How to Drill Through Tiles
If you need to mount a towel rack or grab bar into ceramic tile, learn how to drill holes without cracking the tile.
In our project, we've already dry laid the tiles and set the tiles that don't require cuts as part of a bathroom renovation project. Cutting tiles using hand-tools is tricky and difficult so for big jobs, you can save a lot of time and effort by using a water-cooled tile saw, available for rental at about $45 per day. Though it appears intimidating for a novice, this tool can be mastered fairly easily as long as a few basic principles and safety precautions are followed.
While preparing to use the tile cutter, familiarize yourself with the equipment.
Water is used to both cool the blade and keep down the dust. Fill a large bucket with clean water and carefully set the pump on the bottom. The pump is connected to a hose that pours water directly on the blade and work surface. Try a couple of practice cuts first.
Use the measuring marks on the platform to set up each cut.
To make each cut, make sure your hands are out of the way before slowly sliding the platform with the tile through the blade (Image 1).
The water-cooled saw works great for straight or angle cuts but it's essential for compound cuts. In our project, we cut a piece to go around the shower drain, making three cuts on the piece. These cuts would be nearly impossible with hand tools.
Remove any excess material left in the corners with hand nippers (Image 2).
Once most of the cuts are made, determine how the cut pieces will fit together.
The next tricky part is making cuts on a piece to accommodate the toilet drain. In our project, we made two vertical cuts but we also need to cut a piece out of the middle. Use the scoring tool to make this cut, then set it on some wood or other hard surface to snap off the cut
Set the cut tile in place around the toilet drain.
Complete setting the remaining tiles carefully, using the spacers to ensure uniform spacing.
Some tiling jobs may take a few days to complete. When you get to a stopping point each day, scrape up any mortar that isn't covered by a tile so you can start clean the next day. If any thin-set mortar gets on the tile surface, wipe it off before it dries.
The next step in the tiling process is grouting the seams. Important: Allow at least 24 hours for the mortar to dry before walking on the installed tiles or starting the grouting process.
When setting tiles, don't let thin-set mortar sit more than about ten minutes before placing a tile. If that happens, the mortar will dry and have to be removed and replaced before placing the tile.