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Choosing a Toilet: 11 Considerations You Must Make

Choosing a Toilet: 11 Considerations You Must Make

You may not know where to begin when you are looking to buy a new toilet. Fortunately, here you will find an organized listing of the considerations you must make when you are choosing a toilet.

What considerations are important when choosing a new toilet? There are 11 considerations you must make when choosing a toilet:

  1. The rough-in of the toilet
  2. The toilet style you want
  3. The height of the toilet
  4. The color of the toilet
  5. Bowl type
  6. Flushing type
  7. Water-use efficiency
  8. Flush sensors are available
  9. Check toilet flush ratings
  10. Toilet seat types
  11. Equipment needed for replacement/installation

Each of the considerations you must make when you are buying a new toilet is described in further detail. I’m confident that you will realize that this is a less stressful process than you realize after reading this article.

1.  Rough-In (12-inch vs. 14-inch toilet)

The rough-in of the toilet is the distance between the finished bathroom wall to the centerline of the drainpipe. The centerline of the drainpipe is the point at which the toilet bolts connect to the toilet’s anchor flange.

Toilet manufacturers in the US standardize toilets to have a rough-in dimension of 12 inches. However, some toilet models are fitted to be compatible with rough-in dimensions of 10 or 14 inches to cover older installations and foreign products.

How To Rough-In A Toilet in 5 Steps

1.    Measure the distance from the finished wall to the center of the toilet flange


Most commonly, this distance will be 12,” but it may also be 10” or 14.”

Make sure that this measurement is coming from the finished wall, not the base trim

2.    If you are measuring from an unfinished wall (stud wall):


Add the thickness of your drywall to your final measurement.
For instance, if you were planning on installing 0.5” drywall, then you will want the centerline of the flange to be 12.5” from the wall stud
3.    Allow 15” of clearance on either side of the centerline from other fixtures such as a bathtub or a vanity


4.    Different plumbing codes set a distance standard from the centerline to the finished wall in front of the toilet:


IPC: 21” of clearance at the front

UPC: 24” of clearance at the front

5.    The water line should be offset 6” to the side and 7” above the finished floor


The purpose of this is so that the location of the water supply line accommodates the height of the base molding

2.  Select The Toilet Style

There are numerous options available when it comes to toilet style. Each style comes equipped with its own set of specifications suited for your needs.

Two-Piece Toilets

A two-piece toilet consists of a toilet bowl, and a toilet tank bolted on top of the tank. With two-piece toilets, you have many different design options at your disposal.

You can interchange the bowl and the tank as you wish, as long as you make sure that the tank can be lined up with the bolts of the toilet bowl.


One of the more popular two-piece toilets on the market is the TOTO Entrada Two-Piece Universal Height Toilet.

One-Piece Toilets

One-piece toilets are both easier to clean and install than two-piece toilets. They also have a sleek look that is characteristic of contemporary style.

One-piece toilets are easy to clean because there are not any nooks or joint areas where dirt and grime can find a hiding place.


  • The drawbacks of the one-piece toilet design include ease of repair and affordability.
  • One-piece toilets are more difficult to access for repairs.
  • With two-piece toilets, you can easily remove the toilet tank to repair and replace pipes and parts, as is noted by this faucet retailer.
  • Two-piece toilets also tend to be more affordable than one-piece toilets.

An example of a popular one-piece toilet on the market is the Woodbridge T-0032. You can see how this toilet would be easier to clean than a two-piece toilet since the surface of the toilet doesn’t feature many nooks or crannies.

Wall-Mount Toilets

Wall-mount toilets are most often seen in public restrooms, but they have been used in residential settings as well. Wall-mount toilets also use less space than other toilets and are generally received as more visually appealing.

Wall-mount toilets can be advantageous in a residential setting because they will be easier to clean than other toilets.

There are additional considerations you must take into place if you are looking into installing a wall-mount toilet:

  • Wall-mount toilets can be expensive
  • You will need to make sure that the thickness of the wall will support the toilet, according to the manufacturer
  • You will need to open the wall and reroute the waste pipe in order to install the tank inside the wall cavity
  • You will need to know whether the frames within your wall consists of 2×4 or 2×6 studs
  • You may have to rework the studs in older homes

Despite the price, wall-mount toilets are a great way to overcome tight bathroom spaces. They are also easy to maintain since you will be able to easily clean underneath the bowl. With other types of toilets, you may have difficulty cleaning the flooring space between the toilet and the wall.

