Installing a toilet doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. If you have all the tools and some basic knowledge, correctly installing a toilet can be quick; most often, the time after the installation is the part that will take the longest.
In general, you can use a toilet six to 12 hours after installation if you used caulk to seal it to the floor. If you used grout instead, it will take between 24 and 72 hours. However, if you used bolts to secure the toilet and have not used silicone or caulk, the toilet can be used straight away.
If you’re thinking of grouting or sealing your toilet, here is everything you need to know about what to use and how long to wait before using the toilet. If you are unsure of any steps, or the best products to use, I recommend reaching out to a qualified plumber to ensure you get a fully functional outcome.
Which Parts Of A Toilet Require Drying Time?
There are many different parts to a toilet, and one of them – the silicone or caulk sealant – requires setting time once the toilet is installed. However, this isn’t usually a long time.
The other part that many people believe needs setting time is the wax ring.
The wax ring goes between the toilet base and the closet flange, helping to stop water or gasses from leaking out and into your bathroom.
The wax is sealed by pressing down on the toilet to allow it to mold itself around the fittings, and once in place does not require any time to set.
In fact, it can be best to gently sit on the toilet seat to help with the molding process, but this should be done before caulking or sealing.
You will know if the wax ring is sealed correctly if the toilet feels secure, and if there are no leaks when the toilet is flushed.
As such, the only part of a toilet installation that requires post-installation time is the silicone, caulk, or grout sealant.
What Can Be Used To Seal a Toilet?
As well as the wax ring that sits inside the closet flange and helps to eliminate leaks or smells from the toilet, it is also recommended to use silicone sealant or caulk to seal the edge connecting the floor and toilet.
Another option to use for this job is grout.
In almost all cases, it is essential to create a seal around the toilet’s base.
This seal helps to eliminate the risk of leaks or smells coming from your installation and gives a more polished finish.
1. Grout Sealing
There is an often debated question of whether tiles should go around or underneath the toilet.
This question can determine whether or not you want to use grout as a sealant.
I recommend tiling underneath your toilet to provide a more polished and sturdy finish.
If, however, you are using vinyl or laminate flooring, it is best to only tile up to the toilet edge.
Grout is used in between tiles and should always be used in the area the toilet will be placed as, without the grout, the tiles may become loose once weight is applied.
As well as this, you can use grout to seal underneath the toilet and the tile.
Grout creates a waterproof seal that is very long-lasting.
However, it is more brittle than silicone sealant, so it may, over time, form hairline cracks.
Caulk, a substance containing silicone, and silicone sealant are excellent choices for sealing a toilet.
Both have more flexibility than grout, with silicone sealant providing the most flexibility.
Furthermore, the wait time is shorter when you use caulk instead of grout.
How Long Do Silicone/Caulk and Grout Take To Dry?
It’s always best to follow the instructions on the packaging for the silicone sealant or grout you are using, but as a general rule, the following applies.
1. Grout Drying Time
Grout generally takes longer to cure fully than silicone does.
Even so, it can depend on the type of grout you choose.
In general, grout around the toilet base will take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours to dry.
Check the package for your particular grout for a more precise timeline.
2. Caulk/Silicone Drying Time
Silicone sealant will be touch-dry within 30 to 60 minutes; however, this does not mean it is fully cured.
The total curing time will be up to 24 hours.
Interestingly, in warm, humid environments like bathrooms, silicone will actually dry quicker than in dry climates.
However, I do not recommend artificially heating your silicone as this will not produce any benefit and may even cause damage.
What Is the Difference Between Drying and Curing?
Drying time for silicone sealant or caulk is around 30-60 minutes; however, the total curing time can take up to 24 hours.
This is because the curing time is more than simply allowing the material to dry.
It is a chemical process that creates the waterproof seal and one that must be followed to develop the long-lasting finish you want.
What Happens If You Don’t Wait Long Enough For Your Toilet To Set?
The most important reason you must let your sealant or grout set completely is the risk of movement creating gaps.
Suppose the toilet is disturbed and the grout or sealant is compromised.
In that case, you will not only quickly discover leaks or smells emitting from your newly-installed toilet but also quicker degradation of the sealant/grout.
This will lead to water leakage, which can damage your floor, and potential health issues from inhaling sewage-filled air.
While some websites advise leaving a gap at the back of the toilet base unsealed, I do not recommend this, and many plumbers advise or even insist that it must be caulked all the way around.
If you’re only choosing to bolt your toilet to the floor with no other sealants, you can use the toilet immediately.
Choosing to grout or seal your toilet to the floor will mean you need to allow up to 72 hours before use.
While it is safe to use immediately (if you don’t sit on it), I highly recommend waiting the allotted time before doing so.
If the seal around the base of the toilet is compromised because you’re unable to wait, you’ll likely need to redo the whole thing again, meaning even more time in the long run.
Cheers, tools owners!