If you’re fitting a toilet seat, it’s a relatively straightforward task that most people – even DIY novices – can tackle. If your toilet won’t flush, that’s another type of problem that we can help you solve.
Here we’ll show you how to fit a new toilet seat: how to find the correct toilet seat replacement by measuring the seat, how to best remove a toilet seat and how to fit a toilet seat for standard, soft close, and raised toilet seats. Follow our step-by-step guide and you’ll be sitting pretty in no time.
- How to measure a toilet seat
- Steps for fitting a standard toilet seat
- How to fit a soft close toilet seat
- How to fit a raised toilet seat
How to measure a toilet seat
Before you choose a replacement toilet seat you need to understand what kind of toilet seat fits your toilet bowl.
Are toilet seats a standard size? No, toilet seats come in three shapes: round-ended, D-shaped and pointed oval. You might be able to tell which one your toilet seat is just by looking at it. Plus they come in different sizes. Measure it – if it fits your toilet accurately, it won’t get loose or break, and it will last a lot longer.
The measurements you need are:
- The distance between the fixing holes at the back of the toilet – this is usually the industry standard measurement of 155mm, but some toilets are non-standard so it’s always worth checking
- The width of the toilet bowl at the widest point
- The measurement between the front of the toilet and the point directly between the fixing holes at the back of the toilet.
Other style/practicality points to consider
There are a couple of other considerations when choosing a replacement toilet seat:
There are two main types of hinges, and two more available add-on features:
- A bottom fixing hinge is the more common and traditional type. It has two bolts that fit down into your toilet bowl, which you tighten from underneath.
- Top fixing hinges are used when there’s no access to the bottom of the bowl, like modern one-piece style toilets, so they go on top instead.
- You can also get quick release hinges that let you easily remove the seat and lid from the bowl, making it easier to clean the toilet.
- Soft close hinges feature a hygienic, slow release system that cuts out any annoying slamming noises.
Material and style
There are a number of different finishes and practical considerations to take into account when choosing your toilet seat. Take time picking something that suits your needs and your style. You’ll use it everyday, after all.
Once you’ve got your correctly sized, perfectly styled replacement, it’s time to get the old toilet seat off.
How to remove a toilet seat
If there’s already a toilet seat in place, you’ll need to remove it.
- Open the bolt caps to get access to the bolts or winged nuts on either side of the seat at the back. You only have to pry them upwards gently with your finger or a screwdriver. Using too much force will cause damage.
- If your winged nut, or nut and bolt under each side of the bowl is metal, you may need to use some penetrating oil like WD40 and take a 10-minute break to allow the oil to do its job.
- Spray the nuts, holding a cloth behind the nut to avoid the WD40 coating the entire area with super-slippery lubrication, and leave for a while. Then use your pliers to try and turn the nut and loosen it. Usually this works, but if it doesn’t we’d really suggest that you consider hiring a professional, as every other way of getting the old toilet seat off is likely to contain a degree of risk.
- If you’re lucky and it’s a set of plastic wing nuts, just twiddle them off and the old toilet seat can be lifted out. This is a great time to clean the toilet by squirting the whole area with anti-bacterial spray.
Fitting a toilet seat
This guide is for standard toilets, read on for fitting other toilet types.
It’s important to give yourself enough time to fit a toilet seat. While it doesn’t take longer than an hour to fit a new or replacement toilet seat, you definitely don’t want people bugging you while you’re taking your time to do this job just right.
The key tips to getting a perfectly fitting toilet seat are:
- Ensuring that the seat sits evenly around the edge of the bowl
- Tightening the nuts so they are securely seated but not over-tightened, as this can lead to the thread stripping on plastic nuts which can cause a wobbly toilet seat.
1. Gather your tools
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A set of spanners or a small adjustable wrench
- Your replacement toilet seat – some of these come with a complete set of fittings but a couple of 6 millimetre nuts are always useful to have around just in case.
2. Clean the toilet
Using an anti-bacterial spray around the area can blast some of the most common bacteria found in toilets.
By cleaning the toilet bowl and the whole area before you fit the toilet seat, you know you’re starting fresh and you’re not going to be at risk while working on it – or using it for the next few days. There’s a little refresher course on How to clean a toilet if you want an expert guide.
3. Wear protective gloves
Obviously it’s sensible to wear gloves because that helps to protect you against germs… but as many plumbers will tell you, it can be problematic to work in gloves because while the thinner ones allow you to feel what you’re doing, they are also prone to splitting.
