Tub & Tile Repair?

Apr 20, 2009
Alpe d'Huez said:
Anyone have any ideas on how to best fix this?

In case the pix don't tell the picture, the soap holder was sealed into the tile surrounding the shower. It came off when Mrs. Aple put her hand on it or something. It took three more tiles with it (which didn't break, which is good news). It left what you see.
judging from the picture, there is no support for the soap dish and whoever did the tiling, just piled a ton of caulk behind it and hoped it would magically stay?

if you want to use the same dish, what you need to do is build something up behind the dish to anchor the caulk to and then recaulk. measure the depth of the wall, subtract the depth of the dish plus on or two millimeters. then screw a piece of wood to the inner side of the wall opposite the hole and lay caulk on this and recaulk the other pieces like normal.
It looks like the backer board / cement board behind the soap dish was entirely pulled away - is it still attached to the back of the soap dish?

My guess is that for adequate wall strength to support any 'weight' on the soap dish, you'd need to remove more tile and 'patch in' a new section of backer board that is attached to framing.

A possible option is to use a different style soap dish that DOESN'T HAVE a grab bar (so it is just a simple soap dish) - maybe that could be installed without having to do a backer board fix.

Take your photos, soap dish, and tiles to a specialty tile store that deals with professional tile installers - they probably can give better advice.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
Alpe d'Huez said:
Anyone have any ideas on how to best fix this?

In case the pix don't tell the picture, the soap holder was sealed into the tile surrounding the shower. It came off when Mrs. Aple put her hand on it or something. It took three more tiles with it (which didn't break, which is good news). It left what you see.
Alpe, if the material behind the ceramic tiles is sheetrock, then repair is a piece of cake.
a. fast set wood glue from local hardware store (I have used Liquid Nails) that sets in minutes (instead of hours).
b. scrap of sheetrock to match your sheetrock thickness
c. scrap of wood (e.g. from 1" x 4" stock)
d. wallboard joint compound (I use DAP brand)
e. 2" to 3" long screw (long enough to grip well when screwed into wood)
f. one or two sheetrock screws, depending on size of hole
f. drill
g. screwdriver
h. wallboard putty knife (fingers would work good for this job too)
i. saws for cutting wood & sheetrock

1. cut out a piece of sheetrock a bit smaller than the hole, that leaves small gap you later fill in with wallboard joint compound.
2. cut a piece of wood from 1/2-inch to 1-inch stock (e.g. 1x4) that rectangular in shape and is:
....a) narrower than the hole (so it can fit through hole and be glued behind)
....b) is longer than the hole in the other dimension so it can overlap the edges of the hole by 2 to 4 inches. The part that overlaps each edge of the hole and faces the backside of the sheetrock will need to be smeared with glue later.
3. in the center of the rectangular wood from step #2, drill and screw a wood screw into it. Screw should be long enough to grip well with fingers when you fit the wood through the hole... so you do NOT drop the wood behind the wall.
4. test your sizing of woodstock... (no not that Woodstock)... make sure you can fit the wood through the hole while gripping the screw, and are able to hold it in place with the wood flat against the backside of the sheetrock with the desired overlap of wood across the edges of the hole. Resize wood and/or screw placement as necessary to provide quick easy placement (so glue don't dry before you can set the wood in place).
5. smear the overlapping sections of wood with a quick set glue
6. place wood through hole and glue that sucker to the backside of the sheetrock.
7. while gripping screw, hold the wood in place until the glue's cure is mostly complete. You will be able to let go of the screw and let the glue cure for the recommended cure time.
8. once cured, remove the screw.
9. place sheetrock cutout from step #1 into hole, and screw it onto the wood cutout using a sheetrock screw.
10. fill in the gaps around the edges of the sheetrock with wallboard joint compound.
11. joint compound will take several applications as it shrinks a bit while drying. Let it dry completely between applications.

For sealing, hopefully the soap dish is not a screw in type, but a glued in type like tiles for better sealing to prevent water penetrating.

12. Replace soap dish and tiles.

That should be a start. You may have to rethink the procedure a bit depending on what the situation really is, as I am only going by the pictures. But I can tell you I have repaired many small holes in the wall using the procedure above. And once it is covered up, no one will know.

(p.s. 9 rows up fr. the 25-yd line vs. Jags)
Dunno if you need this but right after your OP I was taking out a vanity in preparation for a little remodeling, and ended up damaging the wall in 3 places. I guess I got a little carried away. Here are some shots of the repair. The first hole below had a large enough damaged area that I did not need a temporary gripping screw, and could get away with simply holding a support board by hand.

Support board secured with tapered head wood screw & Liquid Nails. Wipe off the excess oozing from the joint. Directions on Liquid Nails say it needs a set time of about 10 minutes and cure time of 24 hours, but you can hold it in place for about a minute and be able to let go to grab the drill and screw. Board must be held in place while drilling however.

Showing wallboard patch secured with sheetrock screws. The two screws at the bottom sticking halfway out are just spacers to provide uniform gap around the patch. Spacer screws were removed later.

Finished product. For a normal exposed wall I would apply a second coat of wallboard joint compound and finish off the job by texturing the wall to match. But this patch is done because it will be covered up by the new vanity, which will rise 4" further off the floor than the old one (taller folks in this family).
Same Job, Different Hole. This time the damaged area was much smaller and narrower, making it necessary to grip the board in some other way. For this, I used a sheetrock screw drilled about 1/4 inch into the board somewhere around the middle of the board. That leaves enough exposed screw to grab onto. Positioning of this temporary gripping screw depends on the dimensions of the hole, the board, and other variables like obstacles behind the wall. For this job there was a PVC drain vent pipe 1-1/4 inches from the left side of the hole.
In the image below, the vertical penciled lines represent the left and right edges of the hole:

Testing placement of the backing board behind the hole (without glue). (Sorry for the blurred image... wifey taking pictures):

This time with glue applied to board that will contact the backside of sheetrock:

Securing backing board with last screw. Even though one screw has been affixed, the board must still be held in place with the gripping screw to counter the force of drilling. I pre-drilled all screw holes so the screws go in easily but snugly.
... The patch before applying wallboard joint compound:

These techniques work great for fixing just about any small hole in sheetrock without having to replace (and texture!) entire sections. A common hole... doorknobs that punch through the wall because a doorstop did not stop the door. Nice pic wifey.
Mar 10, 2009
Your baseboard should look like in on3m@n@rmy's, yours look wet. With the hole there now its probably best to investigate where the moisture is seeping in from, fix that first and worry about the soap dish after. Otherwise it will happen again. Are there any other tiles you can easily pry off with your hand?