Down and Dirty Toilet Replacement

Toilet bowl upside-down with wax ring.

Step #6: Install Toilet Bowl

Now comes the fun part—installing your new toilet!

How to install a toilet bowl:

  1. Test Fit Toilet Bowl: Position the new toilet bowl over the toilet flange to make sure it fits on the floor without rocking. Remove the bowl and turn it upside-down on the floor, using a towel or foam pad for padding.
  2. Install Toilet Flange Bolts: It’s a good idea to replace the toilet flange closet bolts, even if the old ones are still usable. Slide the old bolts out of the slots in the flange, and slip the heads of the new ones in so the bolts are parallel to the wall behind the toilet.
  3. Position Wax Ring: Place the new wax ring on the drain opening in the bottom of the bowl with the rubber gasket facing away from the toilet bowl.
  4. Remove Toilet Drain Cover: Remove the drain cover used to keep sewer gases from coming out of the drain pipe.
  5. Caulk Toilet Bowl Base: If desired apply a bead of caulking or sealant around the base of the toilet bowl to seal it to the floor. You can also seal around it after the bowl is in place, or not caulk it at all. Since caulking the bowl can be messy, I prefer not to seal it unless there’s a gap between the floor and bowl.

Toilet flange bolt with washer and nut installed.

  1. Seat Toilet Bowl: Turn the toilet bowl over, position the bowl so it’s centered over the toilet flange, and press the toilet bowl down firmly. You may need to slightly twist or rock the bowl back and forth to flatten out the wax ring until the bowl contacts the floor. Position the bowl so it’s perpendicular to the wall behind it.
  2. Attach Flange Bolt Nuts: Place the washers that came with the closet bolts on the toilet bowl base. Hand tighten the nuts on the bolts, then use a deep socket or wrench to tighten up the bolts evenly from each side. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN the nuts, as this can cause the base of the toilet bowl to crack!
  3. Level Toilet Bowl: Place a level on the top rim of the toilet bowl and check to be sure the bowl is level in all directions. Adjust the tightness of the nuts and/or insert thin shims under the bottom of the bowl until the toilet bowl is level.

Leveling toilet bowl.

  1. Cut Closet Bolts: If needed to install the bolt caps, use a hacksaw to cut the closet bolts off above the nuts, being careful not to damage the bowl with the saw.
  2. Install Closet Bolt Caps: Place caps over the ends of the closet bolts. Some closet bolt caps snap in place on the washer, or you can fill the cap with plumber’s putty and press it into the bolt.


    • J.
      Try carefully tightening the toilet bolts that hold the toilet to the floor up, but don’t overdo it as it could crack the porcelain bowl. If that doesn’t help, put a shim between the floor and toilet.


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