How to drill a small hole in granite?

One of the most popular ways to improve the value of your home is by adding granite countertops in the kitchen, and for good reason. Granite is strong, beautiful, doesn’t stain (when sealed properly) or scratch and deals with heat pretty well. For the DIY-er, that makes it a wonderful material. Except when you have to drill a hole into it.

In a perfect world, building materials would be strong and durable, but you could drill a hole in it as if it were butter. Unfortunately, that type of granite has not been discovered yet, which makes granite a generally difficult material to drill into.

The good news is that you can drill into granite if you just know how. In the blog post below, we’ll show you the best way to drill through a granite countertop (or other surfaces).

Picking the right drill bit

First of all, consider all options before you start drilling or even plan further. A lot of times, you can avoid having to drill through granite altogether by rerouting your plans. While you can drill through granite, it takes more work than drilling most other holes, and patching up is not going to be an option. If you plan to drill faucet holes, see if you can negotiate it into your installation process.

To drill a hole in granite, you’ll need a special diamond drill bit (Check on Amazon.com). Don’t let the name scare you off (although a diamond tip is indeed used); you can buy a set of diamond drill bits in all common sizes on Amazon for around $20.

Picking the right drill

While you could drill with any type of drill, a more powerful drill is probably the better option. If you have a hammer drill, using the hammer option would be overpowering, as you want to keep precision. If your hammer drill has the option to switch off the hammering and is easy enough to navigate, it will be your best bet.

If all you have is a $20 drill that you once bought and last used a year ago to screw in two screws, you might want to consider buying a more powerful one. For most common hole sizes in the DIY area (between ½” and 1/8”), you’re looking for 1,000 to 2,500 rotations per minute (RPM). A higher RPM count helps you drill smaller holes more easily.

Preparing

Once you’ve got the right-sized drill bit and your drill all set up, it’s time to prepare the actual hole. Mark the spot where you want the hole clearly. If you can, clamp a piece of stone scrap under the granite surface. This will keep the granite from chipping. If you’re able to clamp, you might also want to put a thin piece of wood on top with the hole already drilling in it. This will keep the drill bit from slipping.

Pour some water on the granite surface. Although you may not need it for the technical part of the drilling (depending on how powerful your drill is), it will keep your work area nice and clean, as the water will eliminate the granite dust. You can build a small dam around it to keep the water in place.

Drilling

Now start drilling at a steady pace and at a slight angle, straightening the drill bit when you have the beginning for your hole and increasing the speed as the hole gets deeper. Don’t add too much pressure to the drill and allow the drill to do the work. Drilling through granite takes a little while, but you can keep going at a steady speed. After every 30 seconds, consider adding water to the drill bit to prevent overheating. Count on repeating the 30-second cycle about two or three times when drilling through a slab less than 1” thick.

If you have an especially thick slab of granite (over ½”), stop when you’re around the ½” point to remove the built-up debris from the hole. This keeps your drill bit from overheating and getting dull because it can keep going for a ‘clean’ drill.

Here’s how to drill granite:

Filing

If you would like to improve the hole you just drilling, you may want to file it a little. As you may have expected, your best bet is going to be a diamond file. Now, filing a hole only really makes sense if the hole has a significant diameter, which would fit a file. You can order these on Amazon as well, for around $15. Once you have the file, you can simply use it as you would use any other type of file.

General tips

  • If you have a small slab of concrete as a leftover, try drilling into that first to get a feel for the right technique and pressure.
  • Make sure the drill bit you’re buying can support the depth you’re planning to drill. Cheaper versions usually have a cap of around ½”.
  • If you smell burning, you’re doing something wrong. Your drill bit should never even feel warm to the touch.
  • A steady, slow speed will help your drill stay in good shape.
  • Your drilling will more likely suffer from too little water than too much.

Conclusion

While drilling into granite may seem like a daunting task, in the end, it’s all about preparation. When you carefully select your drill bit and do the minimum planning, drilling into concrete is a DIY project like everything else. If you only have one shot at drilling, make sure you have the time and focus to get it right. It’s not harder than any other type of drilling, but a bit more unforgiving. If you can drill any other type of hole, you should be fine with granite, too.

With the above information, you should, however, have no problems drilling into granite at all. As an added bonus, you can use your normal drill for most drilling projects that have to do with granite, giving you all the more reason to give this a try.

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