Remove the old towel bar or soap dish
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To replace a towel bar, use an oscillating tool
Jam the blade into a corner about 1 in. deep.
Then work it all around the fixture. Shove it in
deeper and do a second pass around the fixture,
cutting through all the adhesive and caulk.
Removing a broken or outdated surface-mounted
towel bar or soap dish is easy. But removing an
“inset” fixture (mounted directly to the tile backer
board) is a much bigger job that we won’t cover
here. To see whether yours is surface mounted or
inset, check the fixture edges. If you see grout, it’s
most likely an inset mount. However, since someone
may have applied caulk around the grout, jam a
putty knife into a bottom corner of the fixture and
tap it with a small hammer. If you hit grout or the
edge of the fixture’s “inset,” stop and recaulk. If the
putty knife doesn’t hit anything hard, move on to
the next step.
Tape off the tile around the fixture to protect it
from scratches. Then fit your oscillating tool with a
flexible scraper blade and slide it under the fixture
as shown. Once the fixture is off, remove heavy
caulk buildup with a single-edge razor blade. Then
apply caulk remover (one choice is Motsenbocker’s
Lift Off Silicone, Latex Caulk & Foam Sealant
Remover available through our affiliation with Amazon.com). Let the remover work
for three minutes, then scrape the residue with a
plastic putty knife. Apply more remover and scrape
until it’s gone. Wipe the tile with a clean rag wetted with the remover, remove the tape and call it done.
Tape the fixtures in place
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Use caulk as glue
Spread caulk over the back of the fixture, then hold it in place with plenty of tape. Caulk the edges of the fixture after the caulk behind the fixture sets up. If possible, use caulk that matches the grout color.
In the past, ceramic fixtures such as
towel bar holders and soap dishes were cemented right
to the wall and the tile was fitted around them. Now most
are designed to be glued to the face of the tile with 100 percent
silicone caulk. The only tricky part is holding them in
place until the silicone sets up.
First thoroughly clean the tile with denatured alcohol.
Lay a bead of caulk on the back of the fixture, push it into
place and secure it with masking tape. Let the caulk stiffen
for an hour or so and then add caulk around the perimeter.
Use a wet finger or rag to smooth the caulk joint. Let it sit
overnight before you pull the tape, then caulk any edges hidden by the tape. Remember to put the
rod in before setting the second fixture.