If you’re installing a new toilet or replacing a broken seal, there are a couple of options for a new toilet seal. Traditionally plumbers have used wax rings, but there are new mess-free options on the market as an alternative. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two.
Wax Toilet Seals
Wax rings have been the go-to seal for plumbers for years. The wax (which can be made from beeswax, petroleum or other ingredients depending on the manufacturer) provides a pliable seal between the flange and the toilet bowl.
Wax-Free Toilet Seals
Wax-free toilet seals offer an easy, mess-free installation. These seals often attach to the toilet bowl with a strong ring of adhesive. Once it’s firmly in place, you can simply lower the bowl into the flange for an airtight seal.
Which is better?
A few common reasons for replacing a toilet seal are when you start to notice odors, a leak, or a wobbly toilet. Sometimes you’re simply installing a new toilet. Either way, deciding which seal is best for your application is key.
When the time comes to remove a wax seal, you’ll definitely have your work cut out for you. Wax seals make for a messy removal. You’ll need a putty knife to scrape the excess away.
If your bathroom has new floors, the flange might be a bit recessed since it’s common to install the new layer of flooring over the previous one. You can either use a flange extender or double up on the wax rings. Double the seal, double the mess—and the toilet is more likely to slide around under excess weight or rotted floors.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Clearly wax rings have been successfully used in the plumbing industry for decades, so why switch to something new?
New bathrooms have the option of having radiant heating installed and its popularity is growing. Since heated floors weren’t as common in the past, there’s an odd chance that the heat produced by this system can melt a wax ring.
Wax-free toilet seals are made out of a heavy duty rubber, so they’re flexible enough to shimmy into the flange without smearing a wax ring. Wax-free seals can also be reused. As long as they’re still attached to the bowl in good condition, you can reinstall the toilet without replacing the seal.
So, which is better? It all comes down to your personal preference. If you feel more comfortable using something tried and true, stick to a wax ring. For a newer mess-free approach, wax-free toilet seals are the way to go.