Luxury may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your toilet, but given that it’s somewhere you’re going to be spending some time every day of your life, it’s really important to choose the right one. Fortunately, innovative design, evolving technologies and unique features have evolved the toilet from a bathroom necessity to a stylish focal point.
It’s All in the Flush
Toilet flushing now uses a lot less water than just 20 years ago: as low as .8 gallons per flush compared to 3.5 gallons per flush! The Environmental Protection Agency implemented the change a number of years ago to help conserve water. The agency offers its WaterSense badge to fixtures that meet their standards so you can tell more easily which products will help you use less water and save money on your water bill.
You may not know this, but there are actually a variety of flushing systems that you can choose from. Mostly, the difference is in the amount of water used.
Dual flush – One water level for liquid waste and a higher level for solid waste.
Low-flow – Between .8 and 1.6 gallons per flush every time.
Gravity – Water and gravity work together to generate the flush.
The Right Height
Toilet manufacturers make toilets in two heights: standard and comfort. The standard height is either 14 or 15 inches from the floor to the top of the bowl while the comfort height toilet mimics a typical chair at 17 to 18 inches. A taller seat height makes it easier to both sit and stand and is quickly becoming an industry standard.
What Shape is Your Bowl?
Toilet bowls can be round or elongated, and the choice usually comes down to space. Both shapes are found on toilets of varying styles, but round is better for smaller bathrooms where space is more of an issue while elongated is the most popular shape primarily because of comfort.
One Piece or Two?
There are benefits to having a one-piece toilet over a two-piece fixture like easier cleaning and more stability, but a one-piece toilet can be more expensive than its two-piece counterpart.
The main difference is in how the toilets look. A one-piece unit is more compact and can have a sleeker design. Wall-mounted units are one-piece, and more modern toilets with integrated technologies like the Kohler Numi are also one-piece designs.
Two-piece toilets can also boast some pretty cool features like touchless flush and remain the most popular configuration on the market. Because the tank and the bowl are separate, if one or the other breaks or leaks, you only need to replace the appropriate piece.
Most one-piece models include the toilet seat, but shoppers should be prepared to buy a toilet seat if they choose a two-piece model.
The good news is that there really isn't any guess work; buying a seat from the same manufacturer as the toilet in the same shape — elongated or round — means the right fit every time. If, however, you need a replacement seat, be sure you measure the width of your current seat at its widest point and the length of your seat from front to back. You’ll need those figures to order your new seat.
Know your Rough-In
For traditional, floor-mounted toilets, you'll need to know the measurement of your rough-in, which is the distance between the wall and the center of the bolts where your toilet is affixed to the floor. Most units feature a rough-in of 10 to 12 inches, and you'll get this number by measuring the distance between the wall behind the toilet and the center of the bolts on your existing fixture.