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How To Install A Toilet

For many homeowners, installing a toilet can be so surprisingly easy, fast and effortless that no plumber is required. Moving the toilet into the bathroom is sometimes the hardest part. However, it’s important that you do it correctly

  • Working time: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Total time: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Project cost: $150 to $300

Since two major elements are already in place—the toilet flange and the water supply—it’s just a matter of switching out the old toilet for the new one. Depending on your type of toilet, you may have to tweak the process slightly, but the following steps will ensure a successful installation.

When to Install a Toilet

Toilet problems don’t always require a replacement job, as they can sometimes be repaired. But you’ll want to consider installing a new toilet when it’s clogging up too frequently. Installing a new toilet is necessary if the porcelain is cracked or badly scratched. Some older toilets use as much as 6 gallons per flush—close to four times the federal standard. If yours is an older toilet that exceeds the federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF), you should install a new 1.28 GPF toilet.

Safety Considerations

Toilets are bulky and heavy, starting around 80 pounds. Work with an assistant when moving the toilet.

If broken, toilet porcelain (vitreous china) is sharp and glasslike, so handle with caution. Take special care when tightening the bolts at the flange as this can crack the toilet base. Use an old towel to plug the open floor flange to prevent sewer gas from leaking out.


  • Putty knife
  • Bubble level
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Old towel
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Plastic bowl to catch water


  • Toilet
  • Wax ring, if not included with the toilet


1. Remove Old Toilet

Start by turning off the water supply to the toilet at the wall. Do this by turning the handle manually clockwise to shut it off. Do not overtighten the handle, as it may be made of plastic and could break. Next, disconnect the water supply line in the toilet (not at the wall). Be sure to have a plastic bowl nearby to catch the water remaining in the water supply line. Flush the toilet to remove water from the tank. Wearing waterproof gloves, roll up an old towel and insert it into the bowl. Wait about five minutes for the towel to soak up the remaining water.

Remove the towel, plastic bolt caps and disks at the base of the toilet, then turn the floor bolts counterclockwise with the wrench to remove them. With an assistant, lift the old toilet directly up. Do not slide it. Then remove the toilet from the bathroom.

2. Clean Flange

Wad up an old towel and stuff it into the floor flange (the hole in the floor, at the bottom of the toilet). This not only blocks odors and gas from escaping, but also prevents tools from falling into the sewer pipe. Remove the old floor bolts from the flange. Using the putty knife, scrape off the old wax ring from the top of the flange ring. It’s often difficult to remove all the wax, but take your time and remove as much as possible. Try to scrape the top of the flange level and smooth so that the new toilet will firmly rest on the flange. Check that the flange is level by resting the bubble level on it. Place the level both side-to-side and front-to-back.

3. Insert Floor Bolts

Using the bolts from the new toilet’s kit, insert them into the two slots on the toilet floor flange ring. The threaded ends of the bolts should face up. The slots in the flange ring allow the bolts to be moved. Move the bolts so that they are parallel to the wall behind the toilet. Add one nut per bolt. Hand tighten the nuts.

4. Install Wax Ring

With your helper, turn the toilet upside down onto carpet or a towel. Note that you should not have installed the tank on the toilet yet. Remove the plastic from the wax ring. Press the wax ring around the cone-shaped outlet at the bottom of the toilet. Press the ring firmly until it stays in place.

5. Rest Toilet on Flange

Remove the towel blocking the flange. With the helper, turn the toilet right side up. Hold the toilet directly above the flange, then rest the toilet precisely onto the flange, with the two bolts protruding through the two holes at the base of the toilet. This can be a difficult maneuver. Hitting the bolts from the side may snap them off or could damage the toilet porcelain. For this reason, it’s beneficial to have a second helper who can guide the toilet into place, while you and the first helper hold the toilet.

6. Secure Toilet to Floor

Press the toilet down to flatten the wax ring. Once the toilet base is touching the floor, insert the plastic disks over the floor bolts. Add the wing nuts and tighten by hand. Add the plastic caps over the bolts by snapping them in place. Note that the wing nuts are meant to be tightened by hand to avoid cracking the toilet base. Do not use a wrench to tighten them.

7. Add Toilet Tank

Rest the toilet tank onto the bowl. Make sure it is facing the front, with the handle toward the room. The rubber gaskets at the bottom of the tank are often tight at first, so you may need to gently rotate the tank back and forth until the tank seats. From inside the tank, insert the plastic bolts included with the kit. After the ends of the bolts appear under the bowl, insert the included plastic washers and wing nuts. Tighten by hand only.

8. Attach Water Supply

Connect the water supply line to the toilet by turning the plastic nut (attached to the water supply line) clockwise onto the toilet. Do not tighten with a wrench. Slowly turn on the water supply. Watch for leakage as the toilet tank fills with water.

9. Attach Toilet Seat

Lay the toilet seat on top of the toilet bowl. Insert the provided plastic bolts downward through the seat hinges and through the holes on the toilet bowl. From below, add the plastic nuts and tighten by hand. While doing so, hold the top of the bolt in place to prevent it from turning. Snap the hinge covers down and into place.

10. You're all set!

You should now have a new toilet installed, however, please have a licensed plumber install the toilet if you find it’s too heavy to manage or if you are uncomfortable with any part of the installation process. If you discover a broken flange after removing the old toilet or if the water supply is leaking, have a plumber do the work. If you discover substantially rotted flooring or subfloor after removing the toilet, have a licensed contractor or carpenter repair this before you install the toilet.