I need to install a shower against a tiled wall.

I have 2 issues :

  1. I need to safely remove a tiny bit of the tile, to give me more access to the water outlet of the pipe. What tool and method should I use to avoid breaking the whole tile?

  2. Behind the tile, there is some cement/concrete (I think). I need to remove it to have access to the water outlet, but without breaking everything (the tool I use will be very close to the tile). Should I use a drill or a chisel and hammer?


4 Answers 4


You should use an abrasive grinding tool with a relatively fine grit or tooth, not a cutting tool. You don't want anything that can catch the tile and shatter it, and you want to operate at a fairly high rpm to reduce chatter and grab.

Apply pressure parallel to the face of the tile only--don't push inward or outward or you risk spalling the face of the tile. Keep the tool square with the wall.

High speed, low pressure. That's the name of the game.

  • 1
    Note that whatever you use to grind away the tile will do a fine job of grinding away the concrete/backer board/whatever is behind the tiles, too.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 15:45
  • 4
    Also, you really don't want to breathe this dust. Take some time to figure out dust mitigation/control.
    – GManNickG
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 6:35
  • 1
    Dremel with appropriate wheel might work...
    – rogerdpack
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 15:08

I would use an oscillating multitool with a diamond blade.

A small rotary tool with a diamond blade might also work.

With either of these, I would have a spray bottle of water nearby and occasionally spray the tile with a bit to help the tile and blade stay cool. This will help cut/grind the tile more easily.


Typically some sort of diamond saw is best for cutting tile without breaking the rest of the tile. In this case possibly a diamond "hole saw" or "core bit" would be your best option to cut access around the pipes (will cut both tile and concrete.)

If there is concrete remaining between the hole saw cut and the pipe, then you might carefully apply a chisel to remove that concrete.

  • 2
    My understanding is that existing holes need to be enlarged. That makes a hole-saw extremely difficult to use since the pilot bit has nothing to bite into to hold it in place, and that makes it very difficult to hold the "saw" part in place. Plus the pilot bit has a high chance of hitting whatever plumbing bits are already behind those holes.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 15:42
  • 1
    Remove pilot, run in a ring attached to the wall to guide it if you cannot hold it steady.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 0:10
  • If you have hole saws that will run without a pilot bit, that sounds like an excellent solution. My hole saws require the pilot bit, because that's what holds the whole thing into the drill. Didn't really know a removable pilot was an option. #TIL
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 13:14
  • The arbor holds the (replaceable, different sizes) holesaw and the (replaceable, just one size) pilot bit on all of mine. Undo a screw, pull the pilot bit.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 14:15
  • 1
    If you ask the Duck about "Diamond Hole Saw", you'll probably see what I saw: a bunch of cheap imported hole saws with diamond dust right at the end. I've had very good success using these. They have no pilot bit, so if you want to precisely control where they go, you should cut a guide hole in some plywood, and fasten (or just hold) the plywood over where you want your hole.
    – aghast
    Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 16:58

I would use a carbide tipped drill bit to drill a bunch of holes around the holes just deep enough to go through the tile at first so as to avoid piercing any pipes at first. Once you have enough holes, the tile will break from hole to hole with a small tap of a hammer and chisel. Then work your way slowly through the concrete a little at a time the same way again to avoid hitting any pipes that appear to be behind the concrete


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