We have a multitude of options for everything these days- toilets are no different. Figuring out how to buy a toilet that will best meet your needs and space means educating yourself a little on the different styles and options available. There are several factors to consider when upgrading or simply replacing your toilet. These include: type of toilet, style, and flushing mechanism to name a few.
If you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed, please don’t. After all, that’s what BBG is here for. This guide will walk you through all of the important considerations you should make before purchasing a new toilet. You’ll come out knowing more about commodes than you ever thought possible.
Let’s start at the beginning- the first thing you should decide is what “type” of toilet you are looking for.
Types of Toilet
Although there are some combo units and hybrids out there, most home commodes can be defined as either a “gravity-feed” or “pressure-assisted” toilet. These terms describe how the toilet physically flushes and gets rid of the waste.
These toilets use the oldest trick in the book to get the job done: gravity. Gravity pulls everything down right? Yup, sure does. In these models, when the flush valve is pushed, the water from the tank pours into the bowl and out the drain on the bottom, taking all of the unwanted stuff with it.
This is the oldest, and most commonly seen type of toilet. The advantages of gravity-fed toilets is that they are fairly quiet and require minimal maintenance. Pressure-assisted toilets are usually thought to be more efficient with flushing waste, however higher-end gravity-fed toilets can hold their own, according to Consumer Reports.
Gravity-feed toilets are usually a little cheaper that their pressure-assisted counterparts, but be warned- I know from experience that cheaper commodes don’t always get the job done. We had to replace 2 of our toilets after moving into our new home after 1 year because of flushing issues.
As the name implies, these toilets have a pressurized water system that pushes the water from the tank into the bowl with more power. This gives each flush more “strength”, making it very efficient and clearing all waste from the bowl.
This type of toilet is recommended for larger families with multiple users. Be warned that the flush is significantly louder than the gravity-feed units and they tend to be a little more expensive.
No, we’re not talking about how stylish the commode is. In the toilet world, style refers to how the unit is constructed. After you decide on the type (gravity vs pressure-assisted) of toilet, you should decide on whether you want a one-piece, two-piece, or wall-mounted model.
As you might have guessed, this type of toilet comes in 1 piece. This means that the tank and bowl are connected together as one solid unit.
These toilets are easy to install and look great (very stylish), but usually cost a little more that two-piece units. They are also easier to clean because there are fewer nooks and crannies to wipe.
However, if something malfunctions, you may have to replace the entire toilet.
Most toilets we see are two-piece models. These are the traditional commodes where the tank is bolted separately onto the bowl during installation. This makes installation a little more difficult, but it’s still not that bad.
These toilets are popular because they are less expensive and they last for a long time. The great thing about this style is that if something does go wrong, you can easily replace which ever part needs replacing.
You can also find toilets that are mounted directly to the wall (not urinals). These are pretty rare in homes, but are seen fairly often in commercial buildings because they look sleek and are easy to clean. These commodes are lacking the traditional tank above the bowl- instead, the water tank is actually behind the wall.
The benefit is that since the toilet doesn’t touch the ground, it takes up very little space. It might be a smart choice if bathroom space is limited to begin with. Just keep in mind they cost more and installation is a little more involved.
If deciding on a toilet wasn’t difficult enough already, I’m going to throw another factor to consider into the mix: how the toilet flushes. Yes, you can even decide how you want your new toilet to flush- isn’t the 21st century great!
Seriously though, you do have a few options.
Most of the commodes we grew up with where simple, single flush systems. These toilets still work great and are still the most common option. You push the handle down and you get the same size flush every time.
These toilets have 2 flush options- full or half. The full flush typically uses 1.6 gallons of water (as per the Energy Policy Act of 1992) and should be used for solid waste. The half flush is usually around 0.8 gallons and can be used for liquid waste.
Dual flush commodes are great because you can use less water, but they are more expensive to purchase and can require more maintenance than the simpler single flush units.
