How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – install the closet flange, wax toilet gasket and mount the new toilet. This project is continued from How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 11. See the series introduction for the project index.
Drake Toilet by TOTO
I’m real particular about toilets because many models flush poorly – which in my opinion is the majority of toilets.
To choose a toilet, I studied Consumer Reports when I remodeled the master bathroom at my prior home. Consumer Reports rated rated the TOTO Ultramax toilet as one of the very best at flushing. The Ultramax and Drake models both use the Toto G-Max Flushing System, which is very effective and gets the job done with 1.6 gallons. When you flush a Toto toilet with the G-Max system, the water level just “falls away” without all that churning and splashing of a cheap toilet.
The difference between the Toto Ultramax and Drake models is that the Ultramax is a more expensive one-piece toilet; and the Toto Drake is a less expensive two-piece toilet. For the basement bathroom, I felt the extra cost of the Ultramax was not justified. If I were upgrading the master bathroom, I’d go with the Toto Ultramax.
Unpacking the TOTO Drake Toilet
The TOTO Drake toilet is packed in three boxes containing the bowl, tank and seat.
If you’ve ever wondered how a toilet is designed, here’s a couple of photos:
Toilet bowl top view:
Bottom view (upside down) of the toilet bowl:
How to Install a Toilet Closet Flange
A closet flange is a pipe fitting that connects the toilet to the soil stack (waste pipe) in the floor. I bought an Oatey Level Fit PVC Closet Flange with Metal Ring. The PVC base of the closet flange is glued to the PVC waste pipe in the floor and the metal flange is fastened with four 3/16″ x 2-3/4″ Tapcon concrete anchor screws. I placed an old newspaper on the tile floor to catch any drips because the PVC purple primer will permanently stain the tile.
Toilet Closet Flange Installation Steps
- Make sure the PVC waste pipe is clean and dry.
- Coat the PVC surfaces of the closet flange and soil pipe with purple primer. The primer dries in seconds.
- When the purple primer is dry, swab on PVC glue.
- Mount the flange even with the floor – work quickly before the PVC glue sets!
- Adjust the closet flange metal ring (it rotates around the plastic hub) such that the two long T-bolt slots for the toilet base are roughly parallel to the wall (see the 2nd photo below). Adjust the red metal ring such that the narrow end of T-bolt slots are at the 3:30 and 9:30 o’clock positions such that the toilet base can be adjusted left or right a bit so it’s pointing straight out from the wall.
- Mark and drill holes for the Tapcon concrete anchors. I used four 3/16″ x 2-3/4″ Philips head Tapcon concrete anchor screws. The toilet flange has holes for six mounting screws, but four Tapcon’s set in concrete is more than enough.
- Drive in the Tapcon anchor screws.
- Place the T-bolts in the slots of the metal flange.
Drilling Holes in Porcelain Tile for the Tapcon Anchors
Porcelain tile is extremely hard and difficult to drill with standard concrete and masonry drill bits – a masonry drill bit will wear out while barely making a dent in the tile. I used a 3/16″ DW5570 Dewalt diamond drill bit at low speed to avoid overheating to drill through the tile. After the tile was drilled, I switched to a 5/32″ x 4-1/2″ masonry bit to drill the full depth in the concrete subfloor. Tip: Rotate the closet flange red metal ring to position the widest part of the T-bolt slot over the previously marked screw positions on the tile floor before drilling so you don’t damage the ring mounting holes.
Install the Wax Gasket and Mount the Toilet
The toilet base is laid upside down a piece of cardboard to protect the glazed finish from the tile floor. The wax sealing ring must be pressed onto the toilet base before setting it on the closet flange. The wax toilet gasket is available at any home improvement store for about $5. Be sure to get the package that includes the rubber flange and T-bolts.
The wax toilet gasket is pressed against the bottom of the toilet. The T-bolts are placed in the closet flange slots and held by the white plastic retaining washers as shown. I’m ready to set the toilet in place over the closet flange and over the T-bolts:
Steps for mounting the toilet on the closet flange:
- Have a helper because you’ll need to lift the toilet and set it down over both T-bolts; it’s awkward and challenging to see both bolts.
