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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone ever drill holes in porcelain tile? I have to drill holes for my shower grab bar. I read a couple internet how-to articles and it looks tricky. I am thinking about paying my shower glass guy to do it. I am pretty handy and have done just about anything you can imagine except I have never drilled porcelain. Thx for your advice.
 

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Naildriver
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Is there backer behind the tile like a 2x10 to accept screws solidly? I use diamond coated bits like these to drill porcelain with plenty of water sprayed to keep things wet and cool. You start the bit at an angle to score the tile, then straighten it up to drill it through.

 

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Practice with a piece of scrap. Use a center punch to break trough the glaze. Only a light tap is necessary. A diamond bit is great, but I've always used a typical glass drill bit with success. Go slow and use water keep cool.
658761
 

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Norm … that works great for plain glazed ceramic tile, but if he really has porcelain it wont work. First, there isn’t a glaze to chip.
 

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Norm … that works great for plain glazed ceramic tile, but if he really has porcelain it wont work. First, there isn’t a glaze to chip.
I stand corrected. But I have drilled porcelain without a diamond bit. Don't remember doing anything special. :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Is there backer behind the tile like a 2x10 to accept screws solidly? I use diamond coated bits like these to drill porcelain with plenty of water sprayed to keep things wet and cool. You start the bit at an angle to score the tile, then straighten it up to drill it through.

Yes, I installed blocking. I agree, the Milwaukee diamond bit is the best from what I read. Yes, the technique you describe is what I read plus watched several videos. But, reading/watching how to do it is not the same as doing it yourself. I do not want to break a 12 x 24 wall tile.
 

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FWIW cutting holes in tile goes easier if you use water as a "cutting fluid," and since you'll be in a shower you should have access to plenty of it. Just keep it off your drill.
 

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Tiles are rated for scratch hardness using the MOHS hardness scale that range from 1 to 10. Regular ceramic tiles may be a 5 or 6. Porcelain tiles can be 7, 8 to even 9. Some porcelain tiles are much harder than others. As you go from a 6 to a 7 the hardness increase TEN FOLD. Natural granite can be 6 or 7.

So while some carbide or glass tile bits may work for softer porcelain tiles at 7, once you get to 8 or 9 you have to use diamond tipped bits. Some better carbide tipped bits will say on the package what hardness it can drill up to. If you don't know the hardness the safest bet is to get a diamond bit instead of getting a carbide or glass bit and spend an hour making a slight dent.

Floor tiles are slightly easier to manage as I usually take some plumbers putty and make a ring of dam around the hole, fill it with water as I drill to cool the bit. Wall tiles you have to keep spraying.
 
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