Learning CenterHow To Install or Replace a Toilet Seat

How To Install or Replace a Toilet Seat

Whether replacing a broken toilet seat or simply changing the look of your bathroom, be sure you do the job right.

How to install or replace a toilet seat

Toilet seats are durable, but they don’t last forever. Replacing a toilet seat is one of the easiest bathroom home-repairs you can do yourself.

Before You Begin

Most toilets and toilet seat configurations are generally standard, so the steps will be basically the same from one toilet to another. However, it’s best to double-check. When you remove the new toilet seat from its packaging, take a few minutes to read the installation instructions. While most seats install in a similar manner, some require unique methods to get a good fit. Save the instructions until you are finished with the installation process to make sure all steps were completed.

If the new seat has replacement hardware, store it in a safe place so you can easily locate it if you need to make future repairs. Don’t start the project until you have all necessary tools ready at hand and are certain to finish switching the seat out once you start it.

Clean the Old Seat

As you probably know, toilet seats can be full of bacteria. Before handling your existing toilet seat to replace it, you want to know it is clean. Generally, a mild bleach and water solution is sufficient to kill harmful germs. You can also use a commercial cleaner, or make your own natural disinfectant with vinegar or borax.

When cleaning your old seat, be sure you pay special attention to bolts and crevices where bacteria tend to congregate. Since you will have to be near the bowl and bathroom floor, give those areas a good scrubbing as well. With a bit of effort, you can have a clean working space to help facilitate a quick and easy toilet seat change.

Even though you have thoroughly cleaned your toilet and the area around it, it’s best to wear gloves when replacing an old toilet seat. As with all home projects, personal safety should be first. Since you will be working with screwdrivers, wrenches, and other potentially stubborn components, you should wear protective eyewear. Finally, if you have sensitivity to dust, a mask or respirator is very useful when doing any home improvement projects.

Remove the Old Seat

With most toilets, there are two bolts at the back of the seat, either plastic or metal. The bolts fit through holes in the toilet, and nuts hold the seat securely in place. When you are ready to remove the old seat, look for the top of the bolts. Often, they are hidden beneath a decorative plastic cap piece. If the seat bolts are under plastic, pry the plastic away using a flathead screwdriver or dull knife. Be careful not to scratch the surface of your toilet.

Next, look under the toilet to find the nuts that secure the seat in place. Use a screwdriver to hold the top of the bolt tightly in place. Then, with your fingers or a wrench, loosen the nuts to remove the bolts. If the bolts and nuts are metal, however, they may have corroded. In that case, you may need a bit of elbow grease to dislodge the nut.

After you unscrew the nuts from both sides of the bowl, you should be able to lift the old seat off the toilet. Most new toilet seats come with their own installation hardware, so you don’t have to worry about saving the nuts and bolts from your old toilet seat.

Place the New Seat

Generally, toilet seats have two holes through which you can insert bolts to hold the seat to the toilet. Which hole you use depends on the design of your toilet. Before you install the seat, place it on top of your toilet and, looking at the seat from directly above, determine which holes best align.

If both holes partially line up, choose the one that most closely matches the hole placement on your bowl, as well as the overall seat placement. If you want your new seat to sit further back, use the front holes. For a closer fit, opt for the second set.

Slip the Bolts Into Place

After you have aligned the new toilet seat, slip the included bolts into place. Be sure you place both bolts directly through the holes on each side of the seat before you place nuts or tighten either bolt. The bolts should fit easily through the holes, so check the seat’s alignment if you feel resistance. Don’t force them or scratch the toilet. Carefully adjust how the seat rests on the toilet until the bolts fit smoothly.

Screw on the Nuts

To hold your new toilet seat securely in place, you must screw nuts onto both bolts. First, insert the appropriate style of screwdriver into the head of the first bolt. While you are holding the bolt still, preventing it from turning, use your fingers to screw the first nut into place. The nut should fit securely against the bottom of your toilet. Repeat this process for the second bolt and nut. After tightening them in place by hand, you can use adjustable pliers to make the nut fit more securely on the bolts, however be careful not to make it tighten too much. Over-tightening can crack the toilet.  

After both nuts are in place, test the new seat for movement. If it wiggles, the nuts are probably not sufficiently tight. In that case, you may need to use a wrench to tighten both nuts. Be careful, though, as both plastic and metal components can weaken or break with too much pressure.

Insert the Covers

For a finished look, you don’t want to have exposed bolt heads. Your new toilet seat probably has plastic covers that conceal the bolts. Generally, these covers simply pop into place over the bolts without any tools or much effort. Be certain you have lined up the covers before attempting to secure them in place, to avoid damaging the cap fittings.

Test the New Seat

Finally, when you are finished installing your new toilet seat, don’t forget to test its movement. Open and close the seat a few times to test the hinges and determine if the seat wiggles side to side. If it does, you may need to tighten the bolts again. Remember, with usage, your seat might come loose, so you may need to periodically tighten or adjust it.