HOW TO PICK OUT AND INSTALL A TOILET.

I know I’ve been talking about toilets and toilet paper a lot lately, but if you think I’m talking about them too much I’m about to blurt out a shocking statement right now. It’s not that I’m talking about toilets too much, it’s that other people aren’t talking about them enough. 

Not a single week goes by that I don’t look out my window and see some sort of plumbing company truck pulling into a nearby driveway. They often arrive in a 24 karat gold plumbing van wearing suits made out of money and vacation homes. This entire city is experiencing some kind of crumbling sewer line infrastructure and the only people happy about it are the plumbers. And maybe the people who make 24 karat gold plumbing trucks.

So let’s talk toilets.

I had a crappy toilet.  Now I have a great one.  And here’s why.

Last month I got rid of the horrible, low flow toilet I owned because it couldn’t even flush a single piece of toilet paper at times. I headed to a plumbing supply store and begged for help.  I may have cried. I’m not sure, it’s all a bit of a blur.

The manager of the store steered me away from the toilet I was looking at and said to go with either the American Standard Cadet or the American Standard Studio.  And then every plumber that was in the store at the time agreed with him.  It was a chorus of plumbers saying “Oh yeah, I just put that one in my basement, I just put that one in my mother’s house, I’m here picking that one up for my customer” … and so on.  I got both.  I got the bowl of the Studio line, and the tank of the Cadet, because I wanted a regular flush handle, not a push button, and the Studio line doesn’t come with a regular flush handle.

TIPS FOR BUYING A NEW TOILET

1. Check the MaP (Maximum Performance) rating of your toilet. Anything over 800 is good. Over 1000 is GREAT. Avoid anything that has a MaP rating under that if you want a powerful flush and little chance of clogging.

2. Pay attention to the bowl shape. Round bowls are shorter and elongated ones are longer. If you are really cramped for space you’ll save a couple of inches by getting a round bowl.

3. One piece toilets are usually heavier and harder to install yourself. If you’re doing this on your own, a two piece toilet make not look as sleek, but it’ll be easier for you to maneuver into place and drag up the stairs by yourself.

4. Bowl height? Yes, toilets come in different heights with the majority of toilets now being “comfort height”. Which are only comfortable if you’re relatively tall. If you’re short you may find your legs dangling.

5. If you hate looking at the side of a toilet that looks like its intestines are showing, get a skirted bowl. The “guts” of the toilet are concealed, so the toilet has nice smooth sides that are nicer to look at and easier to clean.

6. The toilet seat is where you’ll actually set yourself down so get a good one. Options are heated seats, bidet seats and slow close (slamless) seats.

 

The American Standard Studio that I went with has a MaP rating of over 1000. I had NO idea there was such a big difference in toilets and how well they flush.  Like I said, I just figured low flow toilets didn’t work well.  As it turns out, only certain low flow toilets don’t work well.

This one works great.

How great?  As soon as I installed it I contacted American Standard and told them.  They of course were pleased, and agreed to sponsor my video on How to Install a Toilet.  (Like always I only do sponsored content when I’ve actually already bought the product and love it.  I then contact the company and ask if they’d like to work together) Yes YOU CAN install your own toilet.  In fact, it’s one of the easiest home improvement jobs you can do.  It’ll take 1-2 hours depending on how confident you are.

 

How-to-list4

 

Those are your steps.  Here is the video of me removing my old toilet and installing my new one.  It shows me actually doing all the steps above.  When you watch it you’ll see that because I used a two piece toilet instead of a one piece, I was able to easily lift it myself.  It would have been much harder if this had been a one piece toilet which is why … I bought a 2 piece.

Now that I have a good looking toilet that actually works, maybe I’ll actually look into redoing this bathroom.  It’s really the only room left in the house that’s still a disaster.

feature

That’s really all there is to installing a toilet.  Sure something’s gonna go wrong.  The water line is going to get knocked and spray water everywhere, or you’re going to get part of the wax seal in your hair or you’ll find out your water supply line is too short for your new toilet and you have to go buy a new one.

