Toilet Shims: How To Shim a Toilet in 5 Simple Steps

If you want to fix a wobbly toilet you must first know how to shim a toilet.

Toilet shims are likely to be mentioned if you have an uneven floor or a sharply elevated flange. These bathroom accessories primarily aid in the balance of the toilet on the floor.

This article will explain what toilet shims are, what they are used for, and how to install them.

What is a Toilet Shim?

A shim is a thin flat wedge-shaped piece of material that is used to level or fit in-between areas to avoid wobbly movement. The material might be made of plastic, rubber, or wood.

Toilet shims are available in a variety of colors and shapes. They are inexpensive and simple to use for leveling uneven surfaces. Plastic and rubber, on the other hand, are greatly popular for toilets.

Shims come in a variety of sizes and numbers. You can use as few or as many shims as you like. Shims are sold in quantities of four, eight, or even thirty pieces.

They measure 7.5 to 9 inches long and 1.5 inches broad. The length of a shim can vary between 12 and 16 inches depending on the kind, usage, and brand. The thickness of the shim can also vary.

Types of Toilet Shims

Shims come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same purpose. Some people use homemade wooden shims or even old coins to improvise, but we recommend using professional tools. Shims with ridges or ribbed designs are the best type. Shims come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but we usually stick to two. You may use either material to shim your toilet.

Plastic and rubber shims, unlike wooden shims used around the house, do not decay, degrade, or warp when exposed to water over a lengthy period of time. But what about the difference between plastic and rubber?

Plastic Shims

Plastic toilet shims are manufactured of composite mixes of post-consumer recycled plastic. They’re unquestionably more durable and stable than rubber shims.

Second, they are available in two varieties: hard and soft plastic. The two types are simple to employ; all that is required is the use of a shim. The advantage of using plastic shims is their durability — plastic elements can easily support heavyweight toilets.

However, due to the constant temperature fluctuations in the bathroom, plastic shims can crack. Plastic shims may crack over time if your bathroom is cold but you frequently use air conditioning to heat it.

Unfortunately, plastic shims cannot be stacked or cemented together in the same way that rubber can. This implies that if you can’t locate the proper height of shims, you’re far better off obtaining stackable rubber shims. The friction on the rubber binds them securely together, preventing slippage.

Another downside of plastic shims is that they are very slippery, making them untrustworthy. The last disadvantage of plastic shims is that they are pre-scored to snap at specific spots unless you cut them with a multi-tool. Rubber, on the other hand, is very easy to cut and conceal.

Rubber Shims

Another option for leveling uneven toilet bowls is to use rubber toilet shims. Rubber pieces, like plastic, are long-lasting and can support heavy toilets.

Rubber shims are highly robust, cling well to the floor, and are not slippery. Rubber shims are very gentle on the material, so you won’t have to worry about cracks or scratches on your porcelain. However, lodging them into the gaps can be difficult because you can’t tap them in with the mallet.

The advantage of using rubber shims is that they rarely break or fall apart. Because of the flexibility of rubber, these shims are extremely dependable. The only downside is that because rubber shims bend under pressure, you may need to insert several.

How To Shim a Toilet?

Shimming the toilet is simple. Gather the necessary equipment, such as shims and a rubber hammer.

You’ll need little plastic shims with ridges. These shims are more stable and are commonly found at hardware stores. They will compress with time and are renowned for absorbing moisture.

In addition to the shims, you’ll need a utility knife, cloth or paper towels, and tub and tile caulk that matches the color of your toilet and floor.

Step 1: Check the Toilet for Gaps

The first thing you should do is inspect the gaps between your rocking toilet and the floor. Clean up any dirt or dust that has accumulated around the base before beginning the inspection. A thorough cleaning reveals even the smallest holes beneath the bowl.

After that, start looking for uneven areas of the bathroom floor and gaps between it and the porcelain base. Take note of the height and width of the gaps; you may require multiple shims in that area.

