Bathroom Fixture Installation Tips


Because there are so many model variations, it’s important to check the specific manufacturer installation instructions for every bathroom fixture you use. Here is a quick, general overview of how to install bathroom fixtures.


Item: Toilet

Skill Level: Beginner

Installing a toilet is a great beginner DIY project. To remove an existing toilet all you need to do is shut off the water line that runs to the toilet, flush it to get rid of as much excess water as possible, unscrew the bolts, and rock it back and forth to break it free of the wax seal. Then you can remove it – just be careful as there will still be some water in it! To install the new toilet you need to place a new wax seal over the flange, then lift and lower the toilet over the flange and seal, and hook everything back up. Consult the instruction manual for the specifics, but most beginners can do this in an hour or two.

Toilet Tips: When choosing a toilet there aren’t a whole lot of options to choose from. All you really need is something that’s comfortable and works well. Just remember if your toilet doesn’t come with a seat to get one that matches the dimensions (width and length) of the bowl.

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Item: Towel Bar & Toilet Paper Holder

Skill Level: Beginner

These two items go together because the installation methods are almost identical. In both cases you’ll want to determine the location and mark it on the wall. Starting on either the left or right side mark the holes for the mounting plate, then measure the length from end to end and mark the measurement on the other side. Make sure to use a level when marking the places for the mounting plates. If it ends up slanted it will drive you crazy. Measure once more just to be sure and then drill the holes. Most towel bars and TP holders will come with anchors and screws. Insert them in the hole and then secure the mounting plate as per the instructions. (Note: if you’re drilling into tile make sure you’re using the right drill bit for the material.)

Towel Bar and TP Holder Tips: While placement is a personal preference, towel bars are usually mounted 48” above the floor for adults and 30” above the floor for children,  and TP holders work best when placed 26”-28” above the floor.


Item: Shower Trim Kit

Skill Level: Beginner

Trim kits consist of showerheads, tub spouts, overflow covers and handles (with trim plates). It sounds like a lot but installation is actually very easy. For the most part all you have to do is screw them into place and in some cases use acrylic caulk to seal them. Trim plates get slightly more complicated if a diverter is required (it depends on what kind of valve you have) but even so it’s still considered a DIY project. All together installing these items should not take more than an hour.

Shower Valve Trim Tips: While installing the various pieces of a trim kit is easy, sometimes removing old trim kits can be difficult – particularly if they’re rusty. Make sure you’ve set aside enough time for removal as well as installation.

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Item: Vanity

Skill Level: Intermediate

Installing or switching out a vanity requires a bit more work than swapping out a toilet because you have to disconnect and then reconnect the hot and cold water lines and the drain. And if you currently have a vanity that is affixed to the wall it can take a little work to remove it. Depending on the kind of vanity you’re installing you may also need measure, mark, and drill holes for the drain and supply pipes.

Vanity Tips: Standard vanities are 24” wide and 18-24” deep, however if you have the space it’s a good idea to go for a 36” vanity or wider. This will provide you with more storage and more counter space. It will also allow for a larger sink and accommodate a large mirror above it.


Item: Faucet

Skill Level: Intermediate

Changing a faucet is a DIY job that most people can accomplish fairly easily in a couple of hours, and it’s great for building your DIY confidence. The reason it’s considered an intermediate project is because it involves connecting water lines. But all things considered it’s pretty simple. Since faucet installations can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, follow the installation guidelines carefully.

Faucet Tips: Faucets come in one handle, two handle, and hands free versions. One handle and hands free versions have a clean and modern look, while two handle faucets tend to be more classic. Keep in mind that hands free versions are powered by either batteries or via a grounded outlet.

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Item: Tub

Skill Level: Advanced

Installing a tub is tricky for a couple of reasons. One is that it involves fitting a lot of complicated pieces together, but also it involves dealing with a very large item in an often small space. And if you’ve opted for cast iron you’re really going to face some challenges. Unless you’re very confident with your plumbing skills it’s best to hire a professional.

Tub Tips: In the majority of cases you know ahead of time if you need a left hand or right hand drain. The drain for the tub is a fixed position in the floor, so when purchasing you need to make sure the position of the drain opening in the tub aligns with the position on the floor. Since there is an apron on one side it’s not possible to flip it around.


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