How to Drill a Hole in TileMake a hole!!! Ummm, sorry, had a little flashback there for a second. Where was I? Oh yeah, drilling a hole in a tile. When you tile your shower wall you will usually have at least one or two holes that need to be taken out of your tile. This is often a huge pain in the ass and sometimes difficult to do without cracking the tile. So I’m gonna show you how I do it. This will not guarantee that your tile will not crack! It does, however, greatly diminish the possibility. This method works with all ceramics and porcelains as well as natural stones such as granite, marble and travertine.

If at all possible try to lay out your tile so that any pipes or fixtures fall on a grout line. If you can do this you can simply cut a small square out of the edge of it with the wet saw and forgo the whole drillin’ a hole thing. I know, it’s not always possible. In fact it rarely happens in a normal tub surround. So lets drill a hole in that sucker!

Tools needed to drill a hole in tileHere’s what you need: a tile (just seeing if you’re paying attention), drill, hole saw (more on these in a sec) a 2×4 with a hole drilled into one end of it  just a bit larger than the size of your hole saw bit, and a sponge. When you mark your tile for the location of the hole I find it easier to simply mark a cross at the center of the pipe rather than marking every side or drawing a circle where the pipe is located.

Diamond or carbide hole saw bits. The bit that I use is nothing special – I bought it at Home Depot, seriously. It is a 1 1/4″ diamond-carbide bit. You can see it in the photo above. This method works with any size or type of bit. There are, of course, very expensive bits available for this. There really is no need to spend $150 on a bit to drill a hole unless you have special tile – like glass. I think mine was $25 or $30 and I’ve had it for about six months – the same bit.

I do not use the pilot bit in my hole saws! A pilot bit is a smaller bit that looks like a normal drill bit meant to center on your mark and guide the rest of the bit. It is my experience that these crack more tiles than mosaic artists. Some hole saw bits come with them and some don’t. If yours does you can simply remove it by undoing the allen-headed lock screw.

Insert the sponge plug into the drill bitThe first thing you want to do is drill a hole through your sponge. You heard me read that correctly – drill a hole through your sponge with your hole saw bit – you don’t need to wet it first – do it while it’s dry. After you get a hole drilled through your sponge – soak it down really well and throw it at the neighbor’s cat! Or, you know, whatever you want to do with it. Keep the little round plug that you drilled out of it, though.

Bit with sponge plug insertedThe great thing about this sponge plug is it happens to fit inside your hole bit perfectly – imagine that! Soak that plug with water and stuff it inside your bit. This will keep your bit cool as you drill your hole and eliminates the need to stop every few seconds to soak your bit in cool water. You still need to stop every so often and dip it in water just to re-soak the sponge but it really helps keep everything cooled down so you can concentrate on making the hole rather than not burning everything up.

Center the 2x4 over the markNow take your 2×4 with the hole drilled in one end of it and center the hole over your center mark on your tile. The hole in my 2×4 is bigger than yours (nanana!) that’s why it isn’t centered – yours should be centered provided you drilled it just a little larger than your bit.

The reason for the 2×4 (other than as a guide) is to apply even pressure across the tile as you drill into it. The biggest reason for cracked tile is uneven pressure on the tile as you are making the hole. As you drill you are putting considerable pressure on and around the spot you are drilling and barely any on the rest of the tile. The 2×4 equalizes this.

Drilling a hole in tileWhen you place your bit inside the hole to start drilling you want to press down on the 2×4 as you drill. Not so much as to crack the tile, but enough to stabilize the it and apply even pressure to the entire face. Then just start to drill SLOWLY! Always drill slowly – take your time. If you go full-speed it will create undue chatter on the bit and overheat everything.

Let the bit do the work! Do not press down hard on your drill, just gentle, even pressure. Extra pressure on that spot will cause your tile to crack (and, of course, your dog will burst into flames). Just keep enough pressure to keep the bit snugly against the tile while the bit makes the hole. The bit will drill the hole – pressing harder on the drill will not.

