Complete 2019 Toilet Buying Guide


If you’re wondering how to buy a toilet, don’t worry, there are many styles, features, types, and styles of toilets to choose from. No matter what size your bathroom is, big or small, or odd shaped, there’s a toilet to fit your needs.

When you’re redoing a bathroom in your home, the toilet is an important consideration. Aside from being an essential item for its function, it can also be an attractive design feature in your bathroom. In the below article we’ll cover the different types of toilets and features of each, so when you’re in the market for a new one, you’ll know which to choose.

Buying a Toilet: Features & Options

When buying a toilet, think about your priorities in terms of what features you would like it to have. Do you want it to have more flush power, or would you rather save water? Or, perhaps height is a major consideration for you and you’ll need to find a toilet with the perfect height for your bathroom. Maybe you prefer a toilet that flushes quietly. The information below will help you make the right choice for your home.

Water Saving Toilets

Thanks to people using water saving toilets, the average single-family household water use is down 22% from 1994. Toilets used to send about 3.5 gallons of water per flush. In the early ‘90s the EPA mandated all new toilets use only 1.6 gallons when flushed. Now, 1.28 gpf limit is the high-efficiency status for the current generation of high-efficiency toilets. Water saving toilets typically have buttons to flush (see below), with one for liquid waste and a different button for solid waste.


Standard toilets are about 14 or 15 inches high. There are also “comfort height” toilets, which are 17 to 19 inches high. Many think these are easier and more comfortable to use. You may want to consider other factors regarding toilet height, including the height of everyone in the house, whether or not you have kids, and if someone who lives with you is in a wheelchair. It’s important to be sure that the toilet is comfortable and easy for everyone to use!

Flush Power

Flush power refers to how strongly your toilet flushes. It’s not ideal to have to flush your toilet more than once, because it wastes water. You have the option of getting a toilet with high flush power, or you can get one with dual flush power. With dual flush power, the flusher may be a circle split into two buttons, or two buttons next to each other. The double flush system has a siphon that it relies on, and it has two water holes on high and low.

Pressure-Assisted Flushing

While many toilets are gravity-flow, there are also pressure-assisted toilets. In these toilets, when water pumps into the toilet tank, air pressure is created in the tank chamber. When the toilet is flushed, the compressed air releases, and combines with gravity to create a powerful, quick flush. The loud sound this type of toilet makes often deters people from getting one!

Flushing Options

Toilets come with different types of flushing options. One, we’ve covered, is using a button, and the other is of course using a lever. Levers have been standard for years, while the button flushing option is relatively new on the market. Here’s a look at these two options:


As we’ve mentioned, button flushing is relatively new. And in some countries it’s become the standard. There are many advantages for purchasing a toilet that has a button flush, including that it’s easier to fix and also easier to clean. They can be more expensive and may be more difficult for children to use. Another advantage is the dual flush power we’ve discussed above, which saves water. So even if they are more expensive in the beginning, the water savings will benefit you in the long run.


You can also purchase a toilet with a lever to flush. When you push the lever, the seal in the toilet basin opens up and lets water into the bowl. Levers are often easy to replace, so you can customize the look of your toilet. There are a variety of finishes and styles such as polished nickel, chrome, or stainless steel.

Toilet Types & Styles

There are many types and styles of toilets that can go with the décor of your bathroom. No matter how large or how small your room, you can find a toilet that will fit. Two-piece toilets, one-piece toilets, toilets that hang on the wall or even toilets in different colors. Below we’ll cover some of your options.

Two Piece Toilet

This type of toilet is the most common in many bathrooms. The water tank and the toilet bowl are separated, but made to fit together. The tank is larger and can store more water, but dirt can gather in the seam between the pieces. One of the more significant assets of this type of toilet is its durability — the right choice can last for decades. Also, since the pieces are separate, it is less cumbersome to carry if your bathroom is upstairs. When looking for toilets the two-piece will likely be your less expensive choice.

One-Piece Toilet

This toilet has the tank connected to the bowl, making it all one piece of ceramic. The size of the water tank is smaller than two piece, but it doesn’t have the seam between the two pieces, which makes it easier to clean. This type of toilet can be more expensive than most other types of toilets, and can be more expensive and more difficult to carry. But it is easier to clean and also install. You may think one-piece toilets will all look modern, but they come in many different designs if a modern bathroom isn’t your style.

