Toilet Tile

Should you tile around or under a toilet?

To install tile in your bathroom, you must make allowances for the toilet. If you’re installing ceramic or other stone tiles, there is a considerable amount of prep work. You can’t just cut around the toilet because the thickness of the tiles and underlayment add too much height to the floor, and after installation, your toilet will feel too low and become uncomfortable. You might even feel like you’re falling when you try to sit on it. While this project is challenging, it can be completed if you have the time and patience.

Tiling a bathroom floor upgrades your bathroom instantly. Tile floors are ideal for bathrooms since they’re resilient, stain-resistant and can withstand the moisture and temperature fluctuations that are common in a bathroom. One of the first decisions you’ll face is whether the new tile should go under or around your vanity. Either option is acceptable, but there are several factors to consider when deciding which option is best for your project.

Unless you’re a dab hand at installation, chances are you’ll have plenty of questions when it comes planning your new bathroom.

Unlike a bedroom or living room refurbishment, you will need to hire a tradesperson to fit many of the items you buy for your bathroom, and that’s when it pays to have a basic knowledge of the job in hand.

You can ask experts in the trade questions about your bathroom project. And, to help you on your way, we’ve taken some of the most commonly asked questions and provided some expert answers for you.

As part of our series of “ask the experts” blog posts, we’ll be answering the question “Should I fit the toilet before or after tiling the floor?”.

You can’t tile a bathroom without having to contend with the toilet. To install tile properly around the toilet, you need to affix it to the floor under the fixture. Because toilets sit on top of the tile, any rough cuts are hidden, making it easy to achieve the appearance of tile that has been custom-cut for your bathroom.

Looking for the best tiling renovations? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.

Should You Remove the Toilet When Tiling the Bathroom Floor?

Many homeowners often try to cut a few corners when attempting a bathroom remodel themselves. They often ask if they should remove the toilet before installing a new bathroom floor. While it is possible to install a new linoleum or ceramic tile floor without removing the toilet, it is not recommended. It can increase the labour involved in the project. The following post will outline the reasons you should never install new flooring around an existing toilet.

Toilet Tile


Bathroom remodelling can be expensive, even if you are doing it yourself. It just doesn’t make much sense to cut corners and wind up with a half-baked project when your hard-earned money is on the line. Tiling around a toilet to save a few dollars in labour will leave you with an unprofessional installation, and your guests will notice. It is almost impossible to cut flooring, especially ceramic tile or wood, precise enough to fit snugly around a toilet base. The finished product usually results in an uneven and thick joint around the toilet base, a joint that will require additional caulk or grout to conceal.


Removing the toilet before floor replacement can be quite difficult. Whether you hire your plumbing contractor to remove the toilet or do it yourself, your flooring project will be much easier. Toilet bases are often oddly shaped, with many curves and rounded corners. Cutting flooring around these obstacles is difficult, even for the most seasoned flooring installer. With the toilet removed, you can carry the tile up to and around the toilet flange. When the toilet is reinstalled, its base will rest squarely on the new floor and cover any edges around the flange, leaving your project with a professional appearance.

Future Problems

Also, if you fail to remove the toilet before new floor installation, you set yourself up for future problems if you must replace or remove the bathroom down the road. Toilets are manufactured with a wide range of toilet base footprints, and the chances of finding a new toilet with the exact footprint are slim to none. This could lead to flooring replacement or a shoddy toilet installation if your existing toilet ever fails.

Should I fit the toilet before or after tiling the floor?

The bathroom fitters are unanimous—if you’re looking for a high-quality finish, with a better seal against water damage, then always tile the floor first. It means tiles don’t have to be cut to awkward shapes to fit, and also means there is a layer of tile under the toilet that will protect the floor from water should the sealant fail.

Toilet options

Now you know how to prepare your floor before installation, you may wish to consider which type of toilet you’ll go for.

If you haven’t yet researched it, there are a number of toilet options you could choose:

Close-coupled toilet

By far and away, the most common type of toilet on the market. “Close coupled” means the pan and cistern are closely coupled together to form a single unit. There are further options, including a fully shrouded design with all parts concealed for easier cleaning.

