Caulking Around Toilets
Updating a Bathroom
First Aid for the Bathroom
Dear Natural Handyman,
There was a bad piece of advice in your last newsletter. I am a home inspector, and one should never under any circumstances caulk around a toilet base. You need to allow the moisture to run out in case the wax seal or something else breaks or you take the chance of rotting the sheathing and growing strange critters! I'd like to hear back your comments on this!
Your concern is well based, and if a leak occurs under the toilet, there will be moisture-related problems. But "silent" leaks can occur under any toilet. I have seen countless rotten floors where water has leaked from a toilet underneath vinyl flooring, with no caulk in sight! Loosening of the toilet over time or just poor installation practice can cause leakage. Also, many slow toilet leaks never appear until severe damage is done to the subfloor. Moisture takes residence under the finished flooring, be it vinyl or ceramic tile, and does its dirty work in secret.
To make the blanket statement that caulking is an absolute no-no needs some clarification and, as with most home repairs, needs to leave some room for a little improvisation.
Caulk around the base keeps water from getting under the toilet. One such source of moisture is dripping from tank condensation, when humid air liquefies as it touches the cold toilet tank. In this circumstance, judicious application of caulk can actually protect the naked wood under the toilet from damage!
Using grout, caulk or even using plumber's putty around the base of a toilet to stabilize it is common practice precisely because it is not always practical to rip up a perfectly good bathroom floor and replace it just because the floor is not perfectly level. Though shims alone can stabilize a toilet, they also cause pressure points on the porcelain which can lead to cracking or breakage.
So let me clarify. I do not recommend that anyone routinely caulk around the base of an otherwise stable toilet. However, if a toilet rocks severely due to a poorly leveled floor, partial or complete caulking can be helpful, along with appropriate use of non-rotting shims for the initial stabilization. Also, if there is severe condensation-caused dripping off the tank, partial caulking at the bowl-floor seam may be helpful in keeping moisture from seeping under the toilet.
Have a small home repair question for THE NATURAL HANDYMAN? Just click here naturalhandyman.com/aitikia. For more home repair information, visit NH's growing list of original home repair articles and quality links naturalhandyman.com. If this information has been valuable to you, please consider making a small donation to support NH's free service to the home repair community! For more information, please visit our "Friends" page naturalhandyman.com/friends.
The Natural Handyman Site Directory
- Home Repair Articles naturalhandyman.com/iip
- Home Repair Links Library naturalhandyman.com/linkslibrary
- NH's Bookshop naturalhandyman.com/bookshop
- Find a handyman at naturalhandyman.com/network
- Win unique home repair gifts and prizes at naturalhandyman.com/contest. Please read the important copyright and disclaimer information is located at naturalhandyman.com/copyright
Also in Home
- Downsizing to a smaller house
- How to clean a stone fireplace
- Clear out Christmas clutter
- Romantic bedrooms on a budget
- Cleaning dryer vents
- Helping a packrat get organized
- Convenient floor cleaners
- 6 reasons you shouldn't overimprove your home
- 5 simple and affordable luxuries for your home
- 7 green ways to save money on laundry
- 6 ways to organize your home in the new year
- 6 ways to save on home heating
- 6 cheap, effective home security solutions
- Find the best mortgage rates in your area
- 3 ways to use a mortgage calculator
- Mortgage calculator: Calculate your payment and more
- Home equity calculator: HELOC vs. line of credit
- Mortgage refinance break-even calculator
- How much money can I borrow for a mortgage?
- Who offers the most home insurance discounts?