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 walls will improve 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 inexpensive epoxy adhesive.

Tools and Supplies You Will Need

  • Two-part epoxy
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Pencil
  • Silicone caulk
  • Soap dish
  • Painter's tape

Instructions

The best adhesive for adhering a soap dish made of ceramic or other materials to tile generally tends to be a two-part epoxy. Two-part epoxies can be hard to work with. They have short working times, they have strong odors, and they are difficult to undo if you make a mistake. The tradeoff is that you get a water-resistant and extremely strong bond in the range of 3,300 pounds per square inch. As an added bonus, two-part epoxies are thick and can fill voids and gaps. Thin Superglue-style cyanoacrylates do not work well on anything but absolutely smooth materials. Epoxies' void-filling nature is especially helpful if you are working with pitted stones like travertine.

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.

Create an Outline

Hold the soap dish against the tile and lightly draw an outline in pencil. To keep the tile around the dish clean of epoxy, create a perimeter just outside of your pencil outline with painter's tape. After the dish is fully secured, you will remove this perimeter tape along with the tape holding the dish in place.

Prepare the Surface

With a section of fine grit sandpaper in the #180 to #100 range, roughen up the back of the soap dish and the ceramic tile wall. 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. 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.

Prepare the Epoxy

When using a two-chamber epoxy like Gorilla Epoxy, remove the cap and then snap off the ends of the syringe. Squirt the epoxy in the provided mixing bowl. This bowl is part of the plastic blister cover for the glue itself. Work quickly.

Spread the Adhesive

Spread the adhesive on both the back of the soap dish and on the tile. Be careful, as epoxy is an unforgiving material to work with. While you do have about five minutes of working time, these minutes pass quickly, so make sure the dish is fully secure right away.

Mount the Soap Dish

Press the soap dish in place. As before, work quickly. Hold the soap dish firmly in place for at least five minutes. Maintaining pressure at this point is key to achieving a firm bond.

Clean Around the Soap Dish

With a rag, carefully wipe away the excess epoxy.

Secure the Soap Dish

Keep the soap dish firmly in place using multiple strands of painters’ masking tape. Even though the soap dish may feel like it is securely in place without support, over a period of an hour or two it will slowly slip down. Do not use duct tape, as it will leave adhesive behind. While painters’ masking tape is really not made for holding heavy items like soap dishes, you can help solve this problem by crisscrossing many strands of tape across the dish.

Let the Glue Cure and Caulk Around the Dish

After two days, remove the tape. Apply bathroom caulk around the edges of the soap dish where it meets the wall. This not only prevents water from leaking in behind the soap dish but gives it a much cleaner, finished appearance.