Bathroom DIY: How to Fit a Toilet

Fitting a toilet

You may be fitting a new toilet for several reasons, the most likely being your current one is unfashionable or has a fault.

Whatever the reason may be, the majority of toilets are very similar when it comes to installation. Whether you’re a professional plumber or looking to save on costs and fit it yourself, Plumbworld has made this step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

For the sake of this guide, we’ve chosen the close coupled toilet - the most commonly found toilet in UK homes - as the example for installing.

Read on to find out how to fit a new toilet, dispose of your old one and the potential cost of installing a toilet…

What is a close coupled toilet?

A close coupled toilet is the most common model of a toilet in UK homes, and it is easy to identify thanks to its “L”-shape.

The design features the cistern, or water tank, directly above the toilet bowl, the pan, - making it closely coupled together. Close-coupled toilets come in a range of styles, particularly with Plumbworld, which are explained below:

  • Contemporary: Provide a modern look, no matter what setting they’re installed in. Smooth, flowing lines and soft angles highlight exactly how modern these toilets look and feel.
  • Traditional: A visual marvel, with chrome downpipes, low or high-level cisterns and ceramic flush handles. They’re old-school style mixed perfectly with modern technology.
Park Lane Ryther Toilet
  • Short Projection: An ideal solution to bathrooms with limited space. They’re just as wide as a normal toilet, while the pan and seat area has just as much space, but the cistern size has been reduced to give you less length.
  • Comfort Height: If you struggle with mobility and find a standard toilet too low to sit on, then you need a comfort height toilet. They’re styled in just the same way as a contemporary toilet but with added height.

What equipment and tools do I need to fit a toilet?

The equipment and tools needed to fit a toilet, particularly if you’re replacing an old one, can vary, but the standard tools are:

  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Screwdriver
  • Silicone sealant
  • Cartridge gun
  • Adjustable pliers
  • Electric drill
  • Spirit level
  • Cleaning equipment - bucket, sponge, detergent
  • Safety glasses

How to remove a toilet

Whether you’re fitting a new model, your current one is faulty, or your new loo is part of a bathroom suite, you have to remove the old toilet.

Follow our step-by-step process below for removing a toilet:

  1. Firstly, turn off the water

When removing a toilet, you need to make sure there is no water in the cistern or pan.

Switch off your water supply, using the isolation valve on the water pipe, and then flush the toilet until there’s no water left. You’ll know the water supply is switched off as the cistern won’t fill up again. If there is a small amount of water left, soak it up using a towel.

2. Clean the toilet and surrounding area

Toilets can get pretty dirty, so, before proceeding with removing it, clean the toilet thoroughly.

Clean the toilet area

Wear gloves so your skin isn’t harmed by cleaning chemicals or open to germs and bacteria. Use a sponge and bathroom cleaner for complete cleansing.

3. Detach the water pipe

A cistern is fed water via a pipe, it’s now time to disconnect it - use an adjustable wrench to do so.

This pipe can still have water in it, so, to be safe, place a towel or shallow tub underneath to catch it and avoid a wet floor.

4. Unscrew the fixing bolts

At the base of the toilet, you’ll see bolts fixing it to the floor which will need to be removed with a screwdriver.

Unscrew the toilet fixing bolts

If the bolts are covered with a plastic cap, use the screwdriver to pop them off.

Your toilet may have silicone around the base to make it more secure, if so, this can be removed by cutting through it with a sharp knife.

5. Detach from & cover the soil pipe

One of the final steps is to detach your old loo from the soil pipe. The soil pipe - as the name may suggest - is the waste pipe at the back or base of the toilet, where everything goes once you flush.

Gently work the toilet loose from the pipe and your loo should be successfully removed from the soil pipe.

This is the most unpleasant part of the job

Remove the toilet from and cover the soil pipe

Once removed, cover the soil pipe and seal it using a bag or cloth - anything, really - and secure it in place. This will prevent potentially harmful and very foul-smelling gasses from entering your bathroom from the sewers.

