How to Cut Holes in Travertine Tile

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Things You'll Need

  • Diamond-coated hole saw

  • 1/8-to-1/4 inch acrylic

  • 2 clamps

  • Mounted drill press or other drill

  • Safety goggles

Travertine is a calcareous (high sensitivity to acids) sedimentary rock that's notable for its pitted, rough surface. During travertine's creation process, gas bubbles get trapped in the rock, leaving pockets that become holes and pits when the stone is turned into tile. It can be polished to a shine, or left in a more natural state. Some travertine tile has tumbled edges and a natural finish for a dramatic, aged effect. The tile ranges in color from gray to red, but is primarily sold in beige and tan. It is a fairly soft, porous stone that's sensitive to staining and scratching. Travertine's softness also makes it easy to drill.


Step 1

Create a template for your hole. Put on safety goggles and cut a hole in a piece of acrylic scrap. The template will serve as a water vessel to keep your drill bit cool while you cut.

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Step 2

Use the hole in your acrylic template to draw a circle on the back of your travertine tile exactly where you want to drill.


Step 3

Angle your drill at 30 degrees and begin drilling. Once the tile surface roughs up, stop drilling.

Step 4

Place your template over the circle on your tile and clamp both so that neither will move while you drill.


Step 5

Fill the acrylic hole/cup area with water.

Step 6

Drill through the tile. If the tile is thick, you may need to add a little more water during the cutting process. Pay close attention as you drill, and only add water if necessary.


Ask local tool-rental companies if they rent diamond tool bits (saws) in your size, or heavy-duty drills. A drill press is best for making perpendicular cuts. It is more difficult to cut straight with a hand-held drill.


Stone cutting produces dust and sometimes rock shards. Wear a heavy shirt and gloves during the drilling process, as the tiles may shatter. Cover your mouth to avoid inhaling rock dust. Don’t overheat your bit/saw/drill. Don’t press down with the drill, rather let the diamond coating do all the cutting work. Simply guide the drill. Clean edges with a file before installing your tile.