How to Drill Holes in a Tile Backsplash

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Tape the tile prior to drilling to avoid chipping it.
Tape the tile prior to drilling to avoid chipping it. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Drilling a hole through tile backsplash is much the same as drilling a hole through any other material or surface, except for a few crucial differences in preparation. The first is the need to cover the tile with a protective material. This material will prevent the often-delicate tiles used in backsplashes from chipping or breaking as you drill through them. The second difference is the inability to create a starting hole in the tile for the point of the drill bit. Fortunately, the protective material used also creates a surface that resists the drill bit veering off the drill point at the start.

Things You'll Need

  • Duct tape
  • Electric drill
  • Diamond or carbide-top drill bit
  • Spray bottle

Cover the point on the tile where you wish to drill your hole with crossing pieces of duct tape. Place one piece of tape over the other to form an “X” on the tile with the drilling location positioned at the center of the “X.” The tape will prevent the tile from shattering or chipping as the drill bit proceeds through it.

Set the speed of the drill to between 100 and 200 rpm. Moisten the tape slightly with water from a spray bottle at the center of the “X” to prevent the bit from overheating.

Position the point of your drill bit onto the center of the “X.” Use a diamond or carbide-top drill bit for creating clean holes through most tile material.

Start the drill, holding the bit firmly in place against the surface of the tile to prevent its moving along the face of the duct tape. Push gently on the drill as you proceed through the tile until you break through to the subsurface beneath. Continue drilling until you’re through the subsurface as well. You should notice a sudden easing of pressure on the drill bit as you make your way through the subsurface due to entering the wall cavity. Spray the drill bit with water occasionally when drilling through stone tile to keep the bit lubricated and to avoid overheating.

Release the drill trigger, and wait for the bit to stop rotating before you ease the drill from the hole. Remove the duct tape to reveal the drilled hole through the backsplash and wall.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the diamond drill bit when drilling through porcelain or stone tiles. Switch to the carbide drill bit for use on ceramics.
  • Put on a face mask and safety goggles before drilling to avoid dust inhalation and tile shards should the tile shatter.

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