Securing your toilet to the floor are two long bolts (called closet bolts) that come up through the base of the toilet and are secured with nuts. Toilets usually come with plastic decorative caps that hide these bolts, but often the caps go missing, or they pop off every time you clean the toilet, making them more trouble than they're worth. The good news is there are replacement caps and adapter kits that look and work much better than the original caps.
You can also use plumbers putty to hold the bolt caps in place.
Basic Replacement Caps
The simplest type of replacement toilet bolt cap consists of a plastic cap that snaps onto a base washer. To install this type of cap, you have to remove the nut and metal washer on the toilet bolt, slip on the new plastic base washer, then add the metal washer and nut over the plastic washer. Also, you often have to cut the bolt itself, using a hacksaw, so that the short cap will fit over the bolt. To install the cap, you fit it over the bolt and snap it onto the plastic base washer.
Threaded caps are an improvement over standard snap-on caps for a few reasons. First, you don't have to remove the nut and metal washer from the closet bolt. Instead, you just thread an adapter piece onto the bolt, and the cap snaps or threads onto the adapter. Second, some caps are tall enough so that you don't need to cut down the bolt. And third, the threaded caps stay in place much better than snap-on caps.
Installing Threaded Caps
Threaded caps with adapters (such as those made by Danco and other manufacturers) are inexpensive and easy to install. Here are the basic installation steps, which may vary by brand:
- Make sure that the bolts coming through the base of the toilet are not too long. Many toilet bolts are quite long and normally are cut down when installing a toilet. If the bolts are too long to allow the toilet caps to sit flat on the toilet base, you will need to cut them with a mini hacksaw or a rotary tool with a metal-cutting disc. Try to cut as straight as possible so that the adapter for the new caps will thread onto the bolts easily. Hold the toilet caps next to the bolts to determine the correct bolt height, then cut the bolts short enough so the new caps will sit flush on the toilet base when they are threaded on all the way.
- Install the threaded adapters onto the toilet bolts. A set of replacement toilet caps typically includes two different sets of threaded adapters: 1/4 inch and 5/16 inch. The 1/4-inch size is the more standard. Thread an adapter onto each toilet bolt with the notches of the adapter on the bottom. Make sure when starting to thread the adapter that it threads evenly and that it can easily turn a few times when tightening by hand.
- Thread the toilet caps onto the adapters, covering the bolts. Screw on the caps far enough, so they sit flush against the base of the toilet. If you ever need to remove the toilet in the future, simply unscrew the cap and adapter to access the nuts.
Tall Toilet Bolt Caps
A relative newcomer to the toilet cap market is the extra-tall threaded cap, which is even simpler than threaded adapter-type caps but is just as secure. These caps thread directly onto the bolt with no need for an adapter. They're also tall enough that you don't have to cut down the bolt unless your bolts are uncommonly long. Tall toilet bolt caps come in 1/4-inch and 5/16-inch sizes.