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Choosing a Toilet: A How-To Guide in 5 Steps

By the Vevano Home Team
September 17, 2020

If it’s time for a new toilet, here’s the guide for you. Thanks to the advancements in indoor plumbing, there are different types of toilets, designs, flushing technologies, and other specifications to think about while choosing a workable toilet for your needs, both in functionality and design.

To update your porcelain throne, there are a few things to consider as you search for the right toilet for your bathroom.

Plan For Your Budget

The range for buying and installing a toilet can run from around $100 up to a couple thousand dollars and beyond, depending on the toilet type, design, tech options, and how involved the installation is. Since there are toilets for every budget it’s good to have an idea of what price range you have to determine what you might like in a future toilet.

Know the Rough-in Size & Area Width

This is an important measurement to have in hand as you go about selecting a toilet. The rough-in measurement is the distance between the wall and the drainpipe that the toilet connects to. The standard rough-in length is about 12 inches, though some may be 10 or even 14 inches, so it’s wise to measure the rough-in length before you buy a toilet.

Also, take note of how much space you’ll want around your toilet. The standard is 15 inches, or 18 inches for comfort, from the middle of the drainpipe (or the midpoint of the toilet) to the surrounding features or furnishings.

What Type of Toilet?

Timeless Two-Piece - The two-piece toilet never goes out of style as it’s one of the most frequently used types of toilet. As the name suggests, the toilet bowl and the tank are separate pieces that need to be attached to each other with bolts. It may take some time to assemble, however, the separate parts are easier to maneuver than a one-piece. Thanks to the separate parts, the two-piece toilet is also the easiest toilet type to customize in terms of height, style, and rough-in size. One of the downsides to this toilet is that it has tight spaces and crevices where it can be hard to clean. This type of toilet is also more likely to leak and break. That being said, it’s hard to beat the classic two-piece toilet’s affordable price tag as well as how inexpensive it can be to repair and replace parts due to how popular this type of toilet is.

Sleek Single - For a more modern or contemporary look, the one-piece toilet combines all of the base components of the toilet into one cohesive and durable design. This makes it relatively easy to install, though it is heavy. The design of one-piece toilets typically have fewer nooks and crannies for grime to gather than the two-piece, so it’s much easier to clean. The one-piece toilet often comes in more compact sizes, making it a great choice if you want to optimize your bathroom space. They often come at comfort height, making it easier to sit and rise from the toilet. With it’s sleek design, the one-piece toilet does have a higher price tag than the timeless two-piece.

Well-built Wall-Mount - Minimalist in design, the wall-hung toilet, otherwise known as a wall-mount toilet, is anchored into the wall and often has foot space beneath the toilet bowl. A wall-mount toilet has many perks, such as a compact profile, customizable height, easy to clean, and it’s quiet. The sleek and compact design makes it ideal for small bathrooms, as the bowl is attached to the wall while the tank and/or plumbing is most often installed within the wall between two studs. The premium price comes in with the extensive and invasive construction needed for installation. You may need to ensure that proper plumbing is in the right place to achieve a wall-mount toilet.

Beneficial Bidet Toilet Combo - A combination of a toilet and a bidet, which was traditionally a separate basin for nether region cleansing post-toilet duty, the bidet toilet combo is an emerging toilet trend. Featuring a variety of features, the bidet’s water stream can be activated by touch panel or remote to clean your sensitive areas. One of the most popular brands that produce bidet toilet combos is Toto, a producer of high-tech toilets, so they may come with other smart bonuses, like drying, self-cleaning, air freshener and even more. They can take some time to get used to, but many people swear by them.

  • Bidet seat attachments are an alternative to the bidet toilet combo as you can attach them to almost any other toilet type so long as the seat attachment fits the rim of your toilet bowl (make sure to measure first). Required: electric and added water hookups.

A Fair Flush

Once you’ve settled in on a type of toilet, consider what kind of flushing system you want. By US law, toilets cannot use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush (gpf). Most high efficiency toilets (HET) use 1.28 gpf and ultra-high efficiency toilets (UHET) save even more with only 1 gpf. Look for toilets with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense® label that indicates both water and flush efficiency.

Single flush - For a single flush toilet, every flush means the same amount of water at the same amount of pressure is pumped out of the tank through the rim to clean the bowl.

Dual flush - For water efficiency, the dual flush offers a half flush and a full flush to handle different load sizes. A dual-flush toilet, sometimes called the double-flush toilet, often marries a gravity-fed flush for the half flush with pressure-assisted flushing mechanisms for a more impactful full flush. This is growing in popularity due to the water savings it offers, though it is a little more expensive.

Design Your Toilet

How High?

Picking how high your toilet is will determine comfortability and accessibility for those who will use it. You can always add height to make a tall toilet with a lifted or handicap toilet seat. The following measurements are from the floor to the top of the toilet seat.

  • For most people - Standard/Universal Height: 15 inches
  • For tall people or those with disabilities - Comfort/Chair/ADA Height: 16-19 inches
  • For children or small adults - Child/Juvenile Height: 10-14 inches

Bowl Shape Options

Another determining factor for comfort, style, and design is the bowl shape.

  • Compact - Most often circular in shape, sometimes square. Works best in small bathrooms or for children.
  • Elongated - Added 2 inches in length compared to the compact. In oval or rectangular shape. More comfortable and spacious for adults.
  • Compact Elongated - A hybrid toilet bowl with an elongated bowl and the same size footprint as the compact.

Select a Seat

Know that not all toilets come complete with a toilet seat, so you have to buy them separately. We recommend at least a toilet seat with the SoftClose function for safety and noise-reduction.

If you want added functionality from your toilet seat, the standard Toto electric seat attachment (called a washlet) comes with a bidet sprayer, heated seat, water temperature and volume control, and the extra features expand from there.

Choose a Color

Most toilets are made with porcelain, thus they come in various shades of white and cream, which holds value well. A black toilet would add drama or a contemporary flair. Other color options are available, depending on your stylistic preference.

Flush Handle or Buttons?

Would you prefer your flush lever to be a handle on the sides or buttons on the top of the tank? Or if you have a wall-mount toilet, do you want buttons or a touch panel installed? Decide how you want to flush!

Ultimately, the best toilet for your bathroom should handle your “duties” effectively.