Thicker gloves don’t split but they can prevent you using your sense of touch to monitor what you’re doing. So, at least start the job in gloves and if you have to take them off, coat your hands lightly with a barrier cream such as petroleum jelly, to ‘trap’ any bacteria which you can then rinse off your hands when the job is done.
4. Fit the toilet seat blind holes
Modern toilet seats generally have a bracket, two studding screws, some rubber washers and two plastic nuts. Fitting the toilet seat sounds pretty easy, but depending on the location of your toilet and its plumbing, you may have to fit the nuts blind. This is why they call them blind holes. Follow our steps on fitting the toilet seat blind holes:
- Fit the studding screws underneath the toilet seat bracket – there are usually two possible locations for them that will change the exact positioning of the seat (try one position first and see how it goes). Sometimes the studding is already attached.
- Place two rubber washers over the toilet pan holes to cushion the nuts.
- Lower the seat onto the pan so the studding screws go through the rubber washers and into the holes.
- Lower the seat to check that you’re happy with the position of the toilet and all of its contact points rest against the top of the pan.
- If you’re not happy, lift off the seat again and switch the position of the studding screws in the toilet seat bracket. If it’s way out, you didn’t measure your toilet seat properly!
- Happy? Now go underneath and on each side, add a rubber washer, then a metal washer and then thread the wingnut onto the studding screw – just loosely for now.
- Check the seat position again.
- Check that you can lift the whole seat and also just the lid to rest against the cistern.
- If needed, use your screwdriver to alter the action of the seat hinges via a locking screw placed below the hinges, which passes through the hinge plate.
- Finally, hand-tighten the wingnuts (but not too tight!) so that your toilet seat doesn’t move or go loose with use.
4. Position the toilet seat correctly
For fine tuning, rotate the hinge plate to allow you to get the fixing bolts into their holes. To move the entire toilet seat either forward or backward so that you can rest the seat against the cistern without falling, you can turn the hinge plates through 180 degrees.
Upmarket toilet seats have a range of holes into which the fixing bolts can be set. While this has the same effect of turning the hinge plate, it allows for finer tuning and a more precise fit.
How to fit a soft close toilet seat
Because these toilet seats are designed to close slowly,, they have special plastic plugs that fit into two holes in the seat, to slow the closure mechanism.
The process for fitting a soft close toilet seat is a little different to allow this mechanism to work, so follow the steps below:
- The brackets that accompany soft close toilet seats are specifically for the right or left side of the toilet, so double-check you have them in the right position.
- Proceed as with the standard toilet seat installation but insert the plastic plugs halfway into the holes.
- Now place a metal washer on the top of each plug.
- Set the hinge over the top of each washer, inserting the screws into each hold.
- Tighten the screws with a screwdriver.
- Now you can set the toilet seat over the connector that stands up from the hinges and you should find it snaps into place.
- Check everything is aligned and correct.
- Tighten the screws to ensure the seat is secure.
- Test the seat by allowing it to soft-close. Note that the soft-close hinge movement may be tight at first but it will ease after a few uses.
How to fit a raised toilet seat
A raised toilet seat helps older or mobility-impaired individuals use the toilet more comfortably.
It’s important to get the right position as a seat that’s too low can be uncomfortable and more difficult to stand back up from. The knees and hips of the person who’s going to use it should be at the same height when sitting. So before you fit the seat, it’s best to measure up to get it right:
- Measure the distance between the floor and the back of the person’s knee. This is the recommended seat height.
- Measure the current height of the seat, and subtract from the first measurement.
- The difference between the two is the measurement of raise required.
Raised toilet seats push-fit over most standard toilet bowls.
- Lift the seat and lid of the toilet
- Put the raised toilet seat in place so that the higher end is towards the rear of the toilet and the inner ring fits well over the toilet bowl.
- Push down in the raised toilet seat to install in the toilet bowl.
- Measure all the height adjustment clamps to double check they are at the same height.
- Some raised toilet seats have a clamp that attaches the front of the seat to the toilet bowl, just under the rim, so if that is the case, hand-tighten the clamp to secure the front of the raised toilet seat.
When to call the professionals
If you need help with installation and plumbing or any other issues with your toilet not flushing for example, we’re here to help.
Protect your home’s plumbing with HomeServe’s plumbing and drainage insurance. Relax knowing that if there’s a problem we’ll be on hand to keep life moving, so you can get on with your day.