- Lift the toilet by the sides and straddle it between your legs, standing bowlegged. This centers the weight of the toilet directly beneath you.
- Gently lower toilet onto T-bolts and set it on the closet flange. Ask your helper to guide the left side of the toilet over the T-bolt while you’re watching the right bolt. The toilet is too bulky to see both T-bolts at once.
- When the wax gasket makes contact, press down firmly on the toilet to fully seat it on the closet flange. Slowly apply your full body weight as you want the toilet in full contact with the floor with no rocking or twisting. Wax may squeeze out through the bolt holes on the toilet base – this is OK.
- Do not lift the toilet off the floor after it’s seated on the wax seal because you can break the wax seal. If the wax seal is damaged you’ll have to get a new gasket, pull the toilet and start over.
After the toilet is firmly seated onto the closet flange the washers and nuts are placed on the T-bolts and tightened until snug:
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take care not over tighten the nuts. The toilet base can crack it you over do it!
The T-bolt’s that came with the wax ring toilet gasket are designed to snap-off so the plastic toilet caps to fit over the bolt and nut. Unfortunately, the T-bolt was still too long, so I used my Dremel tool and cutoff wheel to shorten the bolt stem.
The toilet bowl mounted to the tile floor:
Install the Toilet Tank
The TOTO Drake toilet tank comes with the fill valve, flapper and toilet handle pre-installed and properly adjusted. I only need to install the brass toilet tank mounting bolts and tank-to-bowl rubber gasket as shown:
The tank is set on the toilet bowl and bolted into place. The TOTO Drake installation instructions say to hand tighten the bolts first, then evenly tighten both sides until the tank makes three points of contact – two front and one rear. The tank is bolted to the toilet bowl:
The working parts of the Toto Drake toilet tank. The fill valve and flush mechanism are factory installed and adjusted except for the two brass bolts at the bottom of the tank. Very neat and simple looking!
TOTO SoftClose Toilet Seat
The TOTO SoftClose toilet seat is simple to install using the nylon bolts and nuts. No tools are required!
A happy toilet! To remove, just peel the plastic label off the toilet seat cover:
Toilet Water Supply Connector
Water supply hose is ready for hookup. I prefer the metal braided water hoses for dependability. These are available at any home improvement store.
The toilet connector plastic wing nut hand-tightened on the toilet fill valve below the toilet tank. A small wrench is required to tighten the compression nut on the water shutoff valve at the wall:
The toilet installation is complete and ready for “business”:
Grout the Toilet Bowl
The base of the toilet is grouted to seal the bottom, improve appearances and give it a rock-solid wiggle-free fit on the tile floor. Grout has limited adhesion (glue) properties so it won’t be a problem if I ever need to remove the toilet for repairs.
Some plumbers prefer not to grout the toilet base. I’ve seen it done both ways when visiting bathrooms with tile floors in office buildings, malls and restaurants. In my opinion grouting the toilet base provides extra stability so the wax seal is not disturbed. (BTW – I would not caulk or seal a toilet base installed on a wood floor; use shims if needed to stabilized the toilet base so it doesn’t wiggle. You don’t want a leak to go undetected on a wood floor.)
About two handfuls of the tile grout are placed in an old coffee container:
The grout is mixed with a small amount of water. Start with not enough water, mix and add a small amount until a stiff consistency is obtained. Let the grout slag up for 10 to 15 minutes and remix.
Work the grout into the joint between the toilet and the floor using your fingers and smooth. I’m wearing a latex glove because the winter weather dries out my skin and the grout would make it worse.
The wet grout after it’s been freshly applied. Allow the grout to cure for 2 or 3 hours before sponging off the excess:
The toilet bowl and tile floor after cleaning the excess grout with a wet sponge and water.
The grout is fully cured grout after 24 hours. Seal the grout with a good quality grout sealant so it won’t absorb water and darken over time, such as when mopping the floor.
The vanity, faucet and drain plumbing hookups are installed and the sewage pump tested in How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 13.
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