Here are some of the important things to consider before you purchase a new toilet, a permanent fixture in your home or office.
Seat Height & Comfort
When selecting a toilet, don’t forget about overall comfort. You’ll be spending many hours on the toilet over the years, so why not make it comfortable for yourself? One of the biggest comfort factors is seat height.
- Standard Height: 15-17” off the ground. The standard height is more common in households with children and more frequently installed in general.
- Comfort Height (ADA Compliant): 17-19” off the ground. The chair height is better for those with restricted mobility or for seniors, adding more comfort. It’s more comfortable for taller people as well.
- Children’s Height: Lower-seared toilets for children.
- Variable Height: Wall mounted toilets have a range of heights which they can be installed at.
Toilet Mounting Options
Toilets are either mounted on the floor or on the wall. This is mostly a style preference but each comes with it’s pros and cons.
- Floor Mounted Toilets: Most toilets are mounted to and sit on the floor of your bathroom. This is typically the least expensive option which is why it’s the most common.
- Wall Mounted Toilets: Wall mounted toilets are mostly a style feature. They are sleek and allow for each cleaning under and around the toilet. They are also expensive and more-complicated to install which makes them less common.
First make sure the toilet dimensions will fit your space (not all toilets follow a standard size). Measure the rough-in size (this is the distance between the wall behind the toilet and the center of the drainpipe or the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor).
- Two-Piece Toilets: Most common and more affordable, the two-piece toilet also makes for easy installation. The main advantage of the two-piece toilet is you can replace the tank or bowl separately, if something goes wrong.
- One-Piece Toilets: Easier to clean, this sleek toilet model combines the tank and the bowl into one streamlined unit. The two-piece toilet has a joint area which is potentially a breeding ground for mold and bacteria if not cleaned regularly. The one-piece unit is more aesthetically pleasing, although more costly.
- Wall Hung Toilets: Typically appear as 1 piece toilets but often, the tank sits in the wall which technically makes them 2 piece toilets.
The Toilet Base
- Exposed Base: Here, the base of the toilet is “exposed” so that you can see the curves and angles of the drain pipe.
- Skirted Base: A skirted base toilet adds an element of design to your bathroom and is also easier to clean. The skirted base acts like a veil, replacing the snake-like tubing on a traditional toilet with a clean look.
Toilets come in different shapes. For the most part, the toilet’s shape is a design element but some toilet fit better than others in small spaces.
- Elongated: Elongated toilet bowls measure up to 31 inches from the wall behind the toilet to the front of the bowl. These elongated bowls with their oval shape provide more comfort overall.
- Round: More common and more appropriate for smaller spaces, the round toilet bowl does not extend as far out as the elongated one. It’s often associated with older, small bathrooms.
- Square: Square toilets are more rare than the other shapes.
The Flushing Handle
It’s not something that most of us think about but toilets have a number of options in terms of how you flush. Which is best? Our article comparing single to dual flush toilets will help.
- Single Flush: The single flush toilet is the most common version. As the name implies, this is typically a handle or button which flushes the same amount of water through the bowl each time.
- Dual Flush: These dual-flush toilets were launched in the 80’s, saving water and offering separate flushes for solid and liquid waste. There are two flushing options for a full or partial flush (1.6 gallons per flush and 1.1 gallons per flush). While these toilets need less water to flush efficiently, some users find that using the #2 setting is the best way to ensure a complete flush. Overall, they tend to save water, but the model has not been perfected yet.
- Touchless Flush: The touchless flush toilets are a welcome addition, as toilets tend to be hotbeds for germs. You simply place your hand near a sensor, usually located on the top or side of the toilet tank, to trigger the flush. Possible negative aspects are that these devices require batteries and also, as you may have experienced, they tend to flush on their own, unnecessarily.
The Flushing Mechanism
Up until about 2018, most toilets used a similar flushing mechanism known as the gravity flush. Now though, most manufacturers have developed new and more expensive mechanisms to flush your #1 and #2.
- Gravity Fed Flush:The most common system, the gravity flush, uses the water weight to create flushing power. One benefit of the gravity flush is that it’s quieter and over time requires less maintenance than a pressure-assisted flushing system.
- Pressure-Assisted: Pressurized air forces water into the bowl when flushed, minimizing the chance for clogs. This system is noisier and generally costs more. Also, it tends to require more maintenance than the gravity flush system.
- Siphon Jet: Siphon-jet toilets have a curved trap system that prevents sewer gases from ever entering your bathroom. The siphoning effect sucks out water and waste. After the flush, an automatic valve refills the emptied tank, preparing it for the next flush and giving you a fresh new bowl.
Toilet Features & Smart Toilet Options
Smart toilets have added features and benefits that make life easier and come at a higher price than your standard toilets. There are many possible add-on features like heated seats, a UV light under the seat, an air dryer, a deodorizer, LCD remote or even a built-in bidet system. You can spend upwards of $4,000 on a Toto toilet, for example, which incorporates a bidet, auto open/close lid feature, auto flush, heated seat and more. Customize your bidet experience with fully adjustable water pressure and temperature settings as well. Some smart toilets have a pre-mist function, which sprays the bowl with water before each use, preventing waste building up and keeps the toilet bowl clean. Some offer a massage function. Smart toilets often come with a remote control for managing their many functions.
- Heated Seats: Yeah, that’s right, toilet seats now have heating options.
- Self Cleaning Toilets: Higher-end smart toilet models can also include features where they clean themselves.
- LED Lighting: Why? Not sure but now it’s a “thing”!
- Auto Open and Close: There are few greater feelings in life than when a toilet opens the lid as you approach. Not kidding, try it:-)
- Auto Flush: Flushing is such a hassle. Why not ask your toilet to flush itself?
- Front and Rear Wash: Added feature to basically convert your toilet into a bidet as well.
By federal law, today’s toilets must use 1.6 gallons of water per flush (GPF) maximum. High-efficiency toilets use even less water. As a rule of thumb, the older the toilet, the more water it uses. Toilets built before 1982 tend to use 5 to 7 gallons per flush. Recent advancements have allowed toilets to use 1.28 gallons per flush or less while still providing equal or superior performance to standard 1.6 gallons per flush toilets. Toilets, by the way, use approximately 30% of the water in a typical household.
- EPA WaterSense Certified Toilets: The EPA WaterSense program is a voluntary certification provided to manufacturers who create water-efficient toilets (and other products)
There are a couple of culprits when it comes to noisy bathrooms – the closing of the toilet seat and the flushing of the toilet. You can look for “slow close” or “quiet close” toilet seats when shopping. The flushing, a bit more involved, has many aspects to it. There are quiet fill flush valves that can replace your current valve. But before taking action, you need to isolate the noise by taking the cover off the tank and listening for the problematic noise.
The most common color, by far, for toilets is white. However, you might want to match your décor with beige, grey or a more modern bathroom with black. While you’re not going to see all the colors of the rainbow represented when it comes to toilets, you will have a few choices.