Keep in mind that there may be gaps all around the base. Make a full circle around the toilet bowl to inspect it thoroughly.

Step 2: Insert the Shims

Find a space or aperture between the toilet and the floor. Place one shim close to the gaping hole. It’s finally time to level the toilet. When you’ve identified the gaps, put the shims under the toilet

Insert the shims into the spaces you’ve discovered to stabilize the toilet. It may take several attempts to level the toilet, but you may try different shims in different areas. Sit on the toilet seat and rock it from side to side to test if it is level. Continue with these methods until the toilet is steady.

Begin by tapping the shim into the gap. They are delicate, especially the plastic varieties, so use extreme caution. Small handmade wood shims can be used, but plastic and rubber shims are a better option.

You’ll need one or two pieces to level out all the divisions between your floor and tank, depending on the gap dimensions. Shims can be inserted as follows: One shim should be placed on the floor, with its sharp edge facing the toilet base gap. With your fingers, push the shim into the gap and fill it. When you can’t press the shim any further, give it an extra push with a small hammer.

Step 3: Trim the Excess Shims

You may level the toilet by driving the shim into the hole using a rubber hammer or mallet. Because it’s rubber or plastic, you can cut the extra away using a multi-tool. Snap it off for plastic exactly.

Your toilet is now secure and stable, but the job is not done. On the contrary, you must still cover the shims and make the bathroom throne look nice. The most common method is to trim the shims.

Because most shims are longer than necessary, the back of each piece will be visible. It’s a part that doesn’t fit into the gap; use the utility knife to cut it out. However, take care not to scratch the floor. You must trim the plastic toilet shims so that they are flush with the base.

Trim as close as you can using a utility knife. You don’t want to cut into the flooring, so proceed with caution. If you have a vinyl floor, the knife may scratch the surface. Another useful tip is to cut the shims at the correct angle to make them nearly invisible.

Step 4: Test Your Toilet

You can now put your toilet to the test. The first step is to see if it wobbles — gently push it with your hand and see if it moves. It shouldn’t budge, but you should double-check it from all sides and angles.

The second task is to check the toilet for leaks. Remember to flush your toilet several times if you don’t want to see it leaking at the base. After installing and trimming the shims, your toilet should not leak.

Step 5: Caulk the Toilet Base

The work is not finished because you can still see the shims underneath the toilet. Despite the fact that they fill gaps and fit snugly, there is a noticeable difference between the average shim and the porcelain surface of the toilet bowl. In such cases, caulking the toilet base is required if you want to conceal the crime scene.

After you’ve cut the shims, you may start caulking the toilet. Clean both the toilet base and the floor around it. To keep the caulk from spilling on the floor, wrap it in masking tape.

Apply a thin, equal coating of caulk around the base of the toilet, ensuring that the space between the floor and the toilet is covered. You should also make sure that the shims are hidden. Smooth the caulk with your finger and wipe it clean often with a paper towel or rag.

You can also purchase a caulk gun. Select each shim individually and pull the trigger — the gun will fill any uneven surfaces with caulk. Caulking the base of toilets is a common and helpful technique. It increases the life of the fitted floor gasket.

What is the Use of Toilet Shims?

As I mentioned already, shims are tile setters used to balance out the gap between the flooring and the toilet. They are installed between the spaces to level the toilet and prevent it from wobbling. Plastic plumbing shims can also be utilized in a variety of other bathroom applications. As an example,

  • Installation of the bathtub – Shims is commonly used in the installation of porcelain bathtubs to help with balance and drainage. Because of their softness and flexibility, rubber shims may be utilized in most bathtub setups.
  • Shower enclosures – Another wet area where plastic or rubber toilet shims may provide solid support without being damaged over time.
  • Bathroom vanities may be leveled using plastic toilet shims if they are unsteady or droop up and down. There are gaps ranging in size from large to little to accommodate all of your requirements.
  • Stabilizing bathroom items such as the washing machine – because water enters into the washing machine, you may avoid using wooden shims, which decay fast. To effortlessly balance them off the ground, use plastic or rubber toilet shims.
  • Stop the pipe rattling – Because pipes come into touch with water via toilet shims, which can be soft or firm plastic shims or rubber shims, they can bend around a pipe traveling through a joist to cushion it, so reducing rattling.
  • Pipe hangers and appliance lines can also be cushioned to prevent vibration.

