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Full bathroom remodel, part 8: finish with fixtures

Jim Mallery | Improvement Center Columnist | March 2, 2015

budget for bathroom remodel

Last of an eight-part series on bathroom remodeling

You've done so much work; parts 1 through 7 of this series had you ripping out the old and installing the new -- new floor, new shower, new vanity and counter. But your bathroom-renovation story is still full of holes -- holes for the toilet and the sinks. It's time to fill them.

Installing the toilet

Why get a new toilet? Let me count the ways:

  1. Better flush rates (and flush success)
  2. Harder, smoother surfaces that stay cleaner
  3. Higher seats (Why were old toilets built so low to the ground?)
  4. Colors that match your new sinks and décor

If you recall way back when you yanked the toilet out, there's not much that holds it to the floor -- just two bolts that attach to the flange in the floor and a bead of caulking around the base. A wax ring seals the outlet of the toilet to the drain. The ring is just pressed into place as you set the toilet; there are no other clamps or other connectors to the drain or floor.

The new toilet probably comes with a wax ring and mounting bolts. But if you have a new stone floor, especially if it's heated, that kit is worthless. It is designed for standard-thickness floors, and yours is much thicker. You will need to buy a kit for extra-deep mounting -- a deeper wax ring and longer mounting bolts. You must have enough wax so that it squashes down when you put the toilet in place. Don't worry; the kits cost only a few dollars and are available at the big-box stores.

If you were not careful to keep mortar and tile away from the bolt slips in the flange, you will need to chisel enough room to get the bolt heads into the flange. (It's much easier to leave enough room for the bolts as you lay the floor than to chip it out after.) Usually the bolts come with plastic slip-washers that press down against the flange to hold the bolts upright.

With the bolts in place in the floor, put the wax ring over the outlet on the bottom of the toilet and lift the toilet into place. You must feel the ring squish against the flange so that you know a good seal was made.

Note: the wax ring needs to be warm; a wax ring that's been sitting in a cold car in the middle of a Midwest winter will not squish!

Place the washer over the bolts and tighten the nuts; don't tighten too tight or you could crack the porcelain. You may have to cut off the top of the bolts with a grinder or hacksaw to get enough room to snap the plastic caps over them. Finish with a bead of caulking around the base of the toilet.

If the tank is not already connected to the toilet bowl, and if the innards of the toilet are not already in place, just follow the directions. It's not too complicated.

You will have to buy the supply line to run from the water valve in the wall to the toilet. Measure the length you need -- they typically come in 12- and 20-inch lengths.

Installing the sinks

There are three options for sinks: undermounted, clamped and caulked.

An undermount sink can be used with slab countertops, and your slab fabricator will mount the sink when he installs the countertop. The fabricator must have the sink in advance to accurately cut and polish the opening.

placement of sink clips

Some sinks are held to the counter with clamps or clips.

 

Clamped sinks are held in place with clamps that tighten against the underside of the countertop. You may have to cut away one layer of plywood to create enough room for the clamp. The edge of the sink is then caulked.

caulking a sink

The underside of the lip of the sink is coated with a bead of caulking, ready to be put in place. Notice the faucet and supply lines are already in place, much easier than attaching them after the sink is mounted.

 

finished sink installed

With the sink in place, the water-supply lines need to be screwed into the valves and the drain needs to be installed.

 

The third option is to simply use a bead of caulk around the underside of the outer edge. Don't be concerned; it holds quite firmly.

sink installed

The sink is set in place on its anchoring bead of caulking.

 

Whichever sink you use, it's best to attach the faucet, water lines and drain before the sink is mounted. That's much easier than squeezing under the vanity to make connections after the sink is installed.

The drain

glue ABS

drain adapter

A coat of ABS glue is applied to the drainpipe at the wall for the drain adapter.

 

sink drain

The trap is in place. The old trap had been glued to the ABS pipe at the wall. Because a drain adapter has been glued to the drainpipe, all the connections for the trap are threaded.

 

Your faucet set should come with a drain tailpipe, but you might have to buy a trap kit. Your original trap may have been ABS (black plastic) pipe glued to the 1½-inch ABS coming out of the wall. You probably will find it easiest to cut off the old trap and glue a new adapter onto the pipe in the wall; the adapter will give you a threaded fitting to the new trap.

sinks and mirror installed

With sinks and mirror installed, the project is complete.

 

With toilet and sinks installed, about all you have left is attaching your baseboard and vanity kickboard, and mounting towel racks, robe hooks and other accouterments of a finely finished bathroom.

Bingo! Flush with success, you are done!

About the Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding homes.

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