While not directly a plumbing question how to drill tile

Discussion in 'Showers and Tubs' started by ddahlgren, Jan 23, 2020.

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  1. Jan 23, 2020 #1

    ddahlgren

    ddahlgren

    ddahlgren

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    I want to put 2 shelves in my shower and have places to use a screw but how to drill tile without breaking it?
     
  2. Jan 23, 2020 #2

    voletl

    voletl

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    These will burn through anything just make sure you cool the bit down drill for 5 seconds dip it in water drill for 5 seconds dip it in water or have someone stand behind you and consistently squirt the bit with water to make sure it's cool if you don't you'll burn this bit out Screenshot_20200123-161741.jpeg
     
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  3. Jan 23, 2020 #3

    Mitchell-DIY-Guy

    Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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    I bought a set of these:

    https://ebay.us/xpaHBU

    I've used them unbelievably successfully in cutting through hard porcelain tile, and wall tile too.
    As you don't have a "pilot" hole with these, the simple thing to do is get a piece of scrap 1/2" plywood or similar, drill a guide hole of the same diameter you need, tape this to the wall. Mark the spot and SLOWLY start the cut. Once you get a bit of a bite into the tile it will go quickly. Use LOTS of water. Need to keep the bit cool and wet.
     
  4. Jan 24, 2020 #4

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    You have not mentioned how you will anchor your shelves.

    Or how big they are, how many mounting holes, etc.

    There are lots of different fasteners, and I use different types depending on what I am hanging, and what I am drilling through.

    If the wall above is not tiled, you can use a stud finder and carry the location down, to try to get a screw into good wood.

    Likewise if you have access to the wall from the back side, in a different room, you can find studs and transfer measurements from a doorway, light switch, etc.
     
  5. Jan 24, 2020 #5

    voletl

    voletl

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    Part of my job in New York City is to install grab bars in bathrooms in hospitals under ADA requirements let me tell you something those little blue or red plastic anchors that you Hammer into the wall and then put a screw into work perfectly fine I could put those into the wall and hang off them.
     
  6. Jan 24, 2020 #6

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    voletl I also use those plastic anchors in the right situation.

    The blue anchors, sort of slightly triangular, not quite a cylinder, ribbed, and made for a 5/16 drilled hole.
    About 1 3/4 to 2 inches long.
    Then a #12, sometimes even a #14 stainless sheet metal screw.
    Sometimes I drill out the inside of the anchor slightly, to be able to cram in a # 14 screw.
    Usually a Phillips pan head.

    However, some brands of those anchors are a little too skinny, you have to get good ones that need fairly firm tapping in.
    Or else they will spin and never grab well.

    I only use them on good tile or marble or heavy panels, which have cement board behind them.
    I don’t trust them on thin wall tile over drywall, which I still find in plenty of old bathrooms.
     
  7. Jan 24, 2020 #7

    voletl

    voletl

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    We are supposed to have backing in installed behind the tile and the sheetrock but when all else fails they work great
     
  8. Jan 24, 2020 #8

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    For grab bars where I don’t luck out and hit some wood, I use one blue plastic anchor and two toggle bolts, per attachment point.
    The toggle bolts need 3/8 inch holes, so they tend to slip around a little.
    But the blue plastic anchor maintains everything in position.

    I sometimes swap out the original zinc plated bolts for stainless, and always add small stainless washers because the toggle bolts usually have small heads.

    I pump the drill holes full of caulk, and caulk over all the screws and washers, with clear silicone.
     
  9. Jan 24, 2020 #9

    ddahlgren

    ddahlgren

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    I guess the order to do things is measure the holes in the shelf buy the silicone, screws and anchors then get a holesaw to suit them. I have plenty of spray bottles for water. The shelves are corner shelve about 10 or 12 inches on the sides that go against the wall. They are not big enough to hole much and do not need to. The walls are 1/4 inch thick tile over 1/2 inch green board. Odds of hitting a stud is close to zero.
     
  10. Jan 24, 2020 #10

    ddahlgren

    ddahlgren

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    For reference MSC wants 25 for the hole saw plus shipping and Home Depot wants 15 with free shipping.
     
  11. Jan 24, 2020 #11

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Sometimes those hollow type of tile bits will wander around, until you get the hang of controlling them.

    I often mark the exact drill spot on the tile with a
    Sharpie, then tap out a tiny chip right there with a nail set and a hammer, very gently.
    Or use a thin masonry drill bit.

    Then use a conventional small masonry bit to start the hole, changing to a bigger masonry bit, until the indent I have drilled will accept the hollow bit.
     
  12. Jan 24, 2020 #12

    ddahlgren

    ddahlgren

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    I watched a You Tube video that said to start on an angle with just the enge and rollup flat to the tile slowly. They alsoadvised to use a putty dam to retain water.
     
  13. Jan 24, 2020 #13

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Yes, that works, but still a learning curve for some folks.
    And sometimes you will still end up not exactly on your desired mark.
    Some fixtures need very exact hole placement.

    I have a helper who could not get it, and me pre-drilling him a precise starter divot got him going accurately, and on his own.

    The putty dam sounds clever, but dipping the tip into a cup of water is just as easy.
    And be sure to wet the inside of the hole as it deepens.

    Sometimes I just spit in there, I have no shame!
     
  14. Jan 24, 2020 #14

    ddahlgren

    ddahlgren

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    A squirt bottle seems like the way to go in my mind but can try both.
     
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  15. Jan 25, 2020 #15

    Helper Dave

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    This style of bit works wonders on tile. Goes through so fast you don't need to worry about water, or cooling it down. Porcelain is another story. That still takes time, but for standard tile, these make the job real easy.

    There's a style with the single arrowhead tip, too, but the intersected ones seem to work so much better.
     

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  16. Jan 25, 2020 #16

    ddahlgren

    ddahlgren

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    How can you tell if porcelain ceramic or whatever?
     
  17. Jan 25, 2020 #17

    Terry61

    Terry61

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    I had to cut a 4 1/2" diameter hole through tile and 1 1/4" mortar to install a single handle faucet. The thought terrified me. The diamond hole saw did not have center bit to help guide. I got a piece of 3/4 plywood and cut out a 4 1/2 inch hole in it to use as a guide. Made sure to fix the plywood securely so it wouldn't move. I took it slow and easy and the hole saw cut right through perfectly. But a word of advice would be to get someone else to spray the water and you use two hands on the drill, just to help you stay on course.

    Jeff is straight on about the bit walking and when you have multiple holes for a bracket, that can't happen. I was to chicken to try that for mounting shelves, so I am going to start with a very nice shower caddy first. Can't make myself drill potential leaks in my shower wall.

    Funny story, I watched every youtube video I could find to help me do all this. I found a certified plumber doing a video where he changed a two handle faucet to a single faucet. After bragging on himself a bit, he proceeded to take a hammer and hammer a god awful hole for the faucet. I may have taken 1000 times longer, I have a perfect hole in the wall. Good luck
     

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