When remodeling a bathroom in an older home, it’s not unusual to find fixtures that are as old as the home itself, sometimes 50 years or older. Often these fixtures, including toilets, are still in good working condition, which is a testament to the quality of products produced during that era. But older fixtures such as toilets were limited in choice to some basic options such as color and shape. Today, we have a wide range of options. Manufacturers have introduced many new features and designs that have improved the efficiency, performance, comfort and aesthetics of toilets.
Whether you are remodeling or updating a bathroom, here are seven facts to know that will help to you select the best toilet:
1. Water Efficiency
Today’s toilets use considerably less water than models made before 1995. That’s when new federal standards went into effect and required manufacturers to make toilets that use 1.6 gallons per flush or less. Pre-1995 toilets, which are in many homes today, use as much as 6 gallons of water per flush. So it’s not surprising to learn that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 30 percent of water consumption in the average home is attributed to toilet flushing. Takeaway: if your toilet was made before 1995, it’s time to replace it.
Many of today’s toilets are much more efficient in the use of water that what’s required by federal standards. Look for toilets with the WaterSense label, which means it uses 20 percent or less water than the federal standard.
2. New Technology
To achieve (and exceed) water efficiency standards, manufacturers have come up with new toilet designs:
- Low-flow toilets. Low-flow toilets use gravity and toilet design to flush waste. Pressurized air in the tank pushes water into the bowl with more force. Wider “flapper valves” (the hole in the tank) and “trapways” (the hole at the bottom of the toilets) flush less water.
- Dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have two buttons or levers. One is for liquid waste and the other is for solid waste. Dual flush toilets reduce the amount of water used (0.8 gallons for liquid waste and 1.6 gallons for solid waste). However, dual flush toilets can be more expensive than low flow toilets and retain less water in the bowl, which may make them less attractive.
3. Toilet Size
The closer a toilet is to the wall, the less space it uses. There are three types of toilets:
- Round bowls. This shape uses the least amount of space. A round bowl will extend 25-to-28 inches from the wall.
- Elongated bowls. The largest and most comfortable type of toilet, it extends 29-to-31 inches from the wall.
- Compact elongated toilets. A style that offers both efficient use of space and comfort and extends as little as 25½ inches from the wall.
When considering toilet comfort, consider “Comfort Height” models. These toilets are the height of a chair seat and are 17-to-19 inches from the floor. Standard toilet seat height is 14-to-15 inches from the floor. It’s important to consider who may be using the toilet when determining the appropriate height for your bathroom. If the primary users are adults, “comfort height” would be optimal. However, if the toilet is in a bathroom used by young children a standard height toilet is the best option.
Today, manufacturers are designing toilets as architectural elements in a bathroom. Much attention is paid to creating attractive shapes and forms, and to giving consumers color options. Although white remains the dominant color choice, today’s colors also include beige, black and gray. One of the easiest ways to add color to a toilet is to choose a colored seat. Toilets come in three basic styles:
- One-Piece Toilets. One-piece toilets occupy less space and are easy to clean. They have a lower profile than a separated tank and bowl.
- Two-Piece Toilets. Two-piece toilets are the most common toilet in homes today. There are many designs and styles available.
- Tankless Toilets. Tankless toilets are popular because of their small size and water conservation. Tankless toilets have a direct line with enough pressure to clear the bowl and don’t require a tank of water to clear waste.
Most manufacturers offer a 3-to-5 year limited warranty on parts. Different terms apply to the chinaware and toilet seats. Some warranty chinaware for the lifetime of the toilet.
7. New Features
Toilets can range in price from $100 to several thousand dollars. Luxury models include bowls with a light, bidets, seat warmers, dryers, health monitors, flush sensors and there’s even a toilet with an iPad mounted on a lid with a swivel hinge.