But all in all, installing a toilet is really one of the easiest jobs you can do in your home. Way easier than installing a new dishwasher or teaching whoever you live with to put the dishes in the dishwasher, not the sink.

And definitely easier than using your neighbour’s bathroom every time you have to go because you’re too afraid to use your own crappy toilet.

83 Comments

  1. Mel says:

    Oh noes! The video is private.

  2. Paula says:

    We put in a toilet and sink upstairs in our house yesterday. I am so happy to have a toilet on the second floor! No more 3am trips down the stairs when it is very, very cold.

  3. Rick says:

    Good video. Should encourage a few people to do it themselves. Pity though that your Pfister didn’t work. We have that model and it’s the best toilet we’ve ever had.

    • Karen says:

      You may have a Pfister but maybe you don’t have this exact model. I don’t know which it was. Other than the awful one, lol. The biggest concern of mine was the company didn’t seem to think anything of the fact that it didn’t work for me! ~ karen

  4. Marilynn says:

    No, Karen, you rock!

  5. Kat says:

    Good Job Karen. I can not even count how many toilets I have replaced by myself. I am a renter and it seems every place I rent, it has a crappy shitter and of course I replace them ASAP! I hate those wax rings. Also in every single one I always have to repaint as there is always that horrid unpainted rectangle from the old toilet that is not the same as the new one and no one thought of painting behind the tank!

  6. Margaret K. says:

    You might want to add the wax ring installation to your text list of steps. It’s pretty important!

    I replaced my mom’s toilets – now I should do my own because it’s one of the low-flow #&*&$#^ that was all we could get back when we put it in.

  7. MissChris SA says:

    Gobsmacked!!
    You are every man’s dream woman!!
    I would not even attempt that and you make it look so easy!

    • Karen says:

      It is easy. 🙂 That’s why I did a post on it to prove it’s incredibly easy. ANYONE can do it. If they can lift the toilet that is. ~ karen!

  8. Sue says:

    Several years ago my daughter and I installed a new toilet in her upstairs bathroom. We had a laptop with a “This Old House” video to use as a guide. Went smooth as could be – until it started to drip. We tried everything to get it to stop, checked every bolt and gasket (well, how ever many there are) and finally put a bowl under the drip and went to bed.
    We called a handyman the next morning who said after he arrived that he always carried a spare supply line with him. Which he used to replace the old one. His tip of the day was to never replace a toilet without replacing the old supply line; if the toilet is old enough to be replaced then most likely the supply line is too. Good to know!

  9. Helen Whaley says:

    This makes me feel so empowered. Not that I’ve replaced a toilet yet, but now I know that I can!!
    Thank you.

  10. Danni says:

    Don’t forget the new, non-revolting wax ring, or people will cry!

  11. Sarah says:

    Yay! We just bought two toilets to replace our vintage ones that came with the house. The old ones are from the 1960s. (blech)

    • Sera says:

      Ooh, were they play pink? My bathroom tile is from the 70s. It’s almond with brown flowers because you know, when you think of flowers – brown. Ugh.

      • Sarah says:

        Surprisingly, no! They were white, which is probably why the three or four previous owners kept them. It just grosses me out to think of all the people who have used them before us. 🙂 And they’re terribly wasteful–every flush depletes the ocean just a bit.

  12. Connie says:

    I just replaced my toilet seat; I was perfectly happy with the old plastic seat until I spent four days dog-sitting for my sister and used her nice firm wooden one.

    I Googled how to replace it and found what promised to be “four easy steps”! The first three steps involved taking the old seat off, which took over an hour due to my lack of power tools, the tight squeeze between the toilet and vanity and stopping because of back pain from bending over and kneeling on the ceramic floor. Plus I almost split my head open on the vanity counter! I finally took a hack saw to the stubborn

  13. Connie says:

    Oops! the stubborn 3″ plastic screw; the nut was seemingly cemented on but the hack saw did the trick! I was so happy!

    I never would have tackled that job if I hadn’t read so many of your posts encouraging us to tackle projects. Thank you so much for your determination and encouragement!