Hole half drilledOne of the keys to drilling a hole in tile is keeping everything cooled down. Going too fast causes vibration on the tile and overheats (and ruins) your bit. The sponge plug inside the bit helps tremendously with this. Stop periodically and dip the bit in water to re-soak the sponge.

If you slowly move the handle of the drill from side to side as you drill, rather than simply drilling straight down, it will create a little bit larger circle for your bit as you get deeper into the tile. This will remove a little bit wider groove for the bit to get into and releases some of the pressure as you drill.

Drilled hole in tileThe keys to successfully drilling without cracking the tile are to keep everything cool and eliminate as much vibration and uneven pressure as possible. If you can do that you can drill the hole perfectly every time anywhere in the tile – even very close to the edge. I usually only crack tiles now when I’ve had too much coffee (no such thing) or I’m pissed off. At that point a sponge plug isn’t gonna save me.

{ 105 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

  • steve

    I’ve gutted my bathroom and installed hardiboard as described on your site. Your website and books have been immensely helpful. We’ve done the tub install and tiling the surround. I’m preparing to put in floor tile but have found conflicting advice regarding tiling up to and around the toilet flange, or installing the tile and then installing the flange so it goes over the tile. Which is the correct method? Also, do you have any thoughts regarding the toilet flanges with a plastic ring vs those with a stainless steel ring? Thanks again for all your advice – you’ve saved my wife and me plenty of grief!

    • Roger

      Hey Steve,

      The technically correct way is with the flange on top of the tile. Standard wax rings are the correct height to seal between the bottom of the toilet and the flange which sits on the same substrate the toilet does. Either way will work, though. Plastic or stainless makes no difference that I’m aware of.

  • max

    so we’ve finished the tiling with much support from your wise(ass) elf…appreciated and respected as i always trust my interweb sources…at any rate… the interweb told me to all about the great bits and saws to use … but what i’m having a hard time verifying is the placing of a hole… i know i read someplace that when drilling concrete (block), brick or tile you always want to drill the base material not the grout or mortar… i am about to drill the holes for shower wand, some towel racks and a glass shelf…finding studs may or may not be possible…. any insight on “drilling tile, brick, cementblock or grout/mortar” would be gladly accepted…

    • Roger

      Hey Max,

      I always place the holes wherever they need to be – grout or tile, doesn’t matter. Get some drill bits with the arrow-looking spade and they’ll go through either relatively easily.

  • Rob Lambert

    Hey there!
    An elderly friend of mine needs a grab bar installed in her tub which is surrounded by 12 x 12 marble tiles to the ceiling. There is likely 1/2″ sheetrock behind this which is attached to metal studs!
    Should I avoid the studs altogether (if I can find them)? If so, what kind of fasteners should I use? I’m thinking some kind of toggle bolt – there are 4 screw holes in the grab bar…. 2 at top and 2 at bottom.
    The toggles would likely require a 1/2″ hole, so should I use a diamond tipped hole saw or would a masonry bit or something else work well?

    She’s not a small woman, about 165# (Don’t tell her I said this), so I’m concerned about her pulling very hard to stand up or sit down in tub!
    Please help!!!!!!
    THANKS so much,

    • Roger

      Hey Rob,

      Avoiding the studs and using metal toggle bolts would be your best bet. Once they’re locked in behind the tile it’ll be very difficult to pull them out.

  • Morgan

    Hello Floor Elf!

    Over the past few days I’ve read through all of the articles on your site and downloaded the 50 Tile Tips guide today. I was wondering if you might be able to recommend a good tile cutter/wet saw? My husband and I are definitely taking all of your advice on which grout and thinset to use, and really appreciate your expertise. Currently we are about to begin the process of tiling our first bathroom, with 4″ x 8″ porcelain subway tiles for the shower surround and 18″ x 18″ porcelain on the floor. We are enthusiastic DIY’ers, and eventually plan to tackle two additional bathrooms in our home, so making an investment in a smaller wet saw seems to be the way to go, over a less expensive/less effective tile scorer or renting a large wet saw. Do you have any recommendations? Online reviews from places like Lowes or Home Depot really seem to vary. Thanks so much, love your site!

