Tile quandries
August 15, 2018 9:31 PM   Subscribe

We bought textured tile (that is in shallow waves, the variation in height from the wall is about 1/2" - so some portions of each tile are 1/2" deeper than others). Now my husband wants to install (drilling in) a wire shampoo caddy. Am I overthinking this? Is this a big deal?

My concerns: the (new) tile will crack or look ugly, it will be hard to install a caddy given the sculptural tile. My husband says this is no big deal and any handyman can install it.
posted by arnicae to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
With the proper tile drill bit (and an attention to detail when drilling), this should be no problem.

...which is I guess another way of saying that I've done this sort of thing without difficulty, and I therefore expect you should be equally lucky even though I have no idea who you are.
posted by aramaic at 10:36 PM on August 15, 2018

Don't drill too near the edge of the tile, or yeah, it could crack. A really good handyman would know that, but some might not.
posted by slidell at 11:11 PM on August 15, 2018

Things to be concerned with:

Cracking - Ensure that you are not drilling close to the edge of the tile. I have successfully drilled holed in quite a few tiles, but I was always at least 1.5 to 2 inches away from the edge. When marking out the holes ensure that you are about that far away from the edge and you should be fine.

Drilling - I drill my holes in tiles by putting up masking tape so I can really accurately mark the location of the holes. The masking tape comes off cleanly and you just drill right through it. I also have a small awl that I use to just make a very small dent right in the centre of the hole so the drill has a divot to position itself in before I start drilling. Make sure you are using a bit that is correct for the material you are drilling. This might mean that you have to switch after you are through the tile. If the tiles are porcelain and not ceramic this goes double. If they are porcelain then I would get a new bit to drill the holes, and be prepared to get another if I were drilling more than 2 holes. You also want to bit to do the work, so while you will need to apply even pressure don't really lean in on the tile and don't use a percussive drill or the tile will crack. Start off slow until there is a good hole started before increasing the speed on the drill to ensure that there isn't any slippage and marking of the tiles in areas where you don't want them to be.

Uneveness of the tile - Ideally the holes should position themselves at the same height on the tile, but if this sin't the case I would put a little dab of sealant behind the screw where there is going to be a bit of a gap. This will look a bit less polished, but if it is impossible to get flush then there is no way around this.

Bonus rust answer - Ensure that your wire shampoo caddy is made of a non-rusting material. If it is chrome coated iron than it will flake eventually and leave rust streaks. Pay the extra money and get chromed brass or anything that will not rust.

This is most certainly something you can DIY at home yourself with limited power tools. You will need the bits and a decent drill, but I've done this with a simple bosch light weight drill that is more like an electric screwdriver than a drill. All in I would expect this to be about a half an hour job, possibly an hour, but the first half an hour would be positioning the thing exactly where you want it and then 20 mins to drill and install and another 10 to clean up.
posted by koolkat at 1:19 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

A shampoo caddy implies this is to be installed in a shower, is that correct?

You can certainly drill through a tile, although I'd want to be fixing into a stud, the real concern for me is going and putting a hole in the waterproof membrane that should be behind the tile.
posted by deadwax at 1:57 AM on August 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

I wouldn't do this because of the potential to break the tile during installation or over time, coupled with the difficulty of cleaning both the crevices in the tile and the wire mesh. I would do 'shampoo caddy thing that hangs over showerhead' instead.

I would be adamantly against this plan, personally.

Just because it can be done doesn't mean it should be done.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:28 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Its perfectly fine to drill into tiles, even in wet locations. The best solution would have been a shower shelf but since its too late for that, drilling is fine for things like handrails and other safety features. That's what various types of caulk and sealant were made for.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:03 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

We had a bathroom redone last fall with a waved tile like you describe. As far as I know, the installation of all the shower fixtures was done just the same as would have been done with flat tile. Some of the decorative flanges that rest against the tile have some gaps. Whether that will be be a problem in the future, I don't know. We're not aware of any leaks. I should say that I don't think the workmen were smart/aware enough to think that some different approach might be a good idea.

OTOH, we did have a problem in the other bathroom which has a one-piece fiberglass unit. Water from the shower leaked in behind the shower valve due to lack of caulking.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:26 AM on August 16, 2018

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