  14. Rondina says:

    You talked me into the American Standard, but out of doing it myself. I used to reset one-piece toilets at the old house. The one-piece isn’t any heavier than a skirted toilet. Now, I’ve had back surgery, neck surgery, and one rotator cuff repaired. I call the plumber now.

    Go for that no slam toilet seat. Even without a man in the house, I still have to think about the cat. I switched out from the cheap one they had. It was worth the money.

    I’d like to say that it’s just that easy, but anytime you open something up to repair it, you don’t know what’s going to happen. If you are going to do it, do it on a day when you can get a plumber to your house without paying overtime.

  15. Jim says:

    Karen
    It must be 5 years ago now that I replaced all 3 toilets with American Standard low flow toilets. I chose them because I could fix the mechanism inside when necessary.
    There was a rebate at the time from the Provincial government.
    The 2nd thing I found was our water bill dropped by 50%.
    The other thing to look at is if you are a senior the higher rise is the easier (looks nicer) than special seats that increase the height.
    I also installed supply lines that have a feature that stops the flow of water if there is a leak.
    My plumber friends tell me they remove them frequently when they stop the flow for no reason.
    Mine are fine so far.

  16. Now that is a sexy looking toilet! We replaced our toilet when we gutted our laundry/powder room and it makes all the difference when you don’t have to ask your friends to only flush a few pieces of loo paper down at a time otherwise it will get stuck. Thankfully those embarrassing days are over!

  17. Milton says:

    I have several American Standard toilets and they are great. Low flow toilets were terrible when they first came out, they have been improved greatly in recent years. I’ve never seen a skirted style like you chose but, while stylish, it looks like a maintenance nightmare to me- it is a good thing you can do-it-yourself so easily. How did you tighten the bolt on the right side- I’ve never seen a toilet so close to the wall, with so little clearance and hardware which looks so hard to access. Forget what I said about a bidet attachment being easy to install on this style toilet- I can’t see how the seat is installed which is necessary to have easy access to for a bidet attachment (as opposed to a bidet seat which are much more expensive usually). Also, the water supply line looks impossible to replace without removing the tank so I would go with the best stainless flexible line I could find to make that job as infrequent as humanly possible. You are fearless to go where most men aren’t comfortable working.

    • Karen says:

      🙂 There’s *just* enough room for me to maneuver a screw on the right side of the toilet. And there’s no maintenance issues with having a skirted toilet. The only difference is how it bolts to the floor. Skirted from the side, non-skirted on the floor. ~ karen!

  18. peg says:

    if you redo bathroom,keep the flooring. 😀

  19. whitequeen96 says:

    You are amazing, and I bow to you in awe!

  20. Grammy says:

    Nice toilet! Good video, too. I have a tip that some people might want to try if for some reason a nifty new toilet isn’t an option right away. We had two low flow toilets that never flushed worth a damn, and we hated them. We figured you just have to live with it. Over a few years we had replaced various pieces inside the tank, thinking maybe this little part or that one is the culprit. Nothing helped. Then one of the toilets took to “running” every now and then for no reason. And something (I think my husband used a plunger too hard) bumped the other one so hard that it started running nonstop.

    The toilets weren’t all that old, so I went down to the hardware store and looked around and decided that maybe replacing the whole valve assembly would be required to stop the running till we could get around to replacing both toilets. The things were around $15 dollars each (I’m in the U.S.) The only problems I had with the whole thing was the very close quarters on the water supply side in both bathrooms. It took me longer to get the old parts out than it did to install and adjust the new ones. But I got both done in one afternoon, and that included the trip to the hardware store.

    The valves worked — no more running. And no leaks. And here’s the zinger: both toilets flush much better than they did when they were new! Gone are the days of needing to flush twice nearly every time. So maybe some of your readers might try the valve fix first, if the toilet is in fairly good shape. If it doesn’t solve it, they can follow your fabulous instructions and they will have only wasted an extra $15.

  21. Lynne says:

    Wooooohhoooo! Perfect timing. We are about to install a new toilet! THANK YOU, thank you, thank YOU.

