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What is the best way to drill into glass and ceramic tile?

Clay tiles are usually fairly soft and easy to drill through. Ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles and any glass tiles are harder to drill. These steps will make it easier and with less chance of ruining your material. Use only a diamond-encrusted carbide bit. A regular carbide bit should work on ceramic and porcelain, but the diamond-encrusted carbide is still recommended.

For Uninstalled Tile

  • If you’re drilling through tile that isn’t already installed, use MDF board behind your tile for support while you drill.
  • Make a mark with a pen or pencil where you want to drill
  • Knead a ball of plumber’s putty, then roll it into one long piece. Wrap the long piece back on itself to create a ring around the mark.
  • Smooth the putty and adhere it to the tile to form a seal. Place several drops of air tool oil in the middle of the ring of plumber’s putty. It should fill to almost halfway up the putty.
  • Center your drill bit over the mark and begin slowly drilling. The oil in the putty should always touch the bit, keeping it lubricated. Press down firmly, but gently.
  • Once the bit has drilled through the harder top layer of clay, ceramic or porcelain, it should glide through the rest of the material with ease. (For glass, your resistance will remain the same throughout, but you shouldn’t have any problems with consistent pressure and constant lubrication.)

For Installed Tile on a Vertical Surface

  • Put a 2”x2” piece of masking tape in an ‘X’ pattern over the area where you want to drill. The masking tape will prevent the drill bit from drifting or walking off the desired hole location.
  • Use a pencil or pen to mark the spot where you want to drill.
  • Using a center punch or awl, and hammer lightly tap the marked drill location to make a minor chip on the surface of the tile. Again, this will help to ensure the drill bit will not wander.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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