Back to wall toilet

A back to wall toilet can be used in one of 2 ways:

Positioned against a false wall with the cistern concealed behind it OR Combined with a furniture unit which contains the concealed cistern

Either way, it is a highly contemporary way to keep your toilet looking neat and seamlessly coordinating with the rest of your bathroom design. It also makes cleaning easier.

Wall hung toilet

A great choice for designer bathrooms, a wall hung toilet appears to float above the floor for minimalist style. To achieve this, you’ll need to combine with a cavity wall space where a cistern and mounting frame will be housed. The advantages being that your floor space is kept free, and it looks incredible.

High-level toilets

For more traditional bathrooms, a high-level toilet will maintain the classical look of your décor. With this design, the cistern is attached to the wall, high above the toilet. A flush pipe connects the cistern and pan, whilst a pull chain is used to operate the flush.

Tiling Bathroom Floor: Vanity Future

Whether or not you plan to keep your bathroom vanity is one of the biggest deciding factors in how to install the tile. If you like your vanity and intend to keep it where it is long term, you don’t need to remove it during tile installation. You can tile around it.

If the vanity is old, damaged, doesn’t fit your design or is in the wrong place for your revamped bathroom, consider tiling under it. That way, you can replace your current vanity with any size or shape of new vanity once the tiling job is done without worrying about your floor tile.

Even if you don’t plan on replacing your vanity immediately, you might want to tile under it if you plan to replace it in the near future. If your tile around your current vanity and then replace it later, you might have to do more tile work at that time to cover the floor, based on your new vanity size.

Amount of Materials Needed

Removing the vanity before tiling a bathroom floor gives you more room to work in the bathroom with the vanity out of the way. But it also means you’ll need more material than you do if your tile around the vanity. If you have a small vanity, that extra material might not make much difference in your project budget. If you have a large vanity, it can require a lot more tile, mortar and grout to tile under it.

Tile Cutting and Detail Work

Whether or not you remove the vanity when tiling a bathroom floor affects how much cutting and detail work you need to do. Removing the vanity cuts down on the amount of tile and backer board trimming you have to do as you work around the installation.

When you’re not working around a vanity, you can install the tile wall-to-wall, which often involves fewer cuts since you don’t have to go around the bathroom cabinetry. Since the vanity covers up the tile along the wall, it can cover up any blemishes or uneven cuts that might happen. When you cut tiles to go around the vanity, any cracks or uneven cuts will be visible, so you’ll need to take extra care in cutting the tiles precisely.

Tiling around the vanity usually requires more sealing as well. Since the tile stops at the edge of the vanity, you need to ensure a good seal between the tile and the vanity. If you don’t, water can seep down into the gap and cause damage to the flooring and vanity.

Tile Under Vanity

Suppose you remove the vanity, tile the floor underneath it just as you do the rest of the floor. When the time comes to reinstall the vanity, install the new piece of hardware through the tiles and into the floor. This is easiest with linoleum or vinyl tiles. If you’re using ceramic tiles, drilling to install the new vanity can cause serious cracks and split in the tiles, so consider tiling around the vanity or installing a new one before you begin tiling.

Tile Around Vanity

If you decide not to remove the vanity, you must cut the backer board and tiles to fit around the base of the vanity. Make sure you follow your manufacturer’s instructions when cutting to install around objects. Some tile makers require a gap to allow for expansion due to temperature and humidity changes. Once the installation is complete, seal the gap between the vanity and tiles with bathroom caulk to prevent water leaks and moisture damage on the base of the vanity or the backer board.

Check out our range of tiling renovations Melbourne at Hitch Property Constructions. 

Installing Tile Around a Toilet

Shut off the water supply.

Turn off the toilet’s water supply and flush the water in the bowl.

Remove the Toilet

Remove the toilet by taking off the retaining bolts, disconnecting the supply line and lifting the toilet straight up. The toilet should have a wax sealing ring that will break when the toilet is lifted. It’s common for some water to continue leaking from the toilet after it has been lifted.

