Tiles, especially porcelain tiles, have been quickly replacing other options and asserting their dominance on walls and floors, especially the kitchen walls and bathroom walls, due to their affordable price and the chic look they bring to your walls and floor.
But let us say that you are done with all the construction work at your place, and the beautiful tiles have been placed on the wall, but now you need to drill through it to place some racks or other accessories.
How do you do it without cracking your tiles? Drilling porcelain tiles are more complex than other tiles, given that they are much denser but, it does not mean that you cannot do it.
So, in this guide, we will take you through the process of drilling porcelain tiles with maximum efficiency and without cracking them.
1. Ensure That You Have the Right Tools for The Job
If you are considering doing the drilling with a standard set of tiles, then here are the tools you will need- a battery-driven drill, a drill bit, sponge, water, measuring tape, and a marker or pencil.
As the names suggest, the pencil or marker will be used to mark the positions where you want to drill it. The measuring tape measures the distance from the corners to the drilling point or between two drilling points to make sure it is even.
The sponge and water are to clean up after the work is done and cool down the bit during the process, the drill bit that will be assembled with the machine to drill a hole through the tiles, and finally, the drilling machine that will lead the entire process.
However, the kind of drilling machine you use will vary from tile to tile. So, when you plan on drilling porcelain tiles,, you will need better tools. For porcelain tiles, you need to choose a diamond-tipped drill to ensure the work is done perfectly.
Diamond tipped drills are a little more costly than carbide-tipped drills, but it is certainly worth the investment, or you might end up ruining the surface of the tiles. Also, make sure you invest in some safety goggles and masks if you plan to do the job yourself.
2. Examine the Site of Drilling Before Proceeding
When you are drilling porcelain tiles, you create a hole through the wall from one side to the other, but what you must examine and consider before you get into this project is what is behind the tiles.
When are you drilling on a wall? What could be behind it? Wires and pipes, correct? If you are not careful enough and drill right through the wires and pipes, you can unintentionally cause a huge accident, not to mention the extra work you will have to do after that. So how do you prevent an accident like that from happening? You must assess the site, check what is there behind the wall, and find a safe spot to drill.
But how do you find out if the spot that you have chosen for drilling is safe or not? The first easy way to do this is to find a detailed blueprint of your apartment or house. For the blueprint, you can contact your realtor or the local municipal office.
They can help you with that, or you can also use a stud finder to check if there is any wooden stud near or if you are doing it the other way round and you want to detect if there are any wires behind the wall or not, you can also use an electronic stud. Be 100% sure of what is behind the wall before you proceed.
3. Measure, Mark, and The Proceed
If you have a little bit of experience in drilling porcelain tiles, you will know that the drill bit tends to slip sometimes. This will increase the chances of you scratching the tiles and damaging them permanently and when you are drilling. You need to ensure that all the force is exerted on one area so that the drilling is done faster and more efficiently, especially for porcelain tiles, which are more challenging to drill through due to their high density.
To do this work properly, you will now need to use the pencil or marker we talked about initially. Take that marker and along with the measuring tape, find the intersection point from the bottom and the side where you want to drill the hole. Put an “X” mark on the area to ensure accuracy.
A lot of people also use drill guides to ensure higher accuracy. These guides are produced by many companies that often come with tiles. These are cases with an opening for the hole to be drilled. You need to put it on the “X” mark on the wall and then place the drill on the opening to drill the hole. It will ensure that you do not miss the mark and drill somewhere else.
4. Start the Drilling but Slowly and Steadily
Here is the step that you all have been waiting for! Start the drilling! But again, this step needs even more care and caution than the other steps. Now that you have the machine in your hand, do not go all fierce when you start the drilling, else all your previous efforts can go down the drain.
Make sure that when you are starting, you start slowly, that is, at a slower pace. First, you need to break through the glazed upper layer of the tiles. This task needs a lot of patience and a steady hand, so only proceed if you are sure you can do it. Once you break through it and reach the wall, you can increase the pressure and speed a little but make sure you do not overdo it.
