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How to Install a Toilet – Stop Paying for Plumbers

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As I said in my last post on how to remove a toilet yourself: every homeowner should know how to remove a toilet. They should also know how to install a toilet, too! These are skills you don’t realize you need when asking yourself important questions before buying a house.

Paying a plumber to remove and install a new toilet in your home is about $100 – $150, and that’s not including the price of the toilet. Why not just do it yourself and use the saved money towards new paint…new bath mats and towels… You get the idea. Anyhow, read the rest of this post for step-by-step instructions, or watch down below!

Watch: How to Remove and Install a Toilet Yourself

 

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Here is what my toilet looked like (see below).

It wasn’t in bad condition, but it was small, short, and we wanted something ADA-compliant (American Disabilities Act). You don’t have to bend as much to use it. The stores call it “comfort height.”

And since the floor was being redone, the old toilet needed to be removed.

BEFORE

How to Install a Toilet - Stop Paying for Plumbers. Remove your own toilet and saved $100 - $150. - Thrift Diving

 

AFTER

This is what the new toilet looks like now!

Doesn’t it look amazing in my new lavender bathroom makeover?!

(Click here to see the entire BEFORE & AFTER master bathroom transformation!)

 

How to Install a Toilet - Stop Paying for Plumbers. Remove your own toilet and saved $100 - $150. AFTER! - Thrift Diving

 

How to Install a Toilet Yourself!

These instructions are super easy to follow. But if feel like you need to hire a professional, then check out these posts on hiring contractors and handymen (and handywomen!):

Stop paying for plumbers - Includes step-by-step instructions on how to install a toilet yourself - Thrift Diving

 

Since you probably removed your own toilet yourself (if not, click here for detailed instructions on how to remove your toilet yourself), you probably have some of the same materials lying around. But here’s a listing of them:

Materials Needed to Install a Toilet

(I participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites).

  • A new toilet. I installed the Denali model toilet by Mansfield Plumbing. They were nice enough to donate it for my master bathroom makeover. But if you like 1-piece toilets, I love Kohler’s Santa Rosa Comfort Height toilet, which I installed in my kids’ bathroom
  • An extra thick wax ring kit (for flanges that are even with or below the floor. If you bought a new toilet, you’ll get a free kit in the toilet box, which will work fine).
  • Wrench
  • Hacksaw for cutting off bolts, especially ones that are rusted over.
  • Screwdriver
  • Kitchen & Bath caulk

 

STEP 1: Clean and Inspect Your Flange

Where we left off in the last post on how to remove a toilet by yourself, I was saying about how you should gently place a rag in the hole to block to gasses coming back up through the sewer line.

I also mentioned about how you should clean the flange, too. You don’t want any left-over nasty wax residue.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Plug a rag in the sewer line. - Thrift Diving

 

But what you also need to do is to inspect the flange to make sure it’s acceptable for installing a new toilet upon it.

Does it rock back and forth?

Is it broken?

If so, then you will need to repair it, which I don’t cover those things in this post.

But what you’ll also want to make sure of is that the flange is above the floor level.

If the flange is sitting below the floor (especially if you put new flooring down), you won’t be able to get a good seal.

You’ll see that my new floor that was installed does sit lower than the flange, which is good. 🙂

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Be sure the flange sits above the floor. - Thrift Diving

 

But one thing I noticed is that the screws were either missing or rusted over.


How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Replace worn screws in the flange if necessary. - Thrift Diving

So I found some replacement screws about the same size and simply screwed them in where the old ones were missing. If there was a screw that was loose and rusty, I gently removed it and replaced it.

I chose the same flat-head type of screws and chose ones a little longer so that they were long enough to grip the surface below.

The flange was otherwise in good shape, so I didn’t have to figure out how to make any additional repairs.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Replace worn screws in the flange if the flange is look. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 2: Add the Wax Ring

Someone pointed out to me that there are newer rings out there that are not wax so that it’s less messy. You can watch this YouTube tutorial I did on how to remove and install a toilet where I used the waxless toilet seal rings, but honestly?? I found it harder to get a good seal because it’s unclear whether

I had bought this wax ring kit because it’s what I have used before.

I didn’t realize it until I unboxed the toilet that a complete wax ring and hardware kit was already included in the box.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - New wax wing kit. - Thrift Diving

 

Sit the wax ring over the hole, with the black rubbery part sitting nicely down into the hole.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Use a double thick wax ring replacement. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 3: Thread the Bold Into the Channel

If you look at the picture above, you’ll see that on both sides of the flange, there are channels where the bolts will slide into.

Unfortunately, I spazzed and didn’t get good pics of this step, but the idea is that the bolt is placed into the wide part of the channel then secured in the narrow part.

