DIY Project Test Lab: I Hacked My Rental Kitchen & Bath with Sugru

published Mar 15, 2017
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(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Sug-what? Pronounced seew-grew, this sticky substance is like moldable glue that’s clay-like out of the package, then hardens to rubber after 24 hours. People have found all sorts of ways to fix and create things with this flexible, interesting stuff. But perhaps most intriguing is its potential for renters. Since Sugru adheres to most substances — like ceramic tile, wood, and plastic — but can also be easily removed, it’s potentially a way to hang items temporarily without using nails or drilling. Sounds revolutionary right? We put it to the test to find out just how fantastic Sugru is…

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

One of Sugru’s Home Hacks kits costs $15 and comes with 4 single-use packs of this moldable, sticky substance: in classic red, snow white, black, and silver grey.

Project #1: Bathroom Shower Shelves

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

We ordered this shelving kit to install in the shower. After opening it, I realized I’d have to make a few adjustments, because the arms come attached to the trays and the screws run through both pieces and into the wall. Since I was installing this sans screws, the easiest thing for me to do was to lose the arms. On the upside, this allowed me to place each tray exactly where I wanted it on the shower wall and not have to worry about the pre-existing towel bar being in the way.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Surface: Plastic/fiberglass wall panel.

Color used: Black

Moldability: Sugru is incredibly easy to mold. My two notes on this are 1) it can be really messy. I used the black color and it was all over my fingers; and 2) it is weirdly oily, so be careful when setting it on any surface you don’t want to get dirty.

Dry time: Sugru suggests 24 hours for drying, but I was a little afraid of it sticking well to the wall, so I let it cure for about 48 hours. During that time I made sure zero water came into contact with the curing Sugru.

Strength: The bond held up my super heavy glass soap and shampoo bottles long enough for me to snap some photos, but once I applied the tiniest bit of force the entire thing popped off the wall. If you use plastic bottles, and are sure not to jostle the shelves, it might be okay. But weight is definitely a factor.

Removability: Popped right off.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Did it leave a stain? Yes. Sugru warns that a bit of color might stay on the wall, and in my case it did, but I think with time and maybe a Magic Eraser I can work the leftover color away. Top photo above shows the wall right after I took the shelf down, and bottom photo is after I cleaned it with soap & water.

Conclusion: I should have used a lot more Sugru on the backs of the shelf to improve the strength. If I had used a different shelving unit with more surface area, it would have made more contact with the wall, and formed a better bond.

Paper Towel Holder

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

We ordered this paper towel rack for the kitchen. It also required screws for installation, but was super easy to hack with Sugru. I placed three large pieces along the backside of the mounting hardware, pushed them up through the front, and then flattened them over the surface once the hardware was stuck to the wall:

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Surface: Tile

Color used: Black

Moldability: Easy

Dry time: 24 hours

Strength: Super strong. Out of everything I tested, this worked the best. I also used more Sugru on this particular piece of hardware than I used on any other piece.

Removability: More difficult, but it eventually popped off when I used a screwdriver.

Did it leave a stain? Left the tiniest bit of residue behind.

Conclusion: Key to this test was using as much Sugru as I possibly could. It also worked well with the towel holder’s mounting hardware.

Kitchen Rail With S Hooks

(Image credit: Amazon)

I ordered this rail for the kitchen, which came with two tiny hardware inserts as the mounting hardware. To install the rail, you ordinarily screw those pieces into the wall, then place the two end knobs over the mounting pieces, tightening a tiny screw until the rail fits snugly over the mounting hardware.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

The photo above shows the original piece of mounting hardware (with the white Sugru still inside) that you screw into the wall.

I struggled with this and wound up trying to mount this rail twice.

Test A

For the first test, I used the same method as the paper towel holder above. I placed Sugru on the backside of the mounting hardware, pushed them up through the front, and then flattened them over the surface once the hardware was stuck to the wall.

Surface: Wainscoting

Color used: White

Moldability: The Sugru was, as always, easy to mold, but difficult to fit through the tiny hardware pieces.

Dry Time: 24 hours

Strength: I wiggled the actual hardware before mounting the rest of the rack and everything felt nice and secure. But once I installed the rack, tightened the screws, and began to hang utensils, I only got about three on the rack before it all popped off the wall in a very dramatic fashion.

Removability: Way too easy. I used such a small amount of the compound it just popped itself off the wall.

Did it leave a stain? The white Sugru left zero stain.

Conclusion: I’m not 100% sure what happened with Test A. But my best guess is that, because the mounting hardware was so small, I could only use a little bit of Sugru.

Test B

For my second attempt, I didn’t use the actual hardware and instead tried making molds of the mounting hardware completely out of Sugru.

Color used: Red

Moldability: I used a new pack of Sugru and it was easy to get close to the shape I needed. I kept testing the end caps over the mold as I went along, so I was able to get close to an exact fit.

Dry time: 24 hours

Strength: I never got a proper hold in the first place, so it is impossible to evaluate strength. I used about a nickel size chunk of Sugru for both pieces, but the molded mounts were just too flexible. The tiny screw that you use to secure the rail over the mounting hardware just kept pressing into the flexible Sugru, so it never had a chance to get a good grip. They didn’t pop off the wall, but they weren’t solid enough to hang the rail securely.

Removability: Pried them off with a butter knife, then scraped the rest of the residue with my thumbnail.

Stainability: The red Sugru left a stain on the wainscoting. Originally I had saved the white Sugru for this test but it didn’t work and I was left with red. I’ll definitely need to paint over this before I move out!

Conclusion: This hack was 100% unsuccessful for the reasons stated above.

Testing Takeaways

  • I highly recommend using a coordinating color for your wall if you plan to eventually remove whatever it is that you’re using Sugru to hang, as it will more than likely leave some colored residue behind.
  • Don’t trust it on things that weigh more than a small stack of hardback books. When you use it – use A LOT!
  • It’s all about the hardware. When picking out your shelves or storage pieces, research what each piece of hardware looks like. The key to using Sugru is being able to get a good bond on each side of the hardware — a Sugru sandwich of sorts.
  • The 24 hour dry time makes it less than convenient to use for a quick-fix situation, but it’s good to use on something that you don’t need right away, or something that you might otherwise throw out, like a broken phone cord, chipped picture frame, or another small item.
  • Keep in mind when tossing it in your tool kit that there is a shelf life on the product. Each packet has a “use by” date on the back, and the shelf life can be elongated by storing it in the refrigerator.

Final Thoughts

Sugru is a really cool product, but you have to find the right context for it to work. Asking it to support too much weight, or not providing enough surface area for it to bond —each case might render it useless. But there are plenty of places where it’s great. I love the idea of using it to save phone cords, to add feet to the bottom of a planter or speaker, or fix tiny parts on appliances, like the dishwasher rack. There are many ways to use Sugru at home.

Have you used Sugru? We want to know how it went! Or, give it a shot and let us know what you think…