If you increase the speed way too much, then your drill will produce excess heat due to the friction, and the speed will also create a more significant amount of tremor. The heat and the tremor together can make the tiles crack. So even after you have reached the wall, make sure the speed is under control, and you are also managing the heat well with an occasional sprinkle of water (which will be discussed in the next point). Please keep your hands steady and proceed with caution because you only get one try with these.
5. Make Sure Your Tiles Are Wet
Keeping some water handy while you are drilling porcelain tiles or, for that matter, any tile is a good idea because when you are drilling holes in the tiles, the drill bit against the tile produces a lot of friction, hence a lot of heat. Although diamond tips are way more challenging and do not give into heat, they are not invincible.
The excess amount of heat can degrade the quality of the drill bit, reduce its life span, and affect the drilled holes’ quality. Hence, it is always good to keep some water handy to manage and control the heat generated from the drilling.
There are many ways in which you can keep and use the water. You can go for a cup of water placed beside you in which you can dip the drill bit occasionally to cool off the heat from its tip. You can also use a spray bottle for the drilled hole.
It is a great way to reach even the inside of the hole and take away the heat. You can also use the same sponge and water to wipe the drill bit or drop some water on the hole now and then. Lastly, if you are drilling on the floor, you can also consider creating a pool of water with the cement’s help to hold the water for you. However, you choose to do it, having water handy and spraying it on the drilled hole and the drill bit is mandatory if you want your work to be done perfectly.
6. Consider Changing the Drill Bit Once You Hit the Wall
Once you have successfully drilled through the tiles, you can heave a sigh of relief. The most challenging part is done, and your tile has been drilled through without a scratch or damage. The drill bit has now reached the wall, and all that you must do is keep drilling slowly and steadily to ensure that the work is done. But here is another thing that you should keep in mind.
Just because drilling the tiles have been done does not mean all your work is complete, and you can now speed up the process with a higher drill speed and pressure. You still must be very careful.
If you are not careful enough with the pressure and speed, you might blow off the wall when the drill bit strikes the surface of your wall. If your wall is blown apart, so will the anchors. So, it is a good idea to keep it slow and steady.
If you think that the existing drill is not efficient enough to drill the wall, you can consider changing it to match the substrate your tiles are attached to. Now, what drill bit should you choose for the different types of substrate? We will help you with that.
So, let us say it is concrete and cement, then you can use any regular masonry drill bit, but if it is a fiber or wooden substrate, you will need a wooden bit. Also, for the cement backer boards that are usually present behind the tiles in areas with chances to be wet like showers, you can use any regular drill to drill through that.
Few Things to Keep in Mind:
- Avoid Using A Hammer Drill-. Hammer drills are not suitable for drilling porcelain tiles. Its motion is like the motion of a hammer and nail. That is, it moves back and forth. This kind of motion can cause a crack in your tiles very quickly.
- You can also a cooling lubricant instead of water. Cooling lubricants are a better option than water because they do not just take away the heat caused by the friction but also reduce friction. Hence increasing the efficiency of the drill.
- If you ever see that your drill is turning red or starts to smoke, stop immediately. Your drill bit is on the verge of getting damaged permanently. If you continue to drill like this, the drill bit might even snap during the work.
- Be extra cautious when you are working at the edge of a tile. Drilling porcelain tiles are already tricky, but the positions away from the center are more prone to cracking.
- Always use protection while working with a drill. A pair of safety goggles and a mask is a great idea to protect you from the dust particles and the small broke pieces from getting in your eyes.
- And lastly, when drilling porcelain tiles, do not drill fast. Keep a slow pace, be patient, have a steady hand, and remember not to use a regular drill bit. It is not efficient enough to do an excellent job with porcelain tiles.
So, this was all that you needed to know about drilling porcelain tiles. Porcelain tiles might be a little difficult to drill through than regular ceramic tiles, owing to their high density, but if you follow these steps, get the right equipment and be a little more patient. You will get your work done successfully.
We hope all your doubts have been cleared through this article, and you were able to drill the perfect hole in your walls and if you have any further query feel free to reach out to us in the comment section below!