Toilet Buying Guide

You might think that a toilet is just that: a toilet. Actually, there are many differences between toilets and toilet brands with variations on bowl shapes, styles, flushing technologies and heights. Without the proper information, buying a toilet can be downright painful. Below you will find some information to guide you in making your toilet purchase.

Types of Toilets

Toilets come in a wide variety of styles with customizable parts. These include round toilets, wall-mounted toilets and high-efficiency toilets.

Did you know that water-saving toilets account for nearly 30 percent of water usage in the average home? Water-saving toilets (also known as high-efficiency toilets) can help decrease the amount of water used per day. Some water companies will even offer you a rebate if you install a water-saving toilet, which can save up to 4,000 gallons of water per person annually. Before purchasing, compare brands to see which ones maintain sufficient flushing power. You might want to consider dual-flush technology for your toilets. Two buttons on the tank permit you to choose a partial flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste. Certain models include high efficiency with the dual flush option.

Wall-hung toilets are a single piece and are easier to clean than standard toilets. They tend to be more expensive and can be more difficult to install than two-piece toilets. The wall on which you intend to install your toilet will require reinforcement to be able to hold up the weight of the toilet and the user.

Toilets complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act have bowl height of 17 to 19 inches instead of the standard 14 to 15 inches. Higher bowls can be more comfortable to use for taller people and senior citizens as well as those with disabilities. However, taller toilets can be harder for children and shorter people to use and tend to cost $50 to $100 more. To see how it would feel to you, test the toilet in the store before purchase.

Toilet bowls come in two different shapes: round and elongated. Round toilet bowls are more compact, making them ideal for bathrooms with limited space. Elongated bowls are egg-shaped and tend to be more comfortable than round bowls. If you are upgrading from a round bowl to an elongated bowl, be sure to take measurements before you perform the installation. There are many online horror stories about people installing a larger toilet only to find that the drawers and cabinet doors could no longer open. Don't make this mistake by failing to measure your toilets before installation.

Pressure-assisted toilets use pressurized air to force water into the toilet bowl when the toilet is flushed. Although pressure-assisted systems are less likely to clog, they tend to be more expensive than the gravity-flush system.

Gravity-flush systems are the simplest and the most common toilet system available today. They use the pressure of water weight to cause the toilet to flush and empty through the S-shaped trapway. The siphoning action generated by the S-trap completes the flush. This system is quieter than pressure-assisted systems and requires less maintenance as well.

Tankless toilets use water directly from a supply line connected to the toilet bowl. These toilets differ in that they do not have a tank of water set on top. In cases where there may not be sufficient water flow to clear the toilet bowl when flushed, the flush force is assisted with pumps. These toilets are extremely quiet and have a low profile. If the toilet uses pump-activated flushing, it will not work if the power goes out.

Pay Attention to


Prospective buyers are very sensitive to the colors of the toilets in the bathrooms of a home they are interested in. If you have the opportunity to select a color for your toilet, go with white if at all possible. There are a wide variety of colors available including airy blues and greens, soft pinks and beige. Colored toilets go in and out of style, making a colored choice less enduring than a white toilet. Rather than risk having your color choice become dated, consider pairing a basic white toilet with a colored toilet seat.

Rough-in distance

The "rough-in" is the measurement from the drainpipe of the toilet to the wall. You could also measure from the bolts holding the toilet to the floor to the wall if you wish. This step is extremely important to ensure that your new toilet will actually fit in the space available in your bathroom. Toilets are generally non-returnable, so you will want to be doubly sure that it fits in your bathroom. Be sure not to include the baseboard or any wall tiling in your measurements. The standard rough-in is 12 inches. Older homes can have a two-inch variation either larger or smaller, meaning that these rough-in measurements can equal 10 or 14 inches, depending on the toilet.

Trapway size

Trapways are where the water and waste slide down into the floor pipe. Trapways are serpentine-shaped to prevent sewer gasses from escaping into the air of the home. Most toilets have a two-inch glazed trapway. However, a larger trapway of 2 3/8 inches will resist clogging more effectively.

Toilet seats

Most toilets do not come with a toilet seat, even if they claim to be an all-in-one fixture. When selecting a toilet seat, you will want to be sure that the seat is comfortable for you to use. A terrible toilet seat will only give you an uncomfortable experience every time you need to use the bathroom. Keep in mind that the shape of the toilet seat needs to match the bowl shape of the toilet.

Flush valve

The flush valve is used to discharge the water from the tank into the toilet bowl. Three-inch to four-inch valves provide more pressure to clean the toilet than those using two- or two-and-a-half inches.

Top Brands

American Standard 2889.216.020 H2Option Siphonic Dual Flush Round Front Toilet

Champion-4 Right Height One-Piece Elongated Toilet

Kohler K-3817-0 Memoirs Stately Comfort Height Two-Piece Elongated 1.28 GPF with AquaPiston Flush Technology