    PS. I made a recipe for a homemade version poopourri/toilet spray and I have a stinking ? feeling you may LOVE it. It works, and saves a zillion trillion million dollars. Your new toilet and bathroom will be stinky free too. ha!

    DIY recipe for toilet spray

    Lynne ? haha

  22. billy sharpstick says:

    I’ve installed or reinstalled probably a dozen toilets. I never have anyone to help. The toilet location is usually a very narrow space with no room on either side. (If I was designing my own house with unlimited budget, I would design the bathroom so there is three feet on each side of the toilet, just so I can work on them more easily. Come to think of it, if I could afford to do that, I could afford a plumber.) Here are a few observations on that process:

    I will never ever use a wax ring again! Hoisting and then slowly lowering a sixty(?) pound toilet down over the bolts and wax ring singlehandedly has never worked well for me.
    My typical installation:
    Carefully lower the toilet down over the bolts, which are completely invisible when you’re standing bowlegged over the toilet holding it. The bolts tend to shift and rotate and sometimes pull loose completely in the process. Then lift the toilet back off, scrape off the ruined wax ring, put one of the spare wax rings on, and try again.

    Recently I discovered foam rubber rings that are reusable. They cost more than a wax ring, but less than THREE wax rings and the aggravation that they cause. Wax rings tend to loosen up if there is ever any play in your toilet that isn’t fixed. About one out of five toilets do have some movement when you sit on them. Eventually the wax ring in them will loosen up. A plastic one won’t.

    I’ve used cleaner bits of the old wax ring, or caulking to sort of glue the bolts in place so they don’t shift.

    For some reason, I’m usually too lazy to remove the tank first, but even the bowl part is pretty heavy and awkward without any help.
    Putting some 2×4 scraps on the floor to rest the weight of the toilet on before seating it is helpful. Position it on the blocks. Carefully locate properly, then remove one block at a time and rock the toilet into place.

    Someday, the poor shmuck who has to remove this toilet will be grateful that there isn’t a filthy disgusting black wax ring that he has to scrape off. (That poor shmuck might be me in five years! I always think of future shmuck when doing any house repairs. That’s why I NEVER use nails. Screws are removable. Nails never do without serious destruction.)

    As long as you have the toilet out of the way, this is a good opportunity to replace that crusty old stiff oval handle supply valve that is twenty years old. I replace them with quarter turn ball valves that last longer and are easier to operate.
    I’ve seen a recommendation to replace the supply line every time you remove it because the rubber seals tend to wear. If they don’t look too bad, I reuse them. They are cheap compared to repairing water leak damage some day. I always use steel braided lines.

    I also recommend flood alarms in all areas that someday WILL have water leaking. Under sinks, water heater, dishwasher, behind toilets. They are nothing more than a small box with a battery powered shrieking alarm with electrical contacts that sit on the floor and are sensitive to moisture. Under ten bucks.

  23. Pat says:

    I have had that toilet for a year and love it because of how easy it is to clean with the lid popping off. The flush and the slow close are both so quiet. When I show people our last renovations the toilet is my favourite feature!! Ya, that’s what it comes down to, a toilet that brings us joy!

  24. Jen says:

    Here’s a tip for those who live in the Southwestern US (and maybe this is applicable to all hot climates). Call the city water dept first and make sure they have treated the lines for sewer roaches FIRST. It is a phone call that I will never forget. Of course, when you are feeling like a bad-ass and replacing your first toilet all by yourself, only to run screaming from your house jumping and slapping your arms and hands like a person on a bad drug trip, well, the memory sticks. (And if by some chance you do forget, the neighbors are really happy to remind you…they’re helpful like that.)

    Make the call.

  25. Monique says:

    Applause.
    Excellent video..nice toilet:)
    You’re one of a kind Karen.

  26. Robin Fishback says:

    Perfect timing on this. I have wanted to replace my 25 year old, too low toilet for a while. Now I am spurred on with a great tutorial. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  27. Sylvia says:

    You managed to do all that wearing socks and your fancy pants watch!
    Well done !!

  28. Kelly says:

    I needed this video today! Woke up with toilet running and not sure why, and you’re note on making sure the float was correct height may be the solution. Going to check it when I get home. Thanks so much!

