How do I attach a shower rod, grab bar, and towel racks in a newly tiled bathroom?

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Posted by: from Burford
12/28/2012 at 10:37:01 AM

I have lovely subway tile to drill through. I was told we must drill through the grout. Is this right?

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John from JALS Corporation in Welland
Date/Time12/28/2012 at 11:06:38 AM

Yes, that is the best way to drill the grout is softer, if you try the tile it will take you a long time and you will go throught quite a few drill bits.

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 11:25:27 AM

I'd suggest you go buy a bit for drilling thru the tile. They are not expensive and will cut thru the tile effortlessly. With the right tools, you can focus on fastening to the studs (for grab bar and towel rack) behind the tiles and locating your grab bars where you want them, not where the grout dictates.

For the curtain rod: if you don't hit a stud, use an insert of some sort. The fasteners will only be in shear and don't need to be anchored to a stud. However the grab bar and towel rack will see tensile forces (pulling) so be sure to hit a stud.

Once you see how well the bit works you will never be intimidated by drilling tile.

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 12:06:54 PM

Hi Miranda,

Drilling through the grout is a short cut and will only cause you further issues down the road. The grout is there for protection, and when you drill through it you are compromising it and it could eventually chip away or fall out of the space it is in, leaving an area that is exposed to water entering it.

I would get a drill bit that is made for drilling through tile. It will be a diamond head drill bit, available at Home Depot. You will have to drill with a small amount of water applied to the area to keep the drill bit cool. You should drill at a low speed.

If at all in doubt, get someone to come in and do it for you.

Do not drill through the grout!!!

Bill Clawsie

Clawsie Contracting


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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 12:09:36 PM

You don't have to drill through the grout, it's just easier. Besides what the odds all your holes will line up with the grout lines.

Any building store will have drill bits for tiles. Either the spade type or diamond, the diamonds last longer if you will every use it again. They run $10-40.

If you don't hit a stud, drill a larger hole and use a toggle bolt, they spread the load better so you don't have any cracked tiles latter on.

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 12:10:38 PM


Short answer is NO, you don't have to go through the grout. Grout is a soft cement like material that is basically a filler betwen the tiles. It is easier to drill through but if the tiles are very close together you will still have the issue of drilling through part of the tile.

What I would suggest, as Tom mentioned, go to your local home improvement store and purchase a ceramic bit. It doesn't resemble a regular drill bit but a staff member show be able to help. This type of bit is meant for drilling through tiles.

A tip ... put some masking tape over the area you want to drill and mark thespot on the tapt. The tape will prevent the bit from sliding and assist with the accuracy of the desired hole position.

It isn't difficult, just use the proper tool (bit).

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Constantine from Constantine in Toronto
Date/Time12/28/2012 at 12:25:16 PM

Hello Miranda,

The proper way for installing all the stuff you want it is to have a solid surface behind the tiles where you want to mount them.

I use always a piece of plywood between the studs where the mirror, bar toilet paper holder, etc. In your case your contractor did not do that.

Anyway do not drill through the grout. Drill through the tile with diamond tip. Do not forget to put a plug and bathtub silicone before you mount your hardware in the hole you drilled. It is some protection for potential leaks.


416 8291570


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Miranda in Burford
Date/Time12/28/2012 at 12:35:28 PM

I want to thank everyone who gave me advice. We will try it later today. I will post further what the results are.

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Bauhaus Renovations in London
Date/Time12/28/2012 at 1:01:32 PM

As most of the contractors are suggesting, do not go through the grout. The proper drill bit will make short work of it. If you have to use an anchor, a good tip is to put some silicone on the anchor before you put it in place.

Have a great New Year.

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 1:29:17 PM

It doesn't matter if you drill through the grout or the tile. Make sure you don't hammerdrill through the surface of the tile, it could crack the entire tile if you hammerdrill. Once you're through the surface, you can hammerdrill through the rest of the tile.

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Dolphin Construction Co. in Ottawa
Date/Time12/28/2012 at 1:43:00 PM

Tile installer should drill. If you are tile installer you should know where to drill. Try to drill into the studs.

Forget about grout, make sure you are put a caulking to cover your hole. Make it water tight.

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 2:13:47 PM

Wherever possible, its better if you can drill through grout without disturbing the tiles. However if necessary you will have to drill through the tile only as you can't match all the holes to grout.

Please ensure that you use a glass/ tile drill bit to avoid chipping or cracking your beautiful tiles. Just be slow on the speed and its all good.

Good Luck!

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 2:45:43 PM

Whomever told you to drill through the grout is misleading you.

The pull bar and units you are installing must be secured properly. That means using a stud finder set on deep scan. That will locate the studs behind the cement board and tiles for you.

Find a location that will work well for the grab bar. Pick up a drill bit that is for ceramic and porcilin. The holes will be a breeze to drill with the correct bit. (Be sure you take the screws you indend to use with you to the store, and pick a bit that is marginaly larger.

When you screw the brackets on for the pull bar, apply some silicon sealant around the hole as you insert the screws.

The towel bar and shower rod do not need to be installed into a stud. So locate them where they work for the opening and for asthetics for the towel bar.

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 3:24:39 PM


Stewart here of Sct Floorcoverings.

Step 1 will be to Locate and Mark out where the Wall Studs are Located-You will need to screw into the studs in order to secure the rod, Grab bar and towel racks properly.

As to drilling through the tiles, it will depend upon the density of the tiles, ceramic tile and marble are soft in density theirfore easy to drill through with a good Masonry Bit. If they are High grade Porcelain or Granit you will have to get Diamond Tip Bits or remove the tiles in the area to be screwed and reinstall after the wall mountings are installed.

Best regards

Stewart-Sct Floorcoverings

Mississauga ontario

Ph# 289-814-3023

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 5:39:10 PM

That might work but the drill bit may still catch the edge of the tile and crack it. In any event, you should be using a carbide tipped drill bit and gentle pressure - let the drill bit do its job.

Whenever you are doing or hiring someone else to do tile, you should keep or be given the remainder of the tiles in the box as spares for just this purpose.

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Date/Time12/28/2012 at 6:01:41 PM

You do not have to drill through your grout lines necessarily. You may drill through the tile itself if you are careful. You must use a masonary bit, (available at your hardware store). Start your hole by running drill in reverse, this will mark hole without slipping. Once marked, finish drilling with drill in forward.

As far as your grab bar goes, you should have wood blocking behind the drywall/tile for added strength. If you did not install wood blocking, I suggest you use toggle bolts. If it is in the shower area, use stainless steel screws to prevent rust.

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Date/Time1/4/2013 at 6:52:21 AM

Hello Miranda,

Did you hear about drill-less attaching/installing Showerbars and hooks etc. ? To learn more about this product, check out this German invention.


3D-Tile-Design - Bertram Tasch

Maple Ridge, BC (Greater Vancouver)

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Date/Time1/4/2013 at 6:54:55 AM

!!! Drilling through the tiles (or the grout lines) in a shower is never a good Idea because you will penetrate the waterproofing membrane !!!

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