How To Install a Toilet

Replacing a toilet may not be your favourite part of your bathroom renovations, but it’s easier than you think — and helps you avoid calling in a plumber. Fortunately, most new toilets come in standard sizes that can be easily swapped out. From choosing the right toilet to installing the toilet seat, toilet flange, and wax ring, we’ve outlined the entire process step-by-step to help with your home renovation project.

Let’s get started! 

Few Hours
Less Than $500
How to Install a Toilet Header Image

What You Need for This Project


Take Measurements & Buy Your New Toilet

Start by measuring the distance from the centre of the closet bolts (which can be found at the base of the toilet) straight to the back of the wall. If your toilet has four bolts, measure from the ones in the back. Make sure you also have enough clearance on either side of the toilet. 

Once you have these measurements, visit your local Lowe’s and choose a toilet that fits both the size and style of your bathroom. If you need a little inspiration choosing the most important seat in your house, check out our Toilet Buying Guide. 

Once you bring your new toilet home, it’s time to remove the existing one.  

Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think!  

Remove Your Old Toilet

  1. 1

    Prepping Your Toilet

    Put on your work gloves (ceramic can cut like glass, so make sure you protect your hands) and check around the toilet for visible cracks. Then, carefully remove the tank’s top lid.  
    Turn off the main water supply line to the toilet and flush until the water drains completely. To remove excess water from the tank, use a sponge and bucket. Remove the remaining water from the bowl by using a small disposable plastic cup, an old towel or rag. Then, disconnect the water supply line from the toilet and drain any excess water into a bucket. Leave the tank connected to the bowl. 
  2. Steps:

  1. 2

    Removing the Closet Bolts

    It’s time to remove the closet bolts. First, remove the bolt caps with a flat head screwdriver. Then, loosen the closet bolt nuts with a wrench. If the bolts are seized, which is common after prolonged corrosion or spinning in the flange, hold the bolt with a lockable or adjustable wrench and use a mini-hacksaw blade to cut the bolt(s). You can find a mini- or close-quarters hacksaw blade holder in our tools department. 
  2. Steps:

  1. 3

    Removing Your Toilet

    If your toilet is sealed to the floor, use a utility knife to cut away the sealant. Gently rock the toilet to free it from the floor and then place it aside on an old rag. Next, plug the drain with a towel to block any sewer gases. 
    Finally, scrape the old wax ring from the flange and the floor with a putty knife and dispose. 
  2. Steps:

Pre-Installation Step

Now it’s time to install your new toilet. Most tanks come pre-assembled but if you do need to install the fill valve and flapper, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You should complete this step to simplify installation.

How To Install Your Toilet

  1. 1

    If You Have a Two-Piece Toilet

    Install the rubber gasket on the outlet of the holding tank. Place the tank anchor bolts in the holes of the tank to help guide it onto the bowl. Lift the tank and place it over the bowl. 
    Guide the tank bolts into the corresponding holes on the toilet bowl.  Hold an adjustable or lockable wrench on the tank bolt nut while you tighten the bolt with a screwdriver.  
    Note: Do not over tighten! You can crack either the tank or the toilet bowl. Read the manufacturer's instructions, but a good rule of thumb is to hand tighten as much as you can, then, using a wrench, add just a quarter turn. 
  2. Steps:

Install the gasket
Two piece toilet installation
  1. 2

    Closet Bolt Installation

    Note: If you're reusing the old flange, it's a good idea to replace the 3/16-inch flange bolts as they tend to corrode over time. If you're replacing the flange, it must be screwed into a wooden floor. If your floor is concrete, use self-tapping concrete screws. Remove the old rag from the drain and install the new wax ring. Centre it on the flange, not the toilet. This helps hold and centre the closet bolts. 
    Tip: Wax rings are easier to work with when they are warm. If yours is cold, let it warm up to room temperature first — or, better yet, immerse it in a bowl of warm, not hot, water. 
  2. Steps:

Wax ring clean up
install new closet bolts
Wax ring nistallation
  1. 3

    Setting the Toilet

    Set the new toilet on the flange and closet bolts. When you have it in place, squish the wax ring until the toilet settles to the floor.

    Note: DO NOT force the toilet down by tightening the nuts on the toilet bolts. You could crack the porcelain base of your toilet. Instead, sit on the toilet but face the wall, (yes, really), and try to centre your weight over the wax ring. Drive the toilet straight down with minimal twisting or shifting from side to side. The goal here is to keep the wax ring intact to prevent any leaking.

  2. Steps:

Setting the bolw
  1. 4

    Securing Your Toilet

    Place the washers on each closet bolt and then tighten each nut in an alternating pattern. This applies pressure evenly across the base. Again, be careful not to over tighten. Put a level across the bowl to ensure it is parallel to the floor. Then, if necessary, cut the bolts to accommodate the installation of the caps. If the caps don’t snap in place, fill them with plumbers putty to secure them to the bolts. 

  2. Steps:

Tighten bolts
  1. 5

    Hooking Up

    Connect the water supply line to the rear of the toilet and turn on the water valve. 

    Note: There are several options for the supply line, however, the main two are brass supply lines with compression fittings and braided stainless steel supply lines. Since the brass lines need to be cut to length, most DIYers go with the flexible stainless steel mesh option instead. Hand-tighten the line, then add a quarter turn with pliers. Check for leaks and tighten a bit more if needed.

  2. Steps:

Hooking up water supply
  1. 6

    Lay Out and Mark the Location of the Deck

    • Install the toilet seat by following the manufacturer’s instructions. 
    • Give the toilet a test flush and check for leaks. 
    • Seal the base with silicone sealant or caulking and that’s it. 
     Congratulations. You just did that! 
  2. Steps:

Attach the toilet seat

How To Terms

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures.

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