How to Remove a Towel Bar (Even If There Are No Visible Screws)

Close-Up Of Towels And Napkins On Rack In Bathroom

Chalermpon Poungpeth / Eye Em / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Yield: Removed towel bar
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 - 10

Bathroom towel bars go in and out of style quickly, as bathroom trends regularly change. At one point ceramic towel bars were in, then only chrome, then only brass, then black—it can be hard to keep up. Luckily, towel bars are relatively inexpensive, so changing it up every now and then isn't too hard on the budget.

What can be hard is figuring out how to remove the old towel bar, especially when there are no visible screws. To make matters worse, some towel bars are attached to the wall with adhesive or mortar and it can be hard to determine what will happen should you attempt to remove them. To help you along the way, we've put together a guide that will help you determine what kind of towel bar you're working with as well as the best method for removal.

Before You Begin

If you plan to replace the towel bar, look for a replacement that's the same length as your current one. This will increase the likelihood of the new towel bar's posts covering the damaged wall beneath the old towel bar.

If your towel bar is affixed to a tile wall with screws, keep in mind that you won't be able to easily repair or hide the holes left behind after removal, and finding a replacement that lines up perfectly with the existing holes is nearly impossible. In this case, it may be worth it to stick with what you have.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Drywall taping knife
  • Utility knife
  • Paintbrush
  • Screwdriver
  • Allen wrench or mini screwdriver
  • Hammer or pry bar
  • Oscillating multitool
  • Dust mask
  • Eye protection

Materials

  • Drywall joint compound
  • Paint

Instructions

How to Remove a Towel Bar With a Set Screw

Many towel bars feature a small set screw that holds the towel bar to a bracket on the wall. Remember, the goal of the towel bar manufacturer is to keep the set screw hidden from view, so just because you don't immediately see a set screw, doesn't mean it isn't there. It might just require you to look a little closer. Look at the bottom or inside of the end posts where the towel bar meets the wall, keeping in mind that the screw will be tiny and hidden.

  1. Locate Set Screw

    Look all along the base of the towel bar end post until you find a tiny set screw. Once found, determine what tool you'll need to loosen the screw. This will likely be a small Allen wrench or mini screwdriver.

  2. Loosen Set Screw

    Using the required tool, loosen the set screw. If there is a set screw on each side, loosen each set screw.

  3. Remove Towel Bar

    The process for removing the towel bar will vary between models and manufacturers, but most will require you to push up or out on the base of the end posts. It may also be helpful to pull outward from the wall as you do so.

  4. Remove Brackets

    The wall brackets are typically attached with screws and anchors because the odds of the towel bar ends lining up with studs are not high. Unscrew the screws and remove the bracket, then use needle-nose pliers to remove the drywall anchors.

    Tip

    To make removal of drywall anchors an easy task, screw the screws into the anchor just enough to grab the anchor but not enough to set the anchor into the wall. Then simply pry the anchor out of the wall using the screw head. To protect the wall, slide cardboard or other scrap material beneath your hammer or pry bar as you pry.

How to Remove a Towel Bar With No Visible Screw

When towel bars have no visible set screw, determining how to remove them from the wall can prove quite challenging. In this case, the end posts are likely attached to the bracket via a locking tab system. If you search around the end of the base post, you will likely find a tab that can be depressed to release the post from the bracket.

  1. Locate Locking Tab

    Search along the base of the end posts to find the locking tab. It will most likely be positioned at the bottom or the side of the posts.

  2. Depress Tab

    Use a small screwdriver to depress the tab.

  3. Remove End Post

    Remove the end post by manipulating its position while depressing the locking tab. First, try pulling away from the location of the tab. If this doesn't work, continue to pull from each angle until you find the angle that releases the post from the bracket. Repeat on the second post.

  4. Remove Brackets

    Unscrew and remove the brackets from the wall, as well as the drywall anchors.

How to Remove a Towel Bar Secured With Adhesive or Mortar

If you don't see a set screw or a tab, the towel bar is likely attached to the wall using adhesive or mortar. This is especially common for towel bars mounted to tile and similar surfaces.

  1. Attempt to Remove Towel bar

    Towel bars attached with adhesive aren't always very securely fastened and can often be pulled off of the wall with a little force. If the towel bar is attached to drywall, it may be helpful to score the outline of the base with a utility knife to prevent the adhesive from pulling excess drywall when removed.

  2. Cut Adhesive or Mortar

    In the case of a towel bar that can't simply be pulled off the wall, the adhesive or mortar will need to be cut. This is most easily done using an oscillating multitool. Position the blade between the post base and the wall, and cut the adhesive or mortar away. Repeat on the second post.

    Warning

    Cutting mortars and adhesive with an oscillating multitool can create harmful dust. Always wear a proper dust mask when doing so.

  3. Clean Off Remaining Material

    Clean the excess adhesive from the wall using a scraper or sander.

How to Patch a Wall After Removing a Towel Bar

After removing a towel bar, you will likely need to patch the wall even if you plan to put up a new towel bar.

  1. Prep Anchor Holes

    If the anchors come out cleanly, you can skip this first step. If the holes left behind by the anchors are large and the drywall surrounding the holes is frayed, more prep is necessary. Start by using a utility knife to cut any fraying paper from around the hole. Try not to make the hole larger in the process, as this will require a more complex patch.

  2. Fill Hole and Paint

    Fill the hole with joint compound and allow it to dry. Once dry, sand, smooth, and paint.

How Often to Replace a Towel Bar

There are no common reasons why a towel bar would need to be replaced beyond them simply breaking. In fact, the main reason people think a towel bar should be replaced isn't due to the towel bar itself at all, but rather the brackets becoming loose from the wall. This could be a result of the screws backing out of the wall, but most often it is due to the drywall anchors becoming loose in the wall. In this case, the towel bar, brackets, and anchors should be removed, the holes patched and painted, and the towel bar relocated to a spot with drywall that hasn't been compromised.