How To Choose A Toilet: Choosing a toilet may seem like an easy task, but there’s a lot you should consider before making a decision.
Toilets come in different sizes, heights, and colors. Those factors are largely personal preferences and they are the easiest to choose.
You’ll also need to make sure it’s the correct “rough-in” (distance from the wall to pipe), decide on a dual flush or single flush, and pick a 1-piece or 2-piece toilet.
The majority of people have never thought about toilets or had to change theirs. Our ignorance is understandable given that toilets can last 20-30 years!
Those of us who have thought about toilets usually do-so when there is a clog or a leak. We get the plunger to unclog the trap or tweak a valve, and our toilet problem is solved!
If you’re trying to choose a toilet you’ll likely be remodeling, upgrading, trying to save water/money, or just want a change. You’ll quickly realize there are so many aesthetic options and technical information to know – where do you start?
This article covers 9 ways to choose a toilet. I’ve made them straightforward to follow so it will put you on the right track to finding the perfect toilet. Let’s get started.
How To Choose A Toilet (9 Tips To Help You Decide)
1. Look At The Room
Before you do anything, walk into your bathroom and visualize what it should look like. If you’re moving into a new house or remodeling it will be tough to imagine the finished product, however, you’ll have a general idea.
If your bathroom is already decorated and you’re only changing the toilet it will be much easier.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Will I need to replace pipes?
- Is the toilet moving or will it be in the same place?
- Do you want a wall-hung toilet (these look great but require more work)
It’s always easier to keep your existing pipes in one place. It makes installation of the toilet an easy process.
Use a tape measure to measure the hole in the floor to the wall where the toilet will sit. This is the “rough-in” measurement that you should know when choosing a toilet. Most “rough-in” measurements are 12” but there are also 10” and 14” options. Knowing the “rough-in” measurement is the first step to choosing a toilet.
2. Assess The Space
While you’re in your bathroom evaluate the space. It is adequate or will the space for the toilet be a tight fit?
Some people choose to use a corner toilet in a small bathroom because it can save space. If you have plenty of space then you have more options for the placement and size of the toilet.
Smaller spaces should use a standard “round” toilet bowl (as opposed to an elongated option).
3.Decide On Your Style
Some people will get stuck on the appearance of a toilet when remodeling a bathroom (just like I have strong opinions because I talk about toilets every day). But the truth is that toilets are hardly noticed and most people have a traditional-looking toilet – the main thing is that it works!
If you have a modern home or have a designer’s mind, you will probably want a toilet that looks sleek. Maybe you like bold lines or maybe you prefer smooth curves. Check out my article on the best square toilets.
If you’re choosing a toilet and want something that looks like a high-end toilet, then take a look at 1-piece toilets, toilets with a full skirt, and also look at wall-hung toilet options.
Most people use 2-piece toilets which are fine! But 1-piece toilets connect the tank to the bowl without spaces. 1-piece toilets have more curves and tend to look impressive.
Similarly, wall-hung toilets are modern looking and have fewer pieces. They make cleaning around and under the toilet a breeze and give off a floating look with added depth perception.
4. Understand Toilet Features
There are many features when it comes to toilets and a few you should be aware of. I’ve created a list of options but don’t be overwhelmed.
Once you understand these things you’ll have a great idea of what toilet is best for you.
- Dual flush vs Standard Flush
Dual flush toilets first became popular with municipalities and common areas. They are now popular in homes across America and they are an important contributor to water conservation.
Dual flush toilets are straightforward. They have two buttons, one for liquid waste and one for solid waste. The first button uses less water than the second. Here’s my article on the best dual flush toilets.
It’s not just about water, it’s also great for saving money. Use a dual flush toilet and you’ll help the environment and your pocketbook.
Old toilets from the 70s, 80s and 90s used 10 gallons, 5 gallons, and 3.5 gallons of water per flush. This much water is unnecessary.
Toilet companies, in conjunction with State regulations, have helped reduce the “gallon per flush” to an average of 1.28 gallons per flush. It’s important to be aware of gallons per flush because you’ll want to follow the regulations of your State and county.
These terms refer to the size of the bowl. If you’ve ever sat on a bowl and thought “this toilet seems small” then you were probably sitting on a round toilet bowl. Round toilet bowls measure 16.5” from front to back while elongated bowls measure 18.5”. 2 inches may not seem like much but it makes a big difference for larger and taller people.
I’d venture to guess that most homeowners in America opt for an elongated toilet bowl. Unless you’re lacking space, I’d go with an elongated toilet bowl 10 out of 10 times.
I mentioned the “rough-in” measurement earlier in this article and I can’t stress its importance enough. You must get the right measurement or you won’t be able to install your toilet.
To measure correctly, put your tape measure against the wall and extend it until it reaches the middle of your floor pipe. If you don’t have access to the pipe because the toilet is on, just measure to the bolts that hold the toilet down.
This is your rough-in measurement and it will likely be 12”. Occasionally it will be 10” or 14”.
