Almost every person that I know of who has replaced a toilet has vented about how difficult the decision was. Not so much because they didn’t know what they wanted, but because of the overwhelming toilet options that are out there. It makes choosing a toilet an incredibly difficult task. The more you learn about what kind of options are out there, and what you need to avoid, the choices and combinations are endless.
This is why our team wanted to create a resource that helps you choose which toilet would be best for your individual situation. This resource comes in two forms: this toilet choosing guide, as well as an ebook that goes into greater detail – The Ultimate Toilet Buying Guide.
The book itself features over 60 pages of individual toilets, comparison charts, and our team’s advice on certain models from our own tests and trials.
In our book, we look at 18 individual factors that go into choosing a toilet, but on this page we’ll cover eight. These eight are super important, and can easily serve as the “high points” of picking out a toilet for your home. For a quicker, more in-depth look at which toilet is best for your individual situation, we would highly recommend getting the book itself.
The below factors aren’t quite in order, but we tried to start with some of the factors that can help you narrow down your broad search to a more narrow search quickly.
This is arguably the most important factor you need to consider when it comes to choosing an appropriate toilet for your situation. Some might say price, but there are many toilets in many price ranges. You can even increase your price range of what you’re willing to spend, but you can’t (easily) increase the size of your the bathroom where you’re toilet will eventually go.
Generally, we would recommend basing the size on length (depth) of a toilet. This is generally where you will run into trouble, vs width or height.
On the extremely small side, you have wall-hung toilets that you can choose from if you have the budget. They often come in between 20-25 inches long (traditional toilets are generally around 30 inches long). The catch here is that you also need space in the wall for the carrier system.
But if a wall-mounted toilet isn’t an option, a shorter traditional toilet is your best option. The smallest ones will be around 27 inches. This can sometimes be even shorter if you choose for a round toilet instead of an elongated toilet. Examples of smaller toilets that have round models are:
Each of these toilets fall in the 27 inch range, and have a good reputation for performance as well.
By “build” we mean whether the toilet is a one-piece build, or a two-piece build. A two-piece toilet has the tank and bowl as separate pieces.
The main differences from a consumer point-of-view are: price, and installation. Two-piece toilets are usually cheaper than their one-piece counterparts of similar specifications. They are also easier to ship, but can be a bit inconvenient, since they might arrive in two separate deliveries.
Installing a two-piece toilet is generally much easier than a one-piece. Generally speaking, a toilet weighs between 85-115 pounds. Imagine trying to carry that by yourself to the bathroom to be installed. Even with two people it can be a chore. Two-piece toilets can make this process much easier, as the toilet itself can be handled in two parts.
With a two-piece model, the toilet can be transported up stairs, through a house or apartment, AND you likely won’t have to hire a plumber specifically to install it.
Many people would put this higher on the list, but again, everyone’s needs are different. I’ll cut straight to the point, if you want a low price toilet, you’re likely to gravitate towards choosing a Glacier Bay, or certain Delta, American Standard and Swiss Madison models. These aren’t necessarily bad models or brands, but they are the absolute bare bone toilets. No frills. No new technology. And so-so performance.
Glacier Bay, for context, have toilets that are typically in the $100-$200 range. They are also usually available at most any Home Depot, and they have decent performance for such a low priced toilet. Put all these factors together and this makes them appealing for not only residential customers, but especially for commercial customers.
Business owners of brick-and-mortar locations know that toilets (and bathrooms in general) take a beating. So it often doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy an expensive toilet if you know some patrons are going to not treat it with respect. This often leads business owners to choose a lower priced toilet that will just get the job done. On that note, here are some examples of low priced toilets that do just that:
This section revolves around the shape of the bowl of the toilet. Meaning, either a round or elongated bowl. If you aren’t familiar with the look of these two variations, here’s an example:
Round toilets typically have models that are shorter. Because of this, they generally fit better into smaller spaces than elongated toilets. Additionally, they can also be found cheaper than their elongated counterparts as well.
All that said, that’s typically where the advantages end with round toilets. Elongated toilets have the upper hand when it comes to the following:
- All around comfort – guys will generally want more room in the toilet bowl for, well…obvious reasons
- Options – things like colors, seats, trapway design, etc, are generally more prevalent with elongated models instead of round models
- Cleaning – elongated models have more space between crevices, so cleaning is often easier
But, as we’ve touched on in the first section, Size, a round toilet may still be the best option for you depending on your specific needs. Here are examples of both:
This is where ToiletsMan and third party reviews will help a lot. Getting unsolicited information from customers that have already chosen their toilet is super important. This is the difference between what the manufacturer says, and what the real world product does after purchase. Manufacturers aren’t typically misleading with their descriptions, but as any online customer knows, the real world product can be wildly different.
In addition to actual customer reviews, the MaP flush score (Maximum Performance) of a toilet is super important. The MaP scale is a third party rating system that is used to rate toilet efficiency and flush performance based on controlled testing of waste and fluid.
They make their own soybean paste to represent fecal waste. They will then flush this replication down the toilet in gram allotments. With each flush they will add more and more grams until the toilet won’t be able to flush the allotment down in one flush. Anything between 500-1000 grams will constitute a “good” flush, and thus, a good toilet.
Many people will define performance in different ways. For example, some include noise level in their calculation. Others take into account how the toilet is able to clean itself (or have a certain gloss to do so).
The toilets below have proven to have great flushing performance, as well as favorable customer reviews:
Believe it or not, there are some stylish toilets out there. Toilets with skirted trapways, elegant design, and even toilets that are based on architecture.
This is lower on the list, because most people aren’t as concerned about the style of the toilet. Let’s be honest, when you think about a toilet, you mostly just want it to work. You generally aren’t worried about how it looks.
Make no mistake though, a toilet can absolutely make a bathroom. This is especially true when the bathroom is part of a series that includes sinks, bathtubs, even showerheads. All of those elements will match, and can provide a very unique, yet elegant experience.
That said, style can certainly cost. The toilets you see below are gorgeous, no doubt about it, but they’re also all over $1000.
A warranty on a toilet can be a tricky thing. Some only cover the chinaware, others don’t. Some cover for a lifetime, others for a single year. And others are a combination of both. For example, many TOTO toilets have a coverage window of only a year, but have a good reputation when it comes to after-sale service.
Alternatively, Icera has a lifetime warranty on their toilets, but it covers the chinaware only. They claim that they will be “free of defects in material and workmanship.”
To further complicate the situation, certain vendors will give some type of coverage above and beyond the warranty of the manufacturer.
All that said, brands like Icera, Delta, and Signature Hardware have solid warranties that make their toilets certainly worth looking at deeper. For example, here’s a look at the Signature Hardware warranty: https://www.signaturehardware.com/services/warranty
Last on the list, but certainly not least, is the brand you choose to go with to buy your toilet. Even with the different lines and models of toilets, brands will still have a design personality that are shown through their products.
For example, Icera, Swiss Madison, and Woodbridge tend to have very “blocky” toilet designs. This may be very appealing to some, but others may be looking for more of a curved look, and find that certain TOTO models match this feel. Or someone may want a combination of both, and they find that Duravit toilets are what they want.
Also worth considering is the reputation and tenure of the company itself. Many toilet companies are over 100 years old, and have seen a thing or two, and have the technology to prove it. TOTO is a good example of this. They are a very popular worldwide company, so they have a lot of experience in developing toilets for certain cultures and countries.
Generally speaking, any of the big three toilet brands: TOTO, American Standard, and Kohler are all great picks. But don’t let their good reputation steer you away from a lesser known brand like Gerber, Icera, or Swiss Madison, that also create outstanding toilets.