Remove the Wax Sealing Ring

Remove the wax ring from the bottom of the toilet and place the toilet in a safe location. The bathtub is a good place to store the toilet while you work.

Clean the Floor

Clean and dry the floor before you begin laying tile. Depending on how much debris is on the floor, you may want to consider covering the toilet’s drainage pipe to make sure nothing falls into it.

Lay the Tile

Lay the tile up to the drainage pipe’s retaining ring. Use tile cutters to cut the pieces so that they closely surround the retaining ring; the gap should be 1/4 inch or less. Lay the tiles without adhesive to make sure the cuts are accurate.

Apply the Tiles

Apply the tiles and allow the adhesive to dry completely. Next, apply the grout. Don’t grout the gap between the tiles and the retaining ring.

Replace the Wax Ring

Replace the wax sealing ring with a new ring.

Reinstall the Toilet

Depending on the thickness of the tile, you may need longer retaining bolts.

Reconnect the Water Supply

Reconnect the supply line and flush the toilet to fill the bowl with water.

Are You Supposed To Tile Under Cabinets In General?

There is no black and white answer to this question. Much of it depends upon the structure of your subflooring and the weight it can bear. If you’re placing hardwood cabinets with a slab of granite on top, it may serve the cabinets better to sit directly on the subflooring. This also makes for ease of putting in fixtures and other home system elements.

As for cost, it’s a toss-up. You’ll spend less on the tile if you don’t like tile underneath, but you’ll spend more on labour to make the cuts to ensure a seamless fit up the bottom of the cabinets.

Should You Tile First Or Add All Fixtures First?

You’ll want to do all of your rough-in plumbing first, so you don’t have to drill through ceramic tile. If you’ve decided to go ahead and tile under your vanity, then you’ll want to tile first before placing your vanity. The same goes for the toilet. However, for your shower and bath, you’ll want your shower pan and your tub in place before you tile.

Does Tile Go Under The Toilet?

Yes. But you’ll want to have it rough plumbed, and the toilet flange area marked. You can retile a bathroom with the toilet in place, but it will make your work twice as hard trying to cut the new flooring to meet the shape of the toilet. It is much easier to go ahead and remove it.

We have a wide range of Melbourne tiling renovations to help you choose in creating a new design for your house. 

How To Clean Tiles Around The Bathroom Vanity?

After reading this, if you’ve decided not to retile and maybe you want to clean up and update what you’ve already got. But your tiles are super gross around your old vanity. What is the best way to get them super clean?

You’re dealing with two surfaces: the ceramic tile and the grout lines between. There’s nothing like dingy grout to make a bathroom area look dirty. And the tiles themselves will often end up filmy looking with soap and lotions spilled on them.

For the grout, you’ll need a good stiff brush and a cleaner like Grout-EEZ. Follow directions for the cleaner, which typically involves letting it sit on your grout lines and penetrate for ten minutes. Then using your stiff brush scrub and clean up with warm water and a microfiber cloth or mop.

A microfiber mop like this one works super well on tile. The mop head is removable so you can throw it in the wash once it’s dirty, and you can buy additional heads, so you’re never waiting to get one clean. This package also comes with a couple of microfiber cloths. The pivoting handle makes it easy to get in and around your bathroom fixtures.

For the tiles, you’ll want to be sure you use a product that can cut through soap scum and lotion residue. Products that include citrus work well and smell great while you’re using them. Spray it on, let it sit for a moment, then wipe it out. If you have a particularly sticky spot, use hot water on your rag when wiping it up, which will further dissolve the scum or residue.

Now that we’ve answered your questions about bathroom tiles under your vanity, perhaps there are other bathroom questions you have. Or maybe you want some inspiration for your bathroom renovations.

It’s entirely up to you. But think of it this way, if you leave the toilet as it is, there will be more work when tiling around the toilet as you will need to cut the tiles to shape around the toilet base. Most toilet bases are oval shapes with unparalleled curves, so good tiling skill is needed if you want a nice fit.

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