Help Me Fix My Soap Dish
September 16, 2008 12:46 PM   Subscribe

My lovely wife managed to rip out our soap dish from the shower wall. Pictures of it and her (not looking half as guilty as she should) after the break.

So the story (as Mrs. Smarson tells it) is that she was shaving her legs in the shower and "merely rested her dainty foot upon the soap dish when it came crashing down..." A likely story.

Anyway, looks like the repair should be pretty simple since nothing actually broke, just came out of the tile wall. I'm worried though because whatever was used (grout maybe) as the adhesive is pretty discolored. Does that mean water go in there? Is that caulking around the edge too? What's my course of action here?

*Full disclosure: I'm a brand new home owner as of 3 weeks ago and these repairs are, while fun and challenging, something I have zero experience in. All input is gladly appreciated.
posted by Smarson to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Don't worry too much about the discoloring, as long as the wall behind it is solid. Scrape both surfaces as best you can, glue it up, and do a good job with the caulking around it, and you'll be good to go.

Your wife will hopefully learn to feel a little more shame as you become more experienced homeowners.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:55 PM on September 16, 2008

This random thread suggests using unsanded grout mix. It also suggests using thinset.

Regardless of which you use. chip some of the old grout off both the tile and the wall to make some space for the new stuff. Also remove the old edge grout. Spread the grout/thinset on the soap dish, stick it in place, ensure the spacing around it is correct and leave to set for a few days. Shower elsewhere. Then re-grout around the tile.

I have no idea how to choose a specific grout or thinset. Wander Home Depot or Lowes until inspiration strikes is my usual method of dealing with such issues.
posted by GuyZero at 12:56 PM on September 16, 2008

Check to see if the wall is solid. Use a putty knife to scrape off the old caulk. Try to get some of the old adhesive off, too. Then re-attach with new adhesive and caulk around the perimeter.

You should also seal the grout between your tiles to keep water from seeping through.
posted by Ostara at 1:04 PM on September 16, 2008

Not much water got back there, just enough to mess with the adhesive. You want to scrape off all of the old stuff, it is "ceramic" tile adhesive. Buy some new adhesive and glue it back in place. You will probably have to put a few strips of tape across it to hold it in place while it dries. After it is dry use some silicone bath caulk to seal around it.
posted by lee at 1:05 PM on September 16, 2008

We had a shower incident like this that went unrepaired for [far longer than I care to disclose]. Our temporary fix to keep the damp out of the walls: covering the hole with a sheet of clear contact paper to form a temporary, easy-to-remove, 99% waterproof seal.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:10 PM on September 16, 2008

If it is plastic-like when you scrape it, it's adhesive. If it crumbles, it is thinset. You can use either to fix it, but the adhesive is easier not to mess up. You don't have to mix it, etc. Home Depot and others sell a combo premixed grout/adhesive that is fine too.
I looked at the pictures (cute Mrs.) and they used grout to seal the top ledge, which is why the water got in there. Again, use bathroom 100% silicone caulk to seal the top after it dries.
posted by lee at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2008

You might also want to consider whether you want to replace the soap dish entirely - either with a blank tile (and have a soap dish on the side of the tub or suction cupped appropriately) or with a new soap dish that may be a little sturdier (i.e. one flat level bottom that is completely adhered). The second option is significantly more work (finding a new dish, possibly removing tile to make it work and getting or cutting tile to fit).

Do not use grout to adhere the tile. Use a thinset or mortar for the base and ceramic-to-ceramic glue for the upper bottom. (And spread it more widely on the tile for better adhesion). I'd seal the edges with a flattened caulk bead. I'd consider using my fingernail to add some shallow texture to the flattened bead to give something for a decorative band of grout to grasp onto if you want to make the edge look uniform with the grout.
posted by julen at 1:16 PM on September 16, 2008

On our downstairs shower, we used just silicone caulk to hold a corner soapdish onto ceramic tile, and it's held up for 12 years.

Based on that, i would:
- clean off the grout, and remove any loose or crumbly mortar or glue.
- dry-fit to ensure it goes back into place tightly
- sparingly apply tile (mastic) adhesive into the square tile "hole". Other glues, like urethane or carpenter's glue would also work
- apply a thick (1/4 or 3/8") complete bead of white bathroom silicone all the way around the back of the soap dish, about 3/4" in from the outside edge
- carefully push the soapdish into place. Use thick masking tape to secure it in place.
- if there's an ooze of silicone, wet your baby finger and smooth it off, and carefully wipe up excess. You have about 10 to 15 min to do this before the silicone skins up.

If there wasn't enough silicone ooze to finish the edge nicely, then you can run a small bead of silicone around the edge and smooth it with a wet finger.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:19 PM on September 16, 2008

Response by poster: You guys are awesome! Thanks for all the input. :)
posted by Smarson at 2:29 PM on September 16, 2008

Smarson's Wife: I've done EXACTLY that! You and your DH got lucky; when my incident happened, the soapdish cracked into two pieces. Unfortunately, it was an ancient soapdish of an unusual and unobtainable color for replacement.

I'm still smarting from the verbal spanking I got.

All the fix 'em up ideas above are great. I bought a white replacement, and installed it myself. Artful Codger has the most descriptive answer.

Smarson: Get your wife a bath stool to sit on so she can rest her dainty footsie along the edge of the tub while shaving her legs. Solves so many problems.
posted by Corky at 6:17 PM on September 16, 2008

I'm sorry I don't have a useful answer to offer ... but LOL. That picture of Mrs. Smarson "not looking half as guilty as she should have" REALLY cracked me up. That picture is a keeper.
posted by gt2 at 11:50 PM on September 16, 2008

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