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EdLank 03-06-2012 10:10 PM

Replacing a ceramic soap dish
A child "somehow" managed to remove a ceramic soap dish from the ceramic tile wall over the tub. The soap dish fits in the place of a 4" tile but extends beyond the 4" hole and slightly covers the adjacent tiles. At the moment, I cannot get it back in the vertical recesses that exist in what appears to have been thickset. Do I remove the old mortar or thickset completely and replicate what was there, or can I shave off a small amount of mortar until it fits between the recessed ridges? If I do that, what do I use to cement it back in place? How should I get this soap dish back in the wall?

Jim F 03-06-2012 10:18 PM

I believe 100% silicone caulk is the adhesive of choice for such a repair.

cleveman 03-07-2012 04:05 AM

Is it true that this came off without breaking?

How long has the dish been there?

I don't even know that Jesus was capable of doing this.

I would clean it off completely (the soap dish), and scrape the wall clean, and reapply with thinset mortar. There should be some holes in the back of the soap dish. Fill these up with mortar as much as you can and tape the thing on the wall. Mix the mortar fairly dry.

Don't get it wet for a couple days. You may want to leave some tape over the top and sides.

After it has set up for a week or so, ask the kid to show you how he got it off before and get back to us as to what happens.

oh'mike 03-07-2012 06:24 AM

I've done this fix several times---Jim F must have ,too---

Use silicone caulk---clean out the hole a bit --add silicone caulk--press the dish into the hole--tape the dish to keep it there until the silicone sets--2 days is ideal.

Use a soapy cleaner like Greased Lightning or 409 to help with any squeeze out --

push dish into silicone filled opening--press and hold--quickly spray the seam with Greased Lightning--

Wipe off squeezed out silicone with finger---tape dish to wall--

EdLank 03-07-2012 06:50 PM

I do not use that tub/shower, but had no suspicion that the soap dish was loose, and no one had told me it was getting loose before I heard it fall. The dish is probably 22 years old, but 4 under my ownership. I can imagine that a daughter "rested" a foot on the dish to shave legs. A small chip came off from the back of the flared part, which I think will not be visible when mounted.

I thank you for your replies.

oh'mike 03-07-2012 06:54 PM

Thanks for the up date---it will be fixed right soon enough---Mike----

cleveman 03-07-2012 09:56 PM

I installed a toilet paper roller today on a wall I'm tiling.

It is amazing to me that these things come off. I suppose if you are fixing them to sheetrock, that will fail.

TarheelTerp 03-08-2012 07:12 AM

I've yet to see a soap dish that wasn't directly in line with the shower spray.
Because of this I would never replace one that came down after being used as a grab bar.

Find some tile that is close to (or very different) from the rest of the tile on that wall.
Cut a piece to fit... install it there.

EdLank 03-21-2012 11:25 AM

Update. I scraped off the very hard but pliable "glue" that held the dish and found myself pulling off a layer of the cardboard drywall covering. Hmmm. That is not green board, then. Now I am unsure if I should paint the exposed cardboard before doing anything else to give the thinset a good base. Anything water-based will wick the moisture along the plane of the cardboard, and that is not good. What should I do now to the cardboard layer at the base of the recessed hole?

EdLank 07-09-2012 09:46 PM

There was a missing chipped corner probably from it falling out before we bought the house. That replacement job was not very good, and used some kind of caulk that got hard. I built up the broken corner (lower back side, and hard to see even if I had done nothing to it) with slow curing epoxy, and painted it to match the rest of the dish. I used plaster of Paris and wet set the dish in place. A long piece of thin wood, wedged, under compression between the dish and the opposite wall, maintained force on it to keep the dish in place for a day. I then sealed/waterproofed it. It feels secure now.

cleveman 07-09-2012 09:56 PM


Tile set on sheetrock.

Sounds like mastic was used as well.

EdLank 03-24-2013 02:41 PM

If it were standard wallboard, what would one do? That is what it appears I have, and it has come off again 7 months later, with the remaining cardboard covering adherent to the back. Apparently all the tiles are on the same stuff, with no evidence of any loosening.

Should I try to cut through the wallboard and put a board behind it? I could leave some screws extending into the space so that thinset would have something to hold.

cleveman 03-24-2013 04:18 PM

The proper thing is to remove the whole deal (tub surround) and start over.

In order for you to rig up another soap dish to a solid backing is going to take some thinking.

No way in hell you could be lucky enough that the area behind the soap dish was on a stud.

Let's say we're dealing with an 8x8 square area. I'm thinking to cut out a 6x6 area, leaving 1" all around. Next you'll have to fit a couple of pieces of wood, say 1x4's, up into the wall cavity, then back down. These pieces could be up to 1' long, it doesn't matter. You're going to screw them tight through the remaining 1" lip around the edge.

Now take a 6x6 piece of tile backer and screw it to the backer you have created. Now I'll tell you again to thinset the soap dish on this, knowing full well that you will silicone it on.

Do you have a decent 1" area around the edge which has some integrity left to it? Otherwise, you are sort of screwed. If not, we will have to dream up something else.

EdLank 03-24-2013 05:33 PM

I avoided silicone caulk, and used plaster of Paris the last time, and grouted it and sealed it when that was dry. Everything still looks strong and dry. It is the fact that it is wallboard behind the tile that bothers me.

The soap dish replaces only a single 4" square tile, so getting any length of wood in through this opening would be hard. I can open the other side of the wall and place a brace (or two) between the studs, and screw a small piece of cementious backerboard to the braces behind the hole for the soap dish. With a hole cut through the drywall at the soap dish, the backerboard would be behind the soap dish. Then I feel I would have something that thinset would hold. Is that what I should do?

Should I worry about wicking of moisture from the thinset along the cardboard surface of the drywall?

cleveman 03-24-2013 06:31 PM

sounds like you have it figured out.

Yes, you need to worry about moisture getting to the paper backing, that is why sheetrock is not used as a tile backer.

I guess at this point you could waterproof what you expose behind the soap dish with some hydro ban or aqua defense or red guard. Otherwise, caulk the soapdish joints nicely.

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