Struggling to drill porcelain tiles?  A brief guide on what drill bits you'll need to drill the hardest porcelain tile

Struggling to drill porcelain tiles? A brief guide on what drill bits you'll need to drill the hardest porcelain tile

Drilling Porcelain Tiles:  A Brief Guide

You’ve just picked up some beautiful porcelain tiles for your bathroom or, if you’re a tiler, you’ve just arrived at your customer’s house and they’ve purchased some porcelain tiles for you to fit.  You take them out of the box to start the tiling job and need to drill a hole for a basin waste but the drill bits you normally use on ceramic tiles just don’t touch it! In fact they start smoking and burn out quickly. 

The reason for this is porcelain is a much harder, durable material that will require more specialist drill bits to enable holes to be drilled through it.


So What Drill Bits Work Best?

Diamond drill bits are the only real answer to drilling porcelain tiles and these come 2 main types.  The two types are wet drilling and dry drilling drill bits.  Wet drilling bits have to be fed with a continuous flow of water to keep them cool while dry drill bits (as the name suggests!) don’t need water to keep them cool as they are a higher grade of diamond (and therefore more expensive).

Both are equally as effective as each other at drilling porcelain tiles but more and more tilers and installers are leaning towards dry drill bits because of the mess involved in continuously feeding a wet drill bit with water often makes them unviable to use in a newly installed, clean bathroom.


How Do The Drill Bits Work?

Both types of drill bit work in a drill but the dry drill bits are also available with a threaded shank so they can be used in an angle grinder.  The advantage of using a grinder is speed.  The running speed of a grinder is a lot higher than a drill so the drill bits cut through the porcelain much quicker when used in a grinder, saving time and money.

Both types are core drills without a pilot drill bit as the pilot drill bit is often made of a material which isn’t as hard as the diamond on the core which renders it useless (TCT).  So both types will need a guide of some description to start the drill off.  Once the drill has started forming the hole the guide can be removed as it will then start to guide itself.  The exception here is with the dry drill bits (when used in a grinder) can be started by angling the drill bit and cutting into one edge before carefully easing it down to start cutting the complete circle to form the hole.  This requires a steady hand so we’d recommend practising first before attempting this.



So Which Drill Bit Should I Go For – Wet or Dry?

Wet drill bits are generally available at very competitive prices and don’t cost a lot more than standard masonry drill bits.  Dry drill bits however are more expensive as they are a higher grade of diamond which can cope with the heat generated when drilling porcelain tiles

Wet drill bits need to be fed with a continuous flow of water to keep them cool whereas dry drill bits don’t require this.

Wet drill bits create very little to no dust due to it being suppressed by the water.  Dry drill bits can create silica dust which can have long term health effects if inhaled.

Both drill bits are available in a good range of sizes varying from 6mm up to 125mm.

Both types are equally effective at drilling porcelain tiles.

Dry drill bits will drill through the tile quicker when used in an angle grinder.


We trust this article has been informative and helps you to make the correct decision for yourself as to what type of drill bit will work best for you.