One of the popular wall-mount toilets is this American Standard Wall-Hung Toilet. This elongated wall-hung toilet comes with a flushometer valve and a direct-fed siphon jet. The flushometer is the metal flush handle and water diverter that you often see with toilets located in public restrooms.

Keep in mind that you will have to buy and install the tank for the wall-mount toilet separately from the toilet tank. The costs associated with this project will extend beyond simply buying the toilet bowl.

3.  Consider Toilet Height

Toilets vary in height, which is measured from the floor to the height. Toilets are classified by height using monikers such as “chair height,” “comfort height,” or “tall height.”

Make sure that you take height into consideration so that your bathroom will be outfitted with a toilet that is most comfortable for both you and your family.


Standard toilets come with rim heights that are 14 to 15 inches from the floor. Chair height toilets, an excellent choice for taller people, have a rim height of 17 inches or more.

4.  You Actually Have Some Color Options

The vast majority of toilets that you find in homes will be white. But there are some other color options available that can help you add that stylish touch to your bathroom.

Some toilet models can be found in an almond color, while others can be found in black.

Just be aware that white toilets are considered pretty standard for the majority of home buyers. If you are fixing up your home to sell it, you will want to put in a white toilet so that the resale value is not affected.

Upwards of 90% of all toilets sold in the United States are white, according to HGTV.

5.  Consider Bowl Type

You may not have taken stock of the variations in toilet bowl shapes and sizes unless you have already started shopping for toilets. There are three different types of toilet bowl shapes, as will be discussed in further detail below.

Elongated Bowl

The elongated toilet bowl type features the largest toilet bowl. While this design offers maximum comfort, it also takes up the most space.

You will need to take your bathroom’s available floor space into account when choosing a toilet. A toilet with an elongated bowl may not be the most realistic option for you if you have a small bathroom.

However, if you are willing to sacrifice more floor space and are looking to maximize comfort, then the elongated design may be what you are looking for.

An example of a toilet with an elongated toilet bowl is the Toto Eco Drake. You can see how this toilet bowl offers up much more space than other toilet bowl shape options.

Round Front Bowl

The round-front toilet bowl, often referred to as the “plain bowl,” is an excellent option for the family since the design is suited well for children, as is seen in the figure comparing bowl designs on this website.

The round front toilet bowl design also takes up the least amount of space versus the elongated and compact elongated toilet bowl designs.


The round front toilet bowl design is reportedly the most popular design among residential installations. It is a cost-effective design for a toilet bowl, and it takes up less bathroom floor space than the elongated design.

An example of a round front toilet is the TOTO Entrada. Most of the toilets you find in residential set-ups will look much like this toilet.

Compact Elongated Bowl

The compact elongated toilet bowl design seeks to combine the best of both worlds. This design combines the comfort of the elongated bowl with the small profile of the round front bowl.

The compact elongated toilet bowl is roughly the same size as a round front toilet bowl, generally being approximately 1 or 2 inches larger than the round front toilet bowl.


The oval shape makes the compact elongated toilet bowl more comfortable than most round front toilet bowls.

An example of a compact elongated toilet available on the market is the American Standard Compact Cadet. You can see that the toilet bowl is of a similar size to the round front toilet bowl. However, you might find the oval shape more desirable.

6.Flushing Types

You will also have a variety of options to consider when it comes to the flushing mechanism the toilet you buy will utilize. These options include flush mechanisms designed to increase flushing power.

Flushing mechanisms designed to save water will be further discussed in the water efficiency section of this article.

Siphonic Flushing

Most toilets utilize siphonic flushing. This involves harnessing the power of water, gravity, and s-shape of the trapway to create a siphon.

These systems are easy to maintain and are the least expensive of the various flushing systems. This is because it is always easy to find new parts for a siphonic flushing system since it is the most commonly used toilet flushing system.

  • The downsides to siphonic flushing systems are that they are prone to sweating in humid climates. They are also less efficient than pressure-assisted or vacuum-assisted systems, although newer models are designed to be more efficient thanks to new tank and bowl designs.

