How to Install a Soap Dish on a Tile Wall

Soap Dish Adhered to Tile with Epoxy

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Your shower demands a beautiful, functional, and above all, permanent, soap dish. If you have ever tried to make do with a soap dish on the floor of the shower that fills with water or a suction cup dish that keeps falling off, you may be dreaming of a dependable soap dish adhered to the wall.

A soap dish applied to your shower or bath wall improves the look of your bathroom. These functional accents give your bathing area a feeling of permanence, and they leave you more room on wire racks for shampoo and other bottles. The best part of all: no drilling or stud-finding is required. Because they are relatively light-weight, soap dishes are applied to tile with a two-part epoxy adhesive, such as Gorilla Epoxy, which is ideal for a small project of this size.

There are reasons for adhering a soap dish made of ceramic or other materials to tile using a two-part epoxy. This type of epoxy combines an epoxy resin and a hardener in equal amounts. But a two-part epoxy can be hard to work with. It has a short working time, strong odor, and it is difficult to undo if you make a mistake. However, a two-part epoxy has multiple advantages:

  • It is water-resistant.
  • It gives you an extremely strong bond in the range of 3,300 pounds per square inch.
  • It is thick and fills voids and gaps in pitted stones, like travertine. (Super glue-type cyanoacrylates do not work well on anything but absolutely smooth materials.)

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Pencil

Materials

  • Soap dish
  • Painter's tape
  • Fine-grit sandpaper (180 to 220)
  • Two-part epoxy
  • Silicone caulk
  • Disposable surface to mix epoxy (cardboard, old bowl, etc.)
  • Rag

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Area

    Keep the bathroom clear of unwanted human and animal visitors before and after the application. Since the odor is strong, turn on the bathroom fan or open a bathroom window.

  2. Create an Outline

    Hold the soap dish against the tile where you want to place it. Lightly draw an outline in pencil. Create a perimeter just outside of your pencil outline with painter's tape (which will be removed after the dish is fully secured). This keeps the tile around the dish clean and free of epoxy.

  3. Prepare the Surface

    With a section of fine grit sandpaper, roughen up the back of the soap dish and the ceramic tile wall where it will be installed. Be careful when sanding the tile wall, so that you are not extending your scratches beyond the soap dish’s future footprint. A good rule of thumb: If you find that you are erasing the pencil outline, you have gone too far.

    When Sanding Isn't Necessary

    In many cases, the back of the ceramic soap dish will be unglazed and porous, making it ready for gluing without this preliminary step of sanding.

  4. Prepare the Epoxy

    Read the directions carefully of the type of two-part epoxy you choose. Many come with two chambers or two tubes. Use either a provided mixing bowl (sometimes part of the packaging) or a disposable surface to blend the parts of the epoxy.

    Work Quickly

    For steps 4, 5, and 6, keep organized, focus, and work swiftly; two-part epoxy is a very unforgiving material. You will have about five minutes of working time, so make sure the dish is immediately secure on the wall.

  5. Spread the Adhesive

    Spread the adhesive on the back of the soap dish. Spread the adhesive on the tile where the dish will be mounted.

  6. Mount the Soap Dish

    Quickly press the soap dish in place. Hold the soap dish firmly in place for at least five minutes. It's important to maintain pressure at this point to achieve a firm bond.

  7. Clean Around the Soap Dish

    Use a rag to carefully wipe away the excess epoxy. Most of any excess should have landed on the painter's tape.

  8. Secure the Soap Dish

    Keep the soap dish firmly in place using multiple strands of painter's masking tape to hold it up. Keep an eye on the dish. Even though the soap dish may feel like it is securely in place without support, it can slowly slip down in an hour or two unless it is secured by the tape.

    Why Use Painter's Tape?

    Painter's tape does not leave any residue behind on tile like other types of tape. While painter's masking tape is not made for holding heavy items like soap dishes, you can help solve this problem by crisscrossing many strands of tape across the dish.

  9. Let the Glue Cure, Then Caulk

    After two days, the glue should be dry. Remove the tape around the dish and the tape holding the dish. Apply bathroom caulk around the edges of the soap dish where it meets the wall.

    Caulk Is Critical

    Caulking the dish not only prevents water from leaking in behind the soap dish but gives it a much cleaner, finished appearance.