The toilet shims are best utilized in the toilet, but because they are made of plastic or rubber, they may be used in any other damp part of the house.

Should You Caulk Around the Toilet After Shimming?

One of the most prevalent issues surrounding toilets is whether or not to caulk the toilet to the floor. Yes, after shimming, you should caulk around the toilet. It’s an effective post-shimming technique for several reasons.

Many people are opposed to caulking around a toilet because if the toilet is caulked and then leaks, you will have no way of knowing, which will cause your subfloor to rot if it is wooden.

There is a workaround, and the benefits of caulking around the toilet outweigh the disadvantages of not caulking. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, a caulked toilet is easy to clean and keeps odors at bay.

To begin, caulking improves the appearance of the toilet after installing toilet shims. Second, caulk keeps your white toilet looking neat and clean. The surface of the bowl becomes smooth, allowing you to easily clean the entire structure. Caulk also helps to stabilize the bowl, preventing it from becoming a rocking toilet.

If you’re concerned about leaks, you don’t have to caulk the entire toilet base. The back of the base can be left open if desired. This way, you can still hide the shims while also allowing water to escape and warning you of potential damage.

Caulking around the toilet protects the wax from external impact. It ensures that your toilet stays level with the floor and does not wobble. When you caulk around your toilet you avoid any chance of injury to the wax and the toilet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you shim a toilet on an uneven floor?

Yes, you can do it in a few simple steps. Put shims underneath the toilet until it is level. Hook the toilet bolts into the two tracks on either side of the flange and space them apart. Trim the shims close to the toilet’s base if needed with a sharp utility knife.

How do I hide the shims under my toilet?

Caulking around the toilet is the key. To conceal the gap along the floor and hide the shims, apply a thin, uniform bead of caulk around the base of the toilet. Smooth the caulk with your finger as needed, wiping it clean with a paper towel or rag as needed.

How do you level a wobbly toilet?

It depends on the reason your toilet is rocking. Most of the time it is not properly bolted to the floor. It can also be that the toilet is not level with the floor. The straightforward way is to tighten the bolts. If the toilet still does not stop rocking, look for gaps or leaks. Insert toilet shims if you find gaps between the toilet and the floor.

Is it OK to use toilet shims?

It’s actually beneficial to use toilet shims because small shims keep the toilet from wobbling. If you properly shim the toilet, the bowl will stop moving. Toilet shims made of rubber or plastic complement the toilet nicely — they look visually appealing because there are no odd gaps under the toilet.

Is it OK if the toilet is not level?

It is ok in many cases. most toilets do not need to be perfectly level to function properly. Because a slightly uneven floor will not harm the toilet, the only reason to shim is to close larger gaps between the ground and the bowl.

Should you shim front or back of the toilet?

If you’re concerned about leaks, you don’t have to caulk the entire toilet base. The back of the base can be left open if desired. This way, you can still hide the shims while also allowing water to escape and warning you of potential damage.

Final Words

Toilets typically wobble because they are not level with the floor. This means that either the bolts are too loose or there are gaps between the floor and the toilet. While the former can easily be solved by tightening the bolts, the latter requires a different solution.

Toilet shims with ridges are ideal for this job. They are frequently found at home improvement stores, hardware stores, and restaurant supply stores. Wood shims are not advised since they can shrink with time and become brittle when exposed to dampness.

Hope you are now well aware of how to shim a toilet. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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