Toilet Buying Guide

Toilet in T-Minus 10…

It's time to update your toilet. You've known it needs to happen but now that the choice is upon you, it feels like you sped to the last 10 seconds before liftoff. Fear not, pilot of the crucial purchase! Arm yourself with answers to these 10 questions of increasing importance… and confidently countdown with the clock.


T-Minus 10: What Color?

Depending on your budget, there are a wide variety of toilet colors available. Keep in mind that neutral colors are more appealing to future home buyers.


T-Minus 9: One or Two-Piece?

One-piece toilets have the tank molded with the bowl, while two-piece toilets have a separate tank and bowl connected by a joint. One-piece toilets are easier to clean (less nooks and crannies).


T-Minus 8: What Bowl Shape?

Round toilet bowls are 16½" long. This option is ideal if there are space constraints. Elongated toilet bowls are 18½" long. These extra few inches offer greater comfort, particularly for people with long legs. But measure first to be sure doors and drawers can still open, and knees won't be squished.


T-Minus 7: What Size Seat?

There are seats in a variety of materials and colors to fit round and elongated toilet bowls. There are also wider seats (sometimes with an additional 2") for those with larger backsides.


T-Minus 6: What Height? 

Toilet height is determined by measuring from the top of the toilet seat to the floor. Standard toilets are 14"-15" high. Comfort or "chair" toilets are anywhere from 16"-19" high. For a toilet to be ADA compliant, it must be 17"-19" high.


T-Minus 5: Rough-In Distance?

Measure the distance from your wall to the middle of the flange bolt that holds down your toilet… this is the rough-in. A standard rough-in is 12", but toilets are also available in 10" or 14" rough-ins. Moving the flange is a difficult job, so unless you're doing a significant renovation and have already planned for this, be sure you know the existing rough-in measurement.


T-Minus 4: Single or Dual-Flush?

Dual-flush toilets have separate buttons for liquid vs. solid waste and use different flush volumes (also known as gallons per flush, or GpF) depending. The liquid flush volume is 0.8 GpF, while for solids it's 1.6 GpF.

Single-flush toilets have only one flush volume and it is usually 1.6 GpF or less. Toilet manufacturers are constantly innovating. Single-flush toilets today are effective and efficient.


T-Minus 3: What Flush Type? 

There are two flush choices — gravity or pressure-assisted. When you push the handle on a gravity-assisted toilet, a valve opens inside the tank releasing the water. The water rushes into the bowl and uses gravity to push the contents down and away. This is the most common flush type.

A pressure-assisted toilet uses a secondary tank, inside the main tank, to build air pressure to flush while keeping extra water in the bowl. This flush type is typically more powerful and uses less water but is much noisier.


T-Minus 2: Is it Efficient?

The maximum allowable toilet flush volume in the U.S. is 1.6 gpf and these toilets are considered low-flow. For a toilet to earn the EPA's WaterSense label and be considered high-efficiency (or HET) it must use no more than 1.28 gpf. And there are toilets on the market today using even less water.


T-Minus 1: How Well Does It Flush?

The most important factor in choosing a toilet is how it will perform under pressure. The Maximum Performance Test (or MaP) is the industry's leader in scoring toilets by conducting a rigorous test of flushing power and efficiency. MaP emulates human waste by using soybean paste and toilet paper to determine how many grams a toilet can remove completely in a single flush.

The amount of waste generated by a large human at one time is typically no more than 250 grams. MaP certifies flush performance by testing up to 1,000 grams per flush, with most toilets rated at or above 600 grams. This is significantly higher than the average demand for a toilet and should offer peace of mind. 


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