Cutting Holes in Tile

There are many ways to cut holes in tile. Some easy, some hard - here is a guide to my favourite

  1. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD

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    Cutting Holes in Tile
    Different Drill Bit Options and Methods

    There are many ways to cut holes in tile. Some easy, some hard - here is a guide to my favourite



    Above you see a tile with a hole drilled through it. This is called a jig. Something to help line up the proper hole (in tub deck) and to keep the tile drill bit from wandering.

    The simplest way to cut a hole in tile is to use a diamond coring bit. These bits are expensive and should be well taken care of. With that said lets look at a simple method of drilling a hole in tile with a diamond coring bit. You might also use a glass and tile bit that looks like an arrowhead. Read below the later posts for other methods of drilling holes in tile. Round perfect holes for plumbing fixtures.

    The video below shows me using a scrap tile as a guide to hold the diamond coring bit from wandering while I drill the finished hole in the tile to be attached to the wall.

    Not all holes are drilled prior to installing the tile. It can be..​
     
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  2. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD

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    Diamond Coring Bits for cutting holes in tile.

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    These are the style of diamond coring bits I reference in my post here. I purchase these from my tile suppliers - last store in Vancouver I used was Ames Bros in Burnaby. They sell many sizes as does Pacific Rim and many others.

    These bits need to be cool constantly - just like the arrowhead bits below.

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    I prefer these shower fixtures to come out the center of the tile like these holes above. It is easier to design your hole to meet a corner of the tile or land on a grout joint. Then cutting the hole can be easier.

    Often you need to drill four holes in a tile to cut out a square or rectangle. These are basic moves in tile work. In the picture below you see a square cut out marked and the four corners drilled.​

    More Info on these discussions:
     
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  4. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD

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    Arrow Head Drill bits (Glass and Tile) for cutting holes in tile.

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    I really like these glass and tile drill bits for many of the holes we drill for fasteners and anchor locations. I prefer to drill the hole smaller first and start with the tiny arrow head first.​

    Then I drill out the proper size for the wall plug being used to whiled the fastener from the tile.

    One way to make a larger hole (like for say your shower arm or shower controls) is to drill a series of smaller holes. Look at the photo below for a clearer understanding of this method.

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    You can see the circle of holes drilled. The hammer would be to generated a little stress between the drilled holes.

    This same technique world well when hanging cement board as well.
     
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  5. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD

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    Masonry Drill Bits for drilling holes in tile



    Many guys use a good old fashioned masonry drill bit for drilling holes in tile. I have never like this approach and do not like the use of a hammer drill either. Sure it might work but at what down side?
     
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  6. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD

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    Using your Angle Grinder for drilling holes in tile

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    The photo above shows the game plan. The cuts on top are just to score the glaze of the tile. The real meat and potatoes of the cut happens on the back side. Mark out both sides of the tile for the cuts....

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    This image shows the rough circle that can be cut with just an angle grinder.
     
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  7. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD

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    Cutting Holes in Tile by Hand

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    Maybe with a cheap ceramic tile. Most of todays tile do not offer up the ease of cutting shown here. In order to get that saw started a hole would have been needed to drill first a path to slide the saw blade into.
     
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  8. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD

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    Using a RotoZip to cut holes in tile

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    Most every trade show I have ever been to I have seen the RotoZip tile cutter booth. If you are headed to a new trade show - slap a small porcelain tile into your pocket. Ask them to cut that when they do the product demo. Roto Zip cuts rarely work for this type of work.
     
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  9. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD

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    You can see that there is many variables to cutting tile. Lots of tool choices and routes to complete the job. Once you find a system that works for you - repeat - repeat - repeat
     
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  10. eurob

    eurob master tile and stone installer

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    Valve control cutting hole 002.jpg Valve control cutting hole 004.jpg Valve control cutting hole 006.jpg Valve control cutting hole 008.jpg
    Valve control cutting hole 010.jpg
     
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  11. standardairconditioner

    standardairconditioner HVAC'ker

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    Rotozip cuts DO WORK for this type of work.

    The Rotozip XB-FTC1 is a 3.5 carat diamond bit and I have successfully used it with accuracy to cut into tiles.

    It's accurate enough so escutcheons and toilets cover it fine, I don't need to be stocking up on every size of coring bits.

    Coring bits are necessary only if the tile will remain EXPOSED without an escutcheon or similiar covering it.
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  12. hj

    hj Master Plumber

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    When I was in the business, we had a rectangular clamp we put the tile in. The clamp put the tile under compression and we made the holes by tapping with a hammer such as a tack hammer in the center of the hole then worked outward to the perimeter.
     
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    The majority of tile sold today is porcelain. THis stuff is nearly as hard as diamond (close to synthetic sapphire). The RotoZip tool doesn't run slow enough for cutting really hard porcelain without overheating unless you want to risk the tool by keeping things wet. Some glass bits will work decent. You cannot safely use a hammer drill unless the tile is already installed and perfectly supported from below, and then, depending on the tile, and the bit, may go through easily, or essentially shatter the cutting edges and then, instead of cutting, you're pulverizing the tile. If you want to cut some older, bisque tile, almost anything will cut it easily. Porcelain, especially some of the more modern, large panels, can have internal stresses, and any cuts not done perfectly, can result is expensive cracks or it shattering.
     
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  14. Patriotrider

    Patriotrider New Member

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    Used the grinder method, then smoothed with rotary rasp in drill.

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