The bathroom’s finished floor has been installed and your house is almost ready—the only thing missing is a commode. You’ve done your research on how to pick and position one, but what you don’t know is this: should you caulk around a toilet?
Caulking is recommended to secure the toilet to the floor and enhance the bathroom’s appearance. It may be required depending on your building code or the laws of the state you’re located.
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What Is Toilet Caulking?
Before we answer why you need to caulk, let’s discuss first what it is. Caulk is a combination of acrylic and latex materials, and it comes in white or clear. To apply caulk under the toilet, it’s best if we use a tool called a caulking gun.
Usually interchanged with a sealant, the difference between the two is the elasticity since acrylic latex caulk is more rigid. However, there is also a silicone caulk variation which can cost more but is excellent for high moisture or humidity places.
To wrap our heads around the two, we consider sealant a kind of caulk. After all, we can use them to seal around the bottom of the toilet.
Pros and Cons of Caulking Around a Toilet
Are you supposed to caulk the toilet? To help you make the decision, we will lay down the pros and cons of doing so.
- Secures the toilet
Caulking stabilizes the toilet not secured to the floor. So it’s not only the flange and wax ring that keeps the toilet rocking side by side, the use of silicone or caulk does too.
- Prevent Mold and Fungi
Caulking around the toilet base prevents water from getting under the toilet. The water we’re referring to may be from cleaning the floors, showers, or bathtub.
No caulk leads to stagnant water accumulating under the base; it can become the perfect place for mold and fungi because it’s wet and there’s moisture.
- Provide a Cleaner Finish
To put caulking around the toilet is just like putting a skirting board around the wall—we aim to cover the gap.
When we install our toilets, there may be a tiny gap between the floor and the base. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unstable; it can be just the normal result when connecting the toilet to the flange.
Caulking gives a neat toilet base surround, usually with the color white. You can choose the liquid with a gun or pick toilet caulk tape, but the latter may not stick well to wooden or vinyl floors.
- Keep the Sewer Smell from Entering the Bathroom
That gap we mentioned can be a passage for sewer gases or odor from the commode’s bottom to come out and make the bathroom stink. To prevent this inconvenience and hygiene issue, we have to caulk the base of the toilet.
- Follows Plumbing Standards
It’s in the International Plumbing Code (IPC) and Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) to create a water-tight seal around the fixtures in contact with the floors and walls.
Although these codes may not be reinforced nationally, they may be by state or local building codes. Caulking is also considered a plumbing norm by many.
- An Extra Barrier to Toilet Repairs
If a toilet caulked to the floor has to be removed for repairs, you will have to remove the old caulk, which will mean extra work. If done improperly, it can also damage the floors.
Also, if the old caulk layers become damaged or infested with mold, you will have to take time and effort to recaulk the toilet.
- Misconception: It May Hide Toilet Leaks
Some homeowners believe that to caulk the bottom of the toilet is equal to hiding potential leaks. And if the latter goes on undiscovered, it will damage the floors.
However, this is not substantial as toilet leaks normally show on the floor below, which you will see in the ceiling of the basement or the room downstairs. And besides, we don’t caulk the back of the toilet!
When Should I Not Caulk?
Do not seal the toilet to the floor if the toilet requires repairs because you or the plumber will have to remove it in the end.
Some of the signs that your commode needs to be fixed that includes uninstalling it from the floor, are:
- water leaking from the base
- leaks or damage on the ceiling, which is the floor above where the toilet is installed
- sewer smell coming out from the base
- unstable or shaky toilet
Therefore, only apply sealant for the toilet base after these problems have been addressed.
What Kind of Caulk Can I Use?
Now that we’ve answered the question of whether should toilets be caulked, this section will tell the kind of caulk you can use.
The best caulk is 100% silicone for the toilet because it will deal with water and moisture. This is also resistant to mold and discoloration.
Another caulk for the toilet base is acrylic latex with silicone. Latex-acrylic alone is not too resistant to water; hence we should choose the one with silicone to get this property combined with more flexibility.
How to Caulk Around Toilet
What to prepare:
- caulking gun
- caulk (preferably silicone)
- profiling tool (or a similar one)
- spray bottle with mixed soap and water
- cloth or paper towel
Step 1. Once the toilet is in place, grab the caulking gun and caulk around the toilet by pushing forward instead of pulling the gun backward; the caulk line will be more seamless this way.
Step 2. Do not caulk the back of the toilet to make a passage for potential leaks and to easily remove the commode in the future.
Step 3. You may go over the area again and put in additional caulk if necessary. Once done, get a profiling tool and hold it at a 90-degree angle.
Slide the profiling tool in one direction to remove the excess caulk and make the base more seamless. Using a cloth or paper towel, wipe away the caulk build-up from the tool
Step 4. You can use the spray bottle with mixed soap and water around the areas touched by the caulk and wipe them afterward. Be careful not to spray on the toilet base.
5. Wait for 24 hours for the caulk to dry; don’t touch or get it wet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is It Necessary to Replace Toilet Caulk? How Often?
We advise you to re-caulk the toilet every 5 years despite being intact. This is to prevent damage that may occur past that time period, such as breaking down or being infested by mold.
But if you notice the old caulk developing the following even in less than five years, then it’s time to replace it:
- cracks or peeling (caulk breaking down)
- old caulk turning yellow or turning brown (mold)
What Is the Alternative to Caulking Around the Toilet?
If you’re looking for alternatives to use for caulking the base of your toilet, you may try these products:
- Epoxy sealant. This product works for almost anything, but the drawback is its glossiness which may look out of place if your bathroom floors are plain and matte.
- Sealant tape. You have to peel and stick this at the base of the toilet. However, applying it can be challenging since you have to avoid air pouches. It also doesn’t stick to vinyl or wooden flooring.
- Mortar or grout. They can secure the toilet to the floor but are not waterproof and flexible. Hence they may break down quickly.
To make our toilet last, we must provide it with proper maintenance. So to answer the question, should you caulk around a toilet? Definitely yes.
Aside from caulking may be a requirement in your building or state, it helps secure the toilet in place and prevents water from seeping under the commode, which can cause mold. Caulking also keeps away sewer smell and gives the bathroom a neat finish.