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How To Paint Behind A Toilet: Three Easy Solutions

Are you looking to DIY your bathroom paint job? 

You’re in luck: applying a new paint color is one of the easiest and most affordable home improvement projects you can tackle. A coat of paint is a great way to update any room of your home, but it can really help refresh your bathroom. 

However, the cramped, awkward space between your toilet tank and the wall poses a huge challenge that may have you scratching your head. No matter how you look at it, you just can’t figure out how to paint interior walls behind the porcelain throne. 

Fortunately, all it takes is a little ingenuity and the right tools to obtain a smooth, uniform finish for the drywall in this tight space. 

 Let’s look at how you should prep your space and three ways you can paint behind a toilet to make your DIY paint job look like you called a professional painter. 

How To Prep Your Bathroom Walls For Painting

Many homeowners want to jump right into a DIY project because they are so excited about the results. But it’s incredibly important to prepare your space to ensure a smooth, even paint job. 

Here are some ways to prep the bathroom walls before painting behind a toilet.

  • Clean Around The Entire Toilet: Even beginners know how important it is to start with a fresh canvas. Clean the toilet bowl, base, and surrounding walls thoroughly to prevent painting over any dirt and debris. 
  • Prep The Toilet: Remove the toilet tank lid and set it aside to prevent getting paint on it. Drain the toilet tank to prevent messes and start running painter’s tape along the tank. 
  • Cover The Toilet: Use a large sheet of plastic or a garbage bag to cover the toilet to keep paint splatters at bay. Lay a drop sheet or additional trash bag on your floor to keep the area clean. 
  • Tape The Trim: Use painter’s tape to cover existing baseboards and create a sharp, professional-looking line.  
  • Brush Around The Water Pipe: Whichever method you choose, you’ll need a paintbrush to cover the area around the water inlet pipe. Choose the right paint brush based on your drywall and the type of interior paint you chose. 

Now that you’ve taken steps to prepare your canvas for easy clean-up, it’s time to paint behind the toilet. 

Three Ways To Paint Behind A Toilet 

Changing the paint color in your bathroom is the best way to make a huge impact on the space. 

To make your painting project look professional, you’ll need to ensure all areas are coated in at least two layers of paint, even the hard-to-reach areas, like behind a toilet. 

Here are three ways you can tackle painting in this tight space to achieve professional-grade results and some painting tips you can use during your bathroom renovation project. 

1. The Mini Roller Route 

Using a mini paint roller is the easiest and most common way to paint behind a toilet. 

Not only does this method give you the most control, but the materials are easy to obtain and can be reused for other home improvement projects. 

Materials Needed: 

  • Mini Paint Roller Pad
  • Mini Paint Roller Frame
  • Small Roller Tray (optional) 
  • A Drop Cloth 

How To Paint Behind The Toilet:

Roll your mini roller with the metal frame pointing towards the toilet to get the best finish. Pay close attention to any piping or fixtures to prevent staining. 

If possible, paint in a vertical pattern to match the rest of your wall space. This approach will work for most toilet setups and allow you to create a cohesive paint finish. 

2. The Stick And Rag Approach

If you can’t get behind the toilet tank with a mini roller, then you may need to use a paintbrush. However, sometimes the paintbrush can’t reach far enough behind the toilet tank, so you need another method to get paint behind this area.

In these situations, the stick and rag method allows you to create your own painting tool for minimal cost, making it great for a bathroom reno on a tight budget. 

Materials Needed: 

  • A Flat Wooden Dowel Or Paint Stir Stick
  • A Cotton Rag (Like An Old T-Shirt)
  • A Small Drop Cloth
  • Tape

How To Paint Behind The Toilet:

First, you’ll need to create your tool. Start by wrapping the cotton rag around a flat wooden dowel, like a paint stir stick. Secure it with some tape to prevent it from unraveling during painting. 

Next, dip your tool into the paint tray or brush paint onto it using a paintbrush. Be sure not to soak the rag in paint, or you’ll end up with unsightly drips and smudge marks on your wall. 

Gently slide the stick back and forth behind the toilet until the area is painted. This method is more likely to smear paint that hasn’t dried, so always ensure the wall dries completely between each coat. 

3. Remove The Toilet Tank (The Last Resort) 

There will be rare instances where you can’t even fit a paint stir stick between the toilet and the wall. In this case,  you’ll have two options: use a small brush to paint around the perimeter and leave the area behind the toilet bare or remove the toilet tank. 

This can be a daunting task usually reserved for a plumber, but homeowners can DIY it themselves. Here are the steps for removing the back of the toilet from the base and painting behind the toilet. 

  • Turn Off The Water: Use the valve on the side of the toilet to shut off the water flow. Flush it to drain the tank and unscrew the water hose from the bottom of the tank. 
  • Detach The Tank: Reach underneath the tank to feel for two plastic bolts and nuts holding the tank onto the base. Unscrew both and gently lift the tank off. 
  • Paint The Bathroom Walls Behind Your Toilet: This is the easy part. You should have plenty of room to paint around the toilet with the tools you used for the rest of your bathroom painting job. 
  • Reattach The Tank: Once the wall paint has fully dried, replace the water tank and reattach using the plastic bolts and nuts. Reconnect the waterline. 
  • Restore The Water Flow: Turn the water valve back on and give your toilet a flush to ensure everything is back in its proper place. Take time to check for leaks. 

Remember that this approach is a last resort and not typical for most home bathrooms. If you aren’t comfortable removing the tank from your toilet, enlist a plumber who can help you get to those hard-to-reach areas behind the toilet. The good news is that you should be able to paint behind most toilet tanks with a paint brush so you shouldn’t have to take off the tank. 

Paint Behind The Toilet For A Professional Look To Your DIY Paint Job 

When it comes to painting your bathroom, you must get the details just right if you want it to look professionally done. This means choosing the right approach to painting the tight spaces behind your toilet. 

Take the time to get this area just right and your paint job will elevate the entire bathroom aesthetic. 


Hi, I'm Chris. I'm a professional painter with over 10 years of experience. I want to show homeowners tips, guides, and advice to save them time and money when painting their own home. I know it can be daunting to take on a painting project yourself, but it doesn't have to be. With the right information and some guidance, you can easily paint your home and save money in the process.


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