How To Paint Behind A Toilet (DIY Guide Without Removing It)

So it’s time to paint your bathroom. You remove all the things hanging on the walls, lay down the tarp, but then you think a bit: How am I going to paint directly behind the toilet? The problem is that most toilet tanks sit close against the wall, so it’s hard to reach.

We put together this detailed DIY guide on how to paint behind a toilet to help you out.

Before painting anything, you need to prepare the area. Fortunately, this is often easy to do. Here is a quick step-by-step guide on what to do.

  1. 1
    Remove all the mats, shower curtains, towels, personal items, etc. If possible, also try to remove anything attached to the walls like towel racks or pictures. You want the walls to be as clear as possible.
  2. 2
    Remove the top of your toilet tank lid and cover the open tank with some tarp or plastic sheeting to keep the paint out. Also, make sure that parts of the tank are covered, so they do not get paint on them.
  3. 3
    Next, cover the bathroom floor with a tarp or with plastic sheeting. If you use plastic sheeting, you can cut it to fit around where the toilet connects to the ground.
  4. 4
    Also, make sure that you keep any doors or windows open for ventilation. Painting in an enclosed space like a bathroom can make you lightheaded if you do not get enough air.
  5. 5
    The final preparation step is to clean the area behind the toilet as best as you can using a small, thin brush or roller. If there is enough space, you can clean it by hand with a rag.
How To Paint Behind A Toilet Without Removing It

How to Paint Behind Your Toilet (With & Without Removal)

You might think that you have to remove your toilet to paint behind it effectively, but this is not true a lot of the time. You can paint behind a toilet without having to remove it and without having to hire a professional to get the job done.

1. Mini Roller Method

Here is what you need for the mini-roller method:

  • Mini roller frame
  • Mini roller pad
  • Mini roller tray
  • Drop cloth
  • Some tape

Most people say that the mini roller method is the easiest. Once you have prepped the area for painting, make sure to put painter’s tape between the toilet and the trimming on the wall and around the edges of the toilet.

From there, slowly slide the mini-roller behind the tank and cover the main portion of the wall. You won't be able to get right up next to the nozzles and pipes, so for that, you will want a small brush, about 2" wide works best.

2. Stick and Rag Method

Here is what you will need for the stick and rag method:

  • Paint stirring stick
  • T-shirt or rag
  • Drop cloth
  • Tape

This method is also very simple and does not require you to purchase any special tools. Similar to other methods, prep the is for painting and remove the toilet tank lid. Apply painter’s tape against the wall trim and around the edges of the toilet.

Next, tie the rag or shirt to the painter’s stick and cover one side with a modest amount of paint. Stick the paint-covered rag behind the toilet tank and slowly work your way around the wall until you are finished. If need be, touch up the spots near hoses and nozzles with a small hand brush.

The stick and rag method is useful when there is not much space between the tank and the wall.

3. Removing the Tank Method

If the above two methods do not work and there is too little space between the tank and the wall, then your best option is probably to remove the tank and paint.

Sometimes, you can get away with not painting that part of the wall (no one will see it anyway!), but if you want to go this route, here’s a quick breakdown of how to remove the tank.

First, turn off the water supply to your toilet and remove all excess water from the tank and the bowl. Next, unscrew the water hose from the bottom of the tank on the exterior of the toilet.

Most of the time, the toilet tank is attached to the bowl with a series of plastic bolts and nuts located on the underside of the tank. Unscrew these nuts and bolts, and you should be able to gently lift the tank and remove it to paint the wall. When you reattach the tank, make sure the hose is attached and the bolts are tightened.

If your toilet has a one-piece design, then you won’t be able to just remove the tank. In these cases, you might have to remove the entire toilet to get to the wall. We would recommend hiring a professional to remove an entire toilet.

Benefits of Painting Behind Your Bathroom’s Toilet

Painting around the area of a toilet keeps the entire bathroom a consistent color scheme. It can also be a way to spruce up the walls and make them look new. In some cases, it might be simpler for you to just leave the wall behind the toilet unpainted, but it depends on your personal preferences.

Some other good reasons to paint the wall behind the toilet are that it can protect the wall from water leakage if the paint has a sealant and protect from mildew or mold that might form.

How To Paint Behind Toilet Tank

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is the best paint for a bathroom wall?

The best paint for bathrooms is paint with a semi-gloss or satin finish. These two types of finishes are durable and easy to clean. Latex paint also tends to work well for bathrooms and kitchens.

How do you get paint off the back of a toilet?

Fortunately, most wall paints do not stick to ceramics that well, so you can often just scrape paint residue off the back of your toilet tank. Some cleaning solution or a mild paint thinner might also help.

Can you repaint the inside of a toilet bowl?

Yes, you can, but it takes a special method. Most paints do not stick to ceramics well. You need to clean and sand the material down, then use something like acrylic latex spray or another waterproof spray paint. You can also paint the exterior of your toilet with regular paint.


Painting behind a toilet can be no fun, but with a bit of know-how, it does not have to be difficult. Follow our guide to make the process as easy as possible!

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