Have a final clean-up of the toilet area, such as the floor. Check the bolts and wax seal/ring on the soil pipe - if you have a seal. Replace them if necessary - you may well have new ones come with the new toilet.

How to dispose of your old toilet

Once your old toilet is clean and dry, you need to get rid of it. To dispose of a toilet properly, it needs to be taken to a household waste recycling centre - otherwise known as a dump or tip.

Check beforehand, or once there, find the best place to leave and dispose of it. You could even call ahead to see if they take toilets.

How to fit a new toilet

Now for the main event - fitting your new toilet. This isn’t as daunting as it appears if you’re doing it yourself, and this is a simple, easy-to-follow step-by-step guide:

  1. Assemble the flush mechanism

Before you get the cistern and pipes, assemble and fit the flushing mechanism - a button or handle. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, remembering to fit sealing rings where necessary.

Don’t fit anything too tightly, this may prevent your toilet from flushing properly

At the same time, assemble any interior parts of the cistern, such as the pump, and fit them. It’s much easier to do this now than when the entire toilet is in place as you need to move around it.

2. Fix the cistern to the pan

Now, it’s time to connect the two parts of the toilet together. Fit the rubber gasket - if it isn’t already attached - to the flush entrance of the pan. Then, insert the fixing bolts, threading them through the holes in the cistern, using the included rubber and metal washers.

Read more: How to Change a Toilet Cistern

Carefully lift the cistern and position it in place on the pan. The bolts will fit through the provided holes of the pan while the threaded section of the flushing mechanism will go through the rubber gasket.

Fit the cistern onto the pan

Fit the washers onto the bolts and then secure them. 

Remember not to fit the washers too tightly - this could damage the toilet over time and become a problem the next time you fit a new loo.

3. Position the toilet

Lift and position your toilet in the correct place, checking it’s level with a spirit level. If you’ve bought a new toilet that lines up with your old ones fixing holes, great. Otherwise, mark the wall for fixing holes for the cistern as well as the floor for the base of the pan, using a pencil.

The cistern should come with holes in the back - so you won’t have to drill any in it.

Setting aside the toilet, check for any wires and pipes before drilling the holes into the floor and wall. You can tell whether there are any obstructions through plans or with a detector.

If everything is clear, drill the holes in the wall and floor.

For drilling into a concrete floor, you’ll need masonry drill bits.

4. Fit the toilet

Put your toilet back into position. Screw the pan to the floor and the cistern to the wall, then, remove the cover you placed on the soil pipe and connect the pan to it with a connector.

You'll need to reconnect the soil pipe

Screwing the cistern and pan tighter, use an adjustable wrench, remembering to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Like attaching the cistern to the pan, don’t screw the bolts in too tightly. Use washers, if you have them, and cover the bolts on the pan’s base with caps.

5. Reconnect the water

Reattach the water inlet pipe with your wrench, being careful not to have it too tight.

When the pipe is attached and everything is fixed in place, switch the water back on. Wait for the cistern to fill with water - ensuring there are no leaks - and then flush the toilet. Check around for any leaks. 

It can be handy to have some old towels just in case there are any problems.

6. Seal the toilet

You can do this before reconnecting the water, it’s up to you, but once your toilet is fitted and functioning, it helps to use silicone sealant for added security at the base.

Use a cartridge gun to evenly apply the sealant around the base and then smooth it off with your finger, once dipped in water, a round-headed tool or sealant applicator.

Sealing a toilet

Once that’s dry, your toilet is fitted.

Read more: how to replace a toilet seat.

How much does it cost to fit a toilet?

The cost of fitting a toilet by a professional plumber can vary depending on the type of toilet you want. On average, you can expect to pay between £80 and £160.

Ceramica Arles Space-Saving Toilet

Fitting a toilet can take between one and four hours, depending on your level of experience and the type of toilet you’re installing.

Now you know a little more about fitting a toilet why not take a look at some other items you can update in your home, such as radiators, shower enclosures, bathroom accessories, and flooring.

If you found this useful, you might also like - How to Fit New Taps - How to Fit a Shower Tray - How to Fit Bathroom Wall Panels.

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