How to Remove Wallpaper From Behind a Toilet Tank

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Ever wonder what kind of wallpaper a bathroom once had? Try looking behind the toilet tank, where you'll often see a patch of faded or painted-over paper. Removing wallpaper from behind a toilet tank is a challenge for many do-it-yourselfers, who try to squeeze their hands back there to scrape, pull or scrub away the paper and glue. But there's a much easier way: Simply remove the tank. If you've never taken apart a toilet, that may sound intimidating, but anyone can do it.

Things You'll Need

  • Sponges, rags or a wet-dry vacuum
  • Towel
  • Large flat-bladed screwdriver
  • Hex wrench
  • Channel locks
  • Toilet hardware kit (if necessary)
  • Stool gasket
  • Shut off the water supply to the toilet. There should be a valve where the supply line comes in from the wall. Turn it counter-clockwise all the way.

  • Take off the tank top and set it aside.

  • Flush the toilet and hold the lever down so as much water drains out as possible.

  • Use sponges, rags or a wet-dry vacuum to get the remaining water out of the bottom of the tank.

  • Lay a towel beneath the back of the toilet to catch any water that may be in the fill valve.

  • Disconnect the water supply line from the bottom of the toilet. The coupling can often be unscrewed by hand. Use channel locks if necessary.

  • Remove the bolts holding the tank to the bowl.

  • Pull off the tank and set it aside.

  • Strip the wallpaper the same way you did in the rest of the room.

  • Inspect the hardware you removed earlier. If the bolts are badly corroded or the rubber washers are eroded, buy a replacement toilet hardware kit at a hardware store.

  • Replace the stool gasket--the rubber ring where the tank meets the bowl. Replacement gaskets are available at all hardware and home improvement stores.

  • Replace the tank by following the removal directions in reverse order.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're having trouble removing the toilet bolts, hold a large flat-bladed screwdriver in the slot on the top of a bolt, then use a hex wrench to turn the nut underneath the toilet.
  • Patch the wall while the tank is off. If you have another bathroom in the house and can leave the toilet out of commission for a while, then leave the tank off so you can prime and paint--or put up new wallpaper--on all of the walls at once.
  • You can still use the toilet even with the tank removed. To flush, simply fill a bucket with about 1.5 gallons of water from the tub spout and pour into the bowl. The toilet will flush itself.
  • If there's no shutoff valve at the toilet, shut off the main water valve.
  • When replacing the tank, don't over-tighten the bolts. Doing so can crack the porcelain.

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