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Toilet Installation Tips for Beginners

In this tutorial, you’ll see toilet installation tips. These tips are great whether you’re new to home renovation or have been doing it for years.

I promise you’ll learn something new. And in the end, your toilet installation will be better as a result.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Let’s dive in!

How to Remove a Toilet

Toilet water is disgusting. Some folks shop vac the bowl (which is gross) or pick up the bowl and place it in a garbage bag.

I prefer the easier route and use Oatey LiquiLock.

Oatey LiquiLock

I pour LiquiLock into the bowl and within five minutes the water has turned into a gel. This prevents toilet water from dripping all over the floor, carpet, tile, or hardwood.

Oatey LiquiLock in toilet bowl

Then I remove the water supply line from the toilet fill valve, normally the water supply line is only hand tightened.

Toilets are typically secured to the closet flange with two closet flange bolts and two nuts. I unscrew the nuts counterclockwise with a stubby gear wrench.

Stubby Gear Wrench

If that doesn’t work, the closet bolt can be cut just below the nut with an oscillating multi-tool. The best accessory for the multi-tool is a carbide blade. Grinders are also great tools for cutting closet flange bolts.

Finally, I love the Pick Up Stix Toilet Tool. This is great for anyone with a bad back and allows a single person to easily move a toilet.

Pick Up Stix

How to Install a Toilet Closet Flange Spacer

Years ago I learned how to install closet flange spacers. And boy was it worth it.

Often the toilet closet flange is too low or broken. Closet flange spacers are an affordable way to fix this problem.

In this bathroom, the closet flange was below the tile floor. This is bad because the wax ring (even a double wax ring) will ultimately compress too much.

The result is a gap between the top of the wax ring and the bottom of the bowl – which leads to leaking toilet bowls.

Ideally, the closet flange should be 1/4″ above the tile floor.

I applied Lexel to the existing closet flange and bonded a 1/4″ Oatey closet flange spacer.


Lexel is an outstanding sealant and has much better elasticity than silicone. I then added another 1/4″ Oatey closet flange spacer to the first one, again using Lexel.

Closet Flange Spacer Installation

I used 1/4″ x 3-1/2″ extra long closet flange bolts in the slots of the original closet flange. And then used nuts and washers to clamp the spacers together while the Lexel cured.

If this is done properly, the closet flange will be about 1/4″ above the tile floor and there will never be a leak between the flange and spacers.

Never use two wax rings to make up for the flange height. I’ve unfortunately seen a lot of people do this and then suffer the dreaded toilet leak down the road.

How to Install a Toilet Bowl

Honestly, the toilet bowl is easy to install if the closet flange and tile are installed correctly.

Step one is to have the closet flange on the finished floor.

Step two is to have a relatively level or flat tile floor. Any time I set tile floors, I always take my time around the toilet area.

The better the tile floor installation the more likely shims won’t be necessary. If the toilet is really out of level, plastic shims should be used.

Always dry-fit the toilet bowl before adding the wax ring to the closet flange.

Frankly, if that bowl is 1/8″ or less out of level, I’m not shimming it because the wax ring will seal properly. Plus, nobody is going to notice the water being off by 1/8″ in the bowl. But that’s just my opinion.

Here’s the question,

Should the wax ring be placed on the bottom of the toilet bowl or on the closet flange?

I place the wax ring on the closet flange.

Here’s why: gravity

Gravity always wins. Thus, when I place the wax ring on the closet flange I’m working with Gravity, not against it.

Make sense?

I hope so.

Then I pick up the bowl and lower it down over the closet flange bolts. I simply compress the bowl straight down, I don’t rock it because that can break the wax ring seal.

Setting Toilet Bowl

Yes, this looks weird. But it works.

Toilet Installation from Start to Finish

In the video below you’ll see way more tips for how to install a toilet.

I purposely added a bunch of extra stuff that’ll come in handy today and down the road.

For example, if you ever have to install a closet flange – there are several tricks and I go over them.

Also, I show how to silicone the bowl to the tile. Yes, some people think this is controversial. But here’s the deal, leave a two-inch gap in the back and seal that bad boy with Laticrete Latasil. That way there won’t be a biohazard waiting for you under the bowl after somebody misses it!!!

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