The floor, flange, and sealant can mean the difference between success and failure.
Synopsis: Whether you have a leak or just want an upgrade, removing and installing a toilet is an approachable project that requires only the most basic tools. But the success of the installation goes beyond what you can see on the surface. A long-lasting toilet installation requires a strong, stable floor frame, a properly positioned closet flange, and a bead of sealant where the fixture meets the floor.
I’ve installed, removed, and replaced more toilets than I care to count. In some cases, a toilet has to be replaced because the necessary repairs to the inner workings of the tank aren’t worth the effort when compared to the cost of upgrading to a new fixture. There’s not much I can do to predict how long these internal components of a toilet will hold up, but I certainly can ensure that the plumber or homeowner who pulls the toilet isn’t faced with additional repairs to the bathroom. I’ve pulled lots of toilets that have been in service for 50 years or more yet had no evidence of wax-ring failure, leakage, or rot. The difference isn’t in the quality of the toilet, but in the quality of the installation.
In my experience, the three essential aspects of a long-lasting and trouble-free toilet installation are a stable floor frame, a closet flange that’s installed at the right height, and a bead of sealant or grout around the base of the toilet where it meets the floor.
The floor frame must be stable
From a framing perspective, there isn’t anything special about the floor under a bathroom. If things go wrong, it’s usually because somebody has reduced the strength of the floor by notching or drilling where they shouldn’t, or because water damage has led to decay. Either…