Removing towel rack from tile

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We have an old house. In one bathroom, there is a towel rack attached to the tile wall right over the tub. It's a terrible place for a towel rack and it has bugged me for years. I am reluctant to remove it myself, because it's attached to the tile with what looks like the same cement (grout?) that they use to attach the tiles. The cement is white and very hard, like grout.
I tried tapping it with a sharpened screwdriver and a hammer. I was able to chip away some of the cement, but I am worried about cracking or scratching the tile underneath.
Is there a good way to remove the towel rack?
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On Tue, 21 Dec 2010 21:53:23 -0800, Smitty Two

It's an ugly towel rack and in a bad location. It has to go. Really ugly. Gross.
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On 12/21/2010 9:16 PM Heather Mills spake thus:

Hard to tell without a picture (or a better description), but it sounds like the rack might be grouted (cemented) into the wall, which would make it a lot more difficult to remove. (Like those old-fashioned soap dishes that are grouted into a recess in the tile.)
If this is the case, you might be able to remove it by *very* carefully chipping away at the grout with the smallest chisel you can fit in the grout channel (a cold chisel is what you want).
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On Tue, 21 Dec 2010 22:58:34 -0800, David Nebenzahl

I'll try to get a photo, but it sure looks like what you said.
I started doing what you suggested, but using a screwdriver. My smallest chisel is thicker than the grout.
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On 12/21/2010 11:11 PM Heather Mills spake thus:

I shoulda thought of the sacrificial screwdriver; that's as good a tool as any here. And since you're getting rid of the rack, no problem if you chip *it*; just try not to damage the surrounding tile.
When you're done, what're you planning on doing? Cover the hole(s) with a piece of tile?
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On Tue, 21 Dec 2010 23:44:38 -0800, David Nebenzahl

It seems to be working, but is slow going. I haven't gotten very far in yet.

I'm hoping there's no hole in the tile. If there is, I guess I'll dig out a couple of tiles and replace them. Even if they don't match perfectly, it will be better than the rack.
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There WILL be holes in the tile. The rack has to be mounted to the wall mechanically somehow. You can't glue directly to the surface of tile. They might have adhesives that would do it now, but not in 1950.
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snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com wrote:

there may be holes in the back of the rack, causing the cement or thinset used to set the tiles to key into it, locking the rack onto the wall. that was the most common way to mount things like this. if it was original equipment, it would be uncommon to mount it mechanically onto a tiled wall.
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On Dec 23, 12:50pm, snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com wrote:

re: "There WILL be holes in the tile."
No, there may not be. Read my earlier post where cement was used to hold both a towel rack and soap dish to my tiled walls. The house was built in the 50's.
These types of towel rack holders did not required any holes to be drilled into the tile. Look closely, there are 2 different styles of towel rack holders. There's even some soap dishes in the background, none of which required holes in the tile. Holes in the wall, yes, but not in the tile.
http://preview.tinyurl.com/TowelRackHolders
http://tinyurl.com/TowelRackHolders
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Heather Mills wrote:

Here is a link you might find helpful: http://forum.doityourself.com/archive/index.php/t-382458.html
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Heather Mills wrote:

Here's another: http://forum.doityourself.com/archive/index.php/t-48703.html
Cut and paste the following line into Google:
ceramic OR porcelain towel rack removal
That's how I found the links. There's lots more
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On 12/21/2010 11:52 PM Jack spake thus:

I hate to break it to you, buddy, but both your posts fall into the "unhelpful posts by someone trying to help" category.
The first thread you posted a link to had to do with removing a ceramic towel rack from *drywall*, not tile.
This link you posted was about the O.P.'s problem. However, it contained no information that hadn't already given here, specifically:
There is no easy way. You basically chisel the brackets out with hammer and chisel. Be aware, though, that there is no tile behind the brackets. You will have to install a couple tiles that probably won't match.
Sorry to point all this out to you, but keep in mind that the whole idea here is to try to provide information to folks.
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Both of your links were for racks attached to drywall. This one is glued onto tile. However, the Google search suggestion was good. I should have tried that first. A couple of hits suggested a cold chisel or a screwdriver as suggested by David.
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No, it is not. There was no glue around in the 1950s that would stick to the surface of a ceramic tile.
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On 12/23/2010 9:52 AM snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com spake thus:

You're not following the thread very well.
The statement you responded to, "This one is glued onto tile" referred to a link someone had posted earlier--not to the OP's situation.
The OP's towel holder is NOT screwed into the wall; it's grouted right in, like many such accessories were done (and still can be). When I tiled my bath in the one house I owned and sold, I grouted a soap holder in. No fasteners of any kind: just cut a hole for it in the green drywall, smushed thinset onto it along with the surrounding tile, then later grouted around it.
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Heather Mills wrote:

You might consider the Harbor Freight Multifunction Twitching Tool with a diamond blade. Even a regular blade will cut through grout.
Be aware that whatever you do will end up looking worse than the current situation.
* Even IF the towel rack is merely glued to the tile, getting all the grout/glue off the tile without shattering or marring the underlying tile will be almost impossible.
* Most likely, the towel rack supports are attached to the wall and the tile fitted around the supports. If this is the case, you'll have to match the tile.
If it was me, I'd invest in a decorative shower curtain and call it good.
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re: "*Most likely, the towel rack supports are attached to the wall and the tile fitted around the supports. If this is the case, you'll have to match the tile."
That depends on what you mean by "attached to the wall" and no, you don't have to match the tile.
In my case (1956 house) the towel rack and soap dish were attached in the following manner:
A hole was cut in the wallboard, newspaper was stuffed into the cavity (interesting reading, by the way) and cement was crammed into the hole. The fixtures had keyed extensions so that when the cement spread out behind the wallboard and into the notches on the fixtures, it held them in place.
As far as matching the tile, I knew I could never do that, so I bought contrasting tiles - actually I bought tiles with a flower pattern on them - and used them instead.
If you try to match existing *anythings* and can only get close, it's time to go the other way and try *not* to match. It's better in those cases to coordinate.
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On Wed, 22 Dec 2010 06:50:39 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03

One of the websites mentioned something like this. It said that the porcelain support was likely hollow. It suggested whacking it with the *handle* of a hammer, but it wasn't clear if they were trying to break it free from the wall or just break it.
Since I am not trying to save the rack, I think I'll try drilling into the base to see if it's hollow. If it is, I can cut or break off the end and then I'll be able to see how it's attached and get at the glue from inside.
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Why not grab a reprocating saw and cut it about inch or so from the wall. That should tell you if it's hollow (I think mine was) and then you could hammer it inwards from the sides to try and break the concrete free.
Proper safety gear suggested.
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High speed Dremel, Foredom, or Makita 14,000 rpm cutter. Cut off the end of the rack that is sticking out, so you can see inside to see if it is held on with a fastener, or was, indeed just glued on. Break away enough until you can see what you're dealing with. If glued on, carefully breaking off, then scraping residue with single edge razor. Maybe trying some acetone to soften glue/grout? Let us know what you find. As mentioned before, probably a coin toss as to whether or not you will have to replace a tile or four.
Steve
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