Standard toilets measure 15” from the floor to the top of the bowl (seat area). If you’re a taller individual, a comfort height measure 17-19” from the floor to the top of the bowl (seat area).
2 inches may not seem like much but comfortable height toilets make it easier to stand up off the toilet. They are generally better for tall people, seniors, and people with health issues that affect their ability to stand up.
1-piece and 2-piece toilets are primarily a style feature. In my opinion, 1-piece toilets look better, but they’re usually more expensive as well.
1-piece toilets connect the tank to the bowl and must be moved and arranged as a single piece. 2-piece toilets are easier to move and install because the bowl of the toilet can be installed before the tank is attached.
Most people have 2-piece toilets so one isn’t better than the other, however, if you want a classier, more designer looks, a 1-piece toilet looks great.
5. Check Regulations For Your State (WaterSense)
With the increasing occurrence of drought and continuing depletion of groundwater, States, counties, and cities are enacting regulations for toilets.
Older homes were able to “grandfather” their old toilets as an exception to the regulations, however, many new homes and remodels require water-efficient toilets.
The WaterSense certification is an arm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and it’s been around for quite a while. It covers all types of products including toilets, showerheads, and faucets. Since 2006, 2.7 trillion gallons of water have been saved. In 2017, 631 billion gallons of water were saved – that’s incredible! Check out my article on the best water-saving toilets for drought.
When you’re choosing a toilet, keep an eye out for the WaterSense certification. You’ll be able to tell if the toilet you like meets the regulations by looking at the gallons per flush description (most water-efficient models use 1.28 gallons per flush).
6. Environmentally Conscious? Water and Cost Savings
We mentioned that many States and municipalities require water-smart toilets, but maybe you’re not worried about regulations and just want to help the environment and save money.
Whether you choose a fancy 1-piece toilet or a traditional 2-piece toilet, chances are it will be water efficient and have a dual flush option. The great thing about saving water is you’ll also be saving money (check out my article on the best toilet on a budget).
Be prepared to see your water bill cut by a third when you get a water-saving dual flush toilet! The savings on your bill will pay for the toilet in a few months.
7. Know Which Brand You Can Rely On
You’ll be surprised to find that while there’s a wide selection of toilet options, there are only a few quality brands. I’ve written articles in the past about the best toilet brands and I believe you want to stick with a brand you can trust.
My favorites are:
- American Standard
There are several other brands, but these are the stalwarts that have great reputations, a long history, and superb warranties.
Toto is a Japanese company and if you know the Japanese you know they love their toilets (and bidets!). They pay close attention to detail and have great style as well. Toto makes all their toilets sold in America, so you’re still supporting U.S. business. Check out my article about Toto toilets – are they good?
American Standard is a long-standing company that manufactures toilets based out of New Jersey. American Standard is a no-frills company that makes products that work. They sell modern toilets too, but most of their toilets are the standard 2-piece toilets that work efficiently and last a long time!
Kohler is another old American company based out of Wisconsin. They were founded way back in 1873. They make all kinds of kitchen and bathroom products. Chances are you’ve used a few faucets or showerheads made by Kohler.
8. Check The Toilet’s Warranty
Toilets are meant to last a long time. They’re made of durable clay and fired into porcelain. Once installed, we tend to never move them. For these reasons, we should expect a long warranty.
Before you buy a toilet, double-check the warranty. You’ll commonly find 5 and 10-year warranties but you’ll also find 1, 2, or 3-year warranties. As long as the company is reliable and has a good reputation, you shouldn’t have a problem.
9. Installing Yourself? You Can Do It!
Lastly, if you’re thinking about installing your toilet yourself then I suggest you go for it. The only reason I wouldn’t install my toilet is if I were moving the pipes or positioning them in the bathroom – in this case, I’d need a plumber for help.
However, if the pipes are staying in the same place as the prior toilet, then you can easily remove your old toilet and set up the new one. Setting the wax ring is an important detail, so make sure you understand the process but the act of removing and replacing a new toilet is pretty straightforward.
I hope this article on “how to choose a toilet” helps to put you on the right track for a new toilet. You might feel overwhelmed initially because there are terms you don’t understand.
Terminology like “rough-in”, “dual flush”, “elongated”, and “comfort height” were tough for me to learn early on, however, the more you work with toilets, the more you realize that there isn’t much to them.
There’s a bowl, tank, a few valves inside, a water line, and an exit pipe. If I had to choose a toilet the first thing I’d do is measure the “rough-in”. After that, I’d think about the bathroom and the style.
My heart might tell me to go with a modern 1-piece toilet but I’m afraid my finances would recommend a more traditional 2-piece. I’d go with a dual flush toilet that’s WaterSense Certified.
Each person will have a different vision for our bathroom and it will require various features. If you’re tall, an elongated bowl at a comfortable height make be the most important decision you make. If you don’t have much space in your bathroom a compact, the round toilet might be the best fit.
Be sure to check out the “toilet guides” on the menu to see the best toilets for every situation. Toilet Bazar aims to answer all your questions regarding toilets!