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I have several types of fasteners that I could use for my planned installation of bath-towel bars and hand-towel rings. Assuming I cannot find a stud close enough to where I plan to install the fasteners, which of these types of fasteners would tend to be best for this type of application? The towels themselves are not heavy, but yanking them off the bar, plus the potential for someone to lean on the bar makes me want to use the sturdiest fastener possible. I could also buy molly bolts or toggle bolts if those would be stronger.

The bracket at the bottom and the second fastener from the left were supplied with the towel bar.

fasteners

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3 Answers 3

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None of them.

People don't start slipping and grab a picture or a mirror. But they do grab towel bars. You really want to make sure they can hold up to a person pulling hard on them.

  • Studs

Wood screws into studs are the best choice. By far. Thickness of bracket + 1/2" (drywall) + ~ 1" screw, so typically between 1.5" and 2" screw. Longer would be even better except that there is always a concern of wires through the middle of studs.

  • Wood Across Studs

Second best, not in terms of safety/strength but in terms of work involved, is to mount a piece of wood into two studs and then use wood screws to mount the towel bar into the wood. You can stain or paint the wood to match the wall or to contrast with it.

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    I think what you're suggesting as your second best choice is to mount a piece of wood on top of the drywall and then mount the towel bar to that. I've never seen that done and I'm afraid that for it to be ascetically pleasing, it would have to be relatively thin (like a trim piece), which would defeat the purpose of making it secure to mount into.
    – jrw32982
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 20:57
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    I've seen it plenty of times. If you have unpainted wood elsewhere in the bathroom, stain to match. If not, paint to match either walls or trim. If cut to just an inch or two bigger than the towel bar then it will look almost like it came with the towel bar. Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 21:09
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    I've also seen it many times. If you have a router, get a quarter round bit and put a nice finishing edge on the piece.
    – JACK
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 21:17
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    You don't like this advice but you should accept it. There is no anchor that will keep a towel bar from becoming loose and jiggly over time. Not if it's regularly used by typical people. People can be rough. If it's purely decorative you can use anything you want.
    – jay613
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 22:44
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    @Ruskes I think you've convinced me that towel bars are not the way to go. I'm switching my plan to use towel hooks instead, which I can position over studs. The standard towel bars are 18" and 24" neither of which will get both ends anchored over studs. And I don't have enough horizontal space behind the door for a cross piece of wood + a towel bar -- the door would hit the bar (it would just clear it if I used the bar only). So towel hooks it is.
    – jrw32982
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 12:40
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Studs would be the best.

From your collection the toggle bolt is next best (the white one). You need to know the drywall thickness to choose the right neck size (length) for it. Too short and the wings wont open. To long and the wings will open but not pressing to the drywall from inside.

Since towel bars invite to be used as hang on to it when slipping on the floor there is one more to recommend for that. It is all metal (no plastic) and do not depend on the wall thickness.

toggle bolt

I found out those to be the strongest. Once inserted the spring will open them and spread the load over a 2 inch area on the drywall.

The smallest anchor (1/8) has a pull out strength of 200 Pounds

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  • Note that the "strength" on those is typically the amount of load that they can hold statically; actually pulling on it may produce different results.
    – alphabet
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 22:58
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Bit late answering this, but the thing you need to worry about is not pull-out force, but vertical force on the towel bar.

The metal bracket it was supplied with has holes for two or three toggle bolts. If you correctly install those, and (preferably) use construction adhesive to glue the plate to the wall over the toggle bolts, you'll create a very rigid sandwich across a 2x2 area, and that will resist the pulling and twisting forces caused by grabbing the towel rails.

The other thing you can do is to use lightweight plastic towel rails that break before they pull out of the wall.

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