I was really bummed when my wife, Alicia, suggested we install a shower shelf. I mean, figuring out how to arrange and balance all those shampoo bottles and soap bars on the two-inch-wide edge or the tub is what kept me occupied during those boring morning showers. But after the four-thousandth time I knocked a domino-ish chain of plastic containers into the tub, I began to see her reasoning. Fortunately, installing a shelf in your shower is really easy. Read on to see how I did it, with a few supplies and some help from my local TrueValue hardware store…
1. Look at your shelf’s mounting directions. But basically, you’ll be screwing the shelf brackets into the substrate (whatever’s behind the wall covering … usually drywall or plaster). If you know where your studs are, you can try to line up the shelf so the screws land in a stud. But usually, you won’t have a clue. So, to make sure the shelf is sturdy, you’ll want to use an anchor (y’know those expandy plastic or metal things you use to mount stuff on drywall or plaster).
(Start with a shopping trip to your favorite local hardware store. I brought my ‘helper’ along to make the trip extra fun an extra inefficient.)
2. Pre drill your holes. No matter how you’re screwing the brackets it, you want to pre-drill the holes through the tile. Our shower surround is glass tile, which is a little unusual. Yours might be ceramic tile, stone, or maybe plastic. Whatever the case, figure out the right drill bit to use. I stopped by my local TrueValue and asked the guys there what the recommended for drilling into glass. They suggested a diamond-tipped bit. For stone, try a masonry bit. For ceramic, a carbide or diamond-tipped bit should work.
3. Wear safety goggles! You never know what scraps of material might come flying ‘atcha. Then, drill slowly, without applying too much force.
PRO-TIP: Lay down a strip of masking tape before you drill. It’ll give your drill bit something to bite in to so it doesn’t ‘walk’ when you start drilling.
4. If you’re drilling into glass, like me, keep a glass of water around to dip your drill bit in. If you keep the bit cool (by dipping it in water), you’ll lessen the chances of chipping the glass.
5. Once your hole is drilled, insert the anchor. I used a molly bolt, which is an expanding metal anchor. I also ran a bead of silicone caulk over it before pushing it in, just to protect against water getting in behind the tile.
6. Screw the bracket plates in by hand! You don’t want to do this with a drill and overtighten them (you could shatter the tile).
7. Caulk the bracket plates, then attached the brackets.
8. Add the shelf!