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Toilet Buying Guide – Selecting a Toilet

 

 
 
It may seem like such a simple purchase, and you might be under the assumption that “it’s just a toilet,” however there are some important things to know before you decide. The toilet is one of the most frequently used items in anyone’s home, especially in large households, so choosing the right one is essential. There are several factors to consider aside from color and the price on the tag; dimensions, bowl shape, height, design, and functionality differ from commode to commode. Being familiar with the variables will ensure that you are making the right selection.
 

Measure Your Rough-In

 
The toilet rough-in refers to the distance from the finished wall to the center of the toilet's floor drain or waste outlet.

Most toilets have a rough-in of 12 inches, although it's not uncommon for older homes to have an unusual size such as 10" or 14". Take the time to measure, never assume, and be sure that the toilet you decide to purchase is compatible.

When measuring, you should measure from the finished wall - not from the baseboard or molding. A well-measured rough in will keep you from having to make unnecessary adjustments or returning a toilet. If you aren't able to see the center of the drain (i.e. you already have a toilet in place), measure from the wall to the center of the bolt caps. There are usually two bolt caps, one on either side of the toilet.

Rear-outlet toilets are configured a bit differently. Rather than waste exiting through the floor, it exits through the bathroom wall. The rough-in measurement for a rear-outlet toilet is the distance from the finished floor to the center of the waste outlet.

 

Bowl Shapes

 
Toilet bowls are offered in two different shapes. Round bowls are typically the standard shape, and you should stick with a round bowl if you are limited in space. Elongated bowls are generally two inches longer at the front for added comfort. If you are thinking about an elongated bowl, measure your area to ensure that the longer front end will not interfere with any doors, drawers, or other objects in the room.
 
 

Bowl height

 
The bowl height is the distance measured from the finished floor to the top of the toilet bowl, before the actual toilet seat. The standard bowl height of a toilet typically falls between 14 and 16 inches. Taller toilets are available which comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The bowls of ADA compliant toilets, also known as “comfort height toilet,” fall within the range of 17 to 19 inches in height, which make them easier on knees and back to provide comfort for those in need. It is also important to keep in mind that a toilet seat will add an additional ½"-1" in height.
 
 

Toilet Designs & Styles

 
   Two-Piece  
  These toilets are the traditional style and likely what you have in your home now. The bowl and the tank are two separate pieces, where the tank is bolted to the bowl.  
     
   One-Piece  
  Once piece toilets are exactly as they sound; they are constructed as one piece. The bowl and the tank are not separable, which creates a seamless look. Some also find that one piece toilets are easier to clean due to less gaps and crevices.  
     
   Corner  
  If you are limited in space, or turning a small room into a half bath, a corner toilet may be just what you need. These space-savers fit snuggly into a corner to provide you with more floor space.  
     
   Rear Outlet  
  Rear outlet toilets connect to plumbing through the wall, rather than through the floor. Already popular in Europe, this design is gaining popularity in the United States due to their ability to be installed in most areas of the bathroom. These toilets are also great for bathroom additions on a concrete slab.  
     
   High Tank  
  High tank toilets combine a vintage look with modern functionality. The tank is not connected to the bowl, but hung from the wall above. Pulling on the chain releases water from the tank down into the bowl, where it then exits through the drainpipe.  
     
   Skirted  
  Many one-piece toilets are also skirted, which means that the trapway below the tank and bowl is concealed to enhance their overall sleek appearance. Additionally, this eliminates the areas where dust and other particles tend to accumulate around the toilet, making them even easier to clean.  
     

Flushing Systems

 
   Standard Flush  
  These types of toilets will have the traditional single-lever flushing system, which uses simple gravity and water weight to generate flushing pressure.  
     
   Dual-Flush Toilet  
  Also known as a water conserving flushing system, dual-flush toilets are ideal for those who look for efficiency. The flushing mechanism contains two buttons, giving you the option to perform a full flush (1.6 gallons per flush) or a partial flush (.8 gallons per flush), allowing you to save water at your discretion.

Standard toilets also have the ability to be converted into a water-saving toilet by swapping out the tank's existing flushing system with a dual-flush conversion kit.
 
     
   Siphonic Toilet  
  Siphonic toilets incorporate an S-shaped drain trap into their design. When the toilet is flushed, the waterway fills up with water and the tank pours a large quantity of water quickly into the bowl, creating a siphonic reaction for a powerful flush to empty the bowl rapidly. Toilets featuring a siphonic flush are available in both standard and dual-flush configurations.  
     
   EcoClean  
  A rimless bowl uses a powerful, horizontal-swirling flush to thoroughly rinse itself after each use, lessening waste buildup to make cleaning more efficient.  
     

What is a bidet?

 
  You've probably heard the term before or come across them when browsing new toilets, but exactly what is a bidet? While common in countries around the world (especially Europe), bidets are just beginning to become more common in homes in the United States. While it looks a lot like a toilet, it functions like a sink. It contains a basin, drain, and faucet that is used to wash up after using the toilet. While their concept may be a little goofy to some, bidets offer a very convenient way to freshen up. If you have the room to add one, a bidet may very quickly become a luxury that you won’t want to live without.