Ceramic Mounting Methods explained for thin-set, flat back, mud set, clip on, and recessed mounts

Extended product information for the Stylish 700 Series - notes about mounting methods and installation.

This information actually applies to the mounting methods for all the ceramic hardware series. Since the Stylish 700 Series is the most extensive, the pictures below are the 700 Series pieces.

This mounting method graphic is AC Products description. We use variations of it on the product pages. BA and SA are the same thing, thin-set mounting. BA refers to items in the 700 and 900 series, SA refers to items in the 800 and 900 series. Same for BF and SF, and then BC and SC.
AC Products mounting methods diagram

This is a back view of the 5 mounting methods and you can see how they relate to the line art graphic above.
Back view of the ceramic mounting methods

There are some items that come in multiple mounting methods. Such as model 725 soap dish shown below. It comes in 4 mounting methods. When mounted, you cannot tell the difference from the front. Only the backs change. Many items in the 700, 800, and 900 series come in multiple mounting methods.
ceramic soap dish mounting methods



About the mounting methods:

THIN-SET:
ceramic thin-set mount for bathroom hardware

Thin-set tile mount soap dishes

The BA & SA & CA thin-set mount
: The protrusion on the back must set into a 5/16" deep or slightly greater depth inlay. Many people have referred to this as a recess mount. That is not correct. Thin-set is set in place where a piece of tile has been omitted, and thus it attaches to the same wall surface that the tile is attaching to. And it can be applied using the same waterproof adhesive. The 5/16" projection on the back is not the full size of the back. Thus the overall dimension of the ceramic pieces are greater and allow for some overlap of your opening in the tile. Tile mounting is the most popular application for thin-set. But if you are renovating, you may find thin-set pieces glued directly into drywall, or some set in sheet rock. If doing a new installation, thin-set mount pieces generally mount in-line with your tile job. CA part numbers will refer to the 500 series pieces with a shell design to them.



FLAT BACK:
flat back mount TP holder to go over tile | ceramic tp holder flat back

flat back piece to hide opening in tile | AC Products flat back ceramic TP holder
The BF & SF flat back mount: Designed to be glued onto ANY flat surface. Glue them over tile, wood, drywall, green board, or sheet rock. Flat back does not require the same inlay opening as thin-set. Flat back is great as an afterthought mounting. When you or someone who just tiled your wall would like to add a soap dish, towel bar, corner shelf, or other item, you can do so with the flat back without having to chisel out any tiles.  It saves time, and saves a lot of muscle work. And it allows you positioning freedom as to where to place it. Flat back is strong. When the right waterproof quality brand adhesive is used, flat back pieces will adhere right onto a tile surface. If you wish to lightly sand the tile surface first to rough it up, you can. Just be cautious to not sand beyond the scope of what the piece will cover up.



CLIP ON:
clip on ceramic bath hardware | ceramic soap dish clip on mount
The BC & SC clip on mount: Great for drywall or wood walls. Can be used on tile too if you wish. Each clip on item comes with one mounting clip, plastic anchors, and screws. Towel bars come with two mounting clips. The clip secures to the wall first, then the ceramic piece slides down over it. On tile, you would need to drill into tile with a ceramic tile drill bit, and then definitely use the plastic anchors. A screw pushing against the plastic anchor is better than a screw pushing against ceramic. Less chance of breaking the ceramic. On wood walls, you would not use the plastic anchors. For a more permanent mounting of clip on pieces, some adhesive can be mounted to their backside. It will secure them stronger, but you will not be able to remove them in the future. Otherwise, without added glue, clip on pieces can be removed if needed. The mounting clip is tapered so the pieces wedge themselves onto the clip.  The clips are shown in the previous two pictures. Make sure they are securely pushed down on to the mounting clip to wedge in place. A light tap with your knuckles (no tools), can wedge them better.



MUD SET:
mud set mount ceramic soap dish

ceramic bath hardware mud set installed
The BM mud set mount:
Popular with professional tile setters, and it does require a 1-1/4" or deeper hole to set into. Commonly put in with a mud pack (mortar). Very common on sheet rock There are only 4 items in the 700 Series that come in mud set. It is limited. The BM725, BM777, BM730, and BM782. All four of these items are available in over 110 colors. You must have that shallow depth hole for all of these items to fit into. They can be put in place with waterproof adhesive also, and glued from the flat surface surrounding the mud set protrusion. The soap dish, TP holder, and towel bar posts, although set deeper into the wall, still protrude from the surface the same way their clip on, thin-set, and flat back counter parts do. They look the same from the front. You can see more pictures explaining this on the Stylish 700 Series page.



