Hanging a Towel Bar on Tile

I warn you in advance this 20-minute chore took me 4 hours and I’m going to give the blow by blow — including all the things left out of the directions that came with the towel bars.

I have 2 Moen Icon towel bars which match the toilet paper holder.
I have 2 Moen Icon towel bars which match the toilet paper holder.

I ordered two Moen Icon towel bars — one 18 inches and one 24 inches — from Amazon.

Carbide drill bits are used to drill ceramic tile.
Carbide drill bits are used to drill ceramic tile.

My plan for the longer bar was to hang it in the master shower which is tiled (with ceramic tile) from floor to ceiling so first I went to our local Home Depot and bought a pack of 4 carbide bits.  The instructions for the towel bar called for a 1/4 inch bit but ultimately I needed the smallest and the largest bits in the package.

The taller bar in our vintage pink bathroom is at about my eye level.
The taller bar in our vintage pink bathroom is at about my eye level.

I needed to decide how high to hang the bar.

The planned placement of the new towel bar.
The planned placement of the new towel bar.

Conventional wisdom says 4-feet off the ground for adult towel bars. However, the towel bar at the back of our bathtub is about my head height so I decided to use approximately the same measurement in the shower.

I tapes the wall with masking tape and drew pencil marks 24 inches apart on the wall.
I tapes the wall with masking tape and drew pencil marks 24 inches apart on the tile wall.

I measured 2 level marks 24 inches apart.  Although we own 5 levels I could only find the 48-inch one. The shower is only 44 inches wide so it did me no good.  I spent half an hour rusting up another level.

Use the 1/8-inch carbide bit to start the hole.
Use the 1/8-inch carbide bit to start the hole.

Once the points were marked I tried to drill with the requisite 1/4-inch bit but it really wouldn’t work so I started the hole with the smallest bit and it worked a charm.

Tape protect the hole from cracking the tile.
Tape protects the hole from cracking the tile.

So excited to get holes drilled in the tile without cracking it, I put the bracket up to the hole and it would NOT go in.  I used the next larger bit — the largest one in the package — to redrill the hole.

The brackets have built in molly bolts and small lock teeth which need to be removed for use in tile.
The brackets have built in molly bolts and small lock teeth which need to be removed for use in tile.

The bracket on the left ended up going into a stud so it was secure.  The right bracket slid in and the molly would not open. The bracket slid in and out.

I tapped the wall anchors in with a small hammed.
I tapped the wall anchors in with a small hammed.

So I retaped the hole and marked two holes that matched two generally extraneous holes in the bracket and stuffed the holes with wall anchors.

The brackets have additional holes that can be used if the molly bots don't work.
The brackets have additional holes that can be used if the molly bolts don’t work.

Then Charlie screwed in the screws which did not come with the towel bars so I spent another 10 minutes looking for those.

The clip on both brackets take the place of set screws and must be positioned downward.
The clip on both brackets take the place of set screws and must be positioned downward.

We finally had both brackets secured to the wall in the right position with the clip (which replaces a set screw) on the bottom.

We didn't notice until we had the towel bar completely hung that the end pieces were marked with size.
We didn’t notice until we had the towel bar completely hung that the end pieces were marked with size.

We snapped the decorative coverings onto the brackets and admired our work until I realized we had used the 18-inch caps instead of the 24-inch caps.  They look exactly alike except for a marking on the inside of the tube.

The Men Icon towel bar is securely hung on the back wall of the master shower.
The Moen Icon towel bar is securely hung on the back wall of the master shower.

It took us another 15 minutes to find a screw driver that would fit into the slot to release the caps which we replaced with the ones marked 24.

Now I have my towel nearby when I shower.
Now I have my towel nearby when I shower.

Looking for tools made this simple, although not straightforward, job take an entire morning. Ugh!

Sidebar: I was trying to think why we couldn’t find our tools.  I think when we cleaned up for our Christmas parties we weren’t careful about putting things away.  I still can’t find our levels.

What are you looking for?

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Author: Jo

Welcome to The Glade, where the second generation of renovations has just begun and the mania about our home, music and other passions fill our days and nights. We’re Charlie and Jo in the music world; Mary Jo and Charles to family; and JoJo and Charlie to each other. We are renovating a midcentury house in a Victorian historic district where we want to live there the rest of our lives. It's a 1946 house located in Maryland. We were married in this house. Thus far (pre-blog) we refinished cabinets, added a window seat (still working on the cushion), rearranged a wall in the guest house due to sink/vanity replacement, planted a vegetable garden, and other quick and not-so-quick fixes. So this latest zeal for construction is the result of my having lived here since 1997 and feeling a need to ready the house for the next chapter and beyond.

7 thoughts on “Hanging a Towel Bar on Tile”

  1. And again I say, the joys of home ownership….or in this case, DIY remodeling. In spite of it all, it looks great and the taller height will be good in the shower. Bravo!

    1. Ah, tape measures: one in my purse, one in the car glove box, 2 in the kitchen tool basket, one in the drawer next to my bed, and others strewn around the house only to be found when totally unnecessary. Jo

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