How To Replace a Toilet

Updated: Jun. 19, 2024

Tips for a trouble-free, leak-free toilet replacement.

Next Project
Time

A couple of hours

Complexity

Intermediate

Cost

Varies

Introduction

Whether you're installing a better-flushing toilet or resetting an old one, be sure to follow these steps.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Caulk gun
  • Cordless drill
  • Hacksaw
  • Level
  • Locking pliers
  • Pliers
  • Rags
  • Shop vacuum
  • Slip joint pliers
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife

Materials Required

  • Brass toilet bolts
  • Flexible water supply
  • Plastic shims
  • Silicone caulk
  • Wax ring

Looking to lower your water bill significantly? Replacing your old toilet with an upgraded low-flow or dual-flush model is an easy way to accomplish that.

While at the hardware store, I found the toilet options to be vast. Depending on your needs and budget, you could choose a toilet for less than $150, or splurge on a smart toilet with an automatic lid and flush for more than $1,200.

Regardless of your choice, learning how to replace a toilet can be a money-saver for DIY-minded homeowners. It took me less than a day to replace my toilet, and taking measurements before heading to home center saved me time in the long run. If you’re installing the toilet near a counter or other fixed objects in the bathroom, make sure there’s enough space for the toilet tank to fit.

Project step-by-step (17)

Step 1

Shut off water supply

Shut off the water by turning the shutoff valve clockwise.

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Step 2

Disconnect water supply

Disconnect the water supply line from the toilet tank with an adjustable wrench. Have a bucket ready to catch water dripping from the supply line.

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Step 3

Remove toilet tank

Flush the toilet to empty all the water from the tank. Bailing out whatever water is left with a small cup, or sop it up with shop rags. Unscrew the bolts connecting the toilet tank to the bowl. Carefully lift the tank off the bowl and set it aside.

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Step 4

Cut the caulk free

With a utility knife, cut through the caulk around the base of the toilet.

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Step 5

Remove old toilet

Use a screwdriver to remove the caps covering the bolts at the base of the toilet. Unscrew the nuts with an adjustable wrench.

Prepare a place to set the toilet once it’s taken out, then remove the toilet by lifting it up and pulling it free from the flange. Be ready for any last bits of water to spill out during this step.

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Step 6

Clean off wax ring and flange

If there was an old wax ring, clean off the flange with a putty knife or shop towels. If you’re not replacing the toilet immediately, stuff a rag into the drain opening to prevent sewer gases from escaping.

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Step 7

Take rough-in measurements

Measure the distance from the wall to the center of the toilet flange. You don’t want to go through the trouble of bringing home a new toilet just to find out it doesn’t fit!

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Step 8

Install toilet bolts

Insert new closet bolts into the flange by aligning them with the open holes on the flange. Closet bolts will secure the toilet bowl in place.

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Step 9

New wax ring

Place a new toilet wax ring on top of the flange and apply pressure. Carefully remove the plastic from the wax ring.

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Step 10

Install new toilet bowl

Carefully lower the toilet bowl onto the wax ring and align the holes on the base with the closet bolts. Apply equal pressure to make sure you get a tight seal.

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Step 11

Attach toilet bowl

Place washers and nuts onto the closet bolts and tighten them with an adjustable wrench. Be careful not to over-tighten because that could damage the toilet bowl. Cut the extra length of the bolts with a hacksaw.

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Step 12

Install toilet tank

Place the toilet tank onto the bowl and align the bolt holes. Insert bolts through the holes and secure them with nuts, tightening evenly.

Check that the toilet isn’t rocking. If it is, adjust it with plastic or composite shims before proceeding.

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Step 13

Install new toilet seat

Place the new seat onto the toilet bowl, aligning it with the holes for the bolts. Most new toilet seats come with the necessary hardware. Secure the seat by tightening the bolts. Adjust as needed.

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Step 14

Connect and turn on water supply

Reconnect the water supply line to the bottom of the toilet tank, tightening it with an adjustable wrench. Turn on the shut-off valve slowly to fill the water tank.

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Step 15

Caulk base of the toilet

With silicone caulk, caulk the toilet to the floor around the base to seal it. Make sure the floor is clean before applying the caulk.

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Step 16

Test flush

Allow the water tank to fill completely, then flush the toilet multiple times to test the water flow and drainage.

Contact your local waste management to find out how to properly discard an old toilet.

Step 17

Frequently asked questions

What can’t be reused when replacing a toilet?
Wax toilet rings are not reusable. Always buy a new one when removing a toilet.

Is it worth it to replace old toilet?
Absolutely! Newer toilets are more water-efficient, environmentally friendly, and can save you money on water bills. Older toilets might be more prone to bacterial growth and stains that are tough to remove.

Is it better to fix a toilet or buy a new one?
It depends on the problem. If it’s minor, like a flush valve replacement, repairing the toilet may be less expensive. On the other hand, if you’re facing major structural damage or recurring issues, it may be more practical to get a new toilet.

When should I call a plumber?

You don’t need a pro to replace a toilet. Just make make sure you’re up for heavy lifting and bending over multiple times during the project. If you’re not confident in those skills, call a professional plumber for assistance.

Next: learn how to fix a wobbly toilet.