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Old 12-31-2017, 09:22 PM   #1
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So, Now I've Got This Square Hole

I re-caulked my first bathtub, after hours of coffee and YouTube videos and money spent on tools and caulk. It worked well. I advise beginners to use their finger when spreading caulk and not that tool that gives you no feel. But the metal recessed soap dish looked absolutely cancerous. So, with the help of my recently purchased putty knife and leftover caulk remover, I loosened it and bent it up a little and patiently over time it came out nicely. It was set with some cardboard in the wall and plaster. Now, I have a nice square and clean hole that is too small.

The hole is too small because the old soap dish was ridiculously small and the overstock mid-century one I bought requires me to make about a 5.5 inch cut above the original hole through parts of two ceramic tiles and a bit of grouting in between them approximately .25 of an inch above the original square hole in order to make the new soap dish fit. Width is fine. Height is the issue. So, three cuts in all one across and one .25 inch on each side. Any new soap dish would require a larger hole than what I have now. For this, and other future projects not related to plumbing or tiling, I'm buying a Dremel as well as a glass cutter, grease pencil and protective eye wear. I'm also assuming I'll need the diamond tile cutting blade they offer.

Behind the tiling is some kind of waterproofing tarp-like stuff that I'd prefer to leave alone. It looks like it is in good shape. I'd like to, after surviving the Dremel cuts, install my soap dish, that has no screw holes or brackets but has flanges, akin to the old school plaster way. I'm wondering if a small quantity of premix thinset (if they sell it in small quantities) is as good as plaster or not for this or what is best to use. Also, YouTube has nothing on the old soap dishes and the old way of doing it. Any advice you guys can give me on the old school way of how to first set it and later caulk it and with what would be very helpful. Also, any advice on making the cuts would be appreciated. I am cutting into the wall. I get one try at this. This soap dish has a pull bar so I feel obligated to make it sturdy. I was going to try to rustle up one of those old pre-YouTube Audel's plumbing books for this.

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Old 12-31-2017, 09:28 PM   #2
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A couple of companies sell a 10# or so box of thinset (verses a 50# bag)...you really don't want to use mastic for this. Yes, you'll throw away most of it, but that's the price you pay. Last time, I bought a box at Lowes, but I haven't looked for awhile.
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Old 01-01-2018, 12:09 AM   #3
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If you post a pic of the waterproofing membrane someone can likely give you a recommendation for a compatible patch when you nick it or just want to slather some more on for insurance.

I believe you would normally grout the soap dish rather than caulk but seeing as you are only doing the soap dish caulk should do fine.

A continuous rim diamond wheel should give you a nice cut but you may want to see if you can get an extra tile to practice on before cutting installed tile. There isn't a big learning curve but you do want to give a very slight angle to your cutting edge and not let your trailing edge knock chips out of your nice clean cut.

Let the tool do the work and as much as we like to make one perfect cut i tend towards leaving a little more material to clean up if need be.
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Old 01-01-2018, 12:28 AM   #4
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Just as an "aside," newer soap dishes don't have that "pull bar" because it was never designed for that. It's to hang a wash cloth on...but people were using it for a pull bar and if/when it pulled loose it became a liability issue so they were generally discontinued...

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Old 01-01-2018, 12:37 PM   #5
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We called those "soap and grabs" back in the day. Like Laz said, too many people were grabbing them for support and pulling them out of the wall.

I would want to see a pic of the hole left from the old soap dish. If it's just an open wall between the studs, you may have to fill the cavity first. We used to wad up newspaper and stuff it in the wall and add a bunch of casting plaster (plaster of paris) over the paper. It sets fast so you can add more within a few minutes. Then thinset can be used to set the soap dish into the hard plaster. Rapid thinset would be good for this and masking tape used to hold the dish in place while it all sets. Then silicone around it.

As a helper, I remember mixing some casting plaster in a bucket on a hot day. By the time I mixed it, took it upstairs to my dad, it was too hard to use. In a nice way, dad told me I needed to hustle a little more.

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