How To Install A Soap Dish In A Tile Shower

Soap Dish Installation Tips

By Troy Cantini

Soap dishes need to be properly installed to keep water from getting behind them and into your shower walls.  A loose or improperly installed soap dish can fall down and crack your tiles or even fall and injure someone while they are taking a shower. When installing a soap dish it is important to keep it water tight and not damage the surrounding tiles

installing soap dish in tile shower

Most of the time an old soap dish that has fallen in a shower can be cleaned off and reinstalled.  Trying to find and purchase a new soap dish of the exact same color and size can sometimes be difficult. Usually ceramic soap dishes can be cleaned up and made to look like new again. It is not necessary to remove all of the adhesive and thinset on the back side of the soap dish if these adhesives are firmly attached to the soap dish.

Most soap dishes are originally installed using thinset as an adhesive.  Thinset works well as an adhesive for new showers but when making a repair it is not always the best adhesive to use. If the area where the soap dish was originally installed is compromised the thinset will not adhere properly. The old soap dish may have left over thinset and other contaminates which can compromise the bond. Using a combination of epoxy glue and polyurethane adhesive will give a firm bond between the shower and the soap dish in even the most compromising situations.

removing thinset from shower wall

Before reinstalling an old soap dish back you should remove as much of the old glue and thinset adhesives from the back of the soap dish as possible.  A razor blade scraper tool works good for removing a lot of these adhesives. Hardened glues and thinset that are impossible to remove can be left on the soap dish when it is glued in place. The shower wall where the soap dish has fallen out of should also be cleaned up and all of the loose adhesives should be removed.

applying adhesive to soap dish

A polyurethane adhesive combined with a quick set epoxy gel work well for bonding the soap dish in place.  You should apply the polyurethane adhesive around the outer edge of the soap dish. In the center of the soap dish you can use the quick set epoxy glue. The polyurethane adhesive in a closed loop will create a kind of suction effect when installed to the shower. The quick set epoxy will be effective at quickly bonding the soap dish to the shower so that it will not move while caulking around it.

You should press the soap dish firmly in place on the shower wall and prop it up or hold it in place with some duct tape.  If any of the polyurethane adhesive oozes out then it can be easily cleaned up with some paper towels and some isopropyl alcohol. The razor blade scraper tool can also be used to remove any of the polyurethane adhesive that has dried on the shower tiles. It is best to allow the polyurethane adhesive a couple of hours to set before caulking around the soap dish. The polyurethane adhesive will out gas while it is drying and these gasses can cause your caulk to bubble. Two hours is all it typically takes for the polyurethane adhesive to partially set and finish out gassing so that you can caulk around the soap dish.

how to caulk around a soapdish

Properly caulking around the soap dish is extremely important.  Water can easily collect on the top and sides of the soap dish and seep into your shower walls. A good 100% silicone caulk that matches the color of the tiles should be used. To get a nice even and straight caulk line you should tape up around the soap dish first using painters tape. Then apply the caulk and smooth it out with your finger.

newly installed soap dish

After you have smoothed the caulk with your fingers then you can remove the painters tape and smooth the caulk over a final time with your finger. 100% silicon GEII almond or white caulk available from home depot works best for caulking in most showers. For an off colored 100% silicone caulk you should choose a latasil caulk color that matches the color of your shower tiles. Be careful to not pull on or put any pressure against the soap dish for 24 hours to let the adhesive fully set. You want to make sure the soap dish stays properly aligned and does not set crooked or pull away from the shower walls while setting.

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