Installing Ceramic Soap Dish

Situation : You’re trying to install a new showerhead. With good intentions, enthusiasm and lots of confidence, you undertake this task. As you unscrew the old showerhead, it slips from your hand and falls, hitting the ceramic soap dish on the way to the floor, breaking part of the soap dish and cracking the ceramic tile.


What do you do?

  • First of all, finish installing the new shower head before the soap dish or the tile is repaired.


  • The wall soap dish may be easy to replace, and then again it could be extremely hard to remove. It all depends on how old the tile job is, the substrate behind the tile and the level of skill of the installer.


  • You will need to locate a new ceramic soap dish that matches the broken one. Get a soap dish that will cover over the field tile just as the broken one does. Many ceramic soap dishes have a flange that allows them to cover over the adjacent tile by about one-quarter inch.


  • Once you’ve procured the new soap dish, you will notice one or two holes in the fixture. These holes are there to help lock the soap dish into position. The trick now is to remove the damaged tile soap dish without damaging any of the surrounding tile. 


  • Start by removing the grout around the old soap dish and the tile. Use a small rotary grinder that looks like a dentist’s drill, or carefully chisel it out with the corner of a putty knife. Do this slowly and tap the grout with care. 


  • Oncet the grout is removed, carefully break the remainder of the soap dish, making sure you do no damage to the substrate behind the soap dish. If you have access to a small hammer drill, try drilling a series of holes down the middle of the soap dish from top to bottom and side to side. The holes may act as stress-relief points and the dish will fracture along the holes. Wear gloves and goggles as the ceramic chunks are very sharp.


  • Once you’ve removed the old soap dish, ensure the back wall is in good shape. If it is cement board or a true cement base set in metal lath, then you’re good. If the substrate is gypsum based, inspect it to make sure it is sound.


  • The holes you see on the back of your soap dish allow thinset or grout to droop into the holes and sag just like mortar oozes from under a brick. This u-shaped drooping compound, once hard and dry, locks a ceramic soap dish into position. 


  • Mix grout or thinset so it is fairly thick. It needs to be in a consistency so that it will droop, but not too much that it flows. Cut two pieces of duct tape and just lightly stick them on the tile near where you are working. You will need these to hold the new soap dish in position as soon as you set it into place.


  • Apply a generous amount of the grout or thinset to the back of the soap dish making sure it is pushed into the holes. Push some into the substrate holes. Push the soap dish into position. Tape duct tape along the top edge to ensure it will not move or fall away from the wall. Wait 48 hours before removing the tape the grout the soap dish to finish the job.