How To Shim A Toilet: A Complete Guide

How To Shim A Toilet: A Complete Guide

If you’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting down on a wobbly toilet before, you know that there’s really nothing more uncomfortable.

Sometimes, your toilet might rock from side to side when you sit down on it, or jerk when you get up.

If this sounds like something that you’ve been experiencing recently, then we’d urge you not to ignore it, as the longer it’s left, the more of a problem it becomes. 

The issue is, the longer you leave your toilet unfastened securely to the ground, the more damage it’s going to cause underneath.

This is why it’s so important to shimmy your toilet if it’s not fastened properly. 

Shimmy… we hear you say. That’s right, this is a process whereby you securely level your toilet to the ground again.

Most of you reading this article will be unfamiliar with the process, but rest assured that it’s actually incredibly easy to do, without needing to call a handyman in. 

Below, we’ve compiled a step by step guide that takes you through how to properly shimmy your toilet.

To find out more, simply keep reading below, as we take a closer look. 

Why Is A Wobbly Toilet A Problem? 

Many of you reading this article may have, up till this point, decided that the issue wasn’t worth fixing.

Despite being uncomfortable to sit on, is a wobbly toilet really that much of an issue? Well, yes, and no.

Although it might not be an issue right now, the longer you leave it, the bigger the problem will become. 

This is because any movement of your toilet from the ground, means that you’re damaging the wax seal that’s located beneath.

This is responsible for binding your toilet to the ground, and keeping it secure.

If the seal is damaged, this could mean some major repairs in your future, as it can cause big leaks in your toilet. 

This scenario is both unpleasant and costly to fix. But, this is completely avoidable. If you want to treat the issue early on, then we’d recommend looking into shimmying it yourself. 

If you’re unsure of what shimmying is, it’s actually pretty straightforward, it just involves placing pieces of plastic underneath your toilet, then caulk around the toilet, fastening the bolts in the process.

It’s an easy way to fix this issue yourself, and avoid any further problems down the line. 

So, without further ado, if you want to learn how to shimmy your toilet, just keep reading below, as we take a closer look with our step by step guide. 

Step By Step Guide To Shim Your Toilet 

How To Shim A Toilet: A Complete Guide

Now, before we get started, we have to point out that there are a few key items that you’re going to need for this job.

Below, we’ve provided a list of each of the tools you’ll require, so that you can get started with fixing your toilet. 

  • Utility Knife
  • Plastic Shims 
  • Tub And Tile Caulk
  • Paper Towels Or Rag 
  • Hammer

That’s it! The equipment list is really straightforward, and you can purchase your plastic shims and tub and tile caulk from your local hardware store.

Now, we can move on to discuss our step by step guide. 

Step 1 

Before you start applying the plastic shims to your toilet there are a few things that you’re going to need to do first. 

In order to get started, we’d always recommend checking the bolts first of all, as your problem may be far simpler than anticipated, and may just involve tightening a few loose bolts.

In order to check your bolts, simply tighten them up as much as possible, then try rocking your toilet again.

If you notice that the bolts aren’t the issue however, and your toilet is still wobbly, then you can move on to the next action. 

Another thing that you’re going to need to check before getting started is the wax seal surrounding your toilet.

If you notice that there’s some water collecting at the bottom of your toilet, this means that there’s an issue with the sealant.

If this is the case, then you’re going to need to fix this before you start shimmying. 

After you’ve checked both of these items, and ruled out both possibilities, you can then move on to begin cleaning the base of the toilet.

There might be dirt and debris that have collected there over time, and you want to make sure that you get it all out before you start placing your shims inside. 

Step 2

After you’ve cleaned the space thoroughly, now you can move on to identify the gaps in your toilet.

Are there any gaps? And if there are, where are they located, and how broad are they?

In some areas, you may find that you’ll need to apply more shims than in others, because of the height of those particular gaps. 

Oftentimes, the gaps will be all around the base of the toilet, so check the back, front, and sides in order to make sure that you’re doing a thorough job. 

Step 3 

Now that you’ve located all the gaps in your toilet, we can move on to the actual installation process, and begin interesting the shims.