    • Cred says:

      Also check that the flapper is closing completely. This seals the hole after flushing the bowl. If it remains open, the water will continue to run into the bowl and the float won’t reach max level to activate the switch to turn off water. Lately, for some reason our chain is getting caught up, preventing the flapper from closing completely. It’s not often but it’s odd. Worth checking out in your case, too.

  29. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Excellent!

  30. BaconBleuCheez says:

    Get a taller toilet, (at least 19″ from the seat to the floor) and if your feet dangle, put a little step stool in your bathroom. That way, if you or a loved one ever needs knee or hip surgery, you won’t have to install that ugly riser.

  31. Ken says:

    Wow what a great toilet, great install. If you decide to do the rest of your bathroom come back and see us.

  32. Cred says:

    Absolutely correct, there isn’t enough toilet talk. I haaaaate cleaning toilets with exposed traps. Love your new toilet with the concealed trap style. I’m hoping to replace ours soon. Also, love the easy disconnect seat for cleaning. I’m a germaphobe when it comes to toilets and I want to able to clean as thoroughly and easily as possible, so I don’t have to be reaching and stooping with my head so close to the crapper for so long.
    Thanks for the info on MaP rating, that will be helpful when I’m buying ours.

  33. Mary W says:

    I knew a bathroom reno would follow when I saw the “install your own toilet” post. It is inevitable. I know your head is spinning like Linda Blair/Reagan with great new ideas for us to emulate. or copy. or just love. you never scare us – except with reusable “lady-cups”.

  34. Kathy Hartzell says:

    I love toilet posts!!! Years ago I traveled to Sweden and fell in love with an Ifo, and found a distributor, way up in the mountains (huh, what’s with that?) for this amazingly cute toilet….the tank is oval with the handle being a pull up at the top of the egg….so on Mother’s Day I installed it. Every visitor had to see my new toilet. If Instagram had existed, I would have gone crazy. So I installed a second one upstairs. I was in toilet fashion heaven! Then, the innards started to fail, and another trip to the mountains got me new innards…..and they failed. And there was a change in reps for the brand and they enlisted me to test new innards. And they all failed. So, reluctantly, I had to switch to another brand…..as our water restrictions here are so intense that toilets can put you into the high use tiers if they even have a seep that is persistent. And I hated the new one, but not nearly as much as the day I decided to replace the seat and discovered the bolts were positioned in a way that requires the hand of a toddler to fit inside a rim to remove. Only toddlers are terrible at removing nuts and bolts. So I used a Dremel and did it from the top and vowed that the next seat will get me a new toilet. Now, I know what kind to get!! Oh, I use two wax rings….something my contractor taught me. And I replace the supply lines with braided line. And the old Ifo egg tank was a “fixture” in the garden for years, until I was teased about being pwt and urged to recycle it. I saved the top, tho!!!

  35. Barbie says:

    YOU are such a stud! I love it! B

  36. Deb says:

    Ummm had no idea you could mix and match the tank and the toilet -thanks for the tip! I am now going to copycat you and order 2 exactly that since we are in the midst of a Reno but u didn’t want the push button either. Thanks for your awesomeness!!

  37. j says:

    No you rock!! And that is the best looking toilet I have ever seen!!

  38. Jennie Lee says:

    I’m only 5’1″ nowadays, but the taller toilets I got 1.5 years ago don’t cause my legs to dangle. The plumber, who had bad knees, like me, suggested them, and it really does make getting up easier. Since you mentioned a step stool, I’ll go ahead and mention the fact that putting your feet on a 6″-12′ stool while you’re on the toilet will prevent hemorrhoids. People did not evolve while sitting on toilets. They squatted.

  39. Gwen H. says:

    Thanks to you I replaced my toilet seat. It may not seem like a big home improvement but to me it ROCKS!!!

