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I am installing a new panel shower (to replace an old one that broke; path of least resistance to install a new one vs. the more traditional type of shower I am used to).

The panel shower is held up by two brackets. Each bracket is held into the wall by drilling a 1/4" hole and inserting a nylon wall anchor.

I am a little worried about the holding strength of this setup. My prior panel shower was held on by a single bracket with two of these 1/4" nylon wall anchors - and the damn thing rusted and fell off.

Would I not be better off drilling 1/2" holes and using gigantic toggle bolts?

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  • What is the wall you're attaching to made of? Drywall over studs or something else?
    – brhans
    Oct 25, 2022 at 12:11
  • @brhans sorry, not ignoring you - I am pretty sure it's drywall over studs, with ceramic tile on top - but I need to poke a camera back there and check.
    – negacao
    Oct 25, 2022 at 15:06

2 Answers 2

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Best: if you know where studs are, and can use one of those for at least one of the brackets, that would be ideal. Use a long galvanized or stainless screw for this.

Better: If you use a good plastic anchor with drill bit and screws correctly sized for it, that will be pretty good. Don't use the anchors or screws that came with the shower. Buy good ones. The anchor should be tight in the hole, but still insert fully. The screw should meet firm resistance and eventually bottom out firmly and stop turning. Tile over cement board will provide good hold for a properly installed anchor. Maybe you won't be able to do chin-ups on the shower panel, so, don't do that.

Bad: Half inch holes and toggle bolts. If you are lucky and get this right, you probably could do chin ups on the shower. That's the one benefit. But I think you're likely to have other problems. Drilling half-inch holes in your tile wall in a wet area is undesirable. The toggle bolt won't naturally resist water so you'll have to seal the hole somehow. You'll have to glue the back of the shower panel to the tile otherwise the toggle will allow some movement laterally. If pipes or blocking or anything else inside the wall prevents the toggle bolt from being inserted and seating properly on the back of the wall, you'll have half inch holes in your tile wall to be patched. That's a PIA in any wall, but inside a shower you should really avoid it.

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  • Thank you for the warning about half inch holes. Do you have any hints as to how to identify good anchors and screws?
    – negacao
    Oct 25, 2022 at 15:07
  • Go to a good hardware store and talk to them. Use plastic masonry anchors with ribs or wings to prevent twisting and a flange to prevent push-through. Don't use metal ones or ones meant only for concrete. Don't use drywall anchors. Experiment with a slightly under-sized hole at first to ensure a tight fit. Ask about high quality screws at the store.
    – jay613
    Oct 25, 2022 at 17:09
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If you can find a stud to attach the bracket to, that's the ideal. Ditch the wall anchor and drive a screw through the bracket into the stud.

If you cannot put it into a stud, then you'll have to use a wall anchor of some sort. The manufacturer has determined that the screw and anchor provided will last at least as long as the warranty period, so you've got that going for you.

If you'd like, you can certainly upgrade to a galvanized screw, zinc coated screw, or even all the way to stainless steel. You could also upgrade to a beefier wall anchor. Do bear in mind a couple of things:

  • This screw is likely going to be out of the spray area and behind other finish materials, so the only moisture it will deal with are an initial dose from some sort of adhesive (to hold tile, wall paper, maybe some drywall mud, something like that), and any water that leaks through.
  • I'd still suggest that a plastic anchor would still be a better option than a metal one, since any water that does manage to leak back there won't damage it. However, any water that might leak in this area would damage the wall around the anchor, so it probably wouldn't matter much either way.
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  • Thank you. The placement of the brackets and screws is pretty limited - I might be able to move them a couple of inches, but then the whole thing will be off center. I will get a camera in from the other side of the wall to see where the studs are - but I'm not hopeful because I would need studs at or very near the pipes, and I think they're just running up a big cavity.
    – negacao
    Oct 25, 2022 at 15:10
  • I will definitely upgrade to a stainless steel screw - the old shower panel anchor and its screws were totally rusted through. I'm amazed that something meant to go into a shower isn't.. waterproof.
    – negacao
    Oct 25, 2022 at 15:11
  • Question: How long did last before it rusted through? While there's nothing wrong with a stainless upgrade, you should consider how long it'll take for "payback" or return on investment...
    – FreeMan
    Oct 25, 2022 at 15:40
  • I don't have any way to know - the shower panel itself was kind of old, I'd guess at least 5-10 years. But it's not impossible the bracket came from an even older shower and was simply reused. My fear about it is because it came off (the entire shower panel) so easily - if someone had slipped in the shower and grabbed onto it for support, it would have fallen on top of them.
    – negacao
    Oct 25, 2022 at 15:46

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