    • Roger

      Hi Morgan,

      If you can find a Felker tm-75 it would be ideal for what you want.

      I use the DeWalt D24000 daily, in fact I own two of them. I also own two of the felkers – the problem is they don’t make them anymore. If you think you could swing the price of the DeWalt for a while you can use it for your projects and turn around and sell it. They sell used all the time for 450-500. That would only end up costing you about 300 for a professional saw. You may be able to get more out of it as well. The good pros are always looking for backup saws or one for bullnosing, etc. Very few own only one saw and we’ll gladly pay 500 for a gently used one.

      If you can find the felker snatch it up, you’ll have no problem selling it when you’re done with it.

      The ridgid (DeWalt knockoff) at HD isn’t bad for a DIY’er but most pros beat the hell out of them. I would stay away from any of the offbrands (meaning not kobalt or anything tile-specific).

      If you can get a hold of a Sigma 2D4 I’LL buy it from you when you’re done. :D

      • Morgan

        Wow, thanks so much for the recommendations! I’m off to go check these out. You’re the best!

  • jeff

    Hi Roger
    Me again just want to tell you that the tile are 12″x12″ and im going to be laying them on the floor ceiling and walls.I was thinking about laying 6″x6″ on ceiling because of the waight but im open for any advice on laying all of it.So if you have any tricks of the trade i
    would be very happy to hear them all.Thank you.

    • Roger

      Hi Jeff,

      Four 6×6 tiles (1 square foot) will weigh the same as one 12×12 (1 square foot). Just because it’s four tiles doesn’t mean it weighs more – it’s still one square foot of tile.

      If you have any other questions please post them as a reply to my answer rather than a new comment. If you ask questions about something that has been asked or your project and it is a new comment it is difficult for me to know which person or project I’m trying to answer questions for. I need it to be on the same comment thread. I have over 10,000 questions on my site (seriously) – I can’t memorize them all and randomly pick the correct one when asked another question about it. Help me help you – thanks. :D

      Read through this and it will help with tile installation on the ceiling.

  • jeff

    Can i use a diamond smooth edge 7″blade to cut marble tile?One more question how do i start diangnal layout for 1’x1′ marble tile on walls?

    • Roger

      Hi Jeff,

      Yes, you can use a smooth 7″ blade for marble. I assume your 1×1 marble tile comes in 12 inch sheets? Just cut one in half and use both halves as two pieces of your bottom row and go up from there.

      • jeff

        Hi Roger So i do that on the floor and walls correct?Then just position them so i dont have to little of pieces in corners or do i need to mark center then come off center equal amounts to the pionts of the tile so that i should have the same size cuts in the corners?Then on the top of wall i just end up with what ever size it comes to becuase i started with the two halfs one more thing how do i keep everthing running on the propper angles as i move forward?Thanks for your help!

        • Roger

          That is the easiest way to do both. With 1″ tiles you’ll have small cuts everywhere anyway. It’s normally best to begin in the center and work out. The only way to keep the proper angles is to take your time and ensure your grout line spacing is consistent. As long as you begin with a 1/2 of one of those tiles you’ll have a 45, as long as the grout lines are consistent it will stay that way.

  • Dennis

    Wow, thanks for the hole cutting advice! Worked like a charm on the first try!

  • Scott

    Hi Roger,
    I’m a novice at this and looking for advice. I am installing ceramic tile on the floor and in a shower. I purchased an inexpensive tile cutter that works great on the straight cuts. I’m now working on some L cuts and curve cuts. Tried a carbide jig saw blade (crap), a carbide rod blade on my hacksaw, and nibbling. All reminded me to work smart, not hard. So I’m looking at buying either a wet saw or an angle grinder. The grinder would seem to be more versatile. Given the choice, which is better?

    Thanks for all the help.


