How to Nail Through Tile

Wall or floor covered in white tiles
  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-50
What You'll Need
Variable speed hand drill
Masonry bit
Regular bit
Masking tape
Tape measure
Safety goggles
Cutting oil
Silicone caulk

It's a tricky maneuver, but sometimes it's necessary to nail a tile for bathroom and kitchen projects. Perhaps you need to hang up an extra towel rail, install a mirror, or add some other fixture. Whatever your goal may be, you want to be sure you get it right first time round. Given the delicate nature of tiles, you’ve got to be careful with the method.

If not well executed, you could end up with more work than you planned. The key is to first drill a hole through the tile and then proceed to the underlying wall. Doing so allows you to drive your nail into the underlying wall. Follow the steps below to nail through tile.

Step 1 - Apply Masking Tape

Place some masking tape over the area through which you want to nail. Doing so will provide some stability as you drill. It will ensure that the drill bit doesn’t “run off” because of the glazed surface of the tile. The tape also helps to prevent marks on the tile surface.

Step 2 - Mark a Spot on Tape

Mark the spot on the tape where you intend to drive the drill. Precise measurements will ensure that you don’t end up with unnecessary holes on your tile.

Step 3 - Use Masonry Bit

Insert a sharp masonry bit into your variable hand drill. It will enable you to drive through the hard tile material. Begin with a low speed of about 100 revolutions per minute. Apply light and steady pressure to avoid damaging the tile. Dip the bit occasionally into cutting oil. It will help the bit not to overheat. A cooled bit also cuts better than an overheated bit.

Step 4 - Drill Underlying Wall

Once you’ve driven a hole through the tile, switch to a regular bit. Position the bit through the hole in the tile and drill through the wall. It is safe to use a higher speed to drill through the wall. Withdraw the drill once you’ve driven the hole to the desired depth.

Step 5 - Insert Nail

Place a nail into the hole and apply caulk to secure the nail firmly. Use a wet rag to clear the excess caulk from the hole. Allow about 24 hours for the caulk to dry well.


A variable speed drill works better than a hammer drill. The latter could shatter the tile due to the impact of the vibrations. It is best to maintain a slow speed as you work with the drill. A high speed can cause inaccuracy and damage the tile.

Do not rush the job or apply heavy pressure as you drill. The tool could slip and damage the tile, which would necessitate a replacement. You may want to set the drill on “reverse” as you begin to help the drill break through the tile surface. Safety goggles will protect your eyes.