Simply add the plastic locking ring to make sure the bolt doesn’t move around.

Do this for both sides of the flange.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Install the wax ring, bolts, with locking clips. - Thrift Diving

 

When done correctly, it should look like this (see below). I have seen instructions where the wax ring is set in place on the bottom of the toilet first. I have done both and both ways seem to work. 

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - With the wax ring in place, sit the toilet on top. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 4: Set Your New Toilet Down In Place

Now it’s time to actually install your toilet by sitting it down!

Mansfield Plumbing Denali Toilet - Thrift Diving

 

 

 

 

When Lifting The Toilet

This is the only part you’ll need help because it’s heavy, but you also want to make sure that you sit the bottom hole of the toilet directly on top of the hole.

The bolts will need to line up, too, to come through the base of the toilet.

It’s best to have one person doing the lifting and sitting, and the other person kneeling on the floor to make sure everything is lined up properly.

Sit it down, allowing the bolts to thread up through the holes.

Next, PUSH down on the toilet seat to seal the wax ring, but DON’T rock it back and forth or move it much because you don’t want to disturb the seal you’ve just made. If you disturb the seal you’ve just made, you’ll have to pull the toilet back up and put another wax ring down, so be careful.

TIP: Also, check to make sure that the toilet is square to the wall. Make tiny micro adjustments if needed. You don’t want a crooked toilet! Dry-fit the toilet first to know exactly where it needs to go before permenently setting it in place.

It should look like this when you’re done.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Line up the bolts with the toilet. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 5: Secure the Toilet to the Floor

Now that your toilet is seated, you have to make sure you bolt it to the floor.

It may not seem like much, but those bolts actually prevent your toilet from rocking back and forth, which is pretty important to avoid. 🙂 A rocking toilet can actually break your wax seal, so make sure it’s secure.

Every toilet comes with a plastic washer/ring similar to this. Just make sure you know which side is UP. Some plastic washer/rings will tell you which side is UP, which is important because the bolt cap clicks into place over top of this plastic washer/ring.

Place the plastic ring over the bolt, line up the shape.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Place the plastic ring over the bolt. - Thrift Diving

 

Next, add the metal washer and nut from the wax ring kit and tighten by hand.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Place washer and bolt in order to secure the toilet to the floor. - Thrift Diving

 

Next, use a wrench to tighten it slightly, but don’t over-tighten! You could crack the toilet!

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Trim the excess bolt. - Thrift Diving

 

Next, you may need to trim the bolts down so that the cap will fit over it. Just use your hacksaw and trim it short enough for the cap to fit over it. Make sure you don’t scratch your toilet, though!

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Trim the excess bolt wth a hacksaw. - Thrift Diving

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Trim the toilet bolts; they're very soft. - Thrift Diving

 

It might seem like that part’s hard to do, but it’s not. The bolt is soft enough to saw through, I promise. It just takes a few minutes and some back-and-forth motion! So don’t give up! 🙂

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Toilet bolts are soft; trim them with a hacksaw. - Thrift Diving

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Trimmed toilet bolt. - Thrift Diving

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Add cap over trimmed toilet bolt. - Thrift Diving

 

Be sure to do this step on each side.

And…..voila!

Your toilet base is now secured! 🙂

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Install the base and then the tank. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 6: Prep Your Toilet Tank

After the base of the toilet is installed and secured, you’re now ready to install the top tank. However, after consulting with my plumber friend, he advised me, going forward, to attach the tank to the toilet first, and then set the toilet in place as one piece. The reason why he suggested this is because he said it’s easier to tighten the tank bolts to the toilet (again, don’t over-tighten or you can crack the tank!). Also, when the entire toilet is set into place, he said it’s easier to square up the entire thing as a whole unit.

For this toilet, it came with a packet that included: a rubber seal, bolts, and plastic locking nuts. I installed the tank and toilet separately, but next time, I am curious to try assembling the entire thing first and then install it as one unit.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Assemble the tank. - Thrift Diving

 

This is what the inside of the tank looked like.

Don’t worry–everything already comes assembled in the tank, so you don’t have to be some Master Plumber to figure out how this contraption goes together, thankfully!



How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Assemble the tank part of the toilet. - Thrift Diving

All you need to care about are those two holes and putting the bolts into those two holes. Remember, don’t over tighten or you can crack the tank. But tighten them up enough so that water doesn’t leak from the bolts.


How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Secure the tank the bowl with bolts. - Thrift Diving

 

Yep, drop those bolts right into the two holes!

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Secure the tank the bowl with two bolts. - Thrift Diving

 

Then set the tank on the back of the toilet, and thread the bolts through the holes in the base.