    • Roger

      Hey Scott,

      Either tool has it’s place. That said, for the small amount of tile (presumably) you’ll be using it for I would go with a grinder. I do tile full time and own three grinders – couldn’t do without any of them. It’s a very versatile tool and makes short work of most cuts. When doing an ‘L’ cut you only need to use the grinder to cut through the short leg of the L – you can then use your snap cutter to cut the longer piece. It’s just easier sometimes.

      There are times I won’t even dig out one of my wet saws (I’m not gonna tell you how many of those I have :D ), I’ll just grab my sigma (snap cutter) and a grinder with a diamond wheel.

      • Scott

        Thanks Roger. Kinda thought that was the way to go. Luckilly I bought lots of extra tile, so I can screw up a bunch of them practiciing.

        • Scott

          I bought a 4 1/2″ grinder and a diamond wheel. WAY batter than using the rod blade. Man, I love power tools. Thanks for the help.

  • Suzy Keenan

    Dear Mr Elf – I’m undoubtedly a bigger jackass than you. My daughter& son-in-law have entrusted to me the priviledge of using their 11 3/4″ X 23 3/4″ Italian ceramic tiles ABOVE the shower enclosure. Thank goodness I googled u b4 I attempted the shower faucet hole. Whai I did NOT do was consult ur site before I started the back wall last nite. We decided to rin the tiles vertically which would nice n neat and require only one cut to trim its length (height). Anyway – I’m a novice. This is only my 7th project. Like always for this size tile, I ise the eadge of a yardstick for the grout line (I HATE those little plastic “x” thingies…we already have grount on our finger and they stick it them. YUCK! The yardstick ensures a perfect straight grout lineesp if you’ve got a long ron of tiles) Anyway, after doing the 3 on the back wall I went home last night feeling smug after everyone’s comments on how BE-U-TIIIII-FUL was the job…. Then I woke up this morning realizing I left no 1/4″ grout line at the bottom (the tiles are resting on the shower enclosure’s top ledge) nor the TOP (all 3 are nearly wedged into the 90Degree wall-ceiling crevice. Tho I am NOT going to attempt tiling the ceiling (really instructed/enterained by THAT article, too) what do I do now???? Should I put the top & bottom grout lines on the rest of the project (the back’s 2 side tiles which I haven’t cut or mounted yet – plus the 2 sides of the shower stall. Oh, Pleeeeeeeassssee tell me I do NOT HAVE TO PRY THOSE ´ TILES OFF….recut them…repair their new plaster-over-cement board wall. HELP:

    • Roger

      Hi Suzy,

      You can go ahead and leave them, remove them, or try to cut the drywall out above it. If you leave them it may or may not have problems. If it does you can replace them at that time. If you remove them you’ll likely need to do some wall repair. You can take a utility knife and slice the ceiling drywall along the area where the tile contacts it, cut out some of the drywall above the tiles (the part you don’t see) then silicone it in to allow for expansion.

      You don’t need 1/4″ for expansion, 1/16″ will work fine.

  • LaVonda Popp

    Hey Roger,
    We just put new tile in our shower and need to drill holes for new shower curtain bar. What is the best method to do that? The tiles are already on the wall. Thanks, we’ve gotten lots of good tips from your website. :-D

    • Roger

      Hi LaVonda,

      Get a diamond or carbon plated drill bit, drill your holes where you need them, then squirt silicone into it before you install the screws. That will seal the hole as you screw them in.

  • Jacob

    For a tile shower with redguard used as the waterproof membrane; is it a (good, bad, or could go either way) idea to use a grout sealer when all finished??? My attraction to the sealer is to help keep the joints clean and help with cleaning them. What’s your take?
    Thanks Roger!!! -Jacob

    • Roger

      Hey Jacob,

      Sealer is just fine. It doesn’t prevent air or moisture dissipation either. The layer of sealer actually does allow the grout to ‘breathe’, it won’t trap moisture. You’re using sealer in the correct manner for the intended purpose – well done!

  • Steven Kimmel

    I understand about making a small hole (1 inch), but how do I make a large hole, like for the shower valve or toilet flange?

