What should homeowners consider when buying a toilet?

In a perfect world, a toilet would be an appliance you never had to think about. It would simply do its job and not look so hideous as to distract people while in the bathroom.

Unfortunately, there are constantly-running, always-leaking, 80s-beige-colored, water-guzzling monstrosities everywhere. If it’s time to upgrade your toilet, make sure your next one isn’t a repeat failure.


Your toilet’s dimensions should take space and comfort into account. For smaller bathrooms, look for toilets that have traditional round bowls. If space permits, an elongated bowl provides more comfort because the seat is larger.

Seat height is another consideration. In the past, a standard seat height between 14 and 15 inches was found on nearly all toilets. Now, more people are finding that a 16 inch seat height is more comfortable. You may also see 16 inch toilets referred to as chair height, as they are typically used in restrooms that are handicap accessible.


Toilets are broken up into 3 basic design styles: 1-piece, 2-piece and wall mounted. One-piece toilets are fairly self-explanatory, the bowl and tank are one seamless piece. One-piece toilets are less likely to leak and are easier to clean, but they are more expensive to maintain. If something goes wrong with only the tank or the bowl, the entire unit has to be replaced. Two-piece toilets are easier to work on, but harder to clean and more likely to leak. Wall mounted toilets affix the bowl directly to the wall while the tank is hidden behind the wall. These toilets offer a unique look for modern bathrooms, but they are the hardest to work on because the tank is difficult to access.

Once you’ve chosen your basic style, consider color, material and other design features that will make your toilet the perfect fit for your bathroom.


Toilets are responsible for 30% of a home’s water usage. In 1992, the EPA passed an act that required all new toilets to use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush. More recently, the EPA has started a voluntary certification program called WaterSense. WaterSense toilets are designed to be ultra-efficient, using only 1.28 gpf. Don’t worry about options when choosing WaterSense; there are lots of designs to choose from.

Designer Nancy Dalton suggests,

“The Cadet 3, flowise with concealed trapway, right height and elongated with a 5 year warranty is a great value in the 300-400.00 range. For a super sleek one piece toilet, the Boulevard with siphonic dual flush in the 600-700.00 range and ten year warranty would be perfect for a master bath. These toilets also are part of the EPA Watersense program, have everclean surfaces and other great features.”

On some WaterSense models, you’ll find a dual flush feature. Select the light flush for smaller disposals and the full flush for when more power is required.


“High-tech” and “toilet” don’t seem like two concepts that necessarily go together, but the market is seeing an influx of toilets loaded with new gadgets. From heated seats to integrated bidets, you may want your toilet to do more than simply flush. Keep in mind that extra features will significantly increase the price of your toilet. Take Kohler’s super toilet for example. The $4,000 NUMI has a motion activated cover, integrated air dryer and bidet, a heated seat, a heater for your feet, even a remote control.

Designer Pablo Solomon summarizes,

“I always suggest catching as much “gray” water as you can in your sinks, tubs and showers. It makes good use of the water that normally would go down the drain. You also can use rain water to flush toilets.”

Flush Type

Most toilets on the market use a standard gravity flush mechanism. Water is stored in the tank and flows out when you flush to help sweep waste down the drain. Pressure-assisted toilets create a vacuum which is used to suck water down.

Pressure-assisted models are usually slightly more expensive, but tend to have greater flushing power. However, consider that pressure assisted models are louder and harder to maintain because they use more moving parts.