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How to drill a hole into a tile – without breaking it

A cordless drill is being used to drill a hole in a wall tile.
Make sure that you use the right drill bit, and don’t set the speed of the drill too high.


The idea of having to drill a hole in a tile scares many DIYers. That’s because there are a lot of little things to consider when drilling through a tile, but our tips will help you get a handle on them. Choosing the right drill bit, the speed setting and even the angle can determine whether the tile will crack or splinter during drilling or not. Read our article to find out what you need to look out for and how to install a soap dispenser on your bathroom wall.

It should go without saying that your safety is paramount at every stage of the project. Make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. You can find everything you need to know about the protective clothing required for each type of task in our guide.

You need
  • No tools needed
  • spirit level
  • rubber hammer
  • pocket rule
  • pencil
  • masking tape
  • No materials needed
L: Length, W: Width, H: Height, D: Diameter

Let's go - step by step

Step 1 7

Scanning the wall

A woman is using a detector to scan a tiled wall for hidden pipes in the wall.
A detector is being used to check the wall behind a tile for live wires, waterpipes and metal objects.

Before you drill a hole in the wall, you must be absolutely sure that there are no water or electricity pipes running in the wall behind where you plan to drill. Do this by using a detector to scan the entire area slowly for live wires, waterpipes and metal objects. Start by checking the area above and below where you plan to drill with the detector (image 1), before then checking to the right and left of it (image 2).

Step 2 7

Roughly marking where you want to drill and masking it off

A pocket rule is being used to mark a drill point on a wall tile.

You need: pocket rule, pencil, Masking tape

Before you mark the exact points you plan to drill, it’s helpful to use a pencil to make a rough mark for you to use as a guide later. Once you’ve marked the line on the wall, you can mask the tile in the right place with masking tape. This will ensure that the drill does not slip off later.

Step 3 7

Determining the drill points

A woman is holding a spirit level vertically against a wall and is marking a drilling point with a pencil.

You need: spirit level, pencil, pocket rule

Once the masking tape is in place, you can measure and mark the first drill points for your soap dispenser holder. Make sure that the dot is approximately in the centre of the masking tape. If it’s not, remove the masking tape and stick it to the wall again, slightly offset.

If your bracket needs you to drill two holes on top of each other, place a spirit level at the upper drilling point, align it and draw a vertical line with a pencil.

Step 4 7

Transferring drill points

A drill point is being drawn on a wall tile with a pencil.

You need: pencil

Now take the template for your drill holes and transfer the two dots onto the masking tape.

Step 5 7

Selecting the right drill bit

A woman is clamping a drill bit into a cordless drill.

Now it gets a bit tricky because it’s time to clamp the right drill bit into your cordless drill. The drill bit you choose is based on the scratch hardness of the tile. Scratch hardness is indicated with a number between one (very soft) and ten (very hard). Levels one to three denote a relatively soft tile. You’re best off using a tile or glass drill bit for these levels. For drilling through a tile with a medium hardness (three to six), you should use a masonry drill bit. And for all tiles with a hardness of six or more, you definitely need a diamond drill bit.

The diameter of the drill bit also needs to match the size and lengths of your dowels.

Step 6 7

Drilling a hole into the tile

A cordless drill is being used to make a hole in a tile.

Once the drill bit is clamped in place, you can drill the holes. First of all, make sure that your tool’s punch is deactivated, otherwise you’ll break the tile immediately. Once you’ve checked that it’s deactivated, the next step is to adjust the speed. After you’ve made the correct setting, you can place the drill horizontally at your upper drill marking and slowly drill the hole. Take your time!

Step 7 7

Mounting the soap dispenser

A dowel is being inserted into a hole.
A rubber mallet is being used to hammer a dowel into a hole drilled into a tiled wall.
A holder is being attached to a wall with a cordless screwdriver.

Next, sink the dowels into the two holes. Start by pressing them in with your thumb (image 1), and then tap them in carefully with a rubber mallet (image 2). Finally, screw the holder for your new soap dispenser in place using the appropriate screws (image 3). It fits! You can now mount your new soap dispenser.