Cover photo for blog and video "Tips on How to Buy a Toilet"

Toilet Purchasing Tips From Robins Plumbing

As you can imagine, over the last 22 years we have inspected, installed, and repaired thousands of toilets. That being said, I may have a thing or two to say on the subject.

Toilets, when considering their anticipated lifespan, are a very affordable investment that should last you decades if properly maintained. Knowing that you and your new toilet are going to have a rather close bond for a while, it’s important to cover all the options available to you.

  1. Does Brand and Price Matter?

    I have a philosophy, which I find holds true 99.9% of the time, that “cheap is expensive”. When it comes to most things, the adage “you get what you pay for” is so true– your plumbing fixtures are no exception! There have been too many times to count when we have gone out to replace or repair toilets because our client bought the cheapest one at the hardware store. Your toilet is a long-term investment– a higher quality product should last you 20+ years– consider the lifespan of your potential purchase before choosing the low-budget model claiming to have everything in the box for half the cost; if it seems too good to be true, then it usually is. Cheap, off-brand toilets are notorious for having a poor flush that requires constant plunging and stoppages, which, in return, requires more repairs than the higher-quality brands. Any money you save from a cheaper toilet will oftentimes have to be used towards costs that can more than double the average prices of repairs in a little as a few years; not to mention, you’re confronted with the inconvenience of replacing your broken toilet, when it could have been avoided from the beginning. This holds true for rentals as well; all too often, I see landlords and property management companies opt for furnishing their own toilets to save a few bucks, leading to added expenses because of stoppages, floods, and constant repairs. Invest the money into a quality, great flushing toilet and you will not have any regrets!

  2. Picking the Right Color

    Toilets come in a wide variety of colors. If you can think of it, then you can very likely buy it– if you’re willing to pay the price; any color of the rainbow, flowers, mosaic, and even metal looking finishes are all options that are available. White is the most common color and is available from every manufacturer. The beauty of the basic white toilet is that it never goes out of style and is almost identical from manufacturer to manufacturer; this can make matching white fixtures in your bathroom simple without worrying about color differences from your tub and sinks. It is important to know that colored toilets are special order and, depending on the popularity, can take days to weeks to have ordered and shipped. If you have your heart set on that colored toilet, go for it– just know that specialty colors don’t match as well from manufacturer to manufacturer and can sometimes even vary from batch to batch – if you’re in the middle of a remodel try to buy all your fixtures from the same manufacturer from the same lot.

  3. The Right Height

    The height of your toilet is adjustable based on the bowl as well as the tank. If you have a banjo in your bathroom (a countertop extending over the top of your toilet), then you will want to measure the clearance. Most of the time, a standard toilet will not fit under the counter and requires a lowboy option– a very tight fit that will make it difficult to remove the lid for repairs or resetting the toilet.
    The bowl has a set height as well; a standard height for a toilet bowl is 15”, but 17” models are also readily available and ADA compliant.

  4. The Right Tank

    Don’t let me confuse you here– tanks and bowls are not interchangeable; they are not even compatible within the same brand because bolt patterns from the tank to bowl are different. I am going to tell you about some of your options so you can find the toilet has the right type of bowl and tank to best serve your needs. The tank is what stores the water that flushes your toilet; they vary greatly on gallon capacity, style, and flushing type. Water-saving models are becoming more and more popular in the residential world, ranging from a 1.6 per gallon flush all the way down to .8; in some areas, like the State of California, this changes to 1.28 as the largest option available due to water conservation efforts. Low-flow options aren’t what they used to be, and toilet manufacturers have come a long way since 1994 when the options first became required. Because of advances in the science behind the low-flow flush, you can rest assured that with a good quality toilet you can choose a solid low-flow option. Different styles come with push-button flushing technology, as well as the lever option; if you’re choosing the lever option, question whether you want your handle on the left or right side of the tank.

