Sorting the Shower Screen (and the curtain pole, towel rail, loo roll holder…)
Last week we looked at methods for making tiling and silicone in bathrooms withstand the rigours imposed upon them in tenanted properties. This week I’ll look at making shower screens and other fixtures tenant-proof too.
Shower screens, loo roll holders, towel rails, curtain poles and ready-made shelves all have a way of working loose from the wall, even in normal use, so it’s not necessarily the fault of the tenant. This is because the fixings provided are often far too small and don’t penetrate a part of the wall which is strong. My first advice is, throw away the fixing screws and plugs provided. They will soon come loose and the tenants will be on the phone to you to fix it – a situation which pleases nobody.
To be really effective a screw in a plastic wall-plug needs at least 1” of penetration into solid masonry – not just the plaster. Older houses often have an inch or more of lime plaster on the walls, so effectively this means you need a 2” screw to fix a flat metal plate to a wall, and a 3” screw to fix a 1” thick batten. I use number 10 screws with brown plugs – you need a 7mm masonry drill bit for these. You may have to make the fixing holes in the shower screen etc slightly larger with a drill to take the bigger screws. You can also get a special drill bit for drilling tiles. Or drill SLOWLY with a tungsten-tipped masonry bit and the drill set OFF hammer to prevent the tile cracking. Use a dust mask – tile dust is harmful.
The other problem you might encounter when fixing into a wall is that it’s not solid, e.g. plasterboard on timber framing. In an ideal world whoever built the wall would have pre-planned this and put in a timber nogging (a short horizontal bit of wood) between the uprights to fix your screen to. Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world, but there are a number of fixings specially designed for fixing to surfaces such as plasterboard, of various strength and quality. Just screwing straight into plasterboard and hoping for the best won’t do! A specialist plasterboard plug used into tile backing-board, which is much harder than plasterboard, can be a pretty good fixing, but it’s important not to over-tighten them.
I’ve run out of space to talk about best practice when grouting tiles, so we’ll have a look at that next week in Getting a Grip on your Tiling!