Tired of having to touch the toilet every time you use it? If so, you can opt for a third option- touchless flushing. These toilets are similar to the high-tech commodes you see all over the commercial world that flush automatically when you leave.
Home touchless flush toilets usually require you to wave your hand over a sensor to initiate a flush. The benefit is the same though- less touching and less germs.
Additional Toilet Options
We’ve gone over all the functional stuff to consider when choosing a toilet, now it’s time to get to the good stuff. The following options are probably more interesting to consider because they give you a chance to really personalize your new toilet. I say go for it and have fun exploring all the shapes and designs available.
After all, who said all toilets have to be the same?
Bowl shape is another characteristic you get to choose these days. Although the actual shape can vary, especially with the newer “smart” toilets, most bowls come in one of three shapes:
- Round- as the name implies, these bowls are round in shape. They are smaller (compact) than oval shaped elongated bowls, so they work well for children or for smaller bathrooms. These toilet bowls are usually about 14″ wide and 16″ long These bowls aren’t usually as comfortable as the longer, elongated bowls though.
- Elongated- these bowls are oval shaped, making them longer than the round models. They are usually about 2″ longer than round bowls (18-19″ long) and this extra length makes them more comfortable to sit on. These bowls allow easier access to cleaning one’s self as well.
- Compact Elongated- these bowls are for the folks who want the comfort of an elongated toilet bowl, but are short are floor space. These compact elongated bowls have a smaller footprint but still provide the longer bowl.
Elongated toilets don’t have to be oval, they can be more rectangular in shape too. Compact toilets can also be more square.
Seat height is an important thing to consider, especially if you are any family members are starting to have difficulty getting up and down from the commode. The toilet is usually the lowest seat in the house (and probably one of the most used seats).
Standard height toilet seats are about 14-15″ high. If you don’t have any mobility issues, a standard height toilet should be fine for you.
However, if you do have trouble getting up from a seat that low, you could choose a “comfort height” or “chair height” toilet that is 17-19″ high. The extra inches will make it easier for getting up and down from the most popular seat in the house.
The trapway is the bendy pipe part on the side of the toilet base. This part of the toilet is notorious for being difficult to clean.
Why clean it when you don’t even have to see it? You can choose toilets now that have concealed or skirted trapways:
Concealed- you don’t see the S-shaped trapway, instead the toilet is nice and smooth down here. The bolts are covered, yet still visible
Skirted- the area where the trapway is is still smooth, but the bolts are covered too
Both concealed and skirted trapways are easier to clean. The skirted look is a little more sleek and modern.
Although white is still the most popular toilet color, most manufacturers are producing toilets in all kinds of colors. Common toilet colors include: off shades of white, tan, yellow, green, black, and gray.
You can definitely make a bold statement with your toilet if you want to, just be careful if you plan on selling your home anytime soon- buyers may not share your taste in style.
When in doubt, stick with white- it never goes out of style.
It seems like everything these days is smart, from light bulbs to thermostats. Why should the noble commode be left out? Well now it doesn’t have to. These days high-tech toilets are on the rise!
Well, turns out high-tech toilets have become fairly common in Japan, and the trend is making it’s way to North America.
High-tech toilets offer a wide range of extra features, including:
- Bidets with variable water pressures
- Self-warming seats
- Air drying
- Scent removal
- Touch-screen remotes
- Floor warming
And the list can go on. It’s pretty amazing what some of these toilets can do. It’s also pretty amazing what some of the toilets can cost. You can easily drop $6000-$8000 on a high-tech toilet.
More Things To Consider
I told ya buying a toilet was serious business. If you feel like you need some kind of cheat sheet at this point, don’t worry, there’s one at the bottom. And again, don’t feel pressured to consider ALL of these aspects when picking a toilet. Just know there are a lot of different things you CAN consider if you want to.
