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How to Drill Holes in a Concrete Backer Board

By Robert Ferguson ; Updated September 21, 2017
Using a drill and hole saw bit is an easy way to drill holes through cement backer board.
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Concrete backer board is a material used for the substrate in ceramic tile and stone applications. It provides a solid substrate for setting tile or stone. Because cement backer board is comprised of compressed cement pressed between layers of fiberglass, the material is difficult to cut and install holes for plumbing. Drilling holes in backer board is possible but takes a heavy toll on the drill bit as the cement quickly dulls the bit. Masonry bits are suitable for small holes but often the required holes are larger than most masonry bits on the market. An adjustable hole saw bit provides a wide range of hole sizes at an economical price.

Mark the desired hole locations on the cement backer board using a pencil.

Place the cement backer board on a sturdy pair of sawhorses.

Install the applicable sized hole saw bit into the drill. An adjustable hole saw bit provides various sizes at an economical price.

Drill the hole by placing the pilot bit that is attached to the hole saw bit on the location marked in step 1. The pilot bit helps to stabilize the hole saw bit during the drilling process.


Things You Will Need

  • Pencil
  • Sawhorses
  • Adjustable hole saw bit
  • Drill


  • Score the hole location with a razor knife and punch out the hole with a hammer.


  • Wear a respirator to avoid inhaling the dust during drilling.
  • Wear safety glasses when using power tools.

About the Author


Robert Ferguson has been a writer since 2000. His published work includes material for major companies in the home improvement, plumbing, HVAC and power tool industry. Ferguson is a self-employed, licensed building contractor in Florida with more than 30 years of hands on experience experience focusing primarily on residential remodeling, repair, renovation and construction.