Wall-Hung Toilets

With a wall-mounted toilet, the bowl is attached to the wall, and the whole thing is elevated off of the floor. It has the appearance of being tankless, but can have a tank. The tank is actually inside the wall. Design-wise, all you will see is a bowl hanging on the wall. These toilets are visually appealing, easy to clean, and space saving. They can be challenging to install, however, which is best done by a professional. These are expensive toilets, and before you decide this is the right choice for you, you’ll need to open up the walls in your bathroom to see that you have the right plumbing for it.

High-Tank Toilet

This is a gravity flow toilet. The water tank is above the bowl, and pulling the chain triggers the valve to open. Then the water flushes down the pipe and washes the waste away. They work the same way as two-piece toilets, the difference is that the tank is hung on the wall instead of sitting on top of the base. The price is relatively high compared to other types of toilets, and they can be difficult to find. If you want a bathroom with a more retro look and feel, this might be the type of toilet for you.

Integrated Base Toilet

Integrated bases refer to the look of the bottom of toilets. They are more expensive than regular toilets, but the bottom of your toilet will be full and smooth, without any grooves or nooks. You can get an integrated base on a one-piece toilet or a two-piece toilet. It’s a sleek look for a toilet, and a major benefit is that it’s much easier to clean than its counterparts. A few quick wipes on the smooth surface.

Colored Toilet

Black, blue, pale pink, red. Toilets can come in many different colors. These can can look outdated, but when done right can lend an attractive design element to your bathroom. White toilets are most common, however. And it’s important to note that having a white toilet can increase the resale value of your home, if you own.

Summary & Next Steps

When buying a new toilet for your bathroom, there are so many options to consider. Different types of toilets have water saving options, some come in different heights and colors. Some sizes will fit any bathroom, no matter how large or small. The choices are unlimited.

For a professional job of installation in your bathroom and for a job done right, find a local plumber near you.


  1. Kohler & Toto makes the best toilet in my experience.I love installing both units. I love the comfort height at 16″ which comes in elongated. 1.6 gallon flush is the way we keep our natural resources and I always promote this type of install.

    A trick I found when you have a large load to be flushed is to keep the handle held down and this will give you the little extra that you need to make sure you have a clean bowl. Happy flushing from your friend’s at Paradigm Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning.

    Steve Labbe President

  2. Of course being a life long conservationist, I always suggest catching as much “gray” water as you can in your sinks, tubs and showers. Then saving it in a bucket and using that water to “boost” the flush in your toilet. It makes good use of the water that normally would go down the drain. You also can use rain water to flush toilets. I think it is practically a sin to use drinking quality water to flush toilets. Hopefully gray water systems for toilets will be the norm in future construction. That being said, get a toilet that is easy to clean, easy to fix and reliable. Also put a few extra dollars into a top quality cut off valve–nothing is more irritating than the valve leaking after you repair the toilet.
    On a side note, I have a friend who lived in Austin who was an herbalist. She won a battle with the Austin City Council to allow her to have what could best be described as an a hightech outhouse. For years she would come out to our ranch to harvest a plant called mullin which has large, soft, velvety leaves which the pioneers used for toilet paper. While I do not particularly advocate going that “green”, it shows that some people actually do.

  3. Buying a Toilet needs to be based on most everything except name. Before buying a toilet, ask yourself several questions:

    1. Is this Toilet going under a “Banjo Top” (counter top that extends as a shelf over the tank).
    2. ADA Comfort height or not?.
    3. Door swing clearance for elongated bowl?
    4. Is the pressure low enough to require a pressure assist tank or not? (I chose min. 50psi for pressure tanks).
    5. Dual flush is a behavior issue, are users going to maximize?
    6. If side view of bowl is showing, do you want to use a skirted bowl?
    7. Are designer (expensive colors) used?
    8. Is water extremely hard? If so Toto Sana Gloss is an option.
    9. Is a standard 12″ rough-in needed or is an option needed for 10″?
    10. Is the footprint of the existing toilet into a carpet or tile where a scar will show?
    11. Do you want a good waste removal? If so the MAP testing ratings are online to read to get specs. 250 gr. waste removal is minimum allowed, but 600 gr. removal is my min. standard. Ratings go up to 1000 gr.

    Water sense by EPA has a fair line-up of toilets having a min. of 350 gr. waste removal, on up.
    Define what features are available that matter to you, then chose one that has it all! You can pay anywhere from $100 to $1000.

  4. ‘Good comments so far, but here’s a fun and different perspective involving high-tech and health care. Consider a Smart Toilet if your budget, or curiosity allows. Kohler, Panasonic and Toto offer models with different feature sets. I wrote about them last year in “Smart Toilets, a royal flush for Home Healthcare?” ( but sure would like a plumber’s perspective on them.

