How to replace a toilet seat with our easy fitting guide

How to replace a toilet seat with our easy fitting guide

When it comes to fitting a new toilet seat the actual task itself is relatively quick and easy - but there are some important factors you need to consider before you crack open your tool kit so this begs the question - where oh where to begin? Sadly with the various toilet designs on the market there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to seats but never fear - this doesn’t necessarily make the task at hand a difficult one. Before you start your hunt for a new seat or toilet seat fixtures and fittings you need to firstly identify the type of toilet you have - that way you can ensure you get the right seat for your loo.

Reasons to replace your toilet seat

The most common reasons why you might want to replace your toilet seat:

  • Replacing a broken or cracked seat
  • Updating for a change of style or bathroom renovation
  • A change of household circumstances prompting the need for a new seat that will better suit (ie: fitting a potty training seat for toddlers for example)

Do all toilet seats fit the same way?

To put it simply, no they don’t. As toilets come in different shapes, the seats also come in different shapes so you need to make sure you choose the right shape for your toilet to ensure a correct fit.

The most common types of toilet seat shapes you will find in the UK are round/oval, D-shaped, square and pointed (also referred to as ‘elongated’, ‘V-shaped’ and ‘pointed-nose’). The shape of the toilet seat will be determined by the shape of your toilet bowl (known as the ‘pan’), you’ll need to buy the correct shape so that the seat rests atop the pan correctly - you don’t want a wobbly perch when you’re sitting on the throne so determining the correct shape is a must.

Now it goes without saying that there are many more shapes of toilet seats however for the purposes of this post I have only listed the 4 most common toilet seat shapes you’ll come across in the UK - for reference I have created a toilet shape diagram below to make it easier for you to compare against your own toilet.

The most common toilet seat shapes

If you are replacing the seat of an old toilet and worry that you won’t be able to fit a new seat to an old pan don’t worry - modern replacement seats can usually be adjusted to fit older designs or toilets that are considered ‘non-standard’ the main thing is that the seat must be supported at the contact points or hinges to ensure it is kept securely in place.

The majority of seats are an oval shape, although some may be more of a contemporary square or D-shape as this has become more popular in recent times. So, it is important to keep this in mind when looking for a replacement for your toilet.


Are toilet seats a standard size?

No! Toilets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, this is because the intended spaces for toilets also come in different shapes and sizes (think a small WC under the stairs vs a spacious family bathroom - you have a different amount of room to play with in terms of style and size so it goes without saying that there’s a loo for every space).

Now assuming you know the shape of your toilet it’s time to get your measuring tape out. Whilst you may have the shape sorted you want to ensure you have the correct size - remember, it’s not a one size fits all!

There are key measurements that you will need to note of your toilet and refer to when it comes time to go hunting for a seat - remember though that the most common seats are usually adjustable to fit the most common toilet bowl shapes but don’t assume this is always the case.

What are the key measurements for a toilet seat?

  • The distance between the fixing holes, this is where the screws are. Often these will be a standard measurement of 155mm but check especially if you are replacing an older seat or hunting for a seat for an older style or non-standard toilet shape
  • The width of the toilet bowl at its widest point
  • The distance from the front of the pan to the two seat-fixing holes

Note these measurements down and refer to them when looking at potential new toilet seats, they will be essential when determining whether an intended new seat may fit correctly onto your existing toilet.

How to safely prepare your toilet before replacing the seat

It’s fairly obvious but toilets are a hotspot for bacteria and other gross nasties so before you dive enthusiastically into replacing the seat it’s important that you safely prepare the area first.

Don some rubber gloves and get the spray bleach out as it’s time to give your toilet a good scrub down. Now you might be thinking “oh but I’m replacing the seat anyways so why would I bother cleaning it?”. Well the thing is, bacteria, dirt and grime hides on and around a toilet seat so it’s important to clean it down before, during and after replacing to ensure you remove any nasties that might otherwise contaminate the area or yourself whilst you’re replacing the seat. Often seats are held in place with wingnuts and accessing these with bulky rubber gloves isn’t always feasible so before you start unfastening anything, give the area a thorough clean so that if you do end up having to use your bare hands at any point you’ll know that the area is as clean as possible first.

