Caulking around a toilet base is a reason for heated debate. Some claim it’s absolutely necessary. Others say that the wax seal and bolts are enough to keep the bowl grounded.
If you’re not an expert, the whole thing can be confusing: should you caulk or not?
You should always caulk around the toilet base. Caulking can help mask gaps and imperfections between the toilet base and the floor. It prevents germs and creepy crawlers from finding a home under the bowl. It also makes any spills very easy to wipe clean. Moreover, sealing the toilet base to the floor is required by the code.
5 Reasons To Caulk Around Your Toilet
Non-caulking adepts sometimes claim that caulking around the toilet base is dated. However, there are plenty of reasons to seal the base to the floor.
1. The Code Requires It
The first and most important reason to caulk around the toilet base is the plumbing code requirement.
Both the Universal and the International Plumbing Codes require homeowners to seal all joints between a fixture and a wall or a floor with waterproof sealant. This includes the toilet base.
Sure, the code is easy to ignore if you don’t want to sell your home in the near future. If you do, though, an unsealed toilet base might be the reason why your house doesn’t pass the inspection.
2. It Is More Hygienic
Another thing that people in the no-caulking team claim is that the wax seal between the toilet and the floor drain is enough to prevent leaks.
True, the wax seal prevents leaks from the drain. However, it doesn’t stop urine spills and other liquids on the floor from seeping under the toilet bowl.
Stagnant water under the toilet provides the perfect environment for mold and other germs to thrive. Once mold and fungus develop, they are very hard to eradicate. Even more so since you won’t be able to disinfect properly under the toilet.
A bead of silicone caulk around the base of the toilet prevents urine and other spills from getting under the bowl, maintaining your bathroom cleaner.
3. Added Stability
In a perfect world, a toilet base would always sit perfectly flush on the floor. In reality, floors are rarely perfectly straight. The base of your toilet might not be perfectly straight either, and the gaps between the two surfaces could leave the toilet a bit wobbly.
While the wax seal and bolts generally fasten the toilet bowl securely, the jiggling can still be unsettling.
This is where caulk steps in. Caulking around the toilet base can add stability, securing the fixture firmly to the floor.
4. Neat Finish
The gaps mentioned above not only make the toilet move from side to side when using it; they also look awkward.
A bead of solid color caulk – preferably in the color of your toilet or that matches your floor – can mask all imperfections.
5. Prevents Bugs From Getting Under The Toilet
By sealing the toilet base, you can also prevent bugs from finding a home under the toilet.
Some of the most common insects that can live in your bathroom include centipedes, silverfish, cockroaches, and drain flies. Spiders can also find shelter under an unsealed toilet base, alongside ants and gnats.
If you want to prevent them from crawling under the toilet, make sure to seal from the wall and floor joint on one side to the wall and floor joint on the other side of the base.
Why Some People Claim Caulking Is Unnecessary
We already mentioned that some people advise against caulking around the toilet. Their main reason is that a waterproof sealant works both ways: it prevents spills from getting under the toilet, but it also prevents leaks from getting out.
A perfectly sealed base means that you might not be able to detect leaks due to a faulty wax seal until it’s too late. Toilet base sweating issues will also be hard to notice.
However, there is a way to comply with the code and seal your toilet base while still being able to detect leaks. Simply leave a tiny portion seal-free behind the bowl.
How To Caulk Your Toilet Base: 3 Easy Steps
Sealing around the toilet base sounds complicated, but the project is easy enough for beginners. Gather the things below and follow the steps to complete the task successfully:
- Pure silicone caulk
- Caulking gun
- Latex gloves
- Sponge or brush
- All-purpose cleaner
- Silicone caulk stripper (optional)
- Masking tape
1. Prepare The Area
Sealing a toilet base with silicone caulk is easy, but the product won’t adhere to a dirty surface or old caulking.
It is crucial to clean the toilet base properly, peeling away all traces of old caulk. Using a chemical stripper is not always necessary, but it can make your job easier.
Once you’ve removed the old caulk, clean and degrease the surface (both the toilet base and the floor around the toilet) with an all-purpose cleaner. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and let it dry completely.
Now, protect the toilet base and floor with masking tape, leaving a free space of about 1/4th of an inch from the joint, both on the bowl and on the floor. Stick masking tape on the wall behind the toilet, too, to prevent silicone caulking from smudging it.
2. Seal The Toilet Base
Load the caulk tube in the caulk gun and apply a bead all around the toilet base, from wall to wall. Keep the tip at a 45-degree angle against the surface for a proper application.
Wipe away excess caulk with a gloved finger while pushing the product under the toilet base to seal the joint.
3. Remove The Tape & Inspect The Results
Gently remove the masking tape, pulling it from one side to the other. Do this right after you finish caulking, before the product dries, and pay attention not to remove the caulk bead while doing so.
Inspect the results and apply more caulk if necessary to mask any remaining gaps or imperfections.
Let the caulk dry and cure, preferably for 24 hours before using the toilet.
If this is the only toilet in your home, refer to the product label for drying and curing times. Ideally, don’t use the fixture until the caulk is fully dry. Most silicone caulks dry in about 30 to 60 minutes.
What Type Of Sealant Is Best To Use Around Toilet?
Pure silicone caulking is your best choice for sealing the toilet base. This material is 100% waterproof and provides a strong yet flexible adhesion.
Acrylic or hybrid (acrylic/silicone) caulk can also be used if you don’t have silicone caulk. However, both acrylic and hybrid sealants are generally only water-resistant, not fully waterproof.
Grout or mortar are common options, but we recommend avoiding them. Both materials absorb water and become stiff upon drying. They are more likely to crack, breaking the seal.
If you don’t want to use silicone caulk for one reason or another, epoxy sealants or peel-and-stick sealing strips are other good options.
Does Color Matter?
Yes, the sealant color matters, but only from an aesthetical standpoint. The two most common options are white and clear caulk. Both have pros and cons, so make sure to choose wisely.
You can also pick from a variety of other solid and translucent colors. However, check if your home improvement store carries silicone caulk colors other than white and clear – you can always buy it online if they don’t.
Caulking around the toilet base is always necessary. The plumbing code requires all fixture joints to be sealed with a waterproof sealer. You should also seal the joint to keep your bathroom cleaner, prevent pests from getting under the toilet base, and conceal gaps and imperfections. If you’re concerned about leak detection, leave a tiny unsealed space behind the bowl.