Repairing A Broken Towel Bar
Towel bars are an integral accessory in any bathroom. Beyond serving as a means of orderly towel storage between washing and bathing activities, they also act as a decorating accessory to display one’s favorite towels and wash cloths.
Though decorative, a towel bar will do anything but enhance the appearance of the space if it should become loose from the wall and sag or, worse yet, come completely detached for the wall leaving large gaping holes. Yikes!
Today’s mission is to help you make any loose or sagging towel bars become a distant memory. Moreover, if you plan to build or remodel a bathroom, our tips will prevent you and your bathroom from becoming a victim of “sagging towel bar syndrome” and the irritation and embarrassment that goes along with it.
First, a towel bar is designed to hold towels – not people. Little children like to hang from them like playground equipment and the infirm use them as grab bars for support. No matter how well anchored a towel bar is, it can still be bent or broken under the weight of a playful child or unsteady adult. Thus, if you have children or grandchildren, politely remind them that towel bars are not playground equipment. And if you need something for support, install grab bars in addition to towel bars. Today tips can equally be used for grab bar installation.
Towel bars are available in many sizes, shapes, styles, finishes, levels of quality and price. You can pick up an inexpensive model for just a few bucks or spend several hundred dollars on a plated solid brass model. Since selection is a function of personal taste and budget, we will leave the choice up to you. However, as with anything you buy for installation in your home, we suggest that you get the best quality that your budget will allow so that the finish will last as long as possible. Good product improves the appearance AND value of your home. The combination of handsome towel bars and attractive towels can be a winning recipe to spruce up an otherwise dull bathroom.
The first step to installing a towel bar is choosing the location. It should be placed where there is ample space and in close proximity to bathing and washing activities – within arms reach of the tub, shower or vanity. Once you have chosen the location, use a leveling device (bubble or laser) to make sure that the bar will be level.
Next is the installation. While better quality towel bars have superior installation hardware, the mounting technique is essentially the same for most styles. The rule is simple; always anchor the towel bar into solid wood. Easier said than done! It never fails; the studs (wall framing members) are never in the right location. They are always a couple of inches one way or the other from the location where the towel bar brackets attach to the wall. If the towel bar will not align with two studs (they usually won’t because towel bars are typically 24 to 30 inches long and studs are usually 16 inches apart), try to anchor one end or the other into solid framing. Where attachment to a stud is possible, use screws of ample length (at least inch and three quarter) to fasten the bracket to the wall. Since old framing is dry and brittle and can crack and split, use an electric drill with a small bit to drill pilot holes for the screws.
There are a couple of alternatives that can be used where no solid framing is available. The quickest and easiest is a hollow wall anchor. There are many sizes and styles from which to choose. The anchors that are packaged with less expensive towel bars usually consist of a small plastic sleeve that expands when a screw is inserted into the body of the anchor. You might just as well use chewing gum to hang your towel bars. The style of anchor is temporary at best and will fail the moment any stress is placed on the towel bar – as with a heavy damp towel.
Of all the anchor choices available, there are three that will usually do the trick; a “Molly” expansion anchor, a spring-loaded “toggle bolt,” and an expanding plastic anchor. A hole large enough for the body of the anchor to fit through must be drilled into the wallboard or plaster. Be careful not be hasty when drilling the holes. They must correspond with the holes in the brackets in order for the towel bar to be level. All of the anchors mentioned are “activated” when the corresponding screw is tightened. Use caution not to over tighten the screws as doing so can damage both the anchor and the wallboard or plaster.
If you will be building or remodeling and the framing will be exposed, there is a trick that will ensure that your towel bars will always hit solid framing – making them forever beefy! This technique is especially important for grab bars where extra support is needed. All you need to do is install solid two by six blocks between the wall studs with the six inch dimension flush with the face of the studs. The blocks should be installed along all locations where towel bars might be installed. Install the blocks at 48 inches on center above the floor. The towel bars can be installed slightly higher or lower than the 48 inch mean depending upon the average height of the people using the bathroom.
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