The tools you will likely need to change a toilet seat

These tools will be found in your DIY home plumbing repair kit and the tools you will likely reach for when replacing your toilet seat are:

  • Water Pump Pliers which will be used to help remove the nuts that fasten the seat to the toilet (these will most likely be wingnuts)
  • Adjustable Wrench or Adjustable Spanner will also work if you don’t have the water pump pliers mentioned above
  • Flathead Screwdriver to help remove any plastic caps that cover the old nuts and fastenings, these may be especially fiddly to remove if you have an old toilet seat so having a flathead screwdriver at hand will be particularly beneficial for this task.
  • A small hacksaw just in case the fixings for your old seat are badly rusted or too degraded to be unscrewed for easy removal, use the hacksaw to gently saw them off.

On a plus - some new toilet seats on the market sometimes come with a kit to help you attach the seat, and sometimes there is a small tool included to help you secure the wingnuts. If however you are simply replacing the fixtures on your existing toilet seat and not the entire seat altogether you may find you will need to purchase these toilet seat fixings separately. We offer a range of toilet seat fixtures, fittings, hinges, parts and spares to suit a range of toilets and seats from Villeroy & Boch and Ideal Standard so if you’re after just some replacement parts and not the whole toilet seat we’ve got you covered.

How to remove your old toilet seat

The majority of toilet seats are attached to the toilet with fittings usually consisting of 2 bolts at the back of the seat, these are often hidden under plastic caps (with tightened wingnuts on the underside of these bolts).

Removing the toilet seat will likely have you crouching down or on your knees so it is important to wear comfortable attire that you’re not afraid to get dirty, having an old towel or cushion for your knees will also help make the process easier.

Use your flat head screwdriver to remove any plastic caps that are protecting the nuts, should you find it difficult to remove these due to the age of the toilet seat try spraying the area with WD40 and leaving it to sit for 10 mins before trying again. When doing this it is important to not be too rough or gung ho to avoid unnecessary damage to the toilet itself - after all, you just want to replace the toilet seat not the whole toilet!

Once the caps are off you should be able to see the top of the screws with the wingnuts securing the seat in place - more modern fixings have these made of plastic but you may find older styles made of metal. Use your pliers or adjustable spanner to loosen these nuts, if they’re stubborn and won’t loosen easily apply the same WD40 method above, wait 10 mins then try again and if they’re still refusing to budge, bring out the hacksaw.

When the old fixings have been removed you should be able to easily lift away the old seat. It’s a good idea at this point to give the area a thorough going over with bleach and a trusty cloth before fitting the new seat.

How to install and fit your new toilet seat

Now that the area is free of the old seat and has been thoroughly cleaned and prepped for the new seat to be fitted the fun can begin! You’re now on the home stretch of replacing your toilet seat - all that’s left is to fit the new one and you’re done!

As mentioned earlier, if you’re just replacing the fittings of your existing toilet seat then it’s likely the fittings and fixtures you’ve purchased won’t come with instructions as the process will be a simple reversal of what you have actioned with regards to removing the old fittings. However if you’re installing a brand new replacement seat the box should come with a new seat, a packet of fittings and fixtures and also a set of manufacturers installation instructions. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions, however should you find yourself without these for whatever reason the steps you will need to take to fit your new seat are outlined below.

  1. Line up and attach the new fittings - the bolts should slot easily through the toilet fixing holes. While doing this make sure the seat sits evenly atop the bowl. When you have the seat positioned and centred correctly you can then gently secure the wingnuts by hand or using your pliers (depending on what you find easiest)
  2. Do NOT over tighten! I can’t stress this point enough. Often in newer modern seats you may find that the bolts are plastic so with this in mind you need to be careful not to overtighten the wingnuts when positioning your seat as you could easily damage or snap the plastic bolts.
  3. Cap off your work once the seat has been securely fastened into the desired position. Depending on the design of your new seat you may find that plastic caps have been included - these help to protect the fastenings and also complete the look of your new seat, hiding the fittings to give a sleek appearance to the overall design.

And voila - you’re done!

Have you managed to replace your seat or maybe you’re after some parts or spares to help finish the job off? At Buy Plumbing Online we sell a whole variety of toilet parts and spares for all manner of toilets. Whether you’re after parts for your seat or the cistern - we’ve got you covered from the top of the toilet to the bottom and always with free UK wide delivery regardless of your postcode.

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