Shower Soap Dish

How To Install A Tile Soap Dish

shower soap dish

A shower soap dish is a welcome addition to any shower. It is so convenient to have a place to set a bar of soap when showering that it is almost a need rather than a want to have a tile soap dish installed on the wall or corner in the shower.

This article teaches you how to install a tile soap dish on a flat wall or in the corner of an existing tile shower.

brief how to

In this article, you will find information about:

  1. Pick the soap dish location on the tub or shower wall

  2. Remove the wall tile where the shelf will go

  3. Repair the wall as necessary, install backer board

  4. Apply tile adhesive to the wall backer board

  5. Install the soap dish

  6. Install Tile On The Bare Areas Around The Ceramic Soap Dish

  7. Caulk the soap dish joints

tools and materials

  • Tile shower soap dish
  • Hammer drill or regular drill with a 1/4" masonry bit
  • Putty knife
  • Masonry chisel, small
  • Hammer
  • Thinset mortar or tile mastic
  • Small Level
  • Masking tape

step 1 Pick The Soap Dish Location On The Tub Or Shower Wall

There are three factors that you should consider when picking the best place in your shower to install your soap dish.

  1. Height Above The Shower Floor: If the shower is a shower/tub combo you will want to put the soap dish lower on the wall, usually 8 to 12 inches above the tub deck. You will want to put the soap dish on top of the second row if you have 4 inch tile and on top of the first row if you have 12 inch tiles. If it is a dedicated shower you will want to put the soap dish higher on the wall at 48 to 60 inches. This makes it easy to reach when standing.
  2. Proximity To The Shower Head: The amount of water spraying on the soap dish greatly affects the sogginess of your soap bar. Try to keep the soap dish out of the direct spray pattern of the shower head.
  3. Height of Tile Courses Above The Shower Floor: It is easiest to install a soap dish directly on top of a course of tiles. Pick the top of a course that is closest to your desired height as the location of your shower soap dish.

step 2 Remove The Wall Tile Where The Shelf Will Go

Removing the tiles to make room for the new soap dish.

  1. Grout: Use a nail or other small sharp small tool like a grout remover to remove the grout from around the tile(s) that you will be removing, this relieves pressure on the surrounding tiles as you drill into the tile.
  2. Drill Tile: Use the 1/4" drill bit and a drill to drill holes across the face of the tile in an X pattern from corner to corner. Do not drill through the backer board behind the tile. Use a piece of masking tape to wrap around the drill bit 1/4" from the end. Stop drilling when you get to the tape.
  3. Chisel the Tile: Use the hammer and chisel to chip out the tile. Be careful to not break the backer board or drywall behind the tile. We will describe how to fix the backer board if you do damage it. Remove all the tile pieces and the mastic that was used to set the tile.

step 3 Repair the Wall As Necessary, Install Backer Board

If the shower wall behind the tile is drywall then you most likely damaged it when chipping out the tile. This damage can be repaired by installing a wood backing and screwing or gluing a new piece of cement backer board to the wood backers. This image shows a drywall repair but the same process can be used to install backer board and then install the tile over the repaired area.

backer board shower wall repair

  1. Glue: Use construction adhesive if screws will not work because the area you need to screw through is behind a tile.

step 4 Install The Soap Dish

Adhesives: There are several adhesives that can be used to attach the ceramic soap dish to the backer board. Mix up the adhesive and use a putty knife to spread it on the wall and on all the points that will touch the wall. Only use enough so that it slightly squeezes out when you press the soap dish into its new home.

  1. Thinset mixed with a laytex modifier
  2. Epoxy like the Gorilla brand epoxy
  3. Bondo body filler

Level The Soap Dish: use a small level to make sure the soap dish has a slight slope off the front side. You want it steep enough to drain water but not so steep that the slipery soap slides off the soap dish. Most soap dishes come with a pre-slope built in.

Tape The Soap Dish To The Wall: After installing the soap dish you will need to hold it in place for a day or more until the adhesive dries. Use masking tape to tape the ceramic soap dish to the wall. Sometimes when taping a tile piece in place it is inadvertantly moved so be careful that the soap dish still has the proper slope and that the grout joints are correct before leaving it alone.

step 5 Install Tile On The Bare Areas Around The Ceramic Soap Dish

There is almost always a bare spot around the new soap dish that will need to be repaired. If you need more information than give here you should read the article How To Set Wall Tile.

  1. Measure and cut a tile to fit in the hole
  2. Use thinset to set the tile
  3. Use tile spaces to keep the properly spaced grout joints, wedge spacers work best.
  4. Tape the tile to the wall until the thinset dries

step 6 Caulk / Grout The Soap Dish Joints

You will need both caulk and grout to finish installing the soap dish. You should grout first and then come back the next day and install the caulking as described below.

Grout: Use grout on the tile joints where you installed the new tile around the ceramic soap dish. Do not install grout in the 90 degree or angled tile joints.

Caulk: Use caulk on all the 90 degree tile joints. Tile grout manufactures make caulk colors to match all their grout colors. You will need to caulk the angled joints around the soap dish. Grout easily cracks in 90 degree corners because the two surfaces move differently and grout is very rigid. Caulk can flex with the soap dish and the wall so be sure to use caulk around the soap dish.

Let the adhesives, grout and caulking dry for a few days and then use your new soap dish.

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