Adding a Porcelain Soap Dish Most tub-shower soap dishes catch water and reduce bars of soap to handfuls of mush. This age-old problem isn't caused by the soap dish itself but rather usually by the position of the dish—low on the wall near the tub, for example, where it absorbs a direct hit from the water coming out of the showerhead. To put an end to soggy soap, install a new soap dish high—and dry—on the wall, just below and a little to the side of the showerhead. If your shower walls are covered with a fiberglass or acrylic surround, buy an accessory soap dish that can be glued right to the wall. Just be sure to use the recommended adhesive or you'll permanently damage the surround.
For tiled walls, you'll need a porcelain soap dish. Two sizes are commonly available at home centers: 4 X 4 inches ($5) and 4 X 6 inches ($7). To install a new soap dish, you'll have to remove some wall tile. We installed the smaller soap dish because it required prying off only one 4 X 4 tile. If you decide to go with the larger dish, you'll have to remove one and a half tiles.
As with wall tile, porcelain soap dishes come in a variety of colors and in glossy and matte finishes. Be sure to buy a dish that matches both the color and finish of the wall tile. While at the store, pick up some tile adhesive and tile grout, too.
To start, choose a spot on the wall for the new dish that's four or five tiles below the showerhead—about 16 to 20 inches—and two or three tiles to the right or left. Next, wearing appropriate eye protection, scratch out the grout from around the tile with a grout saw or awl. Then, use a hammer and nailset to punch a series of divots across the face of the tile in an 5 pattern. Using those small craters as starting points, bore through the tile but not the wall behind it with a 1/4-inch-diameter masonry drill bit (photo 1). While still wearing your eye protection, carefully crack the tile into pieces using a 1/4-inch-wide cold chisel and hammer (photo 2). Pry out the fractured shards of tile and scrape the wall surface clean of any old mortar or leftover adhesive.
Spread a thin coat of tile adhesive onto the wall with a putty knife (photo 3). Smear some of the adhesive onto the back of the soap dish, too. Firmly press the dish into place and secure it with two or three strips of masking tape (photo 4). Check to be certain the dish is level. Wait 24 hours, then fill all the joints around the soap dish with grout. Allow the grout to dry overnight before using the shower.
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