    • Roger

      Hi Steve,

      Same answer as the last place you posted it – normally a grinder with a diamond or carbide coated tile blade on it is the best option. Please limit your questions to one, I get all of them in the same place in the back room – no matter where you ask it. Thanks! :D

      • Brendan

        I looked for the other place where Steven posted his question so I could post this addition there, and I couldn’t find it.

        At any rate…
        A buddy of mine found this video showing the actual process of using the grinder with the 4″ diamond blade. I tend to be pretty visual, and this *really* helped. I used the technique in some 2″x2″ travertine on 12″x12″ mesh, and it worked great – first time!
        So I just thought perhaps others would benefit from seeing the method in practice, as well.

        And to add hilarity, the guy sounds like the Scott’s Turf Feeder commercial guy, only this guy would say “Cut your tile! Cut it!”

  • andrew

    got a question for you. I installed new sunflower shower head recently. Had to move plumbing and now have hole in tile from previous pipe. Does someone make a cap to cover such a hole?

    • Roger

      Hey Andrew,

      None that I know of. Most scenarios like that end up removing that tile and replacing it with a whole one.

  • Tina

    Dear Mr. Elf,
      Some showers are tiled and it looks like the showers tiled wall is about an inch from the wall.  Do you double the greenboard to get this effect? Add a layer of cement borad where I’m going to tile?   Hope this question makes sense.

    • Roger

      Hey Tina,

      Those are usually mudded walls. ‘Wet’ mud is formed onto the wall similar to creating a shower floor to create an absolutely flat wall. They normally stick out 1/2″ – 3/4″ from a 1/2″ wall.

  • Lisa

    Hey the floor all down and it looks great, except for one tile where the heater vent goes in the middle.  can I plunge cut with my circular saw ? I assume I would have to apply water, can I just let the hose dribble across the tile? Or am I better off cutting the tile into pieces and re assemble them around the vent?

    • Roger

      Hi Lisa,

      The best way to do that is mark the tile EXACTLY for the heater vent and go ahead and install it without cutting the vent out. After 24 hours you can use a grinder with a diamond tile wheel and cut out the heater vent. Take your time. Letting it set first solidifies the tile and makes it very stable for cutting. You CAN use your circular saw with a diamond blade (without water) but the grinder works better. Don’t get your hose near any power tools – it never ends up well. :D

  • Lora

    Followed all your advice on installing the hardibacker in our shower – worked great, thanks! Tiling is done and holes have been drilled through the tile for the sliding doors and plate around faucet. But the backer board is too hard to get the screws in. I can’t even drill through it with a normal drill bit or pound a nail. Any suggestions?

    • Tony

      Ya gotta use a masonry bit like you use on the tile to drill into the hardibacker. Drill a pilot hole so can screw directly into a stud or drill the appropriate sized hole to use an anchor or molly as needed. Careful ya don’t put a drill or screw through a water line.

    • Roger

      Hi Lora,

      The drill bit you used to make the holes in the tile? Use that – it’ll work great.

  • Doug Bostrom

    Hello again, Roger.

    Thanks in large part to your advice, we’ve completed a pretty nice looking shower using 12″ slate, Custom Building Products topical membrane and thinset, cement board. A pro like yourself could certainly find some quibbles w/the project but all-in-all we’re pretty happy. Thanks!

    Now it’s time to install a couple of grab bars. I’ve got 2×10 firmly fixed between studs behind the cement board in all the appropriate areas for bar mounting, with photos to help in locating these, so we’re all set for support.

    My worry here is about overdoing the fasteners for the grab bars. I’ve installed ADA bars elsewhere and know that the screws supplied with them can exert a pretty extraordinary amount of pressure on whatever is between the supporting lumber and the flange on the bar.

    Do you have any tips for avoiding crushing, fracturing or otherwise maiming our slate? This not material is not very fragile as slate goes but as it’s only 8mm thick I’m still bit worried about damaging it by torquing down the bar mounting screws too far.

    • Roger

      Hey Doug,

      I normally just tighten them until they are snug (can’t be moved with only two fingers on your screwdriver) then crank them only 1/4 turn more. That always gets them more than tight enough (I’ve stood on them, really) and I’ve never cracked any tile or stone. I’ve done it in marble which is more pressure sensitive then slate, so slate should handle it just fine.

