Are You Supposed to Caulk Around a Toilet or Not? (September 2022) Guide

A major and grueling discussion in plumbing concerns the question of whether or not to put caulk on the base of the toilet. Both sides are valid and professionals, including building inspectors and plumbers, prefer one and the other on their personal beliefs.

However, when you’re trying to build your own toilet What is the most effective solution?

Arguments in Support of Caulking

There are three main reasons that professionals do not recommend caulking the bottom of toilets. These reasons are backed up by research and experience, and have merit however there are arguments to support each one of these assertions.

Easier Repairs

The caulk around the base of toilets creates an additional barrier that can break between the bolts and seal of wax. For some floors, this can cause damage if removed incorrectly. It could also leave smear marks if it is applied incorrectly and is difficult to get rid of without harming the flooring’s surface.

Water Retention

The most compelling argument for caulking is it means that water leaks are more likely to be discovered. There’s always the possibility of a tiny leak being unnoticed, however larger leaks usually result in visible water seepage to the flooring. By sealing the base, the water will remain inside and could cause more damage until the problem is identified.

Wax Seals

The addition of a seal within the toilet is a further claim that is often made in opposition to caulking. The seal could be constructed from wax or rubber and in general, it prevents escape from the bottom. Although many believe that a seal made of wax has less of a function than caulking, the truth is that some plumbers think that wax rings as an adequate solution to the requirements of plumbing codes.

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Arguments in favor of Caulking

There are three good arguments for caulking the toilet’s base and one argument that’s questionable, however, it is included for the sake of completeness. The three other arguments have merit, but two of them contain arguments that are counter to the claims.

Aesthetics

While it’s not an argument that is convincing particularly with color-coordinated models, many experts say that toilets appear better if there is no apparent seam in the middle. This advantage isn’t any compelling argument however it is often utilized to convince homeowners. Since it’s not commonplace to pay attention to the bottom of a toilet and the appearance of the toilet is not enough to establish the case.

Moisture Prevention

Although some people are concerned about leaks being invisible, those who advocate caulking believe that it will have the opposite effect. When you caulk around the base of the toilet, water from outside the toilet is unable to move into the toilet. This makes it less likely that the floor beneath your toilet will get affected in case of a leaking sink, or another cause for flooding in the bathroom.

Plumbing Codes

There are two main plumbing codes that require the use of caulk around the base of the toilet. The codes aren’t always implemented, however some inspections of homes will flag it as a needed repair for your home. The two codes at issue are:

  • International Plumbing Code (2012 edition) Chapter 4 Section 405.5 states that joints formed that connect fixtures with floors or walls should be sealed.
  • Uniform Plumbing Code (2009 edition) Chapter 4 Section 407.2 states that when the fixture is in contact with the floor or wall the connection between the fixture and the floor or wall is to be watertight.
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The caulking opponents say they believe that the wax rings already does the job, but those who support it believe that the ring is not enough to ensure conformance.

Uneven Surfaces

One reason that experts are in agreement can be that caulking bottom of a toilet on an uneven floor can improve stability and significantly lower the possibility of leaks forming. Placing toilets on a sloping flooring prevents proper sealing and makes the toilet to become less stable over time. This can cause damage to or break the wax seal, which could result in leaks.

Take The Middle Ground

Although it may seem like the least used, there’s an alternative that considers both sides of the argument and evaluates the options on a case-by basis. Many professionals opt for this route unless they are required to take a specific path by their employers or by local code enforcement.

The people who opt for the middle path must consider the following considerations while working from home environment:

  • Do you have a toilet that is located on a slope? If yes, the base should be sealed.
  • The bathroom could be susceptible to flooding because of the presence of children or other causes?
  • If the base is caulked there will be a tiny gap that will typically be left at the back of the toilet to enable homeowners to identify leaks coming from the toilet.
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