If the proper plumbing is in place, installing a new toilet is fairly easy. Toilets are typically sold with all the necessary materials for installation. Read the manufacturer’s directions before getting started and purchase any supplies that aren’t included. It also helps to have a partner to assist with the heavy lifting.
Tools You Need to Install a Toilet
- Putty knife
- Toilet, one-piece or two-piece
- Wax bowl ring
- Flange bolts
- Silicone caulk
- Caulking gun
- Flexible water supply tube
- Plumber’s putty
- Wood shims
How to Install a Toilet: Step by Step
- Turn off the water supply to the toilet you plan to replace. Remove the old toilet. Plug the drainpipe with an old rag so that sewer gas doesn’t leak in. Then use a putty knife to scrape up the remains of the old wax gasket from the floor flange. The wax is usually yellow or off-white and should clean up easily. The area does not have to be spotless before installing the toilet, but it should be relatively clean.
- Check the area for water damage and make any necessary repairs to the floor. Water damage from a leaky toilet can weaken the floor and facilitate mold growth. It is important to address these issues before installing a new toilet. Inspect the floor flange and bolts that anchored the toilet to the floor. If any parts are damaged, replace the parts.
- Take the new wax bowl ring out of the package and inspect it. If the wax ring has a plastic collar, check to be sure that it fits over the floor flange, but do not press it into place. Turn the new toilet bowl upside down and press the wax ring over the horn on the bottom of the bowl. If the wax ring has a collar, install it so that the collar faces away from the bowl.
- Run a bead of silicone caulk around the base of the toilet. This will help create a seal once the new toilet is in place.
- Turn the toilet bowl right side up and lower it on top of the flange, using the bolts on the floor flange as guides. The bolts should come with pieces of plastic that help them remain upright while the toilet is being installed. If the bolts move during the installation, have a helper hold them steady. This may take a few attempts.
- Once the toilet bowl is in position, press down firmly and rock it back and forth a little bit to help shimmy it into place and secure it. Using a level, adjust the toilet so that it is straight. Use the shims to level it. Be sure to cut the shims so they fit under the toilet and aren’t visible.
- Place nuts on the bolts protruding from the toilet and hand-tighten them. Turn the bolts once or twice with a wrench. Make certain the bolts are tight enough to prevent the toilet from rocking, but do not over-tighten them or the bowl can crack.
- Apply a dab of plumber’s putty around the base of the decorative caps for the bolts and place them over the bolts. Press the caps firmly in place.
- Attach the flexible supply tube to the water supply (the pipe coming out of the floor or wall that brings water to the toilet) and tighten the coupling nut on the end. If the nut is loose, the connection will leak.
- If the toilet is a one-piece model, attach the other end of the flexible supply tube to the tank. If you are facing the tank, the water supply tube attaches to the left on the underside of the tank.
- If installing a two-piece toilet, the tank has to be attached to the bowl. The tank will have a piece that protrudes from the bottom. Place the rubber washers that came with the toilet on the protruding piece on the tank.
- Insert the tank bolts into the tank so the bolts face downward. Place the tank on the toilet bowl, guiding the tank bolts into the holes in the toilet bowl.
- Place a nylon washer onto each bolt, then hand-tighten the nuts onto the bolts. Make sure the tank is level. Over-tightening the nuts can cause the tank to crack.
- Attach the flexible supply tube to the tank and connect the tank's handle to the flapper chain inside the tank. Now slowly turn on the water so that the tank begins to fill. Check for any leaks and tighten nuts that appear to be leaking.
- Run a bead of caulk around the edge of the toilet to seal the space between the bowl and the floor. The caulk will be visible, so choose a color that complements the toilet for a professional look.
Tips for Installing a Toilet
- Most toilets come without a seat, so don’t forget to buy a new one or save the one from the previous toilet.
- If the bathroom does not have a shutoff valve for the toilet that was installed, consider getting one before starting the project. If the toilet overflows, you want to be able to turn off the water quickly, without cutting the water supply to your entire home.
- Installing a toilet can be frustrating. If you start the project and have trouble finishing, don’t be afraid to call a plumber.