How to Replace a Towel Bar
LESLIE: Now we’re going to welcome Robin from West Virginia.
Robin, how can we help?
ROBIN: Well, thank you for taking my call. You have a wonderful show.
LESLIE: Thank you. You’re so welcome. What can we do for you?
ROBIN: I have a home that is about 70 – it was built about 70 years ago. And it has a bathroom in it that has tile; you know, floor to ceiling.
ROBIN: And in the bathtub there’s a shower bar – two shower bars, actually – for the shower and one of them has broken.
LESLIE: When you say “shower bar,” do you mean it holds the shower curtain, it’s by the soap dish, it’s built into the ceramic tile?
ROBIN: Ah. OK, yes. It’s built into the ceramic tile and it’s designed to hold towels; not the bar for the shower curtain.
TOM: Ah, OK. Right.
ROBIN: So it’s a towel bar, actually.
TOM: Ah, OK. Mm-hmm.
ROBIN: And these are in different places in this bathroom and they’re made of sort of an extruded plastic.
TOM: Yes, exactly.
ROBIN: And one of them broke. It is probably 30 inches or more long and I’ve looked everywhere. I cannot find this product any longer. I can find it in 24 inches but not in 30 or more inches.
TOM: So you’ve checked tile supply stores, Robin?
ROBIN: I went online. I went to all of the local hardware stores. I went to some of the big box stores.
TOM: Well, why don’t you do this, Robin? What if you – if you can’t find it, why don’t you make it? Instead of making it out of plastic, perhaps you can make it out of hardwood like oak and then coat it with polyurethane or coat it with an oil-based paint which would be very durable to that watery area. And then you could cut something to fit – basically, mill it to fit – and then finish it and reinstall it. I think if you used a good piece of good-quality hardwood …
LESLIE: Here’s another idea. Do you have a plastics supplier? Like in New York, we have something called Industrial Plastics and they sell Lucite and plexiglass and they also sell something called an acrylic rod. And it’s about an inch or more in diameter and you can have it cut to any length. You might have a plastics supplier in your area that you can get the same exact thing and it would be clear sort of acrylic and that’s pretty nice.
ROBIN: OK. So it’s called Industrial Plastics?
LESLIE: Well, that’s what we have in New York but you could look in your yellow pages and find a plastics supplier in your area that would sell plexiglass, colored plexi. That’s just sort of like the shop I always go to in Manhattan.
TOM: Even though those towel bars are typically square, you could replace it with a round piece of acrylic and that would fit in the same space. You could put a round peg in a square hole; you just can’t put a square peg in a round hole. (Leslie chuckles)
ROBIN: (chuckles) OK, well – yeah, and it is square. Let me ask one other question about this thing. The handles for the towel bar are tile also, OK?
ROBIN: And I’m trying to figure out was this cemented in or do they slide off or – I’m afraid to hit it because it’s all made out of ceramic and I’m afraid I couldn’t match this color if I break anything.
TOM: Well, they often are cemented in and …
LESLIE: It’s just as if it was a tile, right?
TOM: Exactly. It’s basically placed right to – you have to carefully break one side of that away from the wall to put this rod in and then reseal it back in.
ROBIN: So I’m going to have to take it out anyway.
ROBIN: OK. So I guess I’ll go through that process. And you said the possibility of using milled wood …
TOM: Yeah, basically crafting, making your own out of wood and then staining it or painting it. Yes.
ROBIN: Alright. Great ideas.
TOM: Alright, Robin. That’s what we do. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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