Replacing a toilet in your home can make a huge difference in how it flushes, functions, and can also change the appearance of your space. If you plan on installing new toilets in your home, here are a few things to consider when replacing them in order to avoid any mishaps in plumbing.
DIY Replacing Toilet Considerations
We recently replaced all four of the original toilets for our home after 13 years of life. What caused us to replace it was that the bowls were stained and it wasn't flushing very well. Initially, we thought it was the drain, but it turned out that the hard water we had took a toll on the calcium build up inside the toilet bowl. Sometimes, an entire replacement is just what you need.
Below are my tips from our experience with replacing the toilets in our home.
Preparing to Paint Wall Behind Toilet
When you replace a toilet with a different toilet all together, you'll want to note the differences in the size of the tank because if it's not an exact height, width, or placement of the toilet, you will have to do some painting behind the tank.
When we replaced the tank, I wasn't prepared to paint the space. If you replace a toilet, this might also be a great time to paint that wall (or entire bathroom).
Measuring for the Right Rough In Size
In our home, we had two different rough in sizes. You'll want to measure from the wall to the bolts of the toilet. We made the mistake of not measuring and had to return the toilets!
Choosing toilets that are different rough in sizes for your home while also matching the toilets can be a little tricky. After a few tries, we were able to find toilets that matched.
Choosing the Bowl Size for Your Toilet
There are a few different bowl sizes that you can get for your toilet.
- Round toilet bowls - they are less comfortable, but great for compact bathrooms, and are standard size for most homes
- Elongated toilet bowls - these are more comfortable to sit on
- Medium toilet bowls - these are a combination of the two, but smaller than the elongated one
The problem people run into is ordering an elongated toilet for a super small space (like a guest bathroom), making the space seem more compact than it already is.
There are also specialty ones to consider as well:
- Open front toilet bowls - these are common in public bathrooms that are shaped like a U (and urine is less likely to hit the front of the seat)
- Raised/chair height - these make it easier to standup after sitting
Measure the Water Line Size
You may or may not need to replace the water line. You could potentially use the old one that came with the toilet. However, if you are upgrading toilets, I would recommend replacing it completely. But you'll need to make sure you measure for the size you need for the new toilet placement.
Do Not Use the Wax Seal That Comes with the Toilet
The wax seal that comes with the toilet isn't the best. I would recommend spending the extra $10 and purchasing a wax seal that will be better at protecting for leakage. This brand is considered one of the best on the market.
There are also wax-free rings that fix on the flange, rather than the toilet outlet and are easier to install with less risk of damage during the installation process.
Remember to Purchase the Needed Accessories
When you purchase a new toilet, it does come with a wax ring and mostly everything you need. However, based on our experience, these are the three things that we had to do a few runs back to the hardware store to get:
- PVC Toilet Flange Spacer
- Upgraded Wax Ring
- Toilet Supply Line
- Toilet Shims
- Latex Gloves
- 5 Gallon Bucket
Prepare to Lift Toilets for Transport
We had a lot of experience during our recent installation because we had to return a set of four toilets for new ones because we realized when we got home, we hadn't measured our spaces. When we transported the toilets, they were each around 100-125 pounds a piece.
We transported them using our regular truck bed, but getting it from the ground to the truck bed was definitely a big feat.
When we got home, we unpackaged them from the first floor of our home and brought each piece upstairs as needed, which made it a little lighter load (but with more trips).
Not Ordering Online
I would highly recommend ordering your toilets online so that they have it up at customer service ready for you to go! For both of our orders, it was so easy to be able to just go in, and grab it and go. The return of the first set was a breeze because we just put it in a cart, and they exchanged it for the new set that we had ordered a few hours earlier. It was less than a 5 minute exchange process.
Discovering Builder Shortcuts (and Working Around Them)
When we were removing the old toilets, we realized how many shortcuts the home developers and builders did. For example, in one bathroom, instead of using spacers and risers to lift the toilet up, they added two wax rings stacked together.
In another bathroom, they installed the toilet drain completely low to the ground when it should have been positioned higher.
So be prepared for anything as well as inconsistency on how your toilets are installed in all rooms.
Preparing for the Sewer Smell
When you remove the toilet, the sewer smell will rise up. If you get queesy easy, make sure you wear a mask when removing the toilet.
You can generally shove a towel to block sewer gases and also prevent anything from falling into the drain.
Generally, the smell will dissipate within 1-2 hours once you install the new toilet.
Not Having a Sponge and Water Bucket
I would highly recommend getting a sponge to remove the excess water from the toilet bowl before removing the old toilet. While you are at it, make sure you have a 5 gallon bucket to put the water in handy.
Using Risers with Silicone
Risers are important for when you need to lift the toilet up and making sure you have silicon on hand for the risers will be key to a successful toilet installation.
Matching Different Size Toilet Rough Ins with Same Brand
With our home, we had two rough in sizes (10 inch and 12 inch). It was pretty difficult to find a brand that had the same models. After looking online, we found a handful. This is also another reason why you should buy online - you can see the different sizes and filter though ones that don't match.
DIY Toilet Replacement
Frequently Asked Questions
When do you know that you need to replace a toilet?
Indicators for replacing a toilet include cracked water tank, leaking toilet, never ending flush, frequent clogs, no toilet flushing, old fixtures, and having to complete multiple repairs.
How much is a new toilet?
New toilets can range on average between $99 to $250. Toilet costs vary due to size, designs (more expensive ones have skirts), and brand.
What are the different factors when choosing a new toilet?
There are multiple factors when choosing a replacement toilet seat, which include the shape, mounting option, material, and style to complement your current bathroom decor.
What are the best brands for toilets?
The most popular brands for toilets include Mayfair, Church, Kohler, Bemis, and American Standard.
What is the best tip for replacing a toilet?
The best tip to replacing a toilet seat is ensuring that you have all of the supplies and accessories needed on hand when replacing which include a sponge, toilet riser, new water line, toilet shims, and upgraded wax ring.
How do you get rid of a toilet?
To get rid of a toilet, you'll want to drop it off at your nearest landfill.
How long does it take to install a new toilet?
If all supplies are on hand, it will generally take between 45 minutes to an hour to install a new toilet.
Our own DIY experience for four toilet installations were:
- Toilet 1: 3.5 hours which included a few hardware store runs
- Toilet 2: 1 hour
- Toilet 3: 45 minutes
- Toilet 4: 25 minutes
These are the best tips for installing and replacing your toilets. I will say it's been amazing to have a toilet that flushes well.