Hands wearing blue nitrile gloves hold a scraper against a below-grade toilet flange.
Trade Talk

Essential plumber supplies to install a toilet flange

New plumbers quickly learn how to handle common plumbing issues like leaky pipes, clogs and running toilets, but toilet and flange replacement happens a bit less often.

Although it isn’t an everyday plumbing issue, completing the job efficiently—without spending time running around for missing parts and supplies—can help demonstrate your professional value to your customers.

To make sure you’re ready for every type of job, find out when replacement is necessary and the essential plumber parts and supplies you need to install a toilet flange, plus when to set it above or flush with the floor.

Signs your customer needs toilet flange replacement

A properly installed toilet and flange won’t often need replacement, but there are signs when something has gone wrong. If your customer complains the toilet is leaking around the base, wobbling or shaking, you’ll likely need to replace the flange. If an object that’s too big is flushed and can’t be plunged or snaked out, removing the toilet may be necessary.

If the commode is cracked, even if it hasn’t already begun leaking, you’ll need to replace both the toilet and the flange. Remodels and new construction also call for a new flange.

Plumber’s checklist: closet flange repair kit

Before you set out for a service call, build your own closet flange repair kit to be ready for whatever the job calls for. Check out the essential plumbing parts and tools you’ll need for toilet flange replacement.

Different toilet flange types and sizes

The standard closet flange size is either 3" or 4", but there are also nonstandard sizes and offset options in case you need to move the toilet location itself. It’s a good idea to keep at least standard sizes in your van, but you’ll also want to choose a material that matches the drain pipe.

Toilet flange types come in plastic (PVC), cast iron, copper and brass. PVC is the most common material used, but knowing how to work with all of them is essential. Keep in mind that stainless steel options are available in rings, for protection, and are perfect for repairing of damaged flanges.

Toilet wax rings

To match the flange size for the job, you’ll want wax rings of each size in your toolkit, too. You’ll also want to have each size of wax ring in both regular and extra thick so you’re prepared to install above or flush with the floor.

There are also wax-free and rubber toilet rings, but these are sometimes more difficult to work with.

Pro tip: Leave the wax rings in your van or on the dashboard if it’s warm outside. They’ll become more pliable and easier to work with.

Closet bolts

Also called toilet bolts or T-bolts, closet bolts secure the flange to the flooring. They come in a range of sizes as well, commonly 1/4" or 5/16". Standard T-bolt length is 2-1/4", but extra-long bolts are available for when you need to go through multiple or thick layers of flooring.

Closet bolt material includes brass, plastic, stainless steel and brass plated, among many others. Although a bit more expensive, brass is the professional’s choice because it resists rust and corrosion and has a bit of give.

Toilet flange extenders

If you’re having trouble creating a leak-free seal with your wax rings, toilet flange spacers allow you to extend above the floor. They fit inside the flange to provide more room for easier alignment. After sealing the plastic spacer to the flange, you’ll secure it with screws.

Tools plumbers need to replace toilet flanges

After making sure you have all the plumbing parts you’ll need, double-check that your tools are in good working order. You’ll need the following plumbing tools for closet flange replacement:

Depending on the pipe materials, you may also need PVC cement and adhesive remover for older glue.

These are all the parts and supplies you should need for a flange project. Check out a few tips about whether to set the flange above or flush with the floor, as well as mounting kits for skirted toilets.

Setting a toilet flange: above or flush with the floor?

Setting a toilet flange above the floor is the most common method, but occasionally professional plumbers choose to set it flush with the floor. Each method is right for different circumstances—the key point is to understand the advantages and disadvantages so you can make the right decision.

Toilet flange above floor

“Above floor” means the bottom of the flange is placed higher than the finished floor, typically about 1/4" above. This provides just enough space for the rubber or wax ring to seal tightly to prevent water from escaping. Then, you’ll use closet bolts to further anchor the part to the floor.

Installing a toilet flange above the floor increases protection against toilet leaks in the future. But if flooring isn’t yet installed, the extra distance creates a larger margin for error and the toilet could become shaky. Use toilet shims or different lengths of closet bolts to guard against this instability.

If the bathroom flooring is already finished, setting the toilet flange above floor level is usually the better option.

Toilet flange flush with floor

Sometimes, setting a toilet flange flush with floor level is the right method for the job. When bathroom floors aren’t yet finished, plumbers can still move forward with the project by setting the toilet flange flush with the floor. You might also want to choose this method if you don’t want to cut or work around the existing flooring.

Another advantage of installing flush with the floor is that it eliminates the possibility of an unstable toilet caused by a flange mounted too high.

On the other hand, it can be more difficult to create a leak-free seal with this method. Make sure the rubber or wax ring and the toilet flange itself are level. Use toilet flange extenders if necessary.

Mounting kits for installing a skirted toilet

The sleeker skirted toilets and flanges have the same plumbing setup as traditional toilets. Typically they’ll come with the trapway that you’ll need to secure with mounting bolts to the flange.

Newer models may come with a mounting kit so you can avoid the extra drilling and steps to make sure it’s level and securely fastened. Check out the manufacturer’s recommendations before arriving at the jobsite to make sure you have the supplies you’ll need for the job.

Partner with Ferguson for supplies to install a toilet flange

Ferguson has a vast inventory so you can find what you need to complete every job on time and on budget. Visit your local Ferguson Counter for up-to-date product details and assistance from our knowledgeable associates.