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I believe ceramic and porcelain tiles are the most common, but this looks like it might be some kind of polished stone. Will a carbide bit work on this tile, or does it require a diamond-tipped bit?

Shower tile

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I still don't know entirely what type of stone this is, but a 1/4" carbide-tipped hammer drill bit went through it with no problem, and no cracking. I didn't end up using a hammer drill, just an impact driver. The main challenge is that the bit wanders at the beginning, but I think that is a general challenge of drilling in tile.

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    An impact driver? With a separate hex chuck then I assume..? Seems unusual to have an impact driver and not a cheap drill or 'combi' thing, but each to their own! You could probably break some bits pretty quickly if the clutch kicked in though, but I suppose I'd be more worried about how well the chuck's held... – OJFord Nov 26 '20 at 19:17
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    Yes, a hex chuck. The clutch never kicked in. I agree that it's odd to have a driver and not a drill, but I live in a small apartment and am sparing with the tools I buy. The driver works well enough for my purposes that I have never bought a dedicated drill. – HotDogWater Nov 28 '20 at 1:03
  • Fair enough, I was just surprised because I think it's probably more common to have a combination drill/driver that works well enough at driving purposes never to have bought an impact driver (nor better drill). :) – OJFord Nov 29 '20 at 13:42
  • I bought it for a particular project. And honestly, it was probably a dumb purchase, although it has served me well enough... – HotDogWater Nov 30 '20 at 14:58
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It appears to be an aggregate of stone and some type of mortar. I think you'll find that the stone is much harder than the mortar between the stones and you may have trouble drilling at or near an edge of a stone and keeping your bit from wandering.

I'd use a diamond-tipped here as that's going to be harder than the carbide one.

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  • If I can get away with just drilling into the mortar between tiles, would that be easier? That's how the shower curtain rod is installed, and it might work for towel hooks as well. The main issue is that there isn't enough room for an anchor. – HotDogWater Nov 17 '20 at 19:05
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It's Hammer Time

A hammer drill, with an appropriate bit, is the tool of choice here. A regular drill (trust me...I've learned the hard way) will have a hard time (pun intended) getting through tile, no matter what type of bit you use.

If you are using a typical ~ 18V battery-powered drill/driver, see if the same manufacturer has a hammer drill so that you can share batteries and save a few $. Or see if one of your neighbors has a hammer drill that they can lend you for a one-time job.

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    I'd think that a hammer drill (or rotary hammer) would more likely to crack the entire tile instead of just cutting a smooth hole. (Possibly what the down-voter was thinking, too.) – FreeMan Nov 17 '20 at 17:13
  • A lot does depend on: size of desired hole, size of bit, type of tile. YMMV. But based on my personal experience, I'd probably start with a regular drill and then, after a few choice phrases, pull out the hammer drill with a small bit. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Nov 17 '20 at 17:21
  • All I have right now is an impact driver. I would probably rent a rotary hammer rather than buy one. If I have the option of renting a 1" (7 Amp), 1.5" (11 Amp), or 2" (15 Amp) hammer, which one would be best? – HotDogWater Nov 17 '20 at 19:02
  • I was thinking something much smaller like this 1/2" Ryobi from Home Depot A big tool would be to demolish the wall. I assume here you just want to drill a few holes for plumbing or to mount something on the wall. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Nov 17 '20 at 19:08
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    I'm pretty sure @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact was referring to a simple 1/4" chuck cordless with a hammer setting, not a big ass rotary hammer from the big boy toolbox. Rethink your downvotes. – Chris Cudmore Nov 26 '20 at 18:02

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