And speaking of which, here’s a few more…
In the real world, cost is where most of us are going to start. We are going to set a budget and try to find the best toilet to meet our needs within that given budget. Or, if you are anything like me, you are going to set a budget, start looking, and realize you may have to set your budget a little higher to get what you really want.
Either way, it’s good to have an idea of what kind of toilet you can expect within different price ranges. I hope this helps.
P.S.- these prices are for purchasing the toilet only, if you have it professionally installed there will be an additional cost
Less than $200: any toilets priced under $200 are going to be budget toilets. Most will be two-piece round or compact bowls with a gravity-feed flush. They are likely to come only in white and don’t expect any high-tech features. They may work well with single users or smaller families, but you might have issues with clearing all the waste due to weak flushes.
$200 – $400: this price range includes most mid-range toilets. These are the commodes that will fit most families’ needs. In this range, you can expect dependable two-piece elongated toilets and some comfort height options.
$400 – $800: stepping into this price ranges gives you a lot of options. These are higher-end toilets with more dependable flushes, still probably gravity-fed. You can get one-piece comfort height elongated toilets as well as elongated-compact models. Still no high-tech stuff though.
$800 – $1500: these are very nice toilets with a ton of style and design options. You see one-piece touchless toilets in this range as well as elegant skirted bases.
$2000 and up: this price range is where you get to the really wild stuff. All of the high-tech toilets hide in this price range, as well as most dual-flush systems. Most of these are one-piece, sleek, and awesome. Most of the wall-hung toilets are also found in this upper price range. Beware, when I say “up”, I mean really “up”… remember the $8000 toilet?
Location is something to consider for a few reasons. First of all, you have to know how much floor space you have to work with. If you are purchasing a new toilet for a small powder room for example, you may be leaning toward a compact toilet. Larger rooms can accommodate toilets with larger footprints.
Location should also be considered when deciding how much cash you want to spend on a new commode. If said commode is going, say, in the master bathroom (your bathroom), you may want to splurge a little and get a nicer product.
If it’s only going in a guest bathroom that is rarely used, you may want to consider going with a more budget friendly toilet.
Also think about whether small children will be the primary users or not. I know from experience, kids find a way to destroy everything. Personally, I would never put a $1000 toilet in my children’s jack-and-jill bathroom, but that’s me.
Who is going to install your new toilet? Are you taking on the task yourself or hiring a professional? Answering this question may help you decide on what type of toilet you need. If you are planning on installing yourself, you may want to go with a more straightforward installation, like a one- or two-piece gravity fed system.
If you are hiring a pro, get whatever you want! They can handle it. Just keep in mind that you will have to pay this pro an installation fee when setting a budget for your new toilet.
According to HomeAdvisor.com, the national average price for having a toilet installed is $370. Actually prices vary and usually fall in the $200 – $500 range.
More complex toilets will cost more. Some professionals will also charge you more for carrying a toilet up a set of stairs. Remember, as part of the installation, the plumber should take and dispose of your old commode.
We’ve gone through several factors you should consider and features you can use to help you decide on your next toilet. If all of this feels like too much info, that’s ok. Remember, this information is here for you to use at your disposal. Use as much or as little as you need.
I want you to enjoy the process! Have fun with choosing your next toilet. Consider that we all need to use the toilet every day- if you have to do it, you might as well do it in style.
Also consider, that bathrooms and kitchens are the two rooms of the home that upgrading typically gives you the most bang for your buck in terms of resale.
I wanted to include a little cheat sheet here at the end to help you keep tract of all the characteristics you can use to choose your next toilet.
I hope this helps.
New Toilet Checklist
- Type: gravity-feed vs pressure-assisted
- Style: 1-piece vs 2-piece vs wall-mounted
- Flush: single vs dual vs touchless
- Bowl shape: round vs elongated vs compact elongated
- Seat height: standard vs comfort height
- Trapway: standard vs concealed vs skirted
If there are any questions or comments, please leave them below.