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Whenever I move into a new place, one of the first things I do is switch out the toilet seat. It's an surprisingly simple task that costs so little, yet provides a lot of peace of mind.

The style of your new toilet side is entirely up to you; whether you want contours, a squishy surface, or seashells suspended in acrylic, there are a lot of options out there. The shape of your new seat, however, depends on the shape of your toilet bowl.

There are
two types of standard toilet shapes: Elongated and round/regular. An elongated seat is 18 ½ inches long, while a round/regular seats is 16 ½ inches long. Measure the seat lengthwise, from the furthest edge of the seat to the center of the hinge-post holes where the seat connects to the bowl.

Tip: Measure your toilet bowl before setting out to buy a new one. The alternative -- lugging your old seat to the home improvement store -- is, well, just not a good idea!

Now it's time to install your new toilet seat in six easy steps.

1. Locate the seat's hinges. This might be obvious, but sometimes the existing seat's hinges are covered in plastic caps that can be hard to detach. Pry them off with a flat-head screwdriver if they're being stubborn.

2. Unscrew the bolts. The bolts are what actually hold the seat in place, and are located beneath those plastic caps. Grab a wrench and hold the nut in place while simultaneously loosening the bolt with the screwdriver. Got a bolt that won't yield? Whether metal or plastic, just give it a quick spritz with WD-40. Let it penetrate for about five minutes and try again.

3. Apply adhesive squares. If the toilet seat comes with a pair square stickers, each with a round hole in the center, remember to apply these over the toilet's hinge-post holes, lining up the holes. These stickers prevent the seat from sliding around once it's installed.

4 . Sit the new seat atop the bowl and line up the holes. Slide a bolt through the seat mounting, reach under the bowl rim, and thread the nut onto the end of the bolt.

4. Tighten nuts and bolts by hand at first. If you use a wrench too early, you could wind up cracking the porcelain toilet. Once you're sure the seat is lined up properly, tighten it up with your wrench.

5. Test that the seat's securely fastened. Open and close the lid, and gently move it from side to side with both hands. If it feels unsturdy or is off-kilter, realign and retighten bolts with the screwdriver and wrench. Repeat this process until you're satisfied. Close the plastic caps.

TIP: Sometimes, if a toilet seat is wobbly, you can simply swap old, damaged "bumpers" (the nubs that keep a seat from sliding off the bowl) with rubber or plastic versions found at your local hardware store.

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