How to replace a toilet

At one point or another, you may want to replace a toilet in a bathroom in your house. This may be because it's broken, or you wish to update the style of your bathroom. Whatever your reasons, replacing a toilet in your bathroom shouldn't be such a daunting task. That's why we have put together this easy step-by-step guide to help walk you through the process of toilet replacement so you can complete this DIY task yourself without the hassle of spending time and money on a plumber.

What tools will I need to replace a toilet?

Surprisingly, you don't need that many tools to replace a toilet; you'll just need the following:

  • Heavy-duty, protective, rubber gloves
  • Old towel or bed sheet
  • Slip joint pliers
  • An adjustable wrench
  • Utility knife
  • A hack saw
  • Wax ring (if it doesn't come with your new toilet)
  • The new toilet

How to replace a toilet: A Step by Step Guide

Replacing a toilet doesn't need to be complicated; in a few simple steps, you should have the task complete over a few hours. Before you start, make sure you measure the distance from the wall to the floor bolts before removing (there should be a 12" gap) so you know you can fit in a new standard size toilet in its place.

Step 1: Turn off the water supply valve and remove the water

Make sure to securely turn off the water supply valve to disconnect the water supply. This means no new water can make its way into the toilet basin as you remove it.

Once switched off, flush the toilet to empty the basin and the bowl. If there's any water leftover, you'll need to put on some heavy-duty, protective rubber gloves and drain the rest of the water with a small cup or heavy-duty sponge into a bucket to be disposed of elsewhere.

Step 2: Unscrew bolts and water supply line to remove the basin

Unscrew the tank bolts, which fasten the basin to the bowl. Then unscrew the water supply line, so these aren't connected. Lifting from your legs, remove the basin from the bowl and place it outside, so you don't spread bacteria in the house.

Step 3: Remove the toilet bowl

Remove the floor bolt caps and unscrew the nuts with an adjustable wrench. You will then need to break the sealant that connects the toilet to the floor by rocking the pedestal gently back and forth. Once the seal has been broken, remove the bowl to the same place you put the basin.

Worker installing toilet in bathroom

Step 4: Preparing the area for installation

Once you have removed the old toilet, you will need to scrape away any remaining wax around the drain opening so a new seal can attach the new toilet properly. If you are stepping away from the work area for a period, take an old bed sheet or towl and plug it into the drain opening to reduce the smell of sewage in your home.

Step 5: Replace the flange around the drain opening

To begin the installation of the new toilet, you first need to replace the old flange around the drain. To do this, unbolt the old flange to remove it from the floor and place the new one over the hole, securing the new flange with mounting bolts.

Step 6: Install a new wax ring to secure the flange

Next you need to secure a new wax ring around the drainage hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl. This is to ensure there is a tight seal between the toilet and the drainage hole. Ensure the flanage is tight to the floor to prevent leakages, if it isn't tight enough you will need to remove the wax ring and try again to get the tightest seal.

Step 7: Install the toilet bowl

Now you need to place the toilet bowl over the anchor bolts sticking out from the floor. Lining the bolts with the holes can be tricky so having someone to help you is recommended at this stage or it may take you a few tries.

Once you have slid the toilet bowl over the anchor bolts, gently rock the toilet bowl from side to side in order to create an airtight seal on the toilet drainage hole. Fasten the toilet bowl down with the washer and nut onto each bolt, tightening gradually, alternating from one side of the toilet to the other to keep the pressure similar on both sides. Be careful not to over-tighten the bolts or the tank base may crack. Tightening the bolts simultaneously also ensures the toilet sits level on the floor. Cover the bolts with the plastic caps.

Step 8: Install the toilet cistern tank

Take the toilet tank and install it onto its base. Put the flush valve gasket that comes with the tank on the bottom, around the center opening, and secure the mounting bolts through the inside of the tank. Next, place the thank on the bowl by lining up the mounting bolts through the holes in the bowl. Add and tighten the nuts and washers until the tank is secure and level.

Step 9: Reconnect the water supply and finish off

To finish off the DIY project, reconnect the water supply pipe to the fill tube on the toilet tank and gently tighten with pliers. Let the new toilet tank fill with cold water and then flush to ensure it is operating correctly. Watch for leaks as this happens to ensure everything has been connected properly. Seal around the base of the toilet with a bead of pure silicone caulk.

New toilet installed in bathroom

FAQs About How To Install a Toilet

How often should you change your toilet?

Toilets have a very long life span, over 25 years, so you don't need to worry about changing your toilet frequently. If you start noticing bad smells or a crack in the basin at any point, though, it would be best if you replace the components of the toilet as needed.

Can I replace my toilet myself?

Yes, it is straightforward to replace the toilet yourself, simply follow our guide, and you should have the job done in a couple of hours.

Do I need a plumber to change a toilet and what is the cost?

You don't necessarily need a plumber to change your toilet for you, but it is an easy job for them to complete if you don't feel comfortable completing the work yourself. It could cost you anywhere from £300 to over £500 for a plumber's day rate plus the cost of the toilet itself.

How long does it take to replace a toilet?

Replacing a toilet doesn't take that long to complete. For most people, it will probably take around two to three hours for you to complete, but if you don't have much DIY experience, it might be worth adding one or two extra hours to that estimate.