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Making Holes in Ceramic Tile

Use a small drill bit to help you create a large opening

Boring large holes in tile
Illustration by Narda Lebo
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Drilling holes up to about ½ inch diameter through glazed ceramic tile is easy with carbide-tipped masonry bits. But what if you need to bore a 2-inch hole for a plumbing stubout?

Contractors typically use expensive hole saws with carbide-grit cutting edges, but there is another way.
Draw the hole outline on the tile with a felt-tip pen or grease pencil. Use a ¼-inch masonry bit to drill a series of closely spaced holes around the circle. Then take a hammer and very lightly tap the tile along the ring of holes.

Tap inside the outline and be patient, as it could take a couple of minutes before the center of the hole breaks free. The hole edge will be rough, but you can hide it with a decorative escutcheon plate. This drill-and-tap technique can also be used to make square or rectangular cutouts in tile — try that with a hole saw!

Boring Large Holes in Tile
Illustration by Narda Lebo
Boring Large Holes in Tile

Drilling holes up to about ½ inch diameter through glazed ceramic tile is easy with carbide-tipped masonry bits. But what if you need to bore a 2-inch hole for a plumbing stubout?

Contractors typically use expensive hole saws with carbide-grit cutting edges, but there is another way.
Draw the hole outline on the tile with a felt-tip pen or grease pencil. Use a ¼-inch masonry bit to drill a series of closely spaced holes around the circle. Then take a hammer and very lightly tap the tile along the ring of holes.

Tap inside the outline and be patient, as it could take a couple of minutes before the center of the hole breaks free. The hole edge will be rough, but you can hide it with a decorative escutcheon plate. This drill-and-tap technique can also be used to make square or rectangular cutouts in tile — try that with a hole saw!

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