How to Drill Tiles without Cracking (5 Tips)

Today I will teach you how to drill tiles in any space without breaking them.

Most people who want to hang a new accessory in a room, especially beginners, start by drilling holes without the slightest preparation. They are unaware of the different bits needed for each surface or the tips that will make the task much more manageable.

There are Five Tips for Not Cracking Tiles

  • Use a spirit level and a tape measure to determine the drilling spots.
  • Use drilling guides to enhance steadiness.
  • Keep the drill at a right angle at all times.
  • Use a wet sponge or cloth to avoid bit-overheating.
  • Apply low pressure and speed to minimize vibrations.
  • Use the right drill bit. For porcelain, you may use diamond bits, and for ceramic, carbide bits.

Let’s go into more detail.

Things You’ll Need

  • Protection: safety goggles, dust mask, safety gloves with a latex grip
  • Drill bits with diamond or carbide tip
  • Standard drill bit
  • Wet cloth or sponge
  • Marker
  • Tape measure and spirit level
  • Masking tape
  • Drilling guide (optional)


Before getting into the drilling part, you need a well-set space.

Step 1 – Measurements

measuring the height and distance
Video | Marcrist UK

Remember, X marks the spot.

After you figure out where you wish to place your accessory, you need to be sure that the placement of the holes you will make on your tiles is well determined. With the measuring tape, you may confirm the height and distance between the holes (if you intend on creating multiple ones). The spirit level is practical for aligning the holes in a straight line.

You should mark the spots with the marker to see them clearly while drilling.

Step 2 – Friction

The main issue regarding the nature of the tiles is that they are slippery.

The best way to improve traction between the tile and the drill’s tip is to put a piece of masking tape over that spot. The tape will prevent the drill from slipping, improving stability.

If the marks on the tile are not that visible under the tape, you could repaint them on it with your marker.

Step 3 – Safety

You are almost ready to begin.

All you need is to put on your goggles, gloves, and mask. That way, debris will not land in your eyes, your hands will not get injured (if the drill slips), and you will not breathe in any dust.

Now, let’s get to the central part of the process.

Beginning to Drill

Step 1 – Picking a Tip

You now may choose the tip of the drill that you will use.

To properly select the tip, you must know the tile’s material. There are porcelain/natural stone tiles and ceramic tiles. The first type is more potent than the second.

I recommend diamond-tipped bits for porcelain, though they are a bit costly. We can say that the cost justifies its features. They last longer than other tips and can work while overheating if you cool them down occasionally. The diamond bits can penetrate rigid surfaces more efficiently than any other bit.

For ceramic, you can use carbide-tipped bits. They are cheaper, but they wear out quicker than the diamond bits. They can penetrate softer surfaces than porcelain and natural stone and need constant cooling.

Step 2 – Additional Support

putting additional support
Video | Marcrist UK

If you fear your hands’ steadiness dropping, you definitely could use some aid.

To guarantee that the hole you create comes out perfect, you have the option to place a drilling guide on the marked spot. You can find guides made of plastic and steel, although you could build one using wood.

Step 3 – Placement and Drilling

Patience is a virtue and the key to avoiding breaking the tiles.

Place the drill on the marked spot and start with a rotating, low-speed setting by gently applying some pressure on the tile. Keep the drilling tool on a right angle as steadily as possible.

Once you have formed a cavity on the tile’s top glossy layer, you may remove the guide. Continue drilling with the same tip with a little higher speed and pressure.

To avoid overheating, hold a wet sponge under the drill or spray the bits occasionally with a multi-drill spray system. Be careful not to wet the motorized part of your tool.

When you reach the wall behind the tile, you are ready for step 4.

Step 4 – Changing the Bit

You need to choose a different bit to avoid burning out the tiles’ specialized one.

Depending on the wall’s material, you might choose four drill tip options.

  • If the wall is fibre-board or timber-made, the preferred choice would be the wood bit.
  • If made of stone or brick, a viable option is the masonry bit.
  • In the case of cement boards (commonly used in showers), you can choose a standard drill bit.
  • Standard-high-speed steel (HSS) or a black oxide bit will be the best option if steel is your material.

You can continue drilling as deep as you need to secure your accessories on the tiles.

Step 5 – Finishing

measuring and marking the spots
Video | Marcrist UK

The hard part is now over, and all you have to do is clean up.

First, remove the masking tape from the tiles, and with a wet cloth, dab the hole to wipe the dust off. If you intend to place a screw in the hole, I recommend inserting a fixing plug beforehand.

Wrapping Up

To avoid breaking the tiles while drilling, you need to avoid inevitable mistakes:

  • Overheating the bits.
  • Applying too much pressure and high speed.
  • Changing the tool’s angle while in use.
  • Using drill bits with the wrong tip.

Video References

Marcrist UK

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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