Just when you thought a project was over…

It’s not. We finished a complete overhaul of our guest bathroom a few months ago, and we were so relieved to have it completely done!

And then this happened…

Yup. The stupid little anchors holding the towel rod in place just decided to give up one day, leaving us with a loose, droopy towel rod. And a hole in the wall.

After taking it down and pulling out the anchors, we saw what the problem was. These anchors were pretty cheap and weak to begin with, but when you install them they’re supposed to expand to create a brace that keeps them in the wall. They should look sort of like this…

Except that long part would actually be straight. Instead, when we installed them, they broke in the middle and expanded like this.

Obviously, this really does nothing to help keep them in the wall. Sadly, we had no way of knowing this is what was going on inside the wall until the towel bar finally gave up a few months later. For now, the other side feels sturdy so hopefully the anchors worked the way they’re supposed to on that side. We threw away the old anchors and began to brainstorm about how we could solve this problem.

Unfortunately, whoever initially designed towel bars did not take into account the standard space between studs, so unless your studs are a strange distance apart or you have an expandable towel rod, you can’t install both sides into studs. We couldn’t even install one side into a stud since the stud was right next to the edge of the shower. Our bathroom is so small, there’s really only one spot the towel rod can go with very little wiggle room. And now we had hole right where it should go, too.

I really didn’t want to move it up or down, either, as we had put it exactly where we wanted it the first time, cause why wouldn’t we? Patches aren’t very reliable to drill through, there are some epoxys that can be drilled, but they’re messy, and after this experience we weren’t too keen on the idea of anchors. After much googling of our problem, Andrew came up with a clever idea. Unfortunately, we have no pictures, so I’ll just walk you through the process.

The idea is to glue a piece of wood inside the wall that you then drill through to hold the towel rod in place. After looking through all our scrap wood and concluding that even after enlarging the hole none would fit through it, Andrew elected to use a paint stick. He broke off a small piece that was maybe 2 inches long at the most. Then he tied a piece of fishing line around the middle so that once he got it into the wall he could pull it back towards the drywall to glue it in place. He had to enlarge the hole just a little bit to make the piece fit, but not so much that it wouldn’t still be covered by the towel rod. Then he applied a strong construction adhesive to the ends of the piece of wood, inserted it into the wall, and pulled it into place.

After it had dried just a bit, he tied a screwdriver to the end of the string to ensure the wood was pulled firmly against the inside of the drywall. 24 hours later, we came back and screwed the mounting bracket directly into that piece of wood. And voilà! Good as new.

It’s been a couple days, and for now the rod is still going strong! Hopefully the anchors not expanding was just a fluke and the other side isn’t going to come loose, too. If it does, I suppose we’ll try this method on that side. Mostly I’m just hopeful this doesn’t become a recurring problem for us. It’s a fairly widespread epidemic, so I’m told (especially in households with children who pull at the towels), but we’d really rather not re-install it every couple of months!

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