  5. One or Two-Piece Toilet?

    Esthetically, one-piece and two-piece toilets are very different; if your choice in this arena is simply for the look you like best, then I can’t assist you with choosing your best option. But, aside from the looks of your choice, here is what you need to know– two-piece toilets are bolted with a gasket in the middle where the tank and bowl meet, one-piece toilets are one solid mold except for the tank lid. Not having this junction in the middle of toilets can provide savings over the lifespan of the toilet as these bolts and gaskets tend to leak. The one-piece version also eliminates the problem of the user leaning back on a toilet tank too hard and causing it to crack. The downside to a one-piece model, as opposed to the two-piece, is that the inside parts can often be more costly than you’re used to with the standard tank and bowl style, and the one-piece version costs more than the two-piece model.

  6. The Right Base

    When it comes to style choices, there is no shortage of options when it comes to your new toilet purchase; anything from sleek and modern to retro and classical, you’ll be able to find it. So, now you know what kind of look you like, but do you know that some of these looks are easier to clean than others? No one wants to clean a toilet any longer than they absolutely have to; this is when I recommend to my clients that they buy a skirted toilet– yes, toilets have skirts. When considering this toilet will be with you for a very long time, upgrading for a few extra dollars can make a huge difference. Toilet bases typically have the porcelain formed to the p-trap. This creates plenty of grooves and extra surface space at the base of your toilet to be cleaned as well as around the cap that covers the flange bolts. A skirted option has flat and smooth sides at the base, making for easy cleanup with no grooves to get messy!

    Something else to take note of for the base of your new toilet is the size of the footprint. If the flooring in your bathroom was only done up to the edge of the toilet, then you will want to make sure the footprint of your toilet will cover the old hole completely, or you will have to have your bathroom floor redone up to the flange (this is what your toilet bolts to), which is how it should be.

  7. Cleaning Options

    There are some toilets on the market that claim to clean themselves, to a degree of course. Nowadays, you can buy toilets with replaceable cleaning cartridges that add a solution to the toilet bowl to help keep it fresh with each flush. Another feature to consider is a toilet bowl with an inside coating like Toto; they have a sani-gloss feature that is specifically designed for the porcelain which helps to prevent streaking… I can’t believe I just typed that.

  8. Seating Preference

    Seat options, if you want a special toilet, are something to consider ahead of time. There are a lot of aftermarket seats that you can add to your toilet, but some of the specialty ones are truly meant to work with the toilet it was built for. Toto has some fantastic options on specialty toilets and seats– in fact, it’s something they are known for. You can get a toilet seat that warms up, cleans your behind, and sings a song to you through an app. I won’t lie, I considered getting the app feature toilet seat for the office so I could squirt the guys and get them to hurry up in the bathroom. Worst boss ever! You know how some people get – 30 minutes later in the bathroom and you know they’re scrolling Facebook… imagine moms, having a remote squirt gun on your toilet to get people… going… yep.

  9. Choosing the Right Flush

    There are several options on the market for types of flush ranging from a single flushing handle on the front of the tank, to push buttons on the top of the tank, and even options for residential use for choosing whether to flush for #1 or #2. There are even pressure-assist options for residential homes now that have a pressurized tank inside the toilet tank that adds pressurized air to each flush.
    This choice is a personal one based on the needs of your family. But, something to keep in mind is the toilet’s ease of use in a guest bathroom so your visitors don’t have to ask you how to flush their business. Lastly, consider the more sophisticated the flush you choose, the more you can expect to pay for repairs when the parts inside the tank go out. It often isn’t much more, but specialty parts are higher to replace.
    Bottom line, if you find yourself in need of a new toilet don’t settle for cheap– consider your family’s needs and make an epic decision you will love for the next 20+ years!

Services in Phoenix & Beyond

When you’ve found yourself in need of plumbing services in the Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale, or Chandler area, you can trust Robins Plumbing to provide you with prompt and expert care, contact our team today! In addition to our toilet services, we also offer a variety of residential and commercial plumbing services, including: drain cleaning, water heater repair and replacement, sewer camera inspection and locating, backflow prevention, commercial and residential jetting, water treatments, and more. Visit our reviews online to see what others have to say about our local plumbing company!