How To Replace a Toilet Seat

30 minutes
A Booty-full Bathroom Upgrade: Cheap & Easy Way to Replace a Toilet Seat


toilet seat 1

Are you embarrassed when guests use your bathroom? Is your toilet seat cracked, scratched, rusting or missing a screw so it slides back and forth and makes going to the bathroom like a trip to an amusement park? Or, have you just moved into a new place and want to make your bathroom your own?

Well, replacing a toilet seat is one of the simplest home improvement tasks ever. Here is a quick and easy change that can breathe new life into your bathroom decor. Also, it is really inexpensive!

A new toilet seat cover is pretty cheap; we got ours for less than $20! If you want to spend more, you can find lots of different styles and finishes including oak, pine, eco-friendly bamboo, translucent polymer with embedded whimsical designs such as dollar bills or sea shells, or even padded shiny plastic (for some folks, comfort is everything). We opted to go for the standard white smooth-top seat, or make a statement with something entirely unique.

toilet seat 2

Before you start: Make sure that the new toilet seat and lid that you purchase are the correct size and shape for your toilet. Measure the length, width, and height of your current seat. (Seats generally come in both standard round and elongated shapes.) If you're still unsure, you can always unscrew your existing seat as per the instructions below, clean it, then take it with you to the store. At the very least, measure it exactly and note whether the shape is circular or oval.

Step 1

First things first: close the old seat and lid on the toilet to access the bolts at the back that fasten the seat onto the toilet bowl. If necessary, pop off the plastic caps that cover and protect the bolts. You can use your flathead screwdriver to lift these plastic caps off the toilet (don't worry about breaking them since you're getting rid of that seat anyway).

Step 2

toliet seat step 2

You'll notice that if you merely turn the bolt using your screwdriver, the nut on the bottom side of the toilet will likely also turn. To prevent this from happening and to loosen each bolt, you will probably need to hold the nut in place with your hand (or use a pair of pliers if the bolt is really stuck) while you loosen the bolt by turning it counter-clockwise with your screwdriver (see picture).

Jane Tip: You may find that the bolts simply refuse to turn because the nuts are rusted onto the bolts from years of moisture accumulation. If that's the case, apply some penetrating oil or lubricant directly onto the bolts and nuts. Wait a few minutes, and then try unscrewing the bolts again, this time using your wrench to hold each nut in place. Use some force if you need to--rust is a mighty force sometimes.

Don't worry about applying too much pressure to the bolt. If a bolt snaps and breaks, that's fine because you'll be using new bolts. If you still cannot remove a bolt, however, you will need to saw it off. To prevent scratching the toilet, first apply tape [masking tape is fine] to the rim around the bolt then carefully cut off the bolt using a hacksaw.

Safety Tip: Sometimes the bolt is stubborn and refuses to come out; if you need to cut a bolt, proceed with caution so you don't cut yourself.

Step 3

Install the New Seat & Lid

toilet seat step 3

Lift off the old toilet seat and lid from the bowl and throw them away or recycle it (if possible). Before installing the new unit, wash and clean the rim of the toilet bowl. Now align the holes on the new seat and lid unit with the mounting holes in the toilet (see picture).

Put the seat into place and the new bolts through the holes of the seat and toilet bowl. Screw the nuts onto the bolts on the underside of the toilet. Turn the nuts with your fingers until they are tight, then use the pliers-screwdriver combination to turn each bolt another half turn--but no more. You want to be careful not to over tighten the screws or you could crack your porcelain toilet.

Raise and lower the seat and lid a few times to make sure they move freely. If the unit seems loose or has some play in it, give the nuts another quarter turn. Fit the plastic caps over the bolts and you're done.

Amazingly, that is all there is to it! Nothing could be easier and now you have a brand new, clean toilet seat. Clean the toilet itself and it'll look like new. In just a few minutes, this simple change will update your bathroom. Who doesn't want that?

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