  5. Aside from the design considerations, functionality and code are still key. Pressurized toilets work very well and carry the water out like a commercial grade toilet. However, they are not as quiet as a conventional model.

    When considering a new fixture for your home such as a toilet, we recommend that you choose a fixture made by one of the major manufacturers, such as American Standard, Kohler or Eljer.

    Another thing to consider is that some jurisdictions that are having a problems with pure water sources are requiring that all toilets and faucets be switched to low flow. So, if your city has water restrictions for lawn watering, drought conditions or a low water table, then they may require the switching of toilets to stay up to code for resale.

  6. Here at ER Plumbing Services of Charlotte NC, we’re big fans of Toto cyclone toilets because they are low flush toilets that use gravity and a dual-nozzle water propulsion system. It’s an efficient toilet that works well and will save you money on your water bill.

    If your toilets are not low flush, you are using between 3-7 gallons of water per flush. Low flush toilets use 1.6 (or less) gallons of water per flush. Low flush toilets save the average household 25 gallons of water per day.

    We have found that high quality low flush toilets perform as well as traditional toilets, and they pay for themselves since the installation will lower your water bill significantly. Low flush toilets are better for the world and better for your home. Our vote goes to low flush toilets!

  7. As a service plumber I see toilets everyday and let me tell you they have progressed so much in the last couple of years it’s sick. There are so many choices for customers to choose from. When looking for a toilet what are you doing first?…You are looking for something that will look good in your bathroom. Is your bathroom modern? Is it an old Victorian house? Is the house a rental? If the toilet is used for a rental I would suggest installing a toilet with a larger throat or trap. There are toilets available that cost a little more up front $200.00-$300.00 at the box stores, but with the larger trap they will not plug up as much as a standard toilet

  8. While I’m far from a plumbing expert, we do a large number of bathroom renovations and, in my experience; this is truly an area of large variance in personal preference!

    From a designer’s perspective, we’ve seen a trend toward “themed” bathrooms and powder rooms in recent years. If this appeals to you, one thing to consider is that most hand-crafted or designer toilet seats/lids are made to fit “standard” fixtures, so sticking with the basic toilet size and shape may actually allow you more room to incorporate the toilet into fun and clever design themes in the future.

  9. As a kitchen and bathroom designer I look closely at the plumbing I specify for my clients. Toilets really need to work or they’ll drive you crazy. I think manufacturers have taken really impressive steps to improve the function and styles available.
    I have a few must haves on my list for a great toilet:
    • A concealed trapway for a sleek look and easy cleaning
    • A 3” flush valve with a proven engineered flush
    • “Right height” 16 ½” rim height; easier to get on and off
    • Elongated seat if the space is available in the room; it’s just better.

    I’ve used quite a few Toto toilets, but in the last few years I really believe American Standard has some terrific toilets and great values. 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.

    The Toto heated seats and cleaning features or Kohler’s hat box toilet are right for some clients that have very specific requirements. These are always fun to see at home shows but the criteria and the styles I’ve listed usually satisfy my client’s needs.

  10. I have often cleaned up after 3 types of messes related to toilets, the fresh water tank cracks for some reason, the flushing mechanism fails and the supply line ruptures. We at cleaned up many disasters due to the above mentioned challenges. The toilet debate will continue, however to every plumber I would recommend using metal braided supply lines and save your clients from calling me. 🙂

  11. Being a plumber for over thirty years I know there are all kinds of choices out there for the consumer to choose from colors and styles plus many different accessories! When I was considering the water closet for my home I had two criteria I had to meet, one my wife had to like the look and second is it a water saver. We ended up choosing the Mansfield. A feature we didn’t realize we had until it was put to use was if you flush the lever regular you get the 1.6 gallon flush but if you hold the lever you get a 2.5 gallon flush. Just that little extra! Good luck!

  12. When considering a new toilet purchase I always make a pressure assist toilet a top option. I have found this style flushing the best and most reliable of all the toilets on the market. Most manufacturers have a model in their line up but I have always used the Gerber brand.

    If an traditional gravity flush is the preferred style then I recommend either a Toto or a Gerber for best performance. Toilet height is another feature to consider, the 16″ ADA height has become a preferred more comfortable choice. The last thing to consider is to upgrade your toilet seat to a plastic high quality slow close seat that won’t slam shut. Be warned though, if you buy one of these seats you will soon replace the others in your home as soon as you get used to the seat closing quietly.

Comments are closed.