Use the plastic locking nuts that come with the toilet. Some toilets will come with nuts and metal washers.

TIP: Only hand-tighten those locking nuts (or nuts with washers), or you could crack the toilet them!

As you’re hand-tightening the bolts, it will help to further make a water-right connection of the rubber seal, too!

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Tighten the tank bolt to the bowl. - Thrift Diving

 

It should be secured like this after you’ve screwed it on. I’ll admit that I have installed a toilet that, no matter how much I seemed to tighten the bolts (without over-tightening), the toilet tank was wobbled. If that happens to your toilet, then check out these toilet tank braces that secures your toilet against the wall and stops the wobble. A wobbly tank is more prone to leaking, so these braces help to keep that tank in place.

 

 

Make sure the nut on the bolt is secure, but not over-tightened.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Tighten the tank bolt to the bowl with plastic nut. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 7: Connect the Water Supply Line Again

When you removed the old toilet, you had to disconnect the water supply to the toilet.

Easy peasy. Now, you just need to reconnect it again. It will connect to the gray threaded part.

Again, only hand-tighten this so you don’t break it.

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Reconnect the water supply line. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 8: Turn on the Water

Now you can turn on the water valve located next to your toilet. You may notice that the toilet water supply line pipes start making noises when you turn the water back on. When this happened to me once while installing a toilet (you can hear the noise on this video at the 8:07 minutes mark where I installed a toilet), I thought my pipes were going to burst! 

However, my plumber friend reassured me that it’s simply air in the pipes and to go ahead and turn the water supply valve up; it will stop making noise in 10-15 seconds. Sure enough, the noise stopped!

See if there is any leaking anywhere.

If there is, tighten the connection by hand. 



How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Check for water leaks after reconnecting the water line. - Thrift Diving

 

I tested out the water line to make sure it was rising properly.

I didn’t have to do anything special for this step. I simply turned the water on, watched to see how far it would fill, and was happy to see that the water stopped right at the pre-marked waterline. Woohoo!

If your toilet doesn’t stop at the toilet line, follow the toilet’s instructions on how to adjust it. Typically there is a screw that simply needs to be adjusted. Re-flush and see where the water line is. Just make sure it’s below the overflow value, which you can see below.

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Check the water line. - Thrift Diving

 

When I flushed, the water drained to this amount.

I’m not totally savvy about toilets, but I was glad to see that the whole tank didn’t empty.

It looks like it conserves water!

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - Check the water line for water conservation. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 9: Attach the Toilet Seat

Some people prefer to buy their own comfortable toilet set than to use the one that comes with the toilet. It’s your choice! Most toilet seats around about $30 – $40 for the wanky self-closing ones. The cheapie ones you can pick up for $10.

To install the toilet seat, just set the seat in place and use the plastic screws with plastic nuts to secure it to the toilet. You can use a screwdriver to tighten the plastic bolts, making sure that you’re holding the plastic nut in place so it doesn’t move when you gently tighten it.

STEP 10: Keep Watching for Leaks

I think most leaks you’d find right away, but just be on the lookout for any slow leaks or drips, to make sure that your toilet was properly installed. (TIP: My plumber friend recommends putting paper towels or napkins behind and around the toilet to check for leaks while flushing and sitting on the toilet. I like using brown napkins from Chipotle. It’s easy to see dark spots on the napkins when they’re wet!).

And if you find that you do have a leak, it’s either coming from:

  • The bolts that hold the tank to the toilet. Solution: Gently tighten the bolts, being careful not to over tighten.
  • Under the toilet. Solution: Remove the toilet and add a new wax ring, ensuring there is a secure seal.
  • The tank’s rubber seal. Solution: Gently tighten the bolts that are holding the tank to the toilet.

At this point, most DIYers will install a bead of caulk around the base of the toilet next to the floor. Be sure to use a silicone caulk labeled as Kitchen & Bath caulk.

 

My New Installed Toilet!

…This is what the new toilet looks like in my master bathroom!

I’m excited to say that this is the second toilet that I’ve installed by myself (with the except of hubby helping me to lift and seat it).

But I did the removal and other things myself.

And the truth is that you can do it, too.

I know–it’s scary, right??

 

How to install a toilet yourself. Stop paying for plumbers - New toilet installed in a master bathroom. - Thrift Diving

But when someone breaks it down for you like this, it really isn’t as scary as it once seemed. Not everyone, however, will ever want to remove and install their own toilet. Some people just want to pay the $100 – $150 and have someone do it for them, and that’s fine. But for me, I like to not only save money, but I really enjoy knowing how the innards of my home works.

To say that I can take out a toilet and install a new toilet myself is a pride that makes me feel like She-Ra. It improves my confidence for the next project I decide to tackle! 🙂

Did you find this helpful? Click here to SAVE it on Pinterest.

