I’ve just received another question in the comments section asking how to cut larger holes in tile. Holes for things like the controls in the shower, shower lights, toilet flanges, etc.

My normal smart ass answer is: Mark the circle and remove everything that is not a tile with a hole in it.

The short answer is with a grinder and a diamond wheel.

The slightly longer answer is to draw your circle, take the grinder and plunge it into the tile,, straight down, inside the markings of the circle. Continue this around the entire circle until the large piece is out. Then go back around the circle at about a 45 degree angle and take out the rest of the circle just around the markings.

See, difficult to visualize, isn’t it? (I understood it perfectly well…)

I’ve run out of answers and since it’s difficult to describe this process in words I decided to see what one of the other 400 buttons on my camera does.

Turns out it makes movies. Well, not movies, but I can make videos like all the cool kids. So I did that and made the horrible video below.

You can find diamond tile wheels for your grinder (and grinders, if you don’t have one) at any big box store.

This particular hole was cut for a light in the ceiling of a tiled shower, but it works with any hole 4 1/2″ (the size of the grinder wheel) or larger. If you’re good with it you can cut a three inch hole with a 4 1/2″ grinder, but that’s gonna require a longer video and a bit more instruction. :D

And I’m almost out of beer Pepsi.

Couple of quick tips:

Always, ALWAYS wear safety glasses and hearing protection. I’m wearing both – you’ll see it at the end of the video. Gloves help a lot.

Take your time. Although my video is in real time it will take you longer to do it. I’ve done it a few (hundred) times.

Once you begin cutting the tile do not move the tile, move around the tile. If you move the tile it may end up with a shard of tile from the cut under the tile. This prevents the tile from laying flat, causes excess vibration and may make the tile crack. Really.

Although it looks like I do (and I do a little bit), do not push down on the grinder as you make the initial cut, let the blade do the work. It may cause the tile to crack if you push on it.

Don’t be an idiot like me and have a towel (or any loose clothing) hanging over your shoulder as you do this. Although I whip the grinder around like it’s not a power tool spinning at 11,000 rpm and can rip your arm clean off – it actually is, and it actually can. BE SAFE! Remember, I’ve literally done this hundreds of times, I’m extremely familiar with my grinder and how it acts.

So here is how you cut a large hole out of a tile. Maybe now I can only answer that question fifteen times a day rather than thirty. Maybe…

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  • George M. Mangle

    Can you go over how to cut a large hole for a toilet flange in an extra large format tile ie porcelain 20 x 40 without breaking it please?

    • Roger

      Hi George,

      Just like in the video. That is a 12 x 24 tile that I cut, the only difference is the size. Just make sure you have the entire tile supported while you cut it.