Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Bare Necessities: Fixing the Bathroom (Part One)

With our June 30 move-in date, we knew there would be a few items left on the "to-do" list until after we took up residence. One such task was to re-finish the bathtub, which included installing a soap dish and re-sealing the tub.

These are really important tasks to do quickly and correctly, because if the tub is not properly sealed, water can seep into the crevices and work its way to the walls and create some pretty nasty water damage. Depending on how bad the water damage is, it may require pulling out the tiles and tub to repair. To be honest, water damage is something we aim to avoid, and thus we did not use our shower until the tub was appropriately resealed and give sufficient time (24 hours) to fully dry.

While we anticipated being able to reseal the tub and install the soap dish within the first day or so of moving in, it actually took a couple days to get around to the task, and we are very thankful for the friends who allowed us to use their showers in the interim. There's nothing quite like packing up a shower bag, throwing on your flip flops, and schlepping to your friends' house to shower. It feels so... campy. Needless to say, we were eager to get this project underway.

First, we started by cleaning off all the residue left by the previous owner's temporary solution (she also did not have a soap dish, but rather had taped a piece of plastic to the wall.) The residue was primarily tape and what we think was some old sealant she used. We scraped this off with a small blade to get the large portions, and also used some acetone to help disintegrate the remainder. Once this task was done, we put down a plastic tarp in the bathtub to protect the tub from the adhesive we used for the soap dish.

Note: if you don't have acetone around the house for cleaning purposes, you may consider picking some up the next time you are at a hardware store. It removes all sorts of residues (including spray paint... which is a story for another post.)

Once we cleaned the surface, we used a strong adhesion glue applied to both the bathroom wall where the soap dish would go, as well as the back of the soap dish itself. Next, we simply put the soap dish in place, making sure it was straight, and then pressed the dish to the wall. To allow the dish to set, we used a strong tape (like duck tape or packing tape) to hold it to the wall for the 24 hours required for it to dry. After a few hours, we also added some caulking around the rim of the dish and the tub to create a firm seal between the dish and the wall.

The task itself took less than an hour, and was very straight forward. The tricky part was being sure to apply the adhesive only to the wall and the back of the dish, and to not let it drip onto the wall, tub, or one's fingers. If drips did occur, we used the acetone to quickly remove the drip before it dried.

So there you have it, the application of a soap dish to a bathtub. If you have a soap dish you are wanting to remove from your bathtub to replace with another dish, let me know, I am happy to talk about the steps require for removing an old dish before adding the new one.

Up next: re-sealing the tub!
-Domestic in the District

Model Credit: The hands in these photos belong to my dad, who I am pretty sure knows everything about everything.


  1. Yeah, that looks like it took a lot of days. It's cool though that you've got this process and this instance archived on a blog. Should serve as a reminder on how to deal with certain mishaps and flaws in bathrooms, so potential homeowners could weigh to what extent they would go DIY, and at what point will they call in renovation support.

    Lida @ Waddle Exteriors