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What to Know Before You Start Painting Behind the Toilet
If you are painting your bathroom, you probably need to paint behind your toilet tank. Unfortunately, the toilet is probably far enough away from the wall that you'll see the wall behind it, so you don’t want to leave it unpainted, but the darn tank is also too close to the wall to get a paint roller in behind it. So what can you do to get that little bit of wall painted? I’ll tell you.
- You are going to have to take the tank off of the toilet bowl. The tank is the top piece, and the bowl is the bottom piece you sit on.
- You can do this job yourself if you can turn the water off and if you have a crescent wrench, a set of pliers, and a flat head screwdriver.
Start by Turning Off the Water to the Toilet
First thing to do is get the water turned off to the toilet. If you have a shut-off valve right at the toilet, then you’re in luck. This is the easiest scenario. Turn the handle to turn the water off. If you do not have a shut-off valve at the toilet, you can turn the water off at your water meter if you have access to it. Find the main source of water into your home and you will find the water meter valve.
How to Take the Tank Off the Toilet Bowl
- First, make sure the water is turned off by flushing the toilet and looking inside of the tank to see that there is no water coming in.
- Next, you need to get as much water out of the tank as possible. You can do this by holding down on the lever you press down when you are flushing the toilet.
- Hold it down until there's no more water to drain out of the tank and into the bowl.
- If there is a bit of water left at the bottom of the tank that won’t drain out, you can use a wet-dry vacuum (if you have one) to get the rest of the water out, or you could use a large rag or hand towel to soak it up and then ring it out into the bowl. Do this repeatedly until the tank is empty. I have also seen someone use a turkey baster to suck the water out of the bottom of the tank.
- Using a large wrench, undo the water supply line at the water valve. You can leave the water supply line connected to the underside of the tank.
- Now look for the two bolts that hold the tank to the bowl and using a crescent wrench and a flat head screw driver loosen the bolts one at a time switching back and forth until the nuts come off the bolts.
- IMPORTANT: Do not loosen one bolt while leaving the other tightened as this will most likely crack your tank. Loosen one side a bit then loosen the other, switching back and forth.
- Now that you have the nuts off the bolts, you can lift the tank up off of the bowl, trying not to spill any excess water from the tank onto your floor.
Paint the Wall, Then Install the Tank Back on the Bowl
Now you are ready to paint the wall your toilet tank was blocking. When you have it painted, you can then proceed to install the toilet tank reverse of how you uninstalled it.
IMPORTANT: Make sure the sponge gasket attached to the underside of the tank is still in place. If not, make sure it sits firmly on the large threaded fitting on the underside of the tank. If you do not do this, you risk a leak that can only be fixed by taking the tank off the toilet bowl and repeating this process.
- When tightening the tank to the bowl, tighten the bolts and nuts the same way you took them off: Tighten one side a bit then go to the other side and tighten that side up a bit. Go back and forth back and forth until the tank is tightened securely to the bowl. Make sure not to over-tighten or you will crack the tank.
- Once the nut and bolt feel like they are very tight and the tank does not feel loose, then stop there.
- The last thing to do is hook the water supply line back up to the shut off valve. Once that is done, you can turn the water on slowly to fill the tank. After the tank is full, if there are no visible leaks on the water supply line or base of the tank where it meets the bowl, give the toilet a flush and make sure there is no water leaking from around where the tank meets the bowl. If you do have a leak, just tighten the bolts that secure the toilet tank to the toilet bowl and you are good to go.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on February 22, 2015:
This is a really useful hub. Although I've never had to paint behind a toilet tank, I probably should at some point in the near future. It is just one of those tasks no one wants to do! Thanks for sharing this information!
ezzly on February 08, 2015:
This is brilliant ! An area most people just seem to forget about ! Pics are great too really helps show the steps :) tweeting this !
Grant Handford (author) from Canada on February 08, 2015:
Thanks FlourishAnyway I have seen many bathrooms where the wall behind the toilet is not painted. sometimes it doesn't get noticed but most times it does and it just doesn't look good.
FlourishAnyway from USA on February 07, 2015:
You have answered a very important question for someone painting a bathroom. I have seen more than one bathroom where this was actually just skipped!
elijagod from Abuja - Nigeria on November 28, 2014:
Thanks for this information Sir!
Grant Handford (author) from Canada on March 09, 2014:
Thank you Sherry. I hope it will help someone.
Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on March 09, 2014:
Very useful information. Thanks!