Many people don’t realize that replacing a toilet can be a straightforward DIY project. Instead of calling in a plumber, as long as you have some basic DIY skills and tools, you can even have your new toilet installed within one day. Plus, by installing your toilet on your own, you can save a ton of money.
As long as you have the tools, time, and help ready to go, you can follow our easy steps to have your new toilet installed in no time!
Taking Measurements for a Toilet
As you shop for a new toilet, there are a few different measurements to take into consideration. Otherwise, you risk buying a new toilet that won’t fit in your bathroom.
There are 4 main measurements you’ll want to be sure of before purchasing your new toilet.
- Rough-In: Make sure you know the rough-in measurement of your old toilet unit. In most cases, the waste pipe measures roughly 12-inches from the wall, but some can measure between 10 and 14-inches. If you select a toilet whose rough-in doesn’t match the size in your bathroom, the pipes won’t match up and you won’t be able to install the new toilet.
- Toilet Dimensions (sourced from manual): Beyond the rough-in, you’ll want to measure all the key specs for your old toilet. Be sure to measure from the wall and not the baseboard. Keep in mind any water supply lines as well. Particularly for toilets with a broader base, it’ll be helpful to confirm how much room you have besides the water supply line on the floor to make sure the new toilet will fit.
- Space Around the Toilet: Another factor to consider is the available space for the toilet within your bathroom. We recommend that you measure from the bowl to the wall or any other appliances on either side of the toilet, to make sure the toilet will fit in the available space.
- Toilet Bowl Shape: You’ll also want to pay attention to the shape of the bowl of your new toilet. Most toilet bowls are elongated for the sake of comfort. However, if you are limited on space, consider going for a round bowl, which takes up less room and will be more likely to fit in a smaller space.
Please take a look at our full toilet measuring guide.
Tools and Preparations Needed
Be prepared with the necessary equipment before you start the job. You’ll want to gather all of your tools from the beginning. These tools include:
- Locking Pliers
- Slip joint pliers
- 4-in-1 Screwdriver
- Cordless drill
- Adjustable wrench
- Caulk gun
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Shop vacuum
Besides these tools, you will also need some materials. Some of these may come with your new toilet, but either way, it’s helpful to gather these materials before beginning the installation process as well. Otherwise, you may have to stop midway through installation to go to the store for additional parts. The materials you’ll need include:
- Toilet flange
- Brass toilet bolts
- Wax ring or foam gasket
- Silicone caulk
- Plastic toilet shims
- Access to water
With these materials in place, let’s now embark on the installation. There are two major steps in this process – removing the old toilet and then installing the new one.
Removing Old Toilet – Easy Steps
The first obvious step after acquiring a new toilet is removing the old one. As a whole unit, including the tank and the bowl, the toilet can be pretty heavy. So, if you have a two-piece toilet, you can make your work easier by removing the tank first and then removing the bowl. If your toilet is a one-piece model, however, you’ll likely want to get help from someone else as one-piece toilets can weigh 80 lbs or more.
To remove your toilet, follow the below steps:
Start by turning off the water supply line to the toilet. You should usually be able to turn the supply line on and off using a valve on the line itself. Once you’ve cut the water supply, flush the toilet which will remove any leftover water in the tank. For any residual water, use a sponge to completely dry everything.
Once you have disconnected the water supply line, place a bucket on the floor to catch any water that may be remaining in the pipes or bowl. Then, unscrew the nuts located on the bottom of the tank. At this point, you should be able to lift the tank off completely.
Since the tank is always at a risk of cracking, always wear gloves as a safety precaution. It can also be helpful to lay out a towel or otherwise have a place ready to set down the old tank once it’s been removed.
For this step, dry any excess water, loosen and remove the nuts that secure the toilet bowl to the floor. You can then carefully lift the bowl and remove it from the space. It’s also important to note that if you have a one-piece toilet, you’ll need to do steps 2 and 3 together, as the tank and bowl cannot be separated.
