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Old 01-19-2009, 01:38 PM   #1
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Drilling in tile (on or off?)

I have never drilled in tile before. I researched, bought my drill bits and feel that I am ready to drill. Only concern is breaking the tile when I am drilling. So the question is; do I drill before I install the tile or after. Holes are for one of those hotel style shower rods. It would really bite if the tile broke after the tile was installed so I am currently leaning toward drilling with the tile off. Any thoughts, comments, or laughter to shed on the matter?

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Old 01-19-2009, 01:46 PM   #2
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I'd say drill with them installed. I usually put masking tape where I'm going to drill to 1.)Mark the location of the hole with pen/marker and 2.) Prevent the drill bit from slipping around before it gets the hole started.
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Old 01-19-2009, 02:06 PM   #3
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Either way should work. I'd suggest drilling into a few scrap pieces to get the hang of it.

You likely won't have any cracking issues unless the tile is very thin and brittle, or unless you are drilling too quickly.
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Old 01-19-2009, 02:24 PM   #4
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Drill after the tile is installed, as the tile is supported much better when the thinset hardens up.

Are you drilling through soft bodied ceramic wall tiles, ceramic floor tiles, or porcelain tiles? And what are you planning on using for drill bits?
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Old 01-19-2009, 05:25 PM   #5
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go S L O W, no hammer drill, solid flat support under the tile that has some natural damping (wood is good), let the bit do the work - don't push on the drill, wash the cutter in water.
For water, one technique that works nicely is to set up a shallow pan, put in a hunk of flat thick plywood (3/4"), set tile on top, pour in water until it covers the top of the tile and start drilling.

I'd cut the tile before install - chipping out a broken tile is a bear once thinsetted in. Thinset is awesome sticky stuff and does not want to let go of the tile or the substrate once cured!

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Old 01-19-2009, 07:24 PM   #6
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Shouln't you also break the glaze off a bit before you drill? I used a small sharp centerpunch, GENTLY chipping off the surface glaze. NO big wacks with a hammer or anything. small point = big stress! I also had a wet sponge nearby when I drilled, cooling the bit and hole from time to time. letting the drill do the work.
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Old 01-19-2009, 08:20 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tool Guy - Kg
Drill after the tile is installed, as the tile is supported much better when the thinset hardens up.
agree 100%
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Old 01-19-2009, 08:23 PM   #8
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practice off the wall first!! check out plasplugs neatt stuff
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:25 PM   #9
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A diamond bit essentially grinds a hole fairly easily because the diamond is so hard - same idea as your wetsaw. Your drill bit won't have the same speed, but still works well. Keep the bit wet - a wet sponge or a spray bottle works on vertical surfaces. Bits made of other materials can be problematic depending on how hard the tile is. Make sure the hole is big enough - I assume you will be using inserts (of if there is blocking behind, then you only need a through-hole); you don't want to have the shank of the screw crack the tile if it is too small.
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Old 01-19-2009, 11:25 PM   #10
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I installed one of those shower rods myself....after the tile was on the wall of my shower for about 3 1/2 years. Wasn't a problem...bought a good drill bit, went slow and didn't break or crack a tile. The rod looks great. I hadn't considered trying to drill holes for the rod in a tile that wasn't installed on the wall. I think it would be too hard to line/level up the holes for the mounting brackets on opposite walls. Good luck.
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Old 01-20-2009, 08:20 PM   #11
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Majority says drill with tile on

Thanks to everyone who responded to my post. I really appreciate the advice.
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