When you install a toilet, one of the finishing touches is to cover the flange bolts — the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor — with decorative caps. These caps aren't just for show; they protect the bolts from corroding in the moist conditions in the bathroom. Cap installation isn't difficult, but one of the frustrating facts of life that plumbers have to face is that the cap is usually too short for the bolt, so the bolt has to be cut. Fortunately, there's now a solution for that.
The Cap Has Two Parts
The decorative part of a toilet bolt cap is a white, round piece of plastic that's a little more than an inch in height, but if that were the only part that came in the bag, you'd have no way of securing the cap to the toilet. In fact, the cap comes with a base to hold it, and the base has to be installed before you bolt the toilet down.
It's good to take a close look at how the cap and base fit together. Examine the base and you'll see that it has a ridge on one side and is flat on the other. Push the ridged side of the base into the cap and they'll snap together. That's what you want to have happen when you install the cap on the toilet.
It's common for people to install the base upside down on the toilet or to omit it altogether. That's why you often see exposed toilet bolts or caps partially hanging from the top of a bolt. The bases have to go on before you screw on the nuts to secure the toilet.
Installing Toilet Bolt Caps
The sequence you follow when securing a toilet is as follows:
- Set the toilet on the floor with the flange bolts poking through the holes in the base.
- Slip the base of a cap onto each bolt with the ridged side facing up.
- Follow this with a metal washer. The washers are supplied with the toilet bolts.
- Screw one of the nuts that are provided onto each bolt and tighten it with a wrench.
- Cut the bolt with a hacksaw or, if it has an indentation along the threads, break it with pliers.
- Set the cap on the base and push down until it snaps and locks.
The most challenging part of the procedure is cutting the bolts. If you don't use snap-off breakable bolts, you'll probably have to cut them with a hacksaw as demonstrated by CVideos. Not only is this slow and laborious, but you also risk scratching the toilet. If you happen to have an angle grinder, you can cut the bolts much faster, but any slip of the grinder could spell disaster.
The No-Cut Solution: Tall Caps
Plumbers complained, manufacturers listened and now you can purchase tall caps that will cover long bolts. As described by PlumbingSupply.com, these come with teardrop-shaped bases that fit into the toilet holes. You install them on the bolts first, just like bases for regular caps, then tighten down the nuts. The base and cap are threaded, so when the toilet bolts are tight, all you have to do is screw the caps to the bases and they're there to stay.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.