Can you smell sewer gas in your bathroom? Is water leaking around the toilet bowl? Your toilet flange might need to be replaced.
This tiny piece of hardware located under your toilet plays a significant role in keeping it working properly. Because it isn’t easily accessible, most of us only check on it when the red flag is on, and leaks or odors are apparent. At this point, investing in a new flange might be your best option.
Luckily, several types are available to fit all toilets, and installing a new one is relatively straightforward.
What Is a Toilet Flange?
A toilet flange is a round object placed over your toilet drain opening, and just underneath your toilet seat. Most professionals also call it a “closet flange.”
In short, the wastewater flows out of the toilet through a wax ring before reaching the flange. It then continues its route to the pipe for drainage.
The Different Types of Toilet Flanges
Offering a range of features, there are six types of toilet flanges commonly available.
Plastic Toilet Flanges
These are the most affordable models and are generally made of polyvinyl chloride — PVC. It’s a strong, durable, lightweight and rust-resistant material (1).
Other products contain ABS plastic, which is even stronger and can cover the sound of water running through.
You’ll find flanges entirely made of plastic, while others include a metal ring affixed on the top.
- Durable and rust-resistant.
- Compared to other materials, they’re more likely to crack under high pressure.
Copper Toilet Flanges
Flanges made of copper are known for their high resistance to rust. They can be made of either flexible copper, or a more rigid frame. The sturdier models, however, are more difficult to install.
In addition, copper doesn’t make a good host for bacteria, viruses and fungi (2). Hence, it makes it an ideal contestant to transport soil water.
- High resistance to corrosion.
- Antibacterial and antifungal.
- Made with either rigid or flexible material.
- Heavier than plastic.
Cast Iron Toilet Flanges
This type of flange is typically designed to match pipes of the same material, and generally, shows an elongated shape. This gives them excellent stability, reaching further down inside the pipe.
Although they come at a higher price-point, they’re extremely durable and have good resistance to corrosion. Bear in mind, however, that many different types of cast-iron exist, each made with various constituents, and therefore, quality (3).
- Sturdy and long-lasting.
- Resistant to abrasion and corrosion.
- Elongated in shape.
- May rust faster than other materials.
Aluminum Toilet Flanges
Typically, only the ring is made of aluminum, which sits on a body made of another material such as plastic or even cast iron. Aluminum, however, is a flexible material. For this reason, it’s often combined with copper or magnesium to increase its strength.
Either way, aluminum makes long-lasting flanges that will withstand corrosion and rust.
- Resist rust.
- Sturdy when combined with other metals.
- Low-quality aluminum may be too flexible to support high pressure.
Stainless Steel Toilet Flanges
Just like aluminum, only the ring is typically made of stainless steel. The remainder of the flange can be built with cast iron, plastic or other materials.
Keep in mind, however, that there are more than 100 types of stainless steel. The most common type of stainless steel — 304 — contains 8 percent nickel and 18 percent of chromium. Silicone can also be added to improve its resistance to oxidation.
- Heat resistant.
- Resistant to oxidation.
- The type of stainless steel used will determine its quality.
Brass Toilet Flanges
Brass flanges are made to last. They’re built with a copper and zinc alloy, giving them their strength and resistance. Hence, brass flanges come in various sizes and shapes, including offset types.
Furthermore, the material can withstand water contact and heat, making it a durable material for a long-lasting product.
- Available in various shapes.
- Strong and long-lasting.
- Can quickly oxidize when exposed to air.
What Makes the Best Toilet Flanges
Unfortunately, there is no one-flange-fits-all. Besides the materials, they also come in different shapes, sizes and thicknesses. Each one is designed to fit various types of pipes and needs.
While shopping for flanges, you’ll find four main shapes and types:
- Regular models: They are designed to fit just around or inside the pipe’s opening. These are generally only a few inches deep.
- Deep seal flanges: These models reach deeper down the pipe. They can be as deep as 12 inches and are sometimes meant to fit inside an old flange.
- Offset flanges: When the pipe opening is too far from or too close to the wall, these models allow a quick and easy adjustment. They feature an elbow to make it possible to install the flange a few inches away.
- Repair types: If you don’t want the hassle of removing the old flange, these models can be affixed above your damaged hardware.
The Right Diameter
Whether you’re looking to slide your flange inside the pipe or over it, all models come in only two sizes: 3 or 4 inches. Before picking a product, measure the opening’s dimension to select a matching model.
As we mentioned, a flange should reach above your floor. If you have a thick subfloor, you’ll likely need a spacer or extender to reach the desired height.
Some models come with a swivel ring located above the flange. It can then be easily adjusted to insert the toilet bolts properly, even after the flange being glued. Products built with a fixed ring need to be positioned in the right direction from the start.