Vacuum Assisted-Flush

These toilets use electricity to power the flush. A vacuum tank is connected to the trapway, the supply tube carrying water out of the bowl.

These systems are known for being easy to repair. The vacuum is effective in producing a strong flush. They also don’t sweat in humid conditions.

  • The downside is that vacuum-assisted systems cost more than other systems. Since these systems are less commonly used, you may not notice a wide variety of buying options, according to this plumber.

Pressurized Water Line

Pressurized water line flush systems utilize a pressurized vessel powered by a series of water lines designed to yield the same flushing power while using less water.

Pressure-assisted systems are usually available in models that use either 1.1 or 1.4 gallons per flush, according to this plumbing website.

If you are interested in buying a pressure-assisted flush toilet, be aware that such systems require at least 25 pounds-per-square-inch of general-home water pressure. If you are unsure of your home water pressure, you can measure the pressure at an outside spigot of the house using a water pressure gauge such as this Watts Pressure Test Gauge.

  • The advantages of the pressurized water line system include protection against rusting and a tank that doesn’t sweat in humid weather.
  • The downsides of the pressure-assisted systems include the noise of the flush and the cost of these systems.

Pressure-assisted flush systems can also be more difficult to maintain because it is harder to find new parts. This is because these types of toilets are not very common.

One of the most popular pressure-assisted flush toilets is American Standard Cadet Pressure-Assisted Toilet.  This system brags a powerful pressure-assisted siphon jet flush system.

7. You Can Maximize Water-Use Efficiency

Over the years, homeowners have become more conscious of both their water bills and the need to conserve more water.

There are a couple of different types of systems designed to use less water per flush, as will be discussed in further detail below.

Dual-Flush Toilets

A dual flush toilet gives you the option of selecting how much water you want to use in a flush.

Popular dual-flush toilet models include this Woodbridge Elongated One-Piece Toilet. This toilet gives you the option of choosing either 1 gallon per flush or 1.6 gallons per flush. The toilet is also designed with a siphon flushing system, the most common flushing mechanism seen in residential toilets.

Are Dual-Flush Toilets Worth It?

If you choose to go with a dual-flush toilet, you will be paying a little more for it than you would with standard toilets.

When performing a cost-benefit analysis for a dual-flush toilet, you will want to know:

  • How much less water does a dual-flush toilet use than a standard toilet?
  • Is the low flow flushing option even effective, or will I always have to choose the higher flush setting?

The usefulness of dual-flush toilets has been a subject of debate, as is seen in this online newspaper article on dual-flush toilets. Note: for a toilet to be considered a high-efficiency toilet (abbreviated as HET), it must use less than 1.6 gallons per flush.

  • Single-lever flush toilets typically use 1.6 gallons per flush.
  • Dual-flush toilets reportedly average about 1.28 gallons per flush, according to the Seattle Times.


When it comes to deciding whether a dual-flush toilet is worth it, you need to take into consideration how much use your toilet will be receiving. In a populated household or a location receiving many guests, it may be better to choose a traditional single-lever flush toilet to cut down on confusion. However, in a household of a few people or less, a dual-flush system can come in handy and can cut down on water-use.

Low-Flow Toilets

If you are looking to save water, you may be considering a low-flow toilet. Unlike dual-flush toilets, these toilets come with only one option when it comes to gallons used per flush: a lower end flush setting that uses less water per flush than standard toilets.

As was touched on in the section above, a toilet must average less than 1.6 gallons per flush to be considered a high-efficiency toilet. Ultra-high-efficiency toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush.


Some models of low-flow toilets use air pressure to assist the flush, while others use gravity or siphon components to clear the bowl. In the past, low-flow toilets have been notorious for not being worth it since they require you to flush more than once anyway. Low-flow toilets first became commonplace in the early 1990s.

Are Low Flow Toilets Worth It?

A 2016 study by the Water Research Foundation has found that between 1996 and 2016, the per capita use of water for toilets has decreased from 18.5 gallons per day to 14.2 gallons per day.


In that same time frame, the amount of toilets meeting efficiency standards has increased from 5% to 37%. Flush frequency has remained much the same, meaning that low-flow toilets are likely starting to have a positive impact on the amount of water used.