  40. beks says:

    Can you share what model this is? I need a loo with a side handle like yours, but the link in your post goes to one with the button on top. Also how’s the seat working out for you? I think I may have found the toilet on lowes.com and people have posted very strong opinions on it!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beks! I mention in the post that I bought the Studio toilet bowl and the Cadet tank. I could do this because I bought it at a plumbing wholesale place. The Cadet has the handle flusher, the Studio doesn’t. That’s why I mixed and matched. You’ll be fine going with the Cadet for the bowl and tank though. 🙂 ~ karen!

  41. Cathy says:

    That toilet with the skirt is da- bomb! I hate, hate, hate cleaning the sides of mine. Do you have an opinion on metal bolts-vs-plastic ones for the seat?

  42. Jody says:

    When I was little I would watch my dad change the toilet. I always thought the wax seal was a clump of poo and that was why he was fixing it. Thank you for the memory. Seriously.

  43. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Wow…I seriously want to be you when I grow up…

  44. cathleen clark says:

    Wow I need this info thank Karen!
    We are diy people have properties i. Florida woodedretreats.com. Our website doesn’t have the most recent property the H20 island house but you can see it at homeaway.
    Sitting in a a chair at H2o island house now just finished putting shiplap in one of the bathrooms. 7 hours later and enjoying an adult beverage which is greatly deserved. Easy pissy…..ha!
    Fun stuff. I have to ask when are you coming to Florida? Seems like the rest of Canada is here. Which I love by the way! Hopefully I can get time to email you other pics not taking your blog real estate…or does it matter?

  45. Sheri says:

    Small suggestion: in the list before the video, you left out the step to disconnect the water supply.

  46. Sera says:

    It’s like you’re reading my mind. We are planning on building two new bathrooms in our house in the next 3-6 months. And then quite probably destroying the one we have now. But after a kitchen remodel that meant I had to wash coffee cups in the (terrible) bathroom sink for 4 months, I determined that I would not go any amount of time without a bathroom. So new bathrooms before remodel this time. It may sound weirdly excessive but we have one bathroom upstairs and one toilet on a pedestal in our basement. So, we’ll be turning that toilet on a pedestal into a bathroom with a shower before l demo my upstairs nightmare. Thanks for helping me pick out a new toilet or 3!

  47. Edith says:

    OMG! Al Bundy would love this!

    I have only installed dishwashers alone so far, which I found very easy, but I would never install a toilet alone: I would let someone help me (you know, with the lifting and positioning on the bolts, etc.) But then again: you are way cooler than me!

  48. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Ok, I get why you went with the Cadet tank so why not the whole thing? I’ve flipped back and forth about 23 times between the two and the bowls look pretty similar except for the seat profile. What am I missing? Besides youth and brains?
    Also, if you haven’t had a slow close toilet lid and seat before, be careful about folks not realizing that and forcing it closed. We have one that no longer works due to visitors pushing it down (I’m thinking my old Dad but what the heck it’s only a toilet seat). Unfortunately, American Standard says they are unrepairable.

    • Karin Sorensen says:

      good point Jan,

      one of our friends manages to slam our slo-mo lid every time, harsh words and twisting ears won’t help *rolleyes* some people….

      what’s equally funny is my husband at his parents or friends house. you hear this might SLAM! once he’s done his duty, since he’s just so used to just giving the lid a slight push and it’s doing its slo-mo thing. cracks me up every time.

      Karin

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        Hah! You’re so right Karin! Funny you should mention that, since we have 2 slo-mo seats, one works and one doesn’t and I’m the guilty lid slammer!!

  49. Karin says:

    awesome sauce !!!! really cool video, thanks for that.

    saaaaay, is there a reason you stuffed some Styrofoam into the old tank? i’m really curious bout that.

    k, bye

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karin, the tank came like that. It’s usually referred to as an insulated tank. Not sure if it’s to stop sweating on the outside of the tank or reduce noise or both! ~ karen!

      • Karin Sorensen says:

        aaaah, i see. thanks.

        you make it look so easy and it feels like it’s kinda easy…. but then i remember that it took me three trips to the hardware store just to get the right handle for my toilet after it broke….

        ;0B

  50. Shelly says:

    Bravo! I wish I could do these things but I have really bad knees so can’t squat or sit on my knees at all. I’ll be calling a plumber!

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