The Seduction of a New Toilet

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Home Improvement


A Buying Guide to Toilets

As a homeowner with an outdated bathroom, one dreams of a complete renovation. You've undoubted dreamed about gutting the room, tearing out the outdated tile, wallpaper and dated cabinet you hate and having all the old fixtures replaced with brand new, shiny ones. But plan & budget thoroughly! The first step is always budget and the second is researching the features you need verses fixtures you want. When it comes to toilets, the fixture you choose will depend on your circumstances. Here are some considerations.

Measure twice, install once

An important consideration when choosing a toilet is whether it will fit in the space. Verify the toilet's depth, width and height.  Don't only verify that it will fit the correct distance from the back wall to the drain, but to verify the distance from the floor to the top of the tank lid. The seat height will affect your comfort when sitting as well as getting off of the commode - which incidentally is why it is called the “comfort height”. Decide if you like the look of a round or an elongated toilet bowl. Do you prefer the taller back or a more sleek, lower back?

Flush once, flush twice, flush three times, me lady

American toilets have a maximum allowable flush of 1.6 gallons. This is why many times it takes 2 flushes to get the tissue (or other embarrassing debris) down. Compressed air is sometimes used to assist a flush to increase the probability of getting the detritus out of your sight. Tower, tornado, double-vortex and double-cyclone types each force one or more jets of water into the bowl to assist in the flushing power. Now if you want a greener unit, consider a double-flush button model. Here the operator can choose a low- or high-volume flush based upon their needs. For your basement unit or a home below the sewer line, there are pump assisted models. These tend to hold up very well and typically have a macerating pump that liquifies and ejects solid waste. Female hygiene products are hard on these units and should be avoided.

It's all about style

There are two main styles of toilet: a one piece or a two. The two-piece has a separate tank and bowl. The one-piece has an integrated bowl and tank. Two-piece toilets tend to be less expensive both to purchase and repair. One-piece models tend to look more streamlined and I believe are easier to clean. There are also differences in bowl profile. The most common type has a visible trap line under the bowl and then there are the concealed-trap types. These have a visible bowl that molds into a smooth shell down the sides. They are easy to clean and the only toilet I put in my home.


More to ponder

Bidets are becoming the new norm. Consider one of these “smart” toilets that does everything except pull up your pants for you. These units need electricity, so read-up on the requirements before purchasing so you know to what you’re committing yourself.

In summary, remember, when choosing the commode that’s right for you, consider:

  1. Dimensions – rough-in and total dimensions
  2. Comfort – both height and width
  3. Shape, style & look
  4. Rough-in
  5. Efficiency
  6. Flushing mechanism
  7. Legal requirements


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