How to Drill Ceramic Tiles

After tiling your bathroom or kitchen there will usually be need to drill holes through the ceramic tiles. Whether to allow for electrical wires or more commonly to hang a mirror, towel rail, toilet roll holder or kitchen roll holder, drilling through ceramic tiles is a DIY job that not only requires the correct tools but patience to avoid cracking or breaking the new tiles.


Things you will need


Power drill (double insulated)

Carbide tipped masonry drill bits

Safety glasses

Water or cutting oil

Tape measure

Masking tape



First of all, clean the surface of the tile and examine it carefully to make sure there are no hairline cracks or small chips that would weaken the tile and make it problematic and likely to crack if you were to try drilling it.


After you are happy that the tile or all tiles that you shall be drilling are in in good condition use your tape measure and a pencil to mark where you require the holes. As most ceramic tiles have a hard glazed finish which causes drill bits to skip and slip its best to mark the spot of the centre point using an X of masking tape, this will improve traction until the drill bit penetrates through the glazed surface, whilst reducing the chance of the rim of the hole chipping.


Once you have marked out the hole locations with masking tape you’ll need to drill a small pilot hole using a 2-3mm carbide tipped masonry drill bit within your power drill on a slow speed setting. Making sure to wear safety glasses drill the pilot holes once the drill bit has penetrated the glazed surface you can use a few drops of water or cutting oil to lubricate the drill bit ensuring a smoother hole, and easy reach of the required depth.


Once you have drilled the pilot holes you can increase the size of the drill bit. If the final hole diameter required is larger than 8mm we recommend increasing the size in steps, for example from the 2mm pilot hole go up to 4mm then on to 8mm.


Drill through the tile backing and into the wall slowly applying only gentle pressure, allowing the drill bit to do the work cutting the hole rather than pressure from pushing hard ending up cracking the tile. As you come feel you are coming to the back of the tile slow down and reduce the pressure as at this point you can cause a blowout breaking the tiles backing on exit which weakens the tile and usually results in a hole larger in diameter than required.


Continue drilling slowly until you hit the required depth using the diameter drill bits needed for the rawl plugs and screws, after which bring the drill bit out of hole taking care not to snag it on the rim of the hole.


Remove the remaining masking tape and clean up the holes and drilling dust, before inserting rawl plugs and attaching the towel rail, toilet roll holder or other item of furnishing to the wall.


Having successfully drilled the holes you may like to read, 6 tips on keeping mould off bathroom ceilings.