Although they’re frequently an afterthought, the accessories in a bathroom-the towel bars, soap dishes, toilet paper holder, and so forth-can tie together the room’s design elements, or create discord. Many fixture manufacturers have created accessories to coordinate with their sinks, toilets, and tubs to take the guesswork out of selection.
No matter the type of accessory, it needs to be fastened securely to the wall. In a perfect world, there would be a wall stud wherever you wanted to attach an accessory, but this is rarely the case. The alternative is to use some type of hollow-wall fastener.
These fasteners are designed to grip the wall when the fastener is driven in. There are four common types: plastic inserts, self-tapping aluminum inserts, Molly bolts, and toggle bolts.
Plastic inserts are driven into a hole drilled in the wall and expand when a screw is inserted; they’re best for light-duty applications. Aluminum inserts are driven directly into the wall and then accept a screw to secure an accessory. Molly bolts work well for a specific wall thickness (such as 1/2-inch drywall).
When a machine bolt is driven into the installed bolt, “wings” expand to grip the wall. Toggle bolts require a relatively large hole in the wall but do an excellent job of supporting medium- and heavy-duty loads.
Whenever possible, try to attach at least one mounting screw of an accessory to a wall stud.
1Position the accessory roughly where you want it and then use an electronic stud finder to locate studs in that area. Lightly mark their positions with a pencil.
2Reposition the accessory so at least one mounting screw can be driven into a stud and mark through the accessory’s mounting hole onto the wall. Drill appropriate-sized holes for either screws or hollow-wall fasteners.
3Install hollow-wall fasteners as needed. Make sure that the decorative plate of the accessory will cover the fastener when mounted.
4Attach the accessory firmly to the wall using screws or bolts. Take care not to over-tighten as they can strip out. Note that many accessories (including the one shown here) don’t attach directly to the wall; instead, a mounting plate is screwed to the wall, and the accessory is then attached to the mounting plate with a set screw.