The Best Toilet Flanges of 2020
Picking the best toilet flange among the available options can be overwhelming. To make your selection smoother, we’ve evaluated all choices. We’ve assessed the shape, quality, material and considered customers’ feedback.
Here is our final list of the five best types of toilet flanges.
1. SIOUX 889-GPOM
If your drain opening isn’t placed exactly where you wish, this product might come in handy. This offset model is composed of a PVC body that features a slight elbow. This characteristic allows you to move the toilet about 1.5 inches away from the drain.
The flange is designed to match 4-inch pipes and is built with a top ring made of sturdy 430 stainless steel material. You shouldn’t, therefore, have to worry about corrosion or rust. On top of that, the ring can twist to adjust the toilet bolt positioning easily.
Towards the bottom of the flange, you’ll find a 1.25-inch rubber band to allow a tight fit inside the drain. It’s made of elastomer rubber, which is able to withstand contact with chemical compounds (4).
- Can move the drain 1.5 inches away.
- Stainless steel swivel ring.
- Thick rubber band.
- It doesn’t include screws or bolts.
|Flange Type||Offset stainless steel flange|
|Pipe Dimensions||4 inches|
|Material||PVC and stainless steel|
|Dimensions||4 by 3 by 3 inches|
|Unique Feature||Offset type|
2. Oatey GIDDS-173390 43539 Replacement Flange
This toilet flange is designed to fit 4-inch pipes. It’s built with plastic PVC, and therefore shouldn’t corrode as regular metal would. If you had a cast-iron flange, this product should be a perfect replacement. It will fit cast-iron pipes but will also be suitable for drains built with other materials.
It comes with a rubber band to keep it tightly in place inside the pipe. Some users were even able to insert this hardware inside their old flange without removing it.
Reviewers seem happy with how user-friendly the product is, and that no plumber help is required to set it up. Although it’s made of plastic, they’re also delighted with the quality and durability of the product. It even comes with stainless steel bolts — 3 inches high — for a smooth installation.
- Easy to install.
- One-year warranty.
- Damage appeared sooner than expected.
|Flange Type||Plastic Flange|
|Pipe Dimensions||4 inches|
|Dimensions||12.7 by 7.5 by 4.9 inches|
|Unique Feature||Suitable for cast-iron pipes|
3. Flexon Toilet Flange - Includes Spacer System
This model can be used either to install a new toilet or to replace an old flange. If your floor is higher than the pipe opening, this product should meet your needs. It includes spacers able to raise your flange from 0.37 to 0.12 inches.
We like that this product includes a toilet seal gauge. An uneven flange can result in an unstable toilet, and the flange can potentially break under pressure. Use this tool to ensure that it’s perfectly flat and steady before continuing the installation.
Lastly, this model complies with NFS regulations. This ensures its performance, quality and safety, as well as its sustainability.
- Two spacers included.
- It can be installed inside an old flange.
- Includes a gauge.
- Wax ring isn’t required.
- Without the wax ring, some users reported that this product isn’t fully air-tight, and odors can leak.
|Flange Type||Plastic flange|
|Pipe Dimensions||4 inches|
|Dimensions||11.3 by 6.7 by 4.2 inches|
|Unique Feature||Comes with spacers|
4. NEXT BY DANCO (10672X) HydroSeat Toilet Flange
This model is designed for quick fixes. Removing an old flange isn’t only time consuming and exhausting; you also run the risk of damaging the pipe while doing so. If you’re not plumbing-friendly, you may even have to hire some help.
This product allows you to fix your water leak issues without touching the old flange. It’s even compatible with all drains and previous hardware. You won’t have to wonder if it will match your pipe configuration.
Place a wax ring above the existing hardware and position this new flange above it. Press firmly and secure it onto the floor using the two included steel screws. Use the two included stainless steel washers for better stability.
It’s that simple — you can now place your toilet back!
- Easy to install.
- Old flange doesn’t need to be removed.
- Can’t be installed on new toilets.
|Flange Type||Stainless steel flange|
|Material||Rubber funnel, stainless steel frame|
|Dimensions||7 by 1 by 7 inches|
|Unique Feature||Designed to be installed above an old flange|
5. Oatey 42255 Closet Flange, 4-Inch, Cast Iron
This toilet flange is composed of several high-quality and durable elements. Its body is made of cast iron and comes with an inner brass ring. Both materials are extremely durable and water-resistant, ensuring the product’s longevity.
In the inner circle, towards the bottom, you’ll find a rubber band to keep the hardware secured inside the pipe. This high-end product even comes with a one-year warranty.
Many reviewers used this model to replace an old cast-iron flange and were delighted with the result. Although it’s a heavy-duty model, they found it easy to install, and most were able to set it up on their own.
Bear in mind, however, that the edges are thick and may require you to drill further into the flooring to accommodate the extra thickness.
- High-quality materials.
- One-year warranty.
- Easy to install.