Recent technologies have made low-flow toilets more useful.

Pressure-assisted flushing technologies seek to make the flush effective, even while less water is being used. One of the popular low-flow toilets on the market is the Kohler K-3609-0 1.28 gpf Toilet With Aquapiston technology.

The AquaPiston is a canister that allows water to flow into the toilet bowl from all sides. This feature is designed to increase the effectiveness of the low-flow toilet.

You can also find low-flow toilets that use even less than 1.28 gallons per flush.  The Niagara Stealth toilet is one that claims to use a 0.8 gallons per flush tank.

Some Municipalities/States Offer Rebates

Some communities offer rebates to those who install special low-flow toilets in their homes. These rebates typically apply to homeowners who install certified high-efficiency toilets (1.28 gallons per flush) to replace toilets using more than 1.6 gallons per flush.

For example, the California Department Of Water Resources (DWR) offers a rebate of up to $100 for single-family residences who replace a toilet using 1.6 gallons per flush with a certified high-efficiency toilet using 1.28 gallons or less per flush.


When you are looking for high-efficiency toilets, check to see that they have the WaterSense label that ensures they meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria for low-flow toilets, as is described in further detail here.

8. You Can Automate Your Flush

You can make the toilet in your bathroom more hygienic by automating the flush system by installing some kind of a flush sensor similar to the ones you commonly find in public restrooms.

One of the sensors you can find that will automate your flush is the Kohler K-1954-0 Touchless Toilet Flush Kit.

This automatic toilet sensor is powered by 4 AA batteries. The manufacturer states that toilet standard with most canister and flapper type toilets. Note that this specific sensor does not work with dual flush or pressure-assist toilets. It also is not compatible with top mount flush or ball clock valve toilets.


If you would like to add a motion sensor flush system to your toilet, you will likely be able to find some kind of a toilet sensor that is compatible with your toilet.


Always be sure to check that the toilet and motion sensor are compatible with each other before making purchases. These systems are not necessarily universally compatible with each other.

9. Check Toilet Flushing Ratings

Part of doing your homework online before committing to a toilet is to check the toilet’s flush ratings on independent sites. A toilet is a 10-plus year commitment, so you’ll want to make sure that you’ll find a toilet that performs well in your home.

You can find these independent test results by typing “toilet testing” into a search engine. One of these testing sites is the MaP Testing website.

You can find a search engine on the website that allows you to search for toilets by brand and by model number, among other features.

10. Toilet Seats

Most toilets you buy will not come equipped with the toilet seat when you buy it. This is a component that you will probably have to purchase separately.

This can be a good thing since this allows you to customize what kind of toilet seat suits your needs. You can even find toilet seats that close slowly, as not to create a loud noise upon closing.


Toilets are available in many different types of materials:

  • Real Wood
  • Molded Wood Composition
  • Cushioned Vinyl
  • Plastic
  • Polypropylene

Slow-Close Toilet Seats

Slow-close toilet seats are an alternative to traditional seats that make less noise when closed.

Slow-close toilet seats are well-suited for families with small children who may frequently lose grip of traditional toilet seats.

They also don’t cause a bunch of noise when they are lifted and closed during nighttime hours like traditional toilet seats are. Slow-close toilet seats can be found for a variety of toilet bowl designs.

Popular slow-close toilet seats include the Mayfair 830NISL Toilet Seat. This toilet seat features brushed nickel hinges to help the seat close slowly. This slow-close toilet seat fits all round toilets and can be installed using just a wrench.

11. Equipment You Will Need To Install Your Toilet

Replacing an old toilet and installing one is not as difficult of a task as you may think. Here you will find a list of the equipment needed for the job as well as tips on how to get the job done right.

Removing An Old Toilet

Specific instructions for removing an old toilet and installing a new one can be found on the Home Depot website here.

It is recommended that you check the system for leaks before you consider the job done. You can check for leaks by adding a leak-detecting dye to the tank of the toilet.

Then you will flush the toilet, paying special attention to the base of the toilet by the floor and the point at which the tank and the toilet bowl meet ( in a 2-piece toilet) to ensure that every bolt has been properly placed and tightened.