Tile Screws & Anchors. How to Screw into Tiles?

Installing accents through ceramic or porcelain tile is a different process than it is for sheetrock, shiplap, or studs. You must use an anchor, drill a pilot hole, and use tile screws to correctly complete the process.

Uses of Tile Screws

Tile screws help to secure items to a tile wall. The things that benefit from this product are numerous, ranging from a mounted shelf to a medicine cabinet.

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The following are some of the common uses of tile screws.

  • To hand something on your kitchen backsplash
  • Mount a mirror on the wall
  • Anchor a Bathroom Towel Bar
  • Fix a toilet paper holder
  • Attach bathroom accessories like soap dishes
  • Mount a cabinet on the wall
  • To hang the shower curtain.

Knowing how to use tile screws can help you hang things from a tile backsplash, attach heavy cabinets, or secure assistive technologies. If you want to install a grab bar in a shower with the tile present, you must use these fasteners.

Can You Put Screws in Tile?

You can screw into a tile by drilling a pilot hole and using an anchor. However, you cannot put a self-threading screw into tile the same way you do with wood or sheetrock. Even if the fastener could drill through the glazed surface, the penetrating portion of the metal components would likely crack the wall.

Once placed tile cracks, you must either reglaze the surface or removed the damaged components. Allowing the material to remain increases the risk for water or grease damage.

Hence it is absolutely necessary that you use a tile drill bit to create a hole in the tile and then place a plastic anchor inside the hole. The screw will expand the anchor and will create a firm grip inside the hole.

Type of Screws to Use with Tile

Tile typically gets installed in the kitchen or bathroom. It’s a popular medium for these spaces because it resists moisture well.

Once you drill into a glazed ceramic tile, the surface protection gets compromised. It is up to the tile screws to restore it with your installation work.

The best affordable tile screws are made from stainless steel. This material is naturally rust-resistant throughout the entire piece. When the plastic anchor forms around it during your installation, it creates a waterproof seal (if done correctly) that protects your wall, floor, or backsplash.

Stainless steel screws with anchors
Stainless steel screws and anchors set. Click here to see Amazon price

A standard galvanized tile screw is the next best option for affordable applications. It has a coating applied to the fastener that gives it an added level of moisture resistance. The covering can wear off as time passes, which is why stainless steel items are the preferred budget-friendly choice.

If your preference is for only the best fastener possible, hot-dipped galvanized steel or bronze screws are the only choice. This option is so powerful that the U.S. Coast Guard uses them for underwater fastening.

What Tile Screw Anchors to Use with Ceramic Tile

Alligator anchors are the most popular ones to use when placing tile screws. This product works with most standard sizes that are needed for mounting purposes on this surface. The design comes in various sizes, which means you must pay attention to the millimeter rating on the item.

ALLIGATOR Tile Screw Anchor

A 5mm alligator anchor fits a hole size of 3/16 inches.

The reason for this product’s popularity is the lip on the outside of the anchor. Instead of the entire thing going into the wall, an outer ring provides a measure of water resistance to protect the installation point.

You can increase the protective quality of this product by caulking around the edge of the ring. This step seals the screw and anchor to the tile.

How ALLIGATOR anchor works
The alligator anchor works even on hollow walls by opening the tail end to secure well inside the hole.

The weight of the item you install must come into consideration. You will want to look at the half-inch drywall ultimate tensile strength value rating to choose which anchor is necessary.

If the item you’re installing weighs 57 pounds or less, an A5 anchor is suitable, which works with a #8 sheet metal screw. An A6 anchor holds 69 pounds, while an A8 can manage 85 pounds.

Do not follow the concrete ratings unless your pilot hole ends in that medium.

Using 25% of the maximum rating typically ensures that your installation will be successful.

How Do You Screw into Tiles?

Screws cannot go into tile until you create a pilot hole for it. That work requires a carbide or diamond-tipped bit and some careful drilling.

  • Start the drilling process by placing an “X” with masking or painter’s tape on the tile. Taking this action prevents the drill bit from slipping while you work.
  • Slowly push the drill through the glazing until you feel it breaks through to the materials behind the tile. Don’t rush this process because that increases the risk of cracking.
  • Unless you have concrete behind the tile, swap out bits to finish the pilot hole in the sheetrock or wood stud.

Once you have a hole that successfully goes through the tile, drywall, and backing board, you must insert the appropriate anchor size with the weight-bearing traits you require. This component helps the wall to bear more weight, even if your tile screw doesn’t go into a joist or stud.

The anchor should fit snugly into the hole you drilled. It works best if you place it by hand because additional pressure at your drill point could cause some tiles to crack. If you must tap it in, a rubber mallet is your best option to prevent damage.

How to fix a tile screw with anchor

Most AF5, AF6, and AF8 anchors contain polypropylene plastic. It expands around the fastener and the back of the wall as if it were molded to hold the screw. This product supports almost 80 pounds when mounted to a half-inch drywall.

If you can find a stud, it can hold even more weight.

Once you have the anchor secure, you can place the tile screw into the bored hole to affix your accents, shelving, or support items.

It helps to always follow what the manufacturer recommends when boring a hole for this anchor. Even if it is only 1mm or 1/32-inch larger than expected, the tile screws eventually pull out.

Should I Try to Do Install Tile Screws Myself?

If you have DIY experience with tile screws, drilling, and mounting work, tackling a project like this could save you some money.

While you don’t need to drill a very accurate hole like using a tap a die set, you’d want to be careful when boring the pilot hole for the AF5 anchor and eventual screw to avoid cracking the surrounding tile.

Whenever you are uncertain of your skills or have never tried a technique before, it is helpful to hire an experienced contractor or handyman. You’ll have a better guarantee for a successful installation and liability safeguards to protect you.