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Pretend you just moved into your new home and want to take the first shower. After cleaning up, you open the shower door only to discover that you must walk across a slippery tile floor to reach the towel bar. Now imagine the horror; a visiting friend needs to use the restroom, and once he finishes his business, your friend realizes the installer mounted the paper-holder a step or two out of reach. Both of these placement issues happened because the installer failed to plan the layout with the user in mind. After living in their home for a short amount of time, more than a few homeowners have discovered the installer either placed one of the ceramic fixtures in an inconvenient spot or neglected to install one to begin with.
This is one project where layout greatly affects usability. The above examples simply highlight a couple fixture placement problems. Other issues include mounting towel rack over an electrical outlet or switch. In all cases the installer should locate the fixture with the user in mind.
When installing a toilet-paper holder, sit on the toilet seat and press the fixture against a nearby wall without leaving the seat. Use this as a placement guide. Hold the fixture's template against the wall in the appropriate location and use a pencil to create an outline. If the fixture manufacturer did not supply a template, sit the fixture's nipple on a piece of paper and trace its outline. Cut out the outline and use this as the template.
Use a similar method to determine a towel bar's location. Locate the bar within reach of the tub, shower or sink. Sometimes installing a set on a narrow wall requires cutting the bar with a saw and then adjusting the template's length accordingly. If the room contains an existing towel bar, measure the distance from the bottom of a post to the floor. Transfer this measurement to the new fixture's location. Hold the towel bar's template against the wall, keeping the bottom of the template even with the transferred measurement mark. Hold a bubble level on the template and adjust it until both posts sit level with each other, then trace the template's openings on the wall with a pencil.
When replacing a towel bar or other ceramic fixture that fell off the wall due to abuse or poor installation, simply remove all the old setting material and reuse the existing hole. Applying new adhesive against remnant setting material pushes the replacement fixture away from the drywall, giving a raised uneven appearance.
Usually when a ceramic towel bar, or other bathroom fixture, falls off the wall months after installation, the installer used grout instead of thinset or bathroom caulk instead of construction-grade adhesive. At first blush dried grout and thinset look the same, however, over time unsanded grout fails because it lacks thinset mortar's tensile strength and bonding ability. Construction adhesive differs from bathroom caulk; construction adhesive bonds two items together while bathroom caulk repels moisture.
The appropriate type of setting material depends on the condition of the drywall and whether or not the hole in the drywall aligns with a wall stud or other structural support. Installers should choose thinset mortar when working with damaged drywall or an improperly cut hole. Unlike the mortar installation method, which locks the fixture in place as it supports damaged drywall, construction adhesives depend on the drywall's integrity for strength. Choose a construction adhesive designed for setting ceramic bathroom fixtures. I found DAP Shower Wall Adhesive works well in most situations, especially when replacing a towel bar that fell off the wall due to faulty installation.
When installing a ceramic towel bar, mount one post using the above method. The notch in the post for the towel bar must face the second post's hole. Place the thinset inside the second hole and on the second post. Carefully position the bar in the first post's notch. Slip the other end of the bar into the second post's notch and install the post.
Question: What if Sheetrock doesn’t have a hole?
Answer: You will need to cut a hole in the Sheetrock and install the towel bar post with thin-set.
© 2018 Bert Holopaw