  • Barb

    can I use a drillpress?

    • Roger

      Hi Barb,

      Yes, you just need to make sure you keep the bit cooled with water.

  • Byron


    I have enjoyed your site immensely. I’m so glad I found it since I was on a path to complete and utter frustration and eventual dissatisfaction of my work. You gave me much to contemplate and so I began re-planning my bathroom project and have even decided to take on a few more challenging options like niches and tiling the ceiling. Anyway, on to my question. I want to install a 4″ or 5″ recessed light in the ceiling so I need to drill a hole in the tile of 4-3/8″ or 5-3/8″ in diameter to accommodate the fixture. The tiles are 12×12 and I plan to put the light in the center of one tile. I’ve been looking at hole saws for this size and have found one that has a carbide grit edge that appears to be for cutting into drywall, wood, plaster or stucco. Would this work or do you recommend something different? The other hole saws I’ve found are in the $70-$125+ range and are tungsten carbide tipped.


    • Roger

      Hey Byron,

      I have an entire set of hole saws specifically for tile – but you likely don’t want to pay the insane amount of money I did for them. :D The carbide ones will work, albeit extremely slowly. If you’re cutting it out of the very middle of a tile take your time and go very, very slowly and keep the cut wet to keep the saw cool. It works, but it isn’t ideal.

  • Dick

    Hi Roger,
    I want to thank you for the great tip with diamond hole saw from HD (20 dollars) worked great for shower lever. Had to make 4 cuts but couldn’t have been easier.
    A long time coming but with off and on working on shower I have a few questions.
    1.When bringing tiles toward area of shower doors , the second tile next to bullnose is going to be a shorter width then place 3 inch bullnose?The tile next to bullnose will be width that 3 in. bullnose allows? Is that the way to finish to edge? If I did not finish with bullnose the tile would be same width as corner tile where the walls meet. Confused? I hope you understand these questions because I’m not sure I’m putting them into the right words. Thanks again for great tip.

    2. Bullnose on top. Are they lined up with other tiles in the field or staggered 1/2 way over other grout lines?

    • Roger

      Hey Dick,

      Nope, the tile next to the bullnose will be a full tile. Start on the outside edge with the bullnose then as many full tiles as will fit (normally 2 on a regular tub surround) then cut the last one that butts into the corner. The bullnose can line up or be staggered – guys do it both ways. I like to offset mine by 1/2 tile for two reasons: 1) when you get to the top and change the direction of the bullnose vertical to horizontal you can miter those without a three-inch squared miter, which looks like hell in my opinion. 2) the matching bullnose tiles are rarely exactly the same length as the field tile – they are usually about 1/16″ shorter. That leads to a wide grout line in your bullnose when trying to line it up.

      • Dick

        Thanks Roger.
        I think I am screwed. I began wall in center and have most tiles up except that last right row toward shower door. Help. Do I take that wall off and live with consequences or place 4 in. wide piece and cut bullnose to 2 inches at edge.(there is 6 inches at left to wall and rt. to edge to door is also 6 inches. What was I thinking? Was happy with job up to this point.

        • Roger

          Hey Dick,

          That is one option (cutting the four inch piece). Tearing out the wall is also another option. You can also find a metal or plastic trim piece for the edge rather than using bullnose. You can then have the full six inch piece with the trim on it and it will look fine. It’s mostly about how much each option will bug you every day. :D

          • Dick

            Thanks again Roger. I tore out 12 pieces and scraped wall and tiles(what a pain in the a–). Now deciding what to do. Never seen trim pieces and thought bullnose would look better.
            The end piece I would have used if bullnose option would be 11/2 inches to wall and would not have looked good.
            Do I try something with borders etc. on this one wall where shower diverter wall is placed.(with bullnose, which looks good) This way I may be able to make up difference to look well and use atleast close to larger tile toward wall.
            Last- Bullnose at end then 3 in. then 3 full size tiles(8 in.) and a 51/2 in. to wall- The bullnose screwed this up because I would have had 6 inches on both ends.
            Thanks for your advice.