Stop paying for plumbers - Includes step-by-step instructions on how to install a toilet yourself - Thrift Diving

Read the Rest of this Bathroom Makeover Series!

Catch up on this entire master bathroom makeover series!

DAY 1: The Evolution of a Master Bathroom Makeover

DAY 4: Picking Out New Flooring: Which One Do You Like?

DAY 6: How to Remove an Old Bathroom Vanity

DAY 27: Removing Wallpaper, Repairing Walls, and Removing an Old Toilet

DAY 29: Installing New Flooring in Our Master Bathroom

DAY 49: The Bathroom Makeover That Would Never End (An Update!)

Day 52: How to Remove a Toilet Yourself

DAY 57: How to Install a Toilet Yourself

 

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12 Comments

  1. Bonnie (Annapolis, MD) says:

    Brava on your toilet installation! Good job.

    I’ve installed a couple of toilets for the same reason that you did – mine was a hideous color. The day after I removed the “beige” one, I got a call from Purple Heart. They asked if I had any household item to donate. I asked did they want a working toilet. The caller put down the phone and went to ask someone else. Yes, thank you, we can pickup the toilet.

    So I carried the toilet UP the basement stairs (I was single and muscle is never around when you need it) and placed it on the front porch for pickup while I was at work. I guess no one told the guys on the truck that it was OK to collect a toilet because it was still there when I got home from work. But they did leave a charitable receipt.

    Since Halloween was two days away, I knew I couldn’t leave it outside anywhere. I had no garage, so it meant hauling it back down the basement stairs until I could take it to the dump. There was no ReStore at the time.

    1. Hey, Bonnie! Those 1970’s toilets were horrible! We had an avocado green on in my kids’ bathroom that I made over a couple years ago. I hope that trend NEVER returns! HA! Glad to see you’re pretty handy and don’t need no man to come do all that lifting for you! Love that!! It was pretty easy, huh?

      1. Ah, there are actually a lot of people who like the old colored toilets. An avocado one would be a great find for someone. Check out http://www.savethepinkbathroom.com for those of us who cringe every time we hear of a vintage bathroom being destroyed without any salvage opportunities. Check ebay for how much pink, yellow, green, blue, purple vintage bathroom tiles go for. Colored toilets can easily go for $200. The matching sinks are more common but frequently are missing the legs or towel bars. Colored tubs are an exceptionally hot commodity as it was easier to take a sledge hammer to the ceramic than to take it out in one piece. Out of the pink bathroom website, Pam Kuebler started Retro Renovations which has become one of the premier sources of information on “mid mod”. Just another point of view:)
        And, yes, I have a pink bathroom:)

  2. Serena , good job with the toilet and I LOVE the ( wainscoting) on the walls. Your getting pretty classy doing all this work yourself.

    1. Awww…thanks, Betty! It feels going doing the work myself! I remember when we moved into this house. OMG, the fear of “how are we going to do this?!” was palpable. lol. But now, I’ve grown in confidence and skill, and with each project, I have learned so many things. It’s exciting! Now I can pass along with I’ve learned to you all! šŸ™‚

  3. Linda Manuel says:

    Excellent tutorial! Pinned it since I plan on replacing my commode this year with a better one! Just what I needed and well explained. Thanks so much.

    1. You’re welcome, Linda! I hope it helps you when that time comes! šŸ™‚ I’m always here to answer questions, if you run in to any problems, too. šŸ™‚

  4. Hello Serena, Congratulations- And mean that in a BIG way!!!!!! WhoooooHooooo. THANK YOU. I am currently living in an apartment, but saving for a little OLD country cottage. This toilet DIY project ( and other projects that you do / show us) are very, very appreciated and most helpful indeed. As a recent new subscriber to your fabulous Blog, I could not be living without it now. I live with a Frugal mindset and agree 100% with saving money where one can and with your detailed Tutorials on – “How to” that makes it all the more savings for other things needed. I know one day I will join the ranks of replacing a toilet and have bookmarked this Blog post!! Like my Grandma used to say< A penny saved is a penny earned." And the post saved lots of pennies! All the best for the New Year ahead and I look forward to what you have planned up for us your readers. Deanna ( Montreal, Canada)

    1. I smiled when I read your comment, Deanna! šŸ™‚ Good for you, saving for your country cottage! Especially if it’s OLD–that means lots of repairs to do! I had no idea when I moved into a home how much you’d have to learn, and if you DON’T learn it, how much you’d have to pay to get someone ELSE to do things! It was eye-opening. So, the more you can do yourself, the more you save, and the more pride you have.

      Thanks so much for being an awesome new reader!!! šŸ™‚

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