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How to Drill a Hole in a Tile

Add Bathroom Accessories Without Breaking Tiles!!

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by Jeff Patterson in Tiling Tools
How to Drill a Hole in a Tile

Learn how to drill a hole in a tile and install bathroom accessories.


Sooner or later you’ll have to do this project. Rather than be scared you’ll be confident you can do this like a pro (just make sure to watch our video!!).

We’ll share the tool we use, which isn’t expensive, and also how to add bathroom accessories in 20 minutes or less.

Let’s dive in.


Here are the supplies you need to drill a hole in a tile and add bathroom accessories:

Many thanks to American Standard for working with us on this tutorial.

The bathroom accessories are part of a video series with did showing how to remodel a small bathroom.

Our prior videos share how to install a bathtub, how to add a shower valve, and how to install a toilet.

If you’re remodeling a bathroom those tutorials are a HUGE help.

Watch our video to see the step-by-step instructions for drilling bathroom tiles and adding bathroom accessories…


How to Drill a Hole in a Tile…What’s the First Step

At the beginning of our video we show the Milwaukee Diamond Plus Mini Hole Saw.

Diamond Hole Saw

Without a doubt, this is the best way to drill a hole in a tile…especially small holes.

Large holes (1″ or bigger) require a different tool, which I discuss in a prior tutorial.

Diamond Plus Mini Hole Saws can drill through

  • Porcelain
  • Ceramic
  • Granite
  • Tile
  • Glass
  • Marble
  • Slate

Here’s the deal:

This hole saw only costs about $19 and is super versatile.

Obviously the lifespan depends on the material you’re drilling through and how many holes you need to make.

The directions on the back of the packaging do a good job of explaining how to use this tool. We’ll get into the specifics a bit later.

Now that you know what tool to use here’s the next question: 

How do you plan the location of the bathroom accessories?


Toilet Paper Holders…Location is Important!

In the video Steve explains a good rule of thumb:

Toilet paper holders should be about 8″ above the toilet seat and at a comfortable location just in front of the bowl.

However, in this example there was a window at the 8″ height.


So we decided to lower the bracket below the window.

Dry Fit Toilet Paper Holder

Steve also discusses this question:

Should you drill holes in a grout joint or in the center of the tile?

If you’re a planner and know where bathroom accessories are going it’s a good idea to have wood blocking in the wall.

Wood blocking provides solid backing for the screws. This in turn prevents wiggly accessories…which drive me NUTS.

However, if there’s no blocking in the wall then we recommend drilling holes directly in the tile. Then plastic inserts can be used to secure the screws.

In summary:

  • Wood blocking = drill holes in grout joints or in the tile
  • No wood blocking = drill holes in the tile

How can holes be drilled in tiles without cracking them?


How to Drill Holes in Tile…with No Cracks

Quick story, I was watching videos on YouTube and saw a few that discussed drilling holes in tiles.

They were fine and had some good tips.

However, the one video recommended tapping the tile lightly to break the glaze.

Why is this a bad idea?

You could easily break the tile.

Instead of drilling a hole you’ll be replacing the entire tile.

That’s no fun…unless you’re a masochist.

The tool we use doesn’t require breaking the glaze.

Get the hole saw up to full speed and start it at a 45 degree angle to the tile.

45 Degree Angle

This cuts a groove into the tile and prevents the hole saw from skipping along the tile surface.

If you’re afraid of messing up try this procedure on a scrap tile piece.

There’s nothing like practice before trying your skills on the real thing.

Once the groove is created, tilt the drill to a 90 degree angle.

Drill 90 Degrees to Tile

Drill the tile for 3 to 5 seconds and dip the hole saw in water.

This preserves the bit and cuts down on dust.

Continue to cut the tile at a 90 degree angle and wiggle the drill slightly up and down.

Be patient and after a minute or two you’ll have a hole in the tile.

Repeat this protocol for each successive hole.

Installing the bathroom accessory will be a breeze.

Here are some extra tips…


Adding Bathroom Accessories in 10 Minutes or Less

In the video you’ll see Steve use a laser level for the toilet paper holder.

Laser Level for Tile

Admittedly this is a little over the top but we use laser levels for tile. As such, it’s a great tool for bathroom accessories like towel bars and toilet paper holders.

24″ levels can also be used or even a torpedo level if the accessory isn’t that big.

Our toilet paper holder required screws to be 6 inches apart.

Second Bracket

The brackets had an indentation for the set screw. If you’re using American Standard accessories ensure this indentation is facing down.

Use a hammer or rubber mallet to tap the plastic inserts into the tile after the holes are drilled.

Plastic Inserts

Then screw the brackets to the wall with the provided screws.

Brackets for Toilet Paper Holder

This is important:

Be careful not to over tighten the screws because there’s a slight chance the tile could crack.

Once the brackets are installed loosen the set screw on the toilet paper holder or towel bar.

Position the holder or bar over the bracket and tighten the set screw with an Allen wrench.


Now the bathroom is complete.

Finished Bathroom


What’s Next

It’s easy to install bathroom accessories on drywall…but tile is different story.

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and want to simplify the process enroll into the Bathroom Repair Tutor Video Library

We show how to build showers (Schluter, Wedi, Curbless, etc.), install tile, upgrade basement bathrooms, and more.

The extra guidance is invaluable

Enroll Today


Jeff Patterson




  1. CESSAR DIMAS says:


    1. After the bit passes through the tile a standard bit can be used to pre-drill into a wood stud or wood blocking. Ideally there would be either a stud or wood blocking behind the accessory. Hope that helps.

  2. Ralph says:

    Another great read thanks to you Jeff! I am always amazed at how you are able to write and make your readers feel that they are just talking to a friend. Keep writing please!

    1. Thanks Ralph, I really appreciate your kind words. It’s always fun to write. I try to make it easy to understand. This tutorial was kind of straight forward.

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