- Remove the Old Wax and Wax Ring
Since wax rings are not designed for reuse, you will have to remove the old ones from the previous toilet. To remove the wax ring, use a putty knife, then start scraping off the old wax. After the scraping, take a rag and stuff it into the open hole to block sewer gases and prevent objects from falling into the drain.
Finally, once you’ve removed all the parts from the old toilet, the last step is to check the flange. This step is also when you’ll repair or replace the flange if needed.
To repair the flange, start by removing the old closet bolts from the flange. Then, make any necessary repairs to the flange itself. You can often find repair kits at your local hardware store to help fix your broken flange as well. Alternatively, if you need to replace the flange completely, you can buy a replacement part to fit inside the pipe and create a tight seal once again.
Once you have the flange in good shape, it’s time to begin the new toilet installation!
Installing a New Toilet – Step-by-Step Guide
With your old toilet cleared and space available in your bathroom, you can install a new toilet in no time following the below steps:
Take a look at this video explaining the installation steps of a new toilet. This video is very helpful to understand the installation process even better.
To install the new closet bolts, simply slide them into the slots on the flange. You may also want to use washers or nuts to hold the bolts securely on the flange. Tightening these washers will make it easy for you to align your toilet as you set it in place as well.
If the bolts are rusted, please try the steps outlined in our rusted bolt removal guide.
Next, you’ll want to install the new wax ring on the base of the toilet bowl. Start by placing the new bowl upside down on a towel, so you can easily access the base. Then, run the wax ring under warm water to soften it. Once softened, gently press the wax onto the base of the toilet bowl.
Once the wax ring is set, you can now remove the rag that’s been blocking the drain. Then, carefully lower the toilet bowl over the new bolts. Make sure to lower the bowl straight down over the flange, slowly rocking it in place. It’s important to be slow and careful at this point to avoid causing any damage to the wax ring.
Lastly, once you have the bowl in place, press down firmly down on the bowl, ensuring that it is square with the wall.
As the next step, add the cap bases, nuts, and washers to the closet bowls. Ensure that the right side of the cap bases faces up. It’s also a good idea to alternate tightening the nuts so you keep the pressure even across all points.
However, be careful to not tighten the nuts excessively as the bowl can easily crack. Once you have everything tightened, you can use a hacksaw to cut off the excess bolt.
Once the toilet bowl has been secured, the next step is installing the tank. You’ll want to start by flipping over the tank so you can install the bolts that will secure it to the bowl. Ideally, the bolts ought to slip into slots located on the tank. After installing these bolts, you’ll then install the rubber gasket to the tank’s base.
- Securing the Tank In Place
Now, set the tank in place on the bowl while hand-tightening the nuts on the bowl. Once again, be careful not to over-tighten them while still ensuring that the tank is level. If the toilet you’re installing is a one-piece toilet, you won’t need to worry about this step or the previous step, because the tank and bowl are already connected.
- Reconnect the Water Supply
With the full toilet now installed, it’s time to reconnect the water supply and double-check everything. You’ll reverse whatever step you took before cutting off the water supply. In most cases, you’ll be able to switch the water supply back on using a valve on the supply line that connects directly to the toilet.
Once you connect the water supply and turn on the water, you’ll want to check for any leaks around the gasket base and supply line. If you spot any leaks, the bolts are likely too loose, so you’ll want to tighten them more.
If you’ve tightened all the bolts and you notice parts are still leaking, you may have to take the whole tank off and check that the gasket has been installed correctly.
You should also flush the toilet several times and check the area around the base for any leaks. If there is a leak, you may need to install a new wax ring to ensure everything is fully sealed.
Lastly, after confirming there are no leaks or other issues, the last step is to install the toilet seat. Most seats should come with basic, straightforward installation instructions. Typically, you’ll only need a screwdriver to install the toilet seat. Then, your new toilet is ready to go!
With this article, you should have all you need to know about replacing and installing a new toilet. Especially for anyone with some basic tools and DIY experience, the steps to install your toilet are pretty straightforward, and you can comfortably do the whole setup at home. While it’s important to be careful and avoid breaking any parts, we hope this article helps show that anyone can save money by easily installing their new toilets themselves!