If you need to install a grab bar in your bathtub, ceramic tile might make stud-finding difficult. It’s OK. You don’t actually need to use the stud finder on bathtubs with ceramic tile, since they often don’t work through tile. Just be prepared to use wall anchors strong enough to meet the bars minimum load needs. You’ll find anchors rated for 250 pounds of force in shear and tension. That should meet the requirements.
So, you just need to decide the best place for the grab bar over the ceramic tile. Most importantly, position the bar so that the holes don’t fall on or near a grout line. Mark the tiles where the bases will meet the ceramic tile. Then, put the grab bar aside. After that, cover the marked areas with masking tape. See, this will help prevent the drill bit from damaging the surface of the tile. After that, place the bar back into position. Mark the position of one pilot hole
Drilling Pilot Holes
Drill one pilot hole all the way through the tile and past the substrate using a 1/8-inch carbide tipped glass-and-tile bit. Now, if the bit feels like it goes into the void of the stud bay, you can always use a paperclip to probe for nearby stud. Just stick the bent paperclip into the hole and spin. Make sure the paperclip end has a 1/4-inch leg, you can bend it to size. If no stud is found, use a 1/4-inch Snaptoggle as an anchor. To install the Snaptoggle, enlarge the pilot hole using a 1/2-inch glass-and-tile drill bit. Install according to the directions for incredibly strong anchors.
If it finds a stud while twirling. Use the stud instead.
Using The Stud To Anchor The Grab Bar
Just make sure you’re in the right position on the stud. You’ll need the screw to end greater than 3/8 of an inch away from the side of the stud. So, using the pilot hole method, drill two more holes exactly 3/4 of an inch from the first hole on either side. It’s important to make sure that these pilot holes will be covered by the grab bar’s base. That’s one benefit of the wide garb bar bases. One of these pilot holes should miss or graze the stud. The other should hit it. So, now make the paperclip leg 3/8 of an inch long and put it into the pilot hole that missed the stud. If the paperclip hits the stud when you twirl it around then your very first pilot hole was in the perfect spot on the stud and you can use it to mount the grab bar. Now, if the probe spins freely, then the second hole that hit the stud can be used.
If it doesn’t, then you only need to use a 1/4-inch Snaptoggle as an anchor in that location
Waterproof The Grab Bar’s Base
Now that you’ve installed anchors or found the studs, you can install the grab bar onto the ceramic tile. Before installing the grab bar, apply a bead of silicone sealant around each hole you drilled and the base of the grab bar. This will help make sure water doesn’t get behind the tile.
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