A freshly repainted wall can instantly brighten up any bathroom, but how does one reach that tricky space between the water tank and the wall? For an easy approach with a professional finish, read our guide on how to paint behind a bathroom toilet!
Repainting every wall but the one behind a toilet tank may be easier, but it gives home paint jobs a sloppy, unfinished look. A professionally finished bathroom instantly raises both the aesthetic and monetary value of any space.
Researching how to remove a toilet tank to paint behind it makes your paint job easier, as it grants you more room to work on the surrounding walls. More comprehensive paint jobs also last longer, as primers and topcoats on all four walls can prevent moisture damage from humidity exposure.
Learning how to paint behind a toilet seat may cost a little more time, but it’s well worth the investment.
How To Prepare For Painting Behind A Toilet
1. Remove all personal items
Ensure any mats, shower curtains, towels, cosmetics, and other portable, personal items are removed from the bathroom. In such an enclosed space as the bathroom, overspray or splatter is a serious risk. If your bathroom mirrors aren’t built-in, consider removing them.
2. Remove the top of your toilet
Since the rounded lids can bulky, lift the lid from the top of the toilet to give yourself more space. Cover the toilet in a large plastic trash bag or drop cloth, and secure around the base with painter’s tape.
3. Clean & cover the bathroom floor
First, clean any dirt, hair, or dust from the floor. You should cover the floor with a tarp or sheet while painting but, while the walls dry, there’s a risk of particulates being kicked up onto still-wet walls.
4. Ensure proper ventilation
Cramped bathrooms can often collect paint fumes and aerosolized spray. Open any bathroom windows, turn on overhead exhaust fans, and set up adjacent fans for proper airflow. When in doubt, use a respirator mask to be safe.
5. Clean & prep the toilet area
Toilets can often collect dirt and grime in their lower crevices. Clean this area thoroughly, particularly where the wall meets the floor, and tape the intended painting space.
6. Clean the toilet wall
DIY painters often ask, how do I clean the walls behind the toilet? We recommend using a padded painter’s tool or sponge-lined stick. Wet the porous side with soap and water, and press along the wall to remove dust, product residue, or mildew. Let dry before painting.
How To Paint Behind Your Toilet (DIY Methods & Hacks)
1. The Mini Roller Method
The Mini Roller Method is one of the easiest methods for painting behind a toilet without removing the tank. Follow our prep tips, ensure the plastic is firmly affixed to the toilet, and tape the trim.
Apply primer if necessary. Then, using a small brush, paint around the toilet’s water inlet pipe emerging from the wall. Brush out in about a 6” circle, and brush another 6” of clearance along with the trim paint.
Next, attach a 4” roller pad to a 1” wide long-handled mini roller, about 16” long. Using any standard paint tray, paint the roller in smooth strokes along the bathroom wall. Remove the tape and plastic bag, and check the toilet for paint splatters. Let dry.
2. The Stick & Rag Method
Another approach to how to paint a bathroom behind toilet is the stick and rag method, which works better for toilets with less space between the tank and wall. Better yet, this method requires even fewer specialty tools. Simply follow our prep instructions and pick up a paint stirrer and a rag or a t-shirt you don’t like.
Wrap the rag around the stick and tape it firmly into place. Next, dip just one side of the rag into your open paint: It’s tempting to fully submerge the rag, but this ruins your control and leaves a mess. Simply slide the stick back and forth until the wall is fully coated.
Let each coat fully dry and apply about 3 coats, as layers will be thin. Remove the tape and plastic bag, and check the toilet for paint splatters. Let dry.
3. By Removing The Tank
We may prefer painting without removing the tank, but sometimes, you’re left with no choice. Luckily, it can be surprisingly easy to learn how to remove a toilet tank to paint behind it. We recommend against removing the toilet in its entirety so, if your tank cannot be separated from the toilet, you may need expert advice.
If your tank is separate, start by turning off the water supply—this is usually a valve coming out of the wall and into the toilet. Next, flush the toilet until the water tank has emptied.
Unscrew the water hose on the bottom left side of the tank, where it connects the bottom of the tank to the back of the toilet. Find the plastic nuts and bolts under the tank's sides, and unscrew to lift the tank fully. You can remove it from the bathroom or place it in the tub for safekeeping.
Cover the remaining toilet seat in plastic, and paint the wall as you wish. Once dry, reattach the water tank in reverse order, connect the waterline, and turn the water on. Try flushing: if it works, you’re set! If you encounter issues while removing or reinstalling, check online or consider a professional plumber for troubleshooting.
Painting Behind A Toilet FAQs
What kind of paint do you use to paint behind a toilet?
Since bathrooms are natural hotspots for moisture and humidity, we recommend using paints with anti-microbial formulas to prevent mold and mildew damage.
Waterproofing isn’t as important as an anti-porous formula: High or semi-gloss paints can also repel moisture compared to more absorptive matte finishes.
Do I need to prime bathroom walls before painting?
If you’re covering a preexisting paint job in good condition, you likely won’t need primer. But if you’re working on a renovation, fresh drywall, or patching holes, you’ll want a multi-purpose water-based primer to be safe.
What kind of paint do you use on a toilet seat?
Plastic, acrylic, and wooden seats all work well with multi-surface epoxy paints, but ceramic toilet seats may work better with latex-based paint.
What could go wrong when painting behind a toilet?
Paint stains on toilets are the most common issue but removing the toilet’s water tank can cause plenty of problems. If you’re not an experienced DIYer, consider calling a plumber to remove and reattach the water tank.
The risk of ruining your new bathroom with water stains, dented drywall, or chipped porcelain makes seeking a plumber's advice well-worth the cost.
Can you paint your toilet bowl?
Yes! You’ll need to drain the water, sanitize the surface, sand with 120-grit sandpaper, and spray a latex-acrylic primer. Once dry, apply an appliance-quality epoxy paint and let dry completely before refilling with water.
Learning how to paint a bathroom behind toilet may seem daunting, but our how-to guides make things easy. Just remember: Take your time, do your research and, when in doubt, call a plumber!