Help me find new soap dish holders for my tiled walls
April 20, 2008 11:01 PM   Subscribe

How can I fix a peeling soap dish in my tile?

Both of my bathrooms have soap dishes or soap holders built into the wall. The dishes are peeling and starting to rust (where exposed). I have not been able to find lookalike (or even same size) soap dishes anywhere. I've been to a lot of tile stores, bathroom stores, hardware stores, etc.
  • I can't just paint the dishes myself. This is a pretty upscale condo in an even more upscale neighbourhood. Whatever I do has to look good.
  • I don't want to retile the bathrooms. I've got small kids and I have been through the process of demo and retiling before. I also don't want to be paying big bucks to replace tiny soak dish folders. The current tile is in excellent condition.
  • In a best case scenario, I would simply find soap dishes that fit and put them in. It looks like I can just undo a screw and take them out.
  • I'd be willing to consider electroplating, dipping or some other professional service. However, I don't know anything about that, let alone where to find someone to do it. I'm in Vancouver, Canada. Any suggestions for what I can do? Thanks.
posted by acoutu to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your 4 bullet points are very articulate. Thus, I think that if you can unscrew them and have them dipped, that will be an excellent solution. Unless in a catalog or something, you determine that exactly sized replacements are available.
Make sure the plater does not cover up the screw holes, and make sure that the existing metal structure is sound and durable and will be worth having them dipped. Make sure they use a lot of nickel and/or chrome, so that they won't rust again. but won't get so bulky that they won't fit back in the slot in the tiling. Scope out your slop-room.
Look under "plating". Good luck, since I fear that some plating shops will want huge bux to dip your two soap dishes. Keep calling around. Nose around neighborhoods for oddball little places that service car parts, etc.
posted by yazi at 11:43 PM on April 20, 2008

Clean them up with a bit of fine sandpaper. Mask them with newspaper and masking tape and find an automotive touch-up spray paint at Canadian Tire the same color. Two or three very light spray coats. Piece of cake.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:44 PM on April 20, 2008

I have seen a built in soap dish made from semi-truck built in hand-holds - prolly won't be the right size but you never know. You might try asking a metal shop if they can fabricate a new one the size of the old one. I have to say that is the oddest soap dish I have ever seen, no wonder you are having a tough time. You could try salvage shops - call them up and give them the dimensions. Maybe do some careful looking on Ebay. Maybe after you get the dish off of the wall, there will be a manufacturer label on it but it seems like things like this rarely have that info on the item.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:52 PM on April 20, 2008

I don't think they're rare--just dated. I've got a couple of these exact ones in chrome. They're from the mid-sixties. Phone around and ask where you can find used bath fixtures. Or you could find ceramic ones to fit the hole--they'd never peel. Don't ever put your full weight on the hand hold--there may not be a stud behind these--they're often just set in plaster.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:06 AM on April 21, 2008

Powder coat places could match color with your tile.
posted by hortense at 1:01 AM on April 21, 2008

I have the same problem.

Finding a replacement has been, in my experience, essentially impossible. These recessed soap holders are not popular any longer, so there's a very VERY limited selection of them available and finding one that matches your tile size is extremely unlikely.

Therefore, I suggest you skip trying to replace it. Either refinish it, as mentioned in the posts above, or remove it completely and fill the hole with a piece of tile. Time spent trying to replace it will likely end up being time wasted.
posted by aramaic at 6:05 AM on April 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks. I'll try these solutions. I can't really fill it with a piece of tile, because it would be an odd size in the middle of the wall. Unless they make tile holders that stick right on to tile....?

(For what it's worth, my condo is only 10 years old. I can't imagine the soap dishes are older than that. But, in every unit I've seen here, the soap dish holders have the same problem. If I could set my unit apart by fixing just the soap dish, I would be leaps and bounds ahead of any other unit! Step 3: Profit!)
posted by acoutu at 8:22 AM on April 21, 2008

Be careful whatever you do, those recessed soap dishes are notorious for letting water get in behind the tiles. One good yank on the thing might take part of the wall with it... But if it was me, I'd do as others have suggested and bring it to a powder coat place.
posted by gjc at 8:25 AM on April 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. (I don't think there is water back there, since the moisture detector didn't show anything. But good to know. I've been there before.)
posted by acoutu at 12:48 PM on April 21, 2008

Response by poster: Hmmm. It appears that we cannot remove the soap dish. It is glued in and it doesn't look like we can really cut it out. This complicates things, obviously. I had actually found some Franklin Brass soap dishes that looked like they would work, but now I have to think of something I can do without taking the dishes out. Paint thinner and sandpaint, perhaps. Yikes.
posted by acoutu at 8:32 PM on April 21, 2008

Just lift out the little plastic soap dish, clean and sand the corroded areas, let dry overnight, then mask and spray with auto touch-up paint. The trick is to apply several light coats. Don't overspray. It will look good.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:40 PM on April 21, 2008

Response by poster: I have stripped the soap dish. I'm hoping to prime it soon. Will update, in case someone finds this thread later.
posted by acoutu at 7:57 PM on April 28, 2008

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