Friday, December 15

Installing a Ceramic Towel Bar, Soap Dish or Toilet Paper Holder in Drywall

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Many homes do not have convenently placed ceramic bathroom accessories. Few people enjoy walking across the bathroom to reach the towel bar after taking a hot shower, or worse yet, having to stretch in order to reach the toilet paper holder. Installing new ceramic bathroom accessories can solve these problems.

Ceramic bathroom accessories — soap dishes, towel bars and toilet paper holders — have nipples on their backs that mount in the wall. A 1/4-inch lip surrounds the nipple. The goal is to cut a hole in the drywall large enough for the nipple, but one small enough to prevent the lip from entering the drywall. Ceramic bathroom accessories do not need to be placed over a wall stud.

1) Choose a location for the ceramic bathroom accessory. When installing a toilet paper holder, sit on the toilet and hold the paper holder against the wall. This verifies it is within reach. Towel bars should be at chest heigth. Place soap dishes as close to the sink as possible.

2) Hold the accessory against the wall. Trace the nipple’s outline on the drywall with a pencil.

3) Score the pencil lines with a utility knife. Press the utility knife’s blade against one of the scored corners and press the blade through the drywall. Cut through the drywall along the top and sides of the nipple’s outline. Tap on the top of the outline until the top of the square falls into the wall. The bottom of the square should remain attached. This will form a shelf.

4) Verify the ceramic accessory’s nipple fits in the hole. Shave the hole with the knife, if needed. 

5) Cut all of the accessories’ holes. Ceramic towel bars require two holes.

6) Pour 1 cup of dry unsanded thinset mix in a bucket for every accessory. Ceramic towel bars require 2 cups of dry thinset. Thinset is a strong mortar designed for ceramic.

7) Add 1/4 cup of water for every 1 cup of powder thinset mix into the bucket. Stir the thinset and water with a margin trowel.

8) Apply half of an accessory’s portion to to the back of the asseccory. Cover the nipple and the lip. Spread the remainder of the thinset around the nipple’s drywall hole. Allow the excess to fall on the shelf in the wall.

9) Press the ceramic accessory into the hole. Excess thinset should squeeze out  from behind the accessory around the lid. Form a bead of thinset around the accessory with a finger.

10) Clean the mess with a damp sponge. All excess thinset must be wiped off of the drywall and the ceramic accessory.

11) Hold the accessory to the wall with masking tape. Repeat this for each accessory.

Let the thinset dry for 24 hours before using the accessory. Polish the ceramic coating with a paper towel after the drying period has ended. When dry, the thinset mushrooms behind the drywall, which locks the ceramic accessories to the drywall.

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