It's easy to get excited about designer sinks, clawfoot tubs, and steam showers when you're redesigning your bathroom. Most contractors and homeowners pay a great deal of attention to these fixtures: their design can make a big difference in function, and extras can give your bathroom a feeling of luxury.
But even though it's the most often-used fixture in the bathroom, most redesigners do not give a lot of thought to one feature: the humble toilet. The one you choose can make a difference, however. Read on for seven things to consider when buying a new toilet.
One-piece vs. two-piece. Most toilets come in two different designs: the one-piece and the two-piece, or close-coupled toilet. Close-coupled toilets are the most common, and tend to be the cheaper type. These employ an attached but separate tank and bowl. One-piece toilets have a tank built into the back of the bowl. These tend to be easier to clean, because there's no small gap between the tank and the bowl. However, they're usually more expensive. One-piece models have a lower profile than close-coupled toilets, and some redesigners like the more compact profile.
Seat shape and size. Toilet bowls come in either round or elongated models. Elongated seats are generally about two inches longer, and provide a bit more surface area – making the toilet a bit more comfortable than the round variety. Round toilets are smaller, and better for tight spaces. If you have the space for it, however, you may appreciate the comfort of an elongated bowl.
The flush system. Most toilets operate on a gravity flush system. These rely on the pressure of water in the tank as well as the weight of the water in the bowl to force water and waste into the pipes. Old-fashioned toilets with wall-mounted tanks relied on the height of the tank to increase the head pressure. Gravity-flush toilets are the most common and least expensive type.
Pressure-assisted flushing mechanisms, however, are gaining in popularity. These incorporate a cylinder of pressurized air inside the toilet tank to provide force to the flushing mechanism. These types of toilets typically have a loud, forceful flush, and are often used in commercial bathrooms.
Some cutting-edge toilet manufacturers offer dual-flush toilets that can help you save water. These offer a "half flush" for liquid waste and a "full flush" for solid waste. This lets you adjust the amount of water you use for lighter or heavier loads.
The trapway. The trapway is the part of the toilet through which water and waste exit. The larger the trapway, the better. A larger trapway allows for better flushing action and less risk of clogs. In addition, when you're in the store, be sure to ask if a toilet's trapway is fully glazed. A fully glazed trapway has a smoother surface. It can improve flushing performance and make the bowl easier to clean.
Toilet height. Toilets come in many different sizes and heights. If there are any senior citizens living in your home, they may find a higher toilet to be more comfortable – they will not have to lower themselves as far as sit down on it. If you have young children, you may want to consider a shelter toilet so they can access it more easily.
Attachment method. Whether you choose a floor-mounted or wall-mounted toilet will depend on the plumbing in your bathroom. The drain line in your bathroom is the pipe that takes the water and waste from your toilet bowl to the sewer or septic tank, and this can be either a floor-discharge or wall-discharge design. If you have a floor-discharge drain line, your toilet will need to be bolted to the floor. A wall-discharge drain line requires a wall-mounted toilet. You can find both gravity and pressure-assisted toilets in both designs.
Extra features. There are many extra features that can make a toilet more sanitary and luxurious. These include heated seats; motorized seats that lower automatically; ceramic glazes that make the toilet largely antibacterial; built-in bidet and drying features; insulation that prevents condensation on the outside of the bowl; and more.
The toilet may not be the most glamorous item in your bathroom, but it's one of the most necessary. Take your time when choosing a toilet. Be sure to measure the distance between the wall and the drain line opening, if you have a floor-discharge drain line. With a wall-discharge drain line, measure the distance between the floor and the drain line. With these measurements, you can be sure to find the right toilet for your bathroom.