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Choosing a Toilet

Okay, so it’s time to replace the throne. Could be a poor flusher, could be some color that reminds you of Austin Powers, but the time has come. Or maybe you have a new build or remodel in progress. How to start? You will have to make some decisions:

  1. Do you want a single-piece or a two-piece toilet? Single-pieces cost more and often are more visually appealing. The two-piece is cheaper because it is easier to cast two smaller pieces than one whole toilet. The two-piece also leaves you with that hard to clean seam between the bowl and the tank and who knows what evil lurks there?
  2. Do you want an elongated or round-front toilet? This is largely an aesthetic and dollar decision, though some folks swear that the elongated (oval-shaped) toilet is a more comfortable seat. It does come with a bigger price tag. And if you have space constraints in front of the toilet, the round-front is more compact saving 2 inches in front to back depth.
  3. Do you want the traditional height, or a taller toilet? For older people whose knees are not quite what they were, the extra inch or two is great. And for taller people, the taller toilet is also nice.
  4. Does this toilet flush well? Besides the advertised “flushability” one thing to pay attention to is the water surface area in the bowl compared to the exposed porcelain area of the bowl. Some toilets have a very large exposed porcelain area in the bowl which means you will need to keep a toilet brush handy to keep it tidy. The rim wash that the toilet supplies also makes a difference as to how well the bowl flushes clean. Since most showrooms don’t show the toilets actually hooked up, you should talk to your plumber on this one, so you get a toilet that performs the way you want it to.
  5. Bowl footprint on the floor? If you are replacing a toilet, the old toilet covered a specific area on the floor. If your flooring was cut around the base of the old toilet rather than laid under it, it is possible that a new toilet will not cover the old cut-out leaving an ugly scar on the floor. This problem also shows up with hardwood floors as the wood ages differently beneath the toilet. If you have to redo the floor this makes for an expensive toilet change-out.
  6. You’ll need to know the rough-in requirements of the toilet you want to put in. Most toilets have a 12” rough-in (the number of inches that the center of the drain is from the wall). However, different rough-ins are available, and especially with remodels, you want to make sure that you match the rough-in dimension of your existing toilet to avoid the necessity of moving the toilet drain—which can be expensive.
  7. What color toilet? The most common is white, since it doesn’t go out of style. Off-white colors are very popular too but keep in mind that they can be slightly different from different manufacturers, if you are mixing manufacturers on sink, toilet, tub. Also, though the darker colors are gorgeous, if you live in an area with a lot of minerals in the water, the mineral deposits on the toilet bowl make for an unsightly ring very quickly.
  8. There are now toilet seats available that, with a mere touch, float slowly down and close, rather than slamming into place. If leaving the seat up is cause for consternation in your household, a slow-closing seat might just be the peacemaker.
  9. Most communities now require toilets with a 1.6-gallon, instead of the old 3-gallon flush, to conserve water. However some manufacturers still offer flushing mechanisms that simply don’t flush effectively at the lower water usage. Others are so complicated that they require a lot of maintenance and parts that are difficult to find and expensive to buy. Make sure that the toilet you are considering is a good flusher–or expect to be re-flushing multiple times, and calling the plumber to clear the toilet.

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