How to Install a Toilet Paper Holder?

If you recently moved into a new home or apartment, there is a decent chance your bathroom(s) didn’t come preinstalled with toilet paper holders. Not to worry – this job is not all that difficult – in fact, anyone with a few basic tools can get it done in just 20 minutes or so.

I’ll walk you through the process of how to install your toilet paper holder, including everything from selecting the right location to prepping and installing the fixing.

Tools & Materials

  • Drill / Driver
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape
  • Level
  • ¼” Drill bit
  • Stud finder
  • Hammer (optional)

Installing a Toilet Paper Holder – Guide

tools and materials
Tools and materials needed for the installation.

Keep in mind that the process of how to install a toilet paper holder will differ depending on the exact model. The mounting hardware will differ somewhat from one unit to another, as well as the installation procedure, so be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions as you complete the installation process.

Step 1: Plan the Install Location

Before you start measuring and drilling holes in the wall, it’s a good idea to put some thought into the installation location. The last thing you want to do is install the holder in a spot that’s impossible to reach when you’re sitting on the toilet!

Choose a location that’s easy to reach when you are seated on the toilet, and won’t require you to torque your entire body to reach it. An ideal location is about 8 to 12 inches in front of the toilet, and about 2 to 2.5 feet from the ground.

In some cases, you’ll be limited as to where you can install the holder based on the location of the sink, cabinets, the bathtub, and the back of the toilet itself. In my case, I had only a small window in between the toilet and the bathtub tiling to install the holder so I had no choice but to place it there.

Step 2: Unpack Box and Check Components

At this point, you can open up the box and examine the contents. Check to see if you have all the necessary parts including the mounting hardware.

Also, check to see how the parts fit together and the clearance required when mounting the arms in place.

Step 3: Tape the Template in Place

Most of these kits come with a paper template to guide you in placing the mounting holes in the correct locations. In my case, the paper template had multiple options, depending on whether you wanted to use the hardware for mounting a toilet paper holder or a towel rack.

leveling template


Hold the paper template in the position you plan to mount it and place your level on top of it to make sure it is in fact level. Also, pay attention to the hardware profile to make sure you have enough clearance to fit the hardware in place.

Step 4: Use Your Stud Finder to Locate Studs (Optional)

Next, use your stud finder to locate any studs or wiring that may be hiding behind the wall where you plan to install the holder. Of course, you can still install the holder into a stud if you wish, and you won’t need to use a drywall anchor in that case.

Step 5: Drill Pilot Holes

Next up, you’ll want to drill your pilot holes in the exact locations marked on the template. My kit recommended using a ¼” drill bit, but this can vary depending on your specific mounting hardware.

drilling pilot hole

Step 6: Insert Anchors

Next up, you’ll want to insert the plastic drywall anchors into the pilot holes you just created. For most anchors, you can simply push the anchor into the hole, or sometimes you may need to gently persuade it into place with a few taps with a hammer.

Step 7: Fasten Mounting Brackets

Now that your drywall anchors are in place, you can fasten the mounting hardware and brackets into the wall. Line up the bracket with the drywall anchor and fasten the included screw(s) using a screwdriver.

fastening mounting bracket
Fastening mounting bracket.

Make sure to mount the brackets with the lip facing outward for this type of bracket. The protruding lip is what holds the set screw in place in the next step, and if it’s mounted the wrong way your holder will have nothing to keep it in place. (I made this mistake the first time.)

Then, line up the holder arms with the mounting brackets and check to see that they fit. There typically is a small set screw that locks the arms to the mounting brackets. Make sure these screws are facing downwards so they aren’t visible from above.

tightening the set screw
Tightening the tiny set screw.

Tighten the set screws with your screwdriver and then your arms should be secured to the wall properly. Then you can insert the telescoping middle section and voila – you’ve successfully completed the installation of your toilet paper holder.

toilet paper holder installed in drywall
Jobe done!

Step 8: Clean Up

Drilling holes in drywall is messy business, and you’ll be left with small piles of drywall dust under the spots you drilled your holes. Use a small vacuum or broom to tidy this up before you move on to the next job.

The good news is once you learn to install a toilet paper holder, you’ll have no problem completing similar tasks like mounting towel bars, installing coat racks, and other hanging fixtures.

Denis Gardner

I've loved tinkering and fixing things for as long as I can remember. So, naturally, I gravitated towards DIY and home improvement when I bought my first home. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or messing around with my newest tool!

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