How to Drill Holes in Tile Backsplash

Installing a tile backsplash can add style and protection to your kitchen walls. However, you may need to drill holes in the tile to mount hardware like pot racks, utensil hooks, lights, and more. With the right tools and technique, drilling holes in tile backsplash is totally doable as a DIY project.

Things You’ll Need

  • Tile drill bit – Use a carbide-tipped drill bit made for drilling through ceramic tile. Match the size to your hardware.
  • Hammer drill – A hammer drill provides a hammering motion to help bust through the glazed tile surface.
  • Marking pen – To mark the drill location.
  • Safety glasses – For eye protection.
  • Water source – Keeping the tile drill bit wet during the drilling process prevents overheating.
  • Rag – For wiping away water and debris.

How to Drill Through Tile Backsplash

Drilling holes in tile backsplash involves patience and care, but it’s a straightforward process if you follow these steps:

Step 1: Mark the Drill Location

Use a marker to indicate on the tile where you need to drill the hole. If you’re drilling for hardware, hold the item in place and mark where the screw holes line up.

Be as accurate as possible since there’s no going back once you start drilling into tile!

Step 2: Prepare the Drill Bit

Select a carbide-tipped tile drill bit that matches the size of the screw anchors you’ll use to mount the hardware.

Before drilling, dip the tip of the bit in water to prevent overheating. Have a spray bottle or cup with water close by to rewet it as needed when drilling.

Step 3: Drill Slowly

Set the hammer drill to “hammer” mode. This provides a pounding action in addition to rotation to help penetrate the tile glaze.

Place the drill bit in your marked hole location, holding the drill very steady and straight.

Let the drill do the work – don’t push too hard. Drill SLOWLY to allow the hammering action to work. The tile may crack if you drill too aggressively.

Step 4: Periodically Stop and Wet the Bit

Every 30 seconds, stop drilling and rewet the bit by dipping in water. This prevents the drill bit from overheating, which reduces effectiveness.

Clear away any tile debris with a damp rag. Resume drilling slowly, repeating the wetting process until you break through the tile.

Step 5: Finish Drilling the Hole

Once you’ve punctured the hard glazed top layer, switch the drill to regular rotation mode. Continue drilling through the remaining tile and the drywall behind it.

Add water as needed until the hole is complete.

Step 6: Clean Up and Set the Hardware

Wipe away all tile dust and debris when finished drilling. Vacuum up any remaining particles before mounting screws or hardware in the holes.

Let any water dry completely before attempting to set anchors or screw holes.

Then you can securely install pot racks, hooks, and more on your new backsplash!

Tips for Drilling into Tile Backsplash

Follow these tips to get clean, round holes when drilling tile:

  • Take your time and don’t rush the process. Slow and steady prevents cracks.
  • Let the hammer drill do the work, no need to push hard.
  • Keep the drill bit lubricated with water to prevent overheating.
  • Use a drill bit diameter that matches your wall hardware.
  • Rest the drill on a flat surface or brace yourself to keep the drill straight.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the hole location to prevent tile chipping.
  • For small holes, start with a smaller bit to penetrate the glaze then increase to full size.
  • Tile is brittle – don’t force the drill or apply too much pressure.

Can You Drill Into Ceramic Tile?

Ceramic tile is durable but also brittle, so yes you can drill into it but it requires special tile drill bits and care. variable speed hammer drills provide the best control so you can drill slowly through the glazed surface. Carbide-tipped masonry drill bits specifically for tile help bore smooth rounded holes without cracking the tile. Maintaining light pressure and keeping the bit lubricated are key for clean results. With patience and the proper tools, drilling holes in ceramic backsplash tile is totally doable.

How Big of a Hole Can I Drill in Tile?

For typical backsplash hardware, most tile holes will be relatively small in diameter – less than 1/4 inch. The maximum size hole you can drill into ceramic tile depends on the thickness and density of the tile itself. Most standard 4-6mm thick wall tiles can accommodate a 1/2″ diameter hole at largest. Go any bigger, and the structural integrity comes into play, greatly raising your chance of cracks or breakage. For larger openings beyond 1/2″, use a tile saw to cut the opening instead of drilling. Or plan your backsplash layout to avoid large penetrations by placing tiles strategically.

What Kind of Drill Bit for Tile?

The best drill bits for glazed ceramic tiles have tungsten carbide tips which maintain hardness and stand up to the tough tile surface. Look for drill bits specifically designed for tile, porcelain or masonry. Match the size of the drill bit to the anchors you’ll be using. Most tile anchor sets include a corresponding carbide drill lubricated are key for clean results. With patience and the proper tools, drilling holes in ceramic backsplash tile is totally doable.

Can You Use a Glass Drill Bit on Tile?

Tile and glass drilling bits share some similarities – like diamond grit and water lubrication – but they are designed for different purposes. Glass drill bits have a very narrow tip to minimize chipping and weak points. Tile bits are engineered more rugged for boring through tough surfaces like ceramic glaze or porcelain. While a glass bit may be able to drill a hole in ceramic, it’s not optimized for the hardness and brittle nature of tile. Masonry tile bits will provide a cleaner hole with less risk of cracking the tile.


Drilling smooth, clean holes in tile backsplash is doable with the right carbide-tipped masonry drill bits, variable speed hammer drill, and careful technique. The keys are taking it slow, letting the drill do the work without forcing pressure, keeping the bit wet, and matching your drill bit size to the hardware. With some patience and practice drilling holes in ceramic tile, you can mount lights, hooks, and racks to customize your backsplash exactly how you envisioned.