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Do It Yourself: Secure safety bars with WingIts

Q. I want to install safety bars in fiberglass showers. My plumber told me toggle bolts won’t work, and the wood studs are too far back to use screws. Can you help?

A. You can probably use special grab-bar fasteners called WingIts, which are designed to hold bars to thin or fragile surfaces. However, you should check with the manufacturer first to make sure the fasteners will work in your specific situation.

You can call toll-free for information at (877) 894-6448 or email your request to I sent an email and received a reply within five minutes, including a document titled Installing WingIts Into Fiberglass and Acrylic Tubs/Showers.

WingIt fasteners are also excellent for installing grab bars in tiled drywall where studs can’t be located or are not in the best positions. Keep in mind that using special fasteners often requires drilling sizable holes in the surface.

Another possibility, though not the best one, is to use high-quality suction-cup grab bars.

These can be easily installed on any smooth surface and will help anyone using a shower or tub to keep their balance. However, they shouldn’t be trusted to support heavy weights, such as a person who grabs the bar during a fall.

The best suction-cup grab bars have levers on the cups so they can easily be attached and re-attached. A large selection in various price ranges is available on the Internet by searching with the words Suction-Cup Grab Bars.

Q. A dropped cigarette burned a hole in my carpet 2 two inches in diameter. I try to conceal it with a throw rug, but the throw doesn’t look good in that position. I can’t afford new carpet, so is there some way to repair it?

A. If the carpet has some pile (not tightly woven), you can probably make a reasonably good repair. Pile helps conceal the seams of the repair.

The key is to have a matching scrap of carpet or to take a small piece from inside a closet or from under a piece of furniture that always stays in the same place. A special tool called a cookie cutter will help make a good repair.

The best place to find one of these tools is on the Internet; search for Carpet Cookie Cutters. The round cutter makes a neat hole in the carpet, cutting out the damaged piece, and cuts an identical piece to fill the hole.

If the burn went through the pad under the carpet, you should replace that also. You can get the supplies you need, except the patch itself, at, where a carpet cookie cutter kit is available for about $30. It includes a metal cutter and adhesive mats for several repairs.

If you’re interested in the kit, visit the website, click on Index, then on the letter C, then on Cookie Cutter.

An alternative is to cut a small piece of one-quarter-inch plywood that will cover the damaged area. This will serve as a pattern for cutting out the damage and the filler piece. I recommend plywood because it will keep its shape and you can run a very sharp utility knife close to the sides to make your cuts.

When you have your filler piece cut and ready, test fit it in the hole. If you are satisfied with the fit and appearance, use double-faced carpet tape to hold the patch in place. The tape should extend under the edges of the main carpet cutout to help hold everything in place.

Q. A home center near me sells a product called SimpleMat that a salesman said makes installing ceramic tiles easy. Can I use it in my bathroom?

A. You can use it to resurface a bathroom counter, but it is not recommended for use in showers or tub-shower enclosures.

SimpleMat is an adhesive mat that replaces thinset mortar or mastic to hold the tiles in place. It is recommended mainly for counters and backsplashes and shouldn’t be used where a lot of moisture can affect the mat’s bond. You still have to grout the tiles.

A complaint I have heard about the product is that it is very difficult to adjust the position of a tile once it is stuck to the mat, which is not good news for beginning tile setters. SimpleMat can save some time and mess, however.

You can find answers to a lot of questions at, including installation instructions and tips on grouting.

Questions and comments should be emailed to Gene Austin at Send regular mail to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.

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