If you’re replacing a toilet or installing a new one, one of the key parts you’ll need is a wax ring. This ring sits between the toilet and the waste pipe, creating a water-tight seal to prevent leaks.
When shopping for a wax ring, you’ll notice some models have a built-in plastic flange, while others do not. So what’s the difference, and which style should you choose?
Here, we’ll break down the pros and cons of wax rings with and without flanges to help you make the right choice.
Wax Ring Basics
First, let’s briefly go over what a wax ring is and how it works.
A wax ring is a simple yet important toilet part made of a pliable wax material.
It sits between the horn or outlet of the toilet and the toilet flange, which is a pipe fitting embedded in the floor that connects to the waste line.
When you bolt down your toilet, the wax ring gets compressed and pushed outward, creating a tight seal around the toilet horn and flange. This prevents water from leaking as it exits the toilet bowl and enters the waste pipe.
Over time, the seal may weaken as the wax deteriorates. Replacing the wax ring ensures you don’t end up with leaks and water damage.
Wax Rings With Built-In Flanges
One popular style of wax ring comes with a plastic flange already attached. This flange, also called a horn or funnel, sits inside and around the toilet horn to help center and stabilize it. Models like the Fluidmaster Waxfree Toilet Gasket offer this design.
- Provides extra stability for the toilet. The flange helps center the horn perfectly over the floor flange, preventing wobbling or shifting.
- Creates a very secure seal. The flange presses tightly against the inside of the horn while the wax seals the base. This double seal prevents leaks.
- Makes installation easier and faster. You don’t have to perfectly center or level the toilet yourself – the flange takes care of that.
- May fit uneven flanges or floors better. If the floor flange is slightly off-center or angled, the built-in funnel can flex to accommodate it.
- Lasts longer. The plastic flange retains its shape over years of use compared to plain wax.
- More expensive. Wax rings with flanges tend to cost $5-10 more than plain wax rings.
- Can be trickier to install on small toilet horns. Getting the flange settled inside a petite horn takes some maneuvering.
- Potential for clogs if flange extends too far into horn. Make sure it doesn’t block water flow.
- Can’t be reused if you remove toilet. The flange only compresses once.
Wax Rings Without Flanges
The simpler wax ring design does not include a plastic flange or funnel piece. The entire ring is just wax. Popular options are the Danco Perfect Seal Toilet Wax Ring and Fluidmaster Better Than Wax Toilet Seal.
- Very affordable, with prices from $3-7. It’s the cheapest wax ring option.
- Compresses and seals well without a flange. The wax uniformly smashes down around the horn and flange.
- Easy to center and install. You can set it where you need without maneuvering a flange into place.
- Can be reused if you remove toilet. Just reshape and reinstall the wax ring.
- Toilet may be less stable without the flange. It can rock or shift if the floor isn’t perfectly level.
- Seal may leak over time. Plain wax can compress down or erode unevenly.
- Doesn’t accommodate flawed flanges as well. Can leak if floor flange is angled or uneven.
- Challenging for DIY beginners. Centering the toilet precisely takes skill.
Now that we’ve compared the pros and cons, here are some tips for choosing the best wax ring style for your toilet installation.
Choosing a Wax Ring: Tips
- Opt for a flanged ring if the floor or flange is uneven. The flange flexes to seal imperfections better.
- Get a flange-less style for toilets with smaller horns to avoid clogs. Measure to ensure the horn opening exceeds the flange diameter.
- Choose a flange-less ring for reuseability. You can reshape and reinstall it multiple times if removing the toilet.
- Pick a flanged ring for easier DIY installation. The flange practically guarantees perfect centering.
- Make sure to use a new ring anytime you remove and reset a toilet. Old rings won’t seal as well.
- Consider trying a flange-free wax-free gasket for maximum ease. These rubber gaskets work well and reuse easily.
- Always use a compatible wax ring thickness. Match it to the toilet horn and flange height to avoid leaks or blockages.
Wax Ring Flange FAQs
A flanged wax ring is not mandatory, but it can make installation easier and prevent leaks in some cases. Opt for a flange if your floor or flange is uneven or if you want to center the toilet flawlessly.
Always install wax rings directly onto the floor flange. Never place them up inside the toilet horn itself. Putting the ring on the flange ensures it makes optimal contact all the way around.
The flange is a plastic funnel or horn piece embedded in some wax ring designs. It slides inside the toilet horn to center and stabilize it during installation. The flange connects the wax ring to the toilet while allowing the wax to seal the rest of the gap.
Yes, you must install toilets onto some kind of flange. The flange provides the stable, solid connection point to the waste pipe that toilets require. Make sure an existing flange is in good condition before setting the toilet, replacing it if needed.
The Bottom Line
Wax rings with and without flanges both have their pros and cons and appropriate applications. Built-in flanges tend to make installation foolproof and prevent leaks, while plain wax rings offer affordability and reuseability.
Make sure to evaluate your specific toilet and floor situation to determine the best wax ring design. With quality wax rings, proper installation, and regular maintenance, you can avoid leaks and enjoy years of worry-free performance.