            • Roger

              You can put a border in there. Or you can move the bullnose back 1/2″ – that should give you full tiles to the back wall – I think. I can’t see it from here. :D You can also center the entire wall between the bullnose and back wall so you have equal cuts on the front and back. That usually looks better than a 3 inch strip next to the bullnose.

              • Dick

                Thank you Roger. Yesterday I had started to place bullnose then measured from center of wall to bullnose and I will have 3 tiles with one 41/2 inch to wall and cut another to bullnose equally 41/2. (the 3 full tiles will be in between)
                Aesthetically it looks much better. It will be more time but I will see it every day. I have much respect for tile setters after this venture. Have tiled bathroom tub and many floors but shower with niche is much harder than all of those.(retired teacher-wannabee tiler))
                Thank you again for you quick response.

  • Doug Bostrom

    Quick “Thank You” for this excellent tip. I used your technique to cut a 4″ hole spanning a pair of 12″ pieces of 8mm (English –and– metric!) slate, using a hole saw intended for making openings for can lamps in drywall. This particular saw has pretty large chunks of carbide embedded in it with no actual teeth. After one test cut (aka “mistake”) and then a final run, it still looks as though it could go through another half dozen cuts pretty easily.

    In order to get the two halves of the hole lined up, I arranged the two pieces of slate with cut-down spacers, lying on a piece of shower membrane, with the plywood template on top. Kneeling on the wood with the slate tightly pressed against the (rubbery) membrane kept the two pieces of slate nicely aligned while the saw did its work.

    I also found out that one of my drills smells like food when overheated, the other smells like a chemical factory fire…

    • Roger

      Nicely done, Doug! Innovation rules. :rockon:

      The description of your overheating drills made me laugh my ass off this morning as I was headed out the door – thank you! :D Mine hasn’t yet overheated – it always smells like a pez dispenser.

  • Aaron


    Any reason I shouldn’t use a drill press to cut a hole in the tile to keep gentle, even pressure?


    • Roger

      Hey Aaron,

      No reason at all not to use a drill press. If it were a viable option to haul a drill press to every job for the sole purpose of drilling tile I’d build a table for it large enough to hold tile and do it in a heartbeat! Space is limited, though, I own a load of tools. I’d put that tile on a piece of cardboard while drilling it, though, just to ensure even pressure.

  • Tony

    Make sure your tile doesn’t overlap the threaded holes in the rough valve so you can mount the escutcheon when it comes time. Makes for an unhappy plumber (not that I would know anything about that of course)

  • Mark

    So far in my planning, my shower mixing valve should end up centered on a grout line. I am also looking at my accent tile (three rows of 1″ glass) ending up in the center – ~48″ from the shower floor.

    Question: Do you do any particular types of tile cuts beside square or nibble when installing around a single handle shower mixing valve? I am looking at a 4″ opening for the valve.

    • Roger

      Hey Mark,

      No real need to. as long as whatever you cut out of the tile will be covered by the escutcheon (that’s the big metal cover plate for your fixtures) then you can cut it in any shape you like.

      I have had to cut just about every shape imaginable out of a tile for specialty fixtures. For instance an oval like the one in this SLATE SHOWER in Fort Collins. It needed to be that exact size because the fixture being installed had only 1/8″ of play size-wise. Anytime you need something unusual you can use a grinder with a diamond blade on it. But for your normal 4″ opening just a square will work fine.

  • Tony

    That’s an awesome technique! I use a thinner piece of wood (blame genetics) and a turkey baster (insert your own joke there), but that requires me to use my foot to hold the wood and tile in place. Gonna try this on my next one. And I concur, pilot bits are great for wood, but useless on tile.

    • Roger

      Hey Tony,

      Glad I could help. I’ve tried about every method out there and end up back at this one. It got a lot easier after I chucked the pilot bit.

      Turkey baster…let me work on that one. :D