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Caulking around toilets is one of the most contentious debates in DIY and plumbing contractors’ online communities and forums. Some of these arguments mainly revolve around leak detection issues, and not all plumbers agree on whether or not toilets should be caulked.
Many new homeowners and DIYers commonly fear that caulk around toilets could potentially hide water leaks. But the truth is that most leakages will seep through the floor structure instead of spilling out onto the floor. The best way to spot toilet leaks is by looking up from the floor below the leaking toilet.
So, should you caulk around your toilet? Yes, you should. Caulking around your toilet is the intelligent thing to do, and 95% of DIYers and contractors should be using caulk when setting up the bathroom. However, you should note that older and cheap caulk often crumbles and lets moisture in.
But there’s no need to worry anymore because this article will walk you through all the pros and cons of using modern-day high-quality caulk.
Why You Should Caulk Your Toilet
- Prevents Leaks – Caulking around the toilet prevents leaks from forming that could damage your floor or seep in below the floor.
- Affordable and Quick – With Caulk being so affordable, it’s worth the little bit of extra effort to prevent any leaks or debris from getting in between the toilet and floor.
- Tidy Appearance – Caulking around the toilet is visually appealing and makes the toilet look as one with the floor.
Caulk Moisture & Leaking Prevention
Leaking is widely known to be the primary basis of the caulking debate. From the opponent’s side, caulking is primarily seen as a potential mask for leaks, but the proponents argue otherwise. They categorically assert that caulking prevents both moisture and leaking, making caulk extremely important for those whose floor is usually wet most of the time. If your bathroom has a shower or bathtub, the chances of water getting into the toilet’s base are pretty high.
Caulk usually prevents outside water from leaking underneath the toilet; this is more likely than a toilet leaking because of a problem. Therefore, caulking reduces the probability of your toilet floor being damaged by any external bathroom water problem.
Do you still remember how contractors against caulking toilets claim that wax sealants are compliant with plumbing code regulations? Well, two principal plumbing codes counter this claim. Most professional plumbers and contractors are usually well-versed in this matter and will make inquiries on your behalf. The two specific codes that require the use of caulk include the 2012 International Plumbing Code and the 2009 Uniform Plumbing Code that requires water-tight seals to joint fixtures that come in contact with the floors or walls.
Caulking also stabilizes the toilets for uneven floors, and some home inspectors will require these regulations if you are getting ready to list your home for sale. For the DIY installers reading this, overlooking the plumbing codes can potentially put off future buyers if you eventually put the property on sale.
Decorative Considerations for Caulking
Arguments Against Caulking Your Toilet
- Potential for Water Leaks – Caulk will not trap water leaks to spread and damage other parts of your bathroom.
- Repair Difficulty – You may run into issues down the road when fixing or replacing your toilet because of the caulk. However, this will only happen if the caulk was applied wrong.
- Wax Seals – While wax seals are effective and needed, caulking around the toilet is useful as an additional protective step or for visual appeal.
- Messy and hard to perfect – Messy looking caulk can be avoided by cleaning the surfaces before, use a quality caulk gun and caulking scraping tool to get a smooth and clean finish.
Does Caulk Mask Water Leaks?
No, many of those who oppose using caulk around toilets usually argue that it’s easier to notice leaks if there is no caulk around the toilet’s base. Therefore, if caulk can potentially hide leakages, water can get under the bathroom tiles and potentially ruin the flooring. They commonly fear that applying caulk around toilet bases traps the leak and forces it to spread out around the concrete pad, causing more damage before it’s noticed. However, most plumbers agree that leaks would not spread out onto the floor. Based on numerous studies, the leak would go straight down.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use a highly rated caulk that is made specifically for bathroom use.
Yes, it is highly recommended and in some states is required by code. The little extra effort and time spent is well worth it.
5 years. However, depending on how and how often the bathroom is used this duration may vary.
Yes, you can caulk over the old toilet caulk. Ensure that the old caulk is dry, clean, and peel off any pieces that are tearing off. However, we do recommend removing the old caulk.
Yes, the caulk provides a barrier between the gap of the toilet and floor preventing debris and other particles from getting trapped.
Dip a rag or toothbrush into a buck of mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. Scrub along and around the caulk residue.
No completely, the 100% silicone caulk that is recommended is more resistant to water than other types of caulk. However, the durability of silicone caulk can last up to and over five years.