How To Shim A Toilet: A Complete Guide

In order to get started with this process, you’re going to need to insert the shims, with the sharp pointed end facing the toilet. 

You will notice as you do this that you may need to insert quite a few shims in certain areas, and even stack a few on top of one another, depending on how large the gaps are in your toilet. 

Push the shims as hard as you can, in order to make sure that they’re underneath the base of the toilet.

Sometimes, you may feel like they could go further, but you’re not able to achieve this without a tool.

We’d recommend using your hammer in order to push the shims deeper in. 

Now that you’ve inserted all of your shims, you can begin testing your toilet to see if it’s still shaky.

If it feels completely secure to the ground, then great news, you can move on to the next step. 

Step 4

Now that you’ve inserted the shims, you may notice that these tiny pieces of plastic are poking out everywhere, creating a very unseemly appearance.

For our next step in the process, we’re going to be taking a look at how to trim your shims, so that they aren’t sticking out anywhere. 

Trimming your shims is actually incredibly easy, and all you’re going to need is a utility knife.

Cut the shims poking out as closely as you can to the base of the toilet, this will help to ensure that it’s completely smooth. 

One tip that we’d give you for this section of the process however, is to make sure that you’re not applying too much pressure with your utility knife.

Chances are that the blade is incredibly sharp, and will easily cut through the plastic, so you don’t need to go overkill with this step. 

If you’re applying too much pressure, then your knife could actually end up scraping and damaging the floor underneath. 

Step 5 

Now for our next step, we’re going to start caulking the base of the toilet. If you’ve never done this before, our key piece of advice would be that precision is key.

You don’t want to use too much caulk, as this can create an incredibly untidy appearance, and make it appear globular around the base of your toilet. 

We’d recommend that you take your rag before starting, and clean around the base one more, as you don’t want to get any dirt or debris stuck inside the caulk when you’re doing the job. 

Instead, you’ll want to make sure that you’re applying as thin of an amount as possible, and taking care to keep the pressure and amount even around the entire base.

If you notice that the caulk is poking out a bit, don’t worry. In order to fix this, all you have to do is press it down evenly using your fingers.

This will help to make it flat against the surface of the toilet. 

We’d like to provide you with one final expert tip for this step. Many professional handy workers will leave a slight gap that they haven’t filled in with caulk at the backside of the base.

The reason being, in case your toilet were to incur any problems in the future in terms of leaks, this will be identifiable.

If you were to fill all of it with caulk, the leak wouldn’t be apparent, and could go undiagnosed for ages. 

Step 6

Now we’re at our final step, if you’ve gotten this far, then we’d like to wish you a congratulations, as you’ve successfully installed shims in your toilet, and stopped that pesky wobbling. 

All you need to do at this point is wait for the caulk to dry. You don’t want to start using it prematurely and risk having your handiwork ruined.

Make sure that you leave the caulk to dry for approximately 12 hours. It’s good to leave it overnight, as this ensures that it will be fully dried and secure by the time the morning comes. 

After it’s fully dried, you can begin using your toilet as normal again. 

Plastic VS Rubber Shims 

When you’re visiting your local hardware store in order to gather the items you need for the job, you might be at a bit of a loss when you discover that there are two different types of shims.

You’re actually able to purchase a shim either with a plastic, or a rubber surface. 

Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and we’re going to outline them both for you so that you can make an informed decision. 

Plastic shims are excellent because they truly stand the test of time. With plastic, there’s no risk of it wearing out, and it’s easily stackable underneath the base of your toilet.

The only disadvantage of using plastic shims however, is that they can actually begin to crack as time moves on. This will cause your toilet to begin wobbling again. 

Another option is to purchase rubber based shims, these are a good option because they are very durable, and they won’t break like the plastic shims.

The only disadvantage when it comes to rubber shims is that you may need to purchase more of them for the job.

This is because the absorbent nature of the material may cause it to decompress under the pressure of the toilet. 

Final Thoughts 

To sum up, installing a shim couldn’t be easier with our handy step by step guide. We hope that this article has been useful, and we wish you a happy installation!

Adrienne Carrie Hubbard
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