off.

Congratulations! You've successfully drilled through your first piece of tile. With a little practice, you'll soon feel like there's nothing to it.

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