FULLY RECESSED:
recessed hole in bathroom wall | ceramic recessed toilet paper holder

sheet rock hole for bath hardware | ceramic TP holder set in sheet rock
And the BR recessed mount: A very nice option when you do not want anything sticking out from the wall. The recessed pieces are limited to 3 selections: a toilet paper holder, a soap dish, and the shower caddy. They are available in the 700 and 900 series. Thus they come in 110+ colors and the stoneware colors. The recessed depth required ranges from 3 -1/4" to 3-3/4". Most of the time, if you have 3-5/8" of depth, you have plenty of room to set the pieces into the wall. Most stud walls have a 2x4 that yields 3-1/2" of depth, then with drywall, green board, or sheet rock as the wall surface, that adds to your allotted depth. Recessed pieces are commonly installed with the same kind of mud pack used for the mud-set items. You can also frame out your opening and use waterproof adhesive to secure the pieces in place. For the toilet paper holder and the soap dish, you should mount them with at least one recessed side glued in place. It is not advisable to just glue them by their small flange. Although it could work in many cases, it does not provide a very strong mount. And you run the risk of bumping it lose one day. So securing at least one side within the wall with mud or adhesive is strongly suggested. If you can secure more than one side, even better. On the shower caddy, because it is larger, it is advised to secure at least two sides within your wall, or use the mud pack. None of these items would ever be abused with heavy or damaging objects, but someone could fall into one and jar it loose.



Do not confuse thin-set mounting with recessed. Yes, the back protrusion on a thin-set piece will recess into the tile, but only for the tile thickness. The term recessed refers to the piece mounting into the wall approx. 3-1/2" or more.
thin-set and recessed mounts compared



A Note about Adhesives:
We are commonly asked about what adhesive to use to mount corner shelves, TP holders, soap dishes, and the other bath hardware pieces. In a water environment, such as the tub or shower, it must be 100% WATERPROOF. Not just water resistant. Your corner shelves and soap dishes will be getting wet daily, you need a glue that will hold up and not break down over time. So the adhesive TUBE must say waterproof. It should be a good quality brand, not the bargain on sale stuff. Amongst The Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware stores, they all offer many quality adhesives. Marine dealers will offer waterproof marine grade adhesives. Some silicons are NOT adhesives, they are just caulk or sealers. Read the tube well. Do not count on it being an adhesive unless it says adhesive. (We do not sell adhesive. UPS hazmat shipping rules make shipping chemicals not viable for us.)

If doing a thin-set install at the same time as your tile, you can use the same adhesive (mastic) used to mount your tiles. If installing flat back items, then find any good quality 100% waterproof adhesive. There are many contractor grade adhesives, and roofing adhesives. Note that these are usually unsightly glue. If you use too much, you will make a mess, and it will be an ugly one.

And we find this important: If the adhesive says it dries in 2 hours or 4 hours or whatever, Don't believe it! Please, tape up or secure all pieces in place for a good 48 hours before trusting them not to fall off the wall. And do not caulk the perimeter too soon. If the adhesive has not set, and you caulk and thus seal out the air from allowing the adhesive to dry, anything can fall off the wall days, weeks, or months later. Adhesive in a sealed tube remains liquid and ready to use. If you apply some adhesive and then seal the air off from allowing it to dry, it may never dry. We have had some reports of corner shelves jumping off the wall. So do not always believe the published drying time, and do not finish caulk too soon. But you do want to caulk the perimeter a couple days later to block water from getting behind the pieces. Makes for easier cleaning of the edges too.

A New Adhesive Note: In a recent trip to The Home Depot, we decided to check out some current labels on their various adhesives. Seems that instead of the word Waterproof , many brands are now choosing to say All Weather. When looking up All Weather adhesives on Google, it seems that most that claim to be All Weather also state that they are 100% waterproof. Yet, they are not writing this on their tubes any more. So a good quality brand adhesive that says All Weather should be 100% waterproof. But when in doubt, look it up on-line. Most manufactures of glues and adhesives will have more extensive information on their web sites.


Here's a review of the 5 mounting methods and then a few other comparison photos to help you with how different mounts look from the front.
how to mount ceramic bath hardware

white ceramic recessed toilet paper holder

thin-set mount white ceramic soap dish | ceramic toothbrush holder

to mud set mount or to flat back mount, that is the question

white ceramic bath hardware


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