Toilet Purchasing Tips From Robins Plumbing

Oh boy, how exciting, you have to buy a new toilet!  Thrilling right?  Well, for most of us buying a new toilet is about as exciting as loading the dishwasher so let’s at least make it simple.  There are a lot of options for toilets on the market, and I am here to help you navigate the options so you can decide what is most important to your family.

Toilets, when considering the lifespan, are a very affordable investment.  A toilet should last you decades if properly maintained.  Knowing that you and your new toilet are going to be together for a very long time let’s cover some of the options that are available to you.

Choosing a Color

Toilets come in a wide variety of colors.  If you can think it up 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. White is the most common color and is available from every manufacturer.  The beauty about the basic white 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.

Choosing The Base

When it comes to styles there is no shortage of options with regard to your new toilet purchase, sleek and modern to retro and classical.  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 and this is where 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 this upgrade for a few extra dollars can make a big 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 that cap that covers the flange bolts.  You can clearly see the what I am describing in the Option A photo.   A skirted option as shown in Option B is flat and smooth at the base making for easy cleanup with no grooves to get messy!

Something else to take note on 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 that the footprint of your toilet will cover the old hole completely or have your bathroom floor redone up to the flange (this is what your toilet bolts to), which is how it should be.

Choosing The Tank

Don’t let me confuse you here, tanks and bowls are not interchangeable.  They are not even interchangeable within the same brand, bolt patterns from the tank to bowl are different, I am going to tell you quickly about some of your tank options so you can find the toilet has the right type of bowl and the right type of tank to serve your needs best.  The tank is what stores the water that flushes your toilet.  Tanks vary greatly on gallon capacity, style and the style of flush.   Water saving models are becoming more and more popular in the residential world and start from a 1.6 per gallon flush all the way down to .8, in 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, toilet manufacturers have come a long way since 1994 when low flow options first became required.  With advances in the science behind the low flow flush you can rest assured that will a good quality toilet you can choose a low flow option with confidence.  Different styles come with push button flushing technology as well the lever option.  If choosing the lever option make note if you want your handle on the left or right side of the tank.

Choosing 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 counter top 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 lowboy version of a toilet is pictured here under a banjo.  A very tight fit that you can see will make it difficult to remove the lid to make repairs or to remove and reset 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 are ADA compliant.

Choosing a One Piece or a Two Piece Toilet

Esthetically one piece and two piece toilets are very different and if your choice in this arena is simply for the look you like best I can’t assist you with choosing but outside of the looks here is what you need to know.  Two pieces toilets are bolted with a gasket in the middle where the tank and bowl meet, one pieces 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.