*Tip On Installing A Towel Bar*
30 March 2017
I used to manage apartments and still do some handyman work for my current landlord. A common problem in bathrooms is one end of the towel bar coming loose or becoming wobbly. This is because towel bars come 18 & 24 inch lengths, IIRC, and the studs are 16.5 inches center to center, a towel bar this short would be functionally worthless in my opinion. This means you can generally hit a stud with the screws on one end but not the other and some people opt to have the towel bar placed where neither end will hit a stud. Most of the towels bars I've had to fix have been due to the towel bar just being screw into the dry wall. This doesn't hold for long and then people try plastic wall anchors and those come loose soon after those are installed.
The solution is toggle bolts for the end of the towel bar that doesn't hit a stud, or both ends if the towel bar is placed so that neither end hits a stud. There are a variety of toggle bolts, some have a butterfly on the end, some have a metal cage that crushes when you tighten the bolt all work well for securing the bracket of the towel bar to the drywall. I've never understood why contractors just don't install towel bars with toggle bolts on the ends that are not anchored into a wall stud.
Toggle bolts come in various sizes both length and diameter. A larger diameter usually means a larger load capacity but check the package for details on how much the toggle bolt will hold up and what thickness of material it can be used in and what size hole to drill if needed. Some have pointed ends and you just hammer the toggle bolt into the drywall, the toggle bolts with the butterfly may need a hole drilled or enlarged to accommodate the butterfly end even though the butterfly folds up I've had to enlarge the stripped hole before so I was able to push the toggle bolt in. The butterfly springs open once it passes thru the wall. Also on the butterfly type of toggle bolt you need to take the butterfly off the bolt and put the bolt thru the bracket or whatever your attaching to the wall before you stuff the butterfly and bolt thru the dry wall, I had to learn this the hard way. Once the butterfly is thru the dry wall it springs open and you cant pull it back without breaking it or making a big hole in the wall. If you unscrew the bolt from the butterfly you can pull the bolt out but the butterfly drops to the bottom of the hollow wall.
The type of toggle bolt that has the crushable cage that expands when you tighten the bolt you can generally put the toggle bolt into the dry wall tighten the bolt until the metal cage expands holding it to the dry wall. Then you can unscrew the bolt and put the bolt thru the bracket and then run the bolt back into the toggle bolt.
I've successfully used short toggle bolts to hold a coat hook on the back of a hollow core door in bathrooms. the alternative would have been to patch small holes in the door from the tenant trying to use the wood screws that came with the coat hook to hold the coat hook on the back of the door. The face of a hollow core door is just too thin to hold wood screws.
Here are a couple of pictures of some small toggle bolts. Note that there are a couple of spurs on the back of the washer face. This helps to keep the metal cage from just spinning while you tighten the bolt to expand the metal cage. The second picture shows two toggle bolts with cages expanded just so you can see how the cage expands when the bolt is tightened and can accommodate different thicknesses of material.
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