Installing Your Own Toilet In an Hour


1 - DIY Toilet Replacement Part 1: Removing Your Old Toilet

You may be asking yourself, what’s the purpose of even doing it yourself? Well this article should give you plenty of reasons to take up DIY projects.  Let’s get to it. Whether you are performing a full bathroom remodel or it is time to replace your broken toilet, you should consider installing it yourself. The process can take as little as an hour while saving you a bundle on labor costs. Even if you aren’t particularly handy, this can be a good project for a novice with a few remodel projects under their belt. DIY plumbing can be a lot easier than you think so don’t be intimidated.


Materials You’ll Generally Need

Beyond the toilet and toilet tank, the list of necessities to get your toilet installed is pretty slim. You can usually get by with as little as $15 worth of supplies and tools to cover dismantling your old toilet plus installation of the new.


The list of materials you should make sure you have includes:

  • Your new toilet and toilet tank (Of course!)2 - DIY Toilet Replacement Part 1: Removing Your Old Toilet
  • Wax ring and bolts for the toilet base
  • ⅜- or ⅞-inch braided toilet connector (Determine need by inspecting new toilet and cutoff valve. You may be able to get by with your original supply line.)
  • Toilet shims (Plastic wedges typically inserted to the rear of the toilet in order to make it firmly flush with the floor at the front and not rock on its center.)
  • Phillips and flathead screwdrivers
  • A ratchet set or crescent wrench
  • Pliers with channel lock
  • A nut driver (Not required, but definitely simplifies the job)
  • Putty knife (For removing and spreading wax on the toilet gasket)
  • Sealing caulk suitable for kitchens or bathrooms
  • Disposable rag (This will be used to wipe away old wax and grime during the replacement, as well as to clog the hole and avoid nasty sewer gas while you work.)
  • Gloves

The Right Way to Measure for Your Replacement Toilet

It can be an incredible hassle to get your new toilet home and remove your old one only to discover that the upgrade isn’t going to fit with your plumbing. The best approach is to get your measurements all before even removing your existing toilet.3 - DIY Toilet Replacement Part 1: Removing Your Old Toilet


You are going to want to measure what is referred to as the “rough-in” of your toilet, which is defined as the distance from the wall (note: the wall itself, not a baseboard) to the center of a hold-down bolt on the toilet:


If the toilet happens to have four bolts, then measure to the center of either that are closest to the wall. Next, measure from the center of the mounting holes to the back of the new toilet you have in mind. Comparing these two numbers, you should be fine so long as the base of the replacement toilet is shorter than the distance from your rear bolt holes and bathroom wall.


Note for small bathrooms: You will want to take additional measurements from the flange bolts (hold-down bolts) to the sidewalls, cabinetry, or any other objects near the toilet to the sides. It would be a shame to learn that your upgraded toilet is trying to occupy the same space as your sink.

Removing Your Existing Toilet

Once you have your tools and supplies in hand, and purchased your toilet + tank, you should be ready to proceed. While it is technically possible to remove a toilet all in one go, we recommend a staged approach for piece-by-piece removal. This can help to preserve your back and your sanity, since removing a broken toilet can be a pain.

  1. Your very first action should be to turn off the toilet’s water supply. A supply valve will be located off of the rear of the tank or beneath it:4 - DIY Toilet Replacement Part 1: Removing Your Old Toilet
  2. Flush the toilet in order to eliminate any water that remains in the tank and bowl. Then use a small container like a cup to remove any other water remaining.
  3. Removing the supply line: If you intend to reuse the existing one, detach it from the bowl. Otherwise, detach it from the supply valve and leave it on the toilet bowl for disposal.
  4. Removing the toilet tank: Take the toilet tank lid off and place it somewhere out of the way in order to avoid a ceramic disaster while you remove heavier parts of the toilet. Then you will need to remove the bolts holding the tank onto the bowl:
    5 1 - DIY Toilet Replacement Part 1: Removing Your Old Toilet

    These bolts pass through from the interior of the tank to the sides of the mounting flange beneath it where they connect to the bowl:

    6 1 - DIY Toilet Replacement Part 1: Removing Your Old Toilet

    Remove these nuts and lift the tank off of the connecting gasket– then store the tank somewhere out of the way.

  5. Using your crescent wrench, remove the closet bolts from the base of the toilet. These may be concealed by bolt caps:7 - DIY Toilet Replacement Part 1: Removing Your Old Toilet
  6. Once all of the closet bolts have been removed, carefully rock the bowl free from the wax gasket beneath it:8 - DIY Toilet Replacement Part 1: Removing Your Old Toilet
  7. At this point you will want to stuff your rag into the hole (or try one of these) in order to cap off any escaping sewer gas. No need to allow the remainder of this project to be inundated with unfortunate odors. Ensure that the portion of the rag peaking out is stuffed in in such a way as to keep it from falling into and stopping up the hole.
  8. Use your putty knife to scrape away any excess wax from both the base of the bowl and the mounting flange on the floor. Why remove it from the base of the bowl? Because you may forget that it is there, and it is a devil to get rid of if you sit the bowl down on another surface before disposing of it.

With your toilet removed, materials in hand, and rag firmly wedged to reduce unpalatable scents from the air, you’re ready to get your new toilet installed!