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Bathroom Wall Hangings

December 3rd, 2009

bathroom-wall-hangings.jpgBeyond vanities and conventional closet space, the bathroom contains plenty of possibilities for storage in the form of wall hangings like shelves and racks that attach directly to the wall. These include toilet paper dispensers, towel racks, clothes hooks, and shelves for knickknacks that can also hold a tremendous volume of bathroom items.

Open shelving is probably the single best way of adding more storage potential to a room, especially because of the shelving possibilities that exist. It’s easy to find glass shelves that hold securely to the wall with two small pieces of hardware, and just a screw or two. The beauty of a glass shelf in the bathroom is that because it’s transparent it doesn’t feel as though you’re shrinking the space of the bathroom by installing it — you can see through the glass itself.

At the same time, these shelves can hold a bundle. You can roll your towels and stack them like logs in a woodpile. You can line up the rolls of toilet paper, or use them next to the vanity to hold perfume bottles or even an ever-changing display of fresh flowers (who said I didn’t have a flair for home decor?). Form and function work together with these shelves, and I have seen them in catalogs and bath stores for as little as $15, which surely ranks as one of the greatest bargains in home improvement.

For other bathroom wall hangings like metal towel racks and toilet paper dispensers, I take the same approach in choosing these as I do in choosing doorknobs: shop by weight, which is a sign that they’re made with solid brass rather than plastic just beneath the surface layer of chrome or other metallic finish. You can go to a home center and buy a cheap three-piece set that includes an 18-inch towel bar, a 15-inch towel bar, and a toilet paper dispenser. Then, you can pick up a single 15-inch towel bar made by a good brand such as Baldwin or Jado, and it will weigh more than the entire box of three combined.

Your mind may ask you, “Why do I care how solid a towel bar is, as long as it’s mounted on the wall?” Believe me, you’ll know the difference. Not only can you literally feel the difference when you go to hang up a towel, but the finish will hold up for a lifetime. If you’re installing ceramic towel racks and toilet paper holders, keep your eye on quality for these as well. Here, you’ll need to examine the finish to make sure that the entire visible surface is properly glazed. Any cracking in the surface or signs of a bad firing job will cause flaking and chipping over time.

Choosing the right equipment for your bathroom wall hangings is half the challenge; the equally important challenge is to install it correctly. If you’re adding these items to an existing bathroom, there’s not much you can do in the way of reinforcing them; simply hang them according to the instructions, and hope for the best. If you’re doing a gut renovation, however, you have a chance to do something that I do in my own bathrooms. I could literally do a pull-up from my towel rack and not have it pull loose from the wall. And this is the way I’ve achieved that, for a cost of practically nothing.

When building a bathroom, I either ask the homeowners where they intend to hang their towel bars, or I make a good guess as to where I think they’ll go. Then, when the room is framed or stripped down to the framing during a renovation, I take small scraps of lumber, whether 2-by-8s or 2-by-12s, and screw them into the space between the studs. I screw them horizontally into the gap, at about the height of the towel bar or toilet paper dispenser. The wall is then finished with drywall in the ordinary way, and no one knows about the blocking beneath it — that is, until they start to attach the bars. Since they’re drilling into the framing rather than into the drywall itself, the result is an extremely solid connection that will not wiggle free of the wall. This blocking will cost all of about $10, and is crucial to a well-built bathroom. Ask your carpenters in advance about this, and if they won’t do it — or worse, don’t know what you’re talking about — then I would advise getting another set of carpenters.

Barring this, there is another way to ensure a solid installation, which can be useful in an existing bathroom where you’re not planning to rip apart the walls and add blocking. This is to use a screw called the E-Z Ancor by a company called ITW Buildex. This product comes in metal and plastic, and looks like a corkscrew. You install it in the drywall with a simple Phillips screwdriver. The other end slides through the hardware to screw the towel rack or toilet paper holder into place. While other screws tend to pull out of drywall if they’re not firmly anchored into the wood framing of the wall, these sturdy anchors grab tight. They won’t wiggle, and are rated for different strengths depending on the size. Most will hold between 35 to 50 pounds, which is more than enough to hold a few damp towels.

This article on bathroom wall hangings was obtained from a supplier on the DigitalPoint forums under the usual PLR terms. It has been modified slightly to clean up issues with typos and formatting.

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