- Not suited for high floors.
|Flange Type||Cast-iron flange|
|Pipe Dimensions||4 inches|
|Dimensions||7 by 7 by 2 inches|
|Unique Feature||High-quality materials|
Detailed Comparison Chart
|Product||Best||Type||Pipe Dimensions||Material||Dimensions||Unique Feature|
|SIOUX 889-GPOM||Offset||Stainless steel||4″||PVC and stainless steel||4 x 3 x 3″||Offset type|
|Oatey GIDDS Replacement Flange||Popular||Plastic||4″||PVC||12.7 x 7.5 x 4.9″||Suitable for cast-iron pipes|
|Flexon Toilet Flange||High Subfloors||Plastic||4″||Plastic||11.3 x 6.7 x 4.2″||Comes with spacers|
|NEXT BY DANCO HydroSeat Toilet Flange||User-Friendly||Stainless steel||All||Rubber funnel, stainless steel frame||7 x 1 x 7″||Designed – be installed above an old flange|
|Oatey 42255 Closet Flange||Durable||Cast-iron||4″||Cast-iron||7 x 7 x 2″||High-quality materials|
Common Problems of Toilet Flanges
Do you notice leaks under your toilet? Has your toilet become loose? Or is there an unpleasant smell? Your flange might need to be replaced.
Rust and Corrosion
This may be one of the leading causes of flange failure. Even the toughest metals can be eventually eaten away by rust, forming this common orange color. It’s generally a good idea to regularly check its level of oxidation.
Flange Sitting Below Floor Level
A toilet flange should be set-up just above the ground. If it’s lower than the floor level, it won’t hold the toilet properly. The bowl will likely shift, causing leaks and leading to an unstable toilet.
In this case, you have two options. Either you replace it with a higher model, or your add an extender — or spacers. This additional piece will raise the flange to the floor level.
Not only should your flange be installed above the floor, but all edges should also sit equally on the ground. When there is a gap between the flange and the floor, the pressure may eventually break down the material.
The higher end of the pipe can get clogged with toilet paper or other unwanted debris. The water then has no other way out than coming back up the toilet. When going through the flange, leaks often occur.
You’ll then need to unclog the drain, whether on your own or with the help of a professional. Although the flange may not need to be replaced, it’s a good idea to check its condition. If leaks happen when the water is coming up, they can also arise in regular situations.
Other Common Problems
- Rocking toilet: The movement can cause a flange to crack over time. Ensure that the toilet’s bolts are tight and the toilet well secured.
- Damaged wax ring: This important layer between your toilet and the flange can also get damaged, leading to both water and odor leaks. It’s then a much easier fix — you’ll only have to change the ring.
How to Replace a Toilet Flange
While many opt to hire a professional plumber, replacing a toilet flange on your own isn’t very complicated.
- Shut-off water: Turn off the water valve.
- Empty the toilet bowl and tank: Manually or with a water vacuum.
- Remove the toilet: Unscrew the toilet bolts and lift the toilet. You might need some help as one can weigh up to 120 pounds.
- Take off the wax: Remove this soft layer. If it doesn’t come out in one piece, scrub the remaining wax.
- Clog the drain: To prevent foul smells from coming back up, place an old rug inside the pipe.
Removing the Old Flange
- Break off the damaged flange: Once the wax ring is removed, grab a small hammer and a chisel. Break the flange from the inside and edges. Sturdier models might require a drill and more elbow grease.
- Pull the old flange: When it starts getting loose, use a pry bar to lift it away.
Installing the New Flange
- Place the new flange: Ensure proper fitting and see if it sits evenly throughout. You may have to keep breaking the floor if it doesn’t.
- Optional: Some models require adding a layer of glue to the outer side of the flange, before inserting it into the pipe. This prevents it from shifting.
- Secure the flange: Screw it to the floor, the hardware is often included in the package.
- Insert the toilet bolts: Insert the two screws upside down on each side of the flange. They should be symmetrical and aligned parallel to the back wall.
- Place a new wax ring: No mounting is necessary; simply put it above the flange. New versions are made of rubber and fit inside the toilet bolts.
Putting the Toilet Back
- Place the toilet back: Align the toilet with the bolts.
- Tighten the bolts: To keep the toilet in place.
- Place the caps over the bolts: If they’re too long, use a tool to cut them to the desired length.
- Try it out: Give it a few flushes to ensure everything functions properly.
Discovering a toilet leak only to find out that the flange needs to be replaced isn’t pleasant news. It also requires some plumbing knowledge. You’ll need to know what elements make the best toilet flange, as well as the proper method to install one.
Luckily, many options are available, and flanges are designed to fit all types of toilets and pipes. First, measure your drain’s dimension to select a matching model. Then pick the shape and materials that meet your requirements.
When it comes to installation, we hope you feel more confident about the steps required to install one. If you feel that this is above your plumbing abilities, a professional should be able to install it in no time.