cutting 1 1/4 inch holes in ceramic wall tile for a shower faucet

ship4uAugust 15, 2013

Hi everyone,
I need to cut holes in the shower wall for my plumber to install a 3 stem faucet with diverter. The installation instructions from California faucet says that each hole needs to be 1 1/4 inch in diameter.
First question, why so big, when the stems are skinny? Is it because you need to allow for future access to the cartridges?
Second question, how would you go about cutting the holes in the wall? A large bit (hole saw), or a 1 1/4" circle of tiny holes.
I appreciate any advice or experience.

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If the hole falls between two tile - then you can use a tile saw. Otherwise get some putty (plumbers putty) and build a little cup - 1/2" high on the tile. Fill this cup with water. Use a carbide hole saw.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 4:09PM
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Hi Geoffrey,
Thanks for the follow up and suggestion. The problem is that the tiles are mounted on the wall, so building a cup out of plumber's putty wouldn't work. Each cut will be close to centered within the tile.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:42PM
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A diamond hole saw bit will be your best friend for this. They are a little expensive but the best way to avoid cracking the tile. I would recommend have a second pair of hands available with a spray bottle of some sort of liquid to spray the tile and keep everything cool, also to help avoid breaking the tile (alluding to Geoffrey's post about making a pool or bath).

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 9:15AM
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Thanks, Millworkman,
I think the idea of a spray bottle to keep the bit and tile cool while drilling is a great idea. I was wondering about diamond coated hole saw vs. tungsten carbide. I read somewhere that the diamond should be used on porcelain and tungsten carbide on ceramic. You feel the diamond would be better for this job, cutting ceramic?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 3:48PM
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That I am not certain of. The company I work for (as a PM/Estimator) usually only does glass but not tile but one of my installers does tile as well and from what I know the only thing he uses id a diamond hole saw, Maybe tungsten carbide would be better bu I do not know. The keeping it cool part is essential for either however.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 4:24PM
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The diamond hole saw worked great. I took it slow, sprayed water in the cut, and cleaned out the sludge every so often to keep the temperature cool. Only $39 and it did all 3 holes, ceramic tiles and an inch of cement wall.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 4:25PM
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