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Shopping for a Toilet


What's a Rough In?One-Piece Dual-Flush Toilet

Before you buy a new toilet, you'll need to know the rough-in measurement. The rough in refers to the distance from the finished wall to the center of the toilet's floor drain or waste outlet.

If you aren't able to see the center of the drain (you already have a toilet in place), measure from the wall to the center of the bolt cap, also called the closet bolt. The closet bolts hold the toilet to the floor and there are usually two, one on either side of the waste outlet.

Always 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 to the retailer, not to mention slowing down an important project.

Most toilets have a rough-in of 12 inches, although it's not uncommon with older homes to have an unusual size such as a 10" or 14" rough in. Even corner toilets typically have a rough in of 12 inches, though never assume. Make sure to check the specs on the toilets first, before shopping.

Rear-outlet toilets are configured a bit differently. Rather than going through the floor, the waste outlet on these toilets goes into the bathroom wall. The rough in for a rear-outlet toilet can vary by manufacturer, and the measurement is taken from the finished floor to the center of the outlet pipe.

toilet rough-in diagram

Select a Shape

Another thing to consider when buying a toilet is the shape of the bowl and, hence, the shape of the seat. Toilets come in round and elongated versions and choosing between the two is usually one of space and personal preference.

Measuring from the center of the seat bolts, an elongated toilet seat is usually around 18 inches long, while a round seat measures 16.5 long. Since the elongated bowl is a couple of inches longer, consider the clearance in front of the toilet and the room it will need for a door or other obstacle.

 Toilet Shapes

Many people feel that the elongated toilet is a more comfortable design, yet a round bowl generally takes up less space. If you prefer an elongated bowl, but are limited on bathroom space, look for a compact elongated bowl.

If you have a particularly small bathroom or one with an awkward layout, the corner toilet may be the best option for you. With these types of toilets, the tank is formed into an angle to fit into the corner of the room.





ADA-compliant Toilets

For homes that require it, an ADA-compliant toilet is becoming easier to shop for, and the variety of designs is ever growing. But what makes a toilet ADA compliant? The height of the toilet from the floor is generally between 17 and 19 inches, so about 2 to 4 inches higher than a standard toilet.

For people who have trouble bending the knees or standing, those who are taller in stature or simply find the added height more comfortable, ADA-compliant (or "comfort height") toilets can make a bathroom more amenable their needs. Keep in mind that if children are a part of the home, though, a standard-height toilet will be easier for them to use.



Water-Saving ToiletsDual-Flush Conversion Kit

One of the biggest things on the mind of a homeowner is how to save on money, and that includes considering utility usage like water. In the mid-1990s, the EPA release new standards for residential, so newer toilets have a water usage of 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush).

Also called "low-flow toilets," water-saving toilets have been greatly improved upon. In fact, modern dual-flush toilets let you choose amount of water needed to flush (.8  or 1.6 gallons). An older model single-flush toilet can even be made more efficient using a dual-flush conversion kit, like the one shown below.


Other Features

People who've never purchased a toilet may not realize the many different options available for them. For instance, toilets come in one-piece, two-piece and even wall-mounted designs. A traditional toilet has a two-piece design consisting of a tank and bowl, while with the two-piece version, the tank and bowl form a seamless unit.

With a one-piece toilet, you can usually expect a higher price, though the benefits can outweigh the negatives. A one-piece toilet is easier to clean, simply because there is no segmentation for dirt to get trapped in. And many people find the one-piece construction to be sturdier and leaks less likely to occur.

Two-piece toilets tend to be less expensive than one-piece and easier to repair or replace, if needed. Since they are made up of two pieces, they are not as heavy to lift and install in the desired area of the home.