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How to Choose a Toilet | A Guide to Picking Your Throne

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bathroom with white décor and black trim

Choosing a toilet might seem like an easy task, but it’s an important decision to make. Whether you are remodeling your bathroom or simply replacing an old toilet, there are several factors to consider before you make that final choice.

Maya Mogdahan

In this article, we’ll discuss how to measure everything in your bathroom for problem-free planning. However, keep in mind the advice of Maya Moghadam, Owner of Maya’s Design Studio: 

“As a designer, I recommend having a professional contractor measure all the unique requirements. They know how to measure correctly so that you don’t waste your money or time.” 

Maya and her team can recommend a contractor, create an e-design, and shop with you to help turn your bathroom into a haven in your home.

Maya’s Design Studio offers virtual services all over the world. To get a free 20-minute consultation on your bathroom design or remodel, click the button below, choose a time that’s convenient, and be sure to mention that you came from Bathtubber:

In this guide, we discuss all you need to know to help you choose the best toilet for your home, including the size, shape, flushing system, water efficiency, and additional features for the perfect throne.

Bathroom Bliss: Choosing the Perfect Toilet for Your Home

Height of Bathroom Sconces

With the variety of toilets available, choosing the perfect throne for your comfort and style can be difficult. Before you buy a toilet, these are some of the things that you should consider:

ConsiderationsImportant Aspects
Size and shapeChoose a style and size that fits your bathroom space. Measure the area to ensure the toilet will fit properly.
Flushing mechanismGravity-fed toilets use the force of gravity to flush the contents of the bowl.
Water EfficiencyPressure-assisted toilets use pressurized air to force the contents down the drain.
ComfortLook for a low-flow or dual-flush toilet to save water and reduce your water bill.
Durability and maintenanceChoose the right height, bowl shape, and seat size for you. Consider a bidet or a smart toilet.
AestheticsHigh-quality materials are more durable and will last longer. Consider how easy cleaning the toilet is and replacing parts when necessary.
BudgetToilet colors and designs are available to complement most bathroom styles and décor. Choose what makes you happy and fits the space.
Buy what suits your budget. Higher-priced toilets might not be the best choice for you, so consider your needs.

How To Pick a Toilet: Your Step-By-Step Guide

Now that you know what to look for, how exactly do you pick your perfect toilet?  

1. Measure Your Space

StandardShowerSizes1-1
The correct placement of a bathroom toilet – Image courtesy of Maya’s Bathroom Designs

The toilet is probably the most important fixture in the bathroom, so it should be optimally situated for ease of use and not be obstructed by anything else. 

To get an extended FREE consultation on your bathroom design or remodel, and advice on measuring, click the button below. Be sure to mention that you came from Bathtubber.

If you are simply replacing an existing toilet with a newer model, you don’t need to measure the area at all – you will use the existing position and install the new toilet where the old one was.

However, if  you are remodeling and installing a new toilet in a new location, then a few rules apply:

  • When planning your bathroom remodel, it’s important to consider the optimal spacing for your fixtures as stipulated by the IRC and your local zoning office. 
  • The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) is a well-respected trade organization that provides recommended guidelines for optimal spacing in the bathroom.  These recommendations are not legal requirements but are used by designers when laying out bathrooms.

 Top tip: Place the toilet facing an open door or wall for better clearance

 This table lists the optimal spacing requirements for toilets in a bathroom:

Minimum toilet clearance spaceRecommended Spacing (IRC)Recommended Spacing (NKBA)Disabled access (ADA)
Front of the toilet21″ (53.3cm)30” (76.2cm)30“- 48” (76.2 – 121cm)
Side of the toilet to the nearest fixture, wall, or partition15″ (38.1cm)18″ (45.7cm)60 “(152.4cm)
Clear floor space in front of the toilet24″ (60.9cm)30″ (76.2cm)30 “- 48” (76.2 – 121cm)

How To Measure Your Space For a Toilet

Measuring your space for a new toilet installation isn’t hard. All you need to measure to fit the toilet in its location is:

  • The tank height
  • The bowl shape
  • The rough-in dimensions

If you don’t know what size your existing toilet is, measure it before you look for a new one. You should find out the measurements of a new toilet when remodeling to see if it will fit into your new space. Follow these steps to measure a toilet:

  • Measure the width of the toilet from the right outer edge to the left outer edge of the toilet seat or the toilet tank (whichever is the widest)
  • Measure the length of the toilet from the back of the toilet tank to the front of the toilet rim
  • Measure the height of the toilet from the seat to the top of the tank and from the rim of the toilet seat to the floor

How To Measure Toilet Rough-In

A toilet rough-in is the distance between the center of the toilet flange, the hole where the waste is expelled, and the finished wall behind the toilet. If this measurement is incorrect, the toilet will not fit properly and leak.

The standard rough-in size is 12″ (30.5cm), but 10″ (25.4cm)  and 14” (30.6cm) sizes are available. Always buy a toilet with the correct size to avoid plumbing problems.

 To measure the toilet rough-in, follow these steps:

  • Find the center of the toilet flange. To do this, remove the seat and lid and look down into   the bowl – the flange is the opening at the bottom of the toilet bowl. 
  • Using a tape measure, measure the distance from the finished wall to the center of the flange. The finished wall includes drywall, baseboard, tile, or any other material behind the toilet. 
  • After measuring the distance, you will know the rough-in size –10” (25.4cm), 12″ (30.5cm), or 14″ (30.6cm).

If you are planning a complete remodel of your bathroom and need to measure everything for optimal spacing, take a look at our guide on How to Measure EVERYTHING in Your Bathroom.

 2. Choose Your Toilet

A shopper lifts the lid on a water-saving toilet

This is a very important decision and one that will be with you for a very long while! Take your time, browse online and read the reviews, visit your local hardware stores, and find the best possible toilet for your needs. 

1-Piece, 2-Piece, or Tankless Toilet?

What is a tankless toilet?

Toilets are made in both one and two-piece toilet and tankless models. Which is better for you? Well, that depends on your specific requirements and how much space is available in your bathroom.

The below chart provides an overview of each toilet design:

1-Piece Toilets2- Piece ToiletsTankless Toilets
Single tank and bowlSeparate tank and bowlNo tank, water on demand
Space saversMost common toiletsEco-friendly
Easy to cleanReplacement parts are easy to findMinimal maintenance and repairs
No crevices for mold and germsLess durablePower source for pump required
Sleek and stylishLeak easilyNoisy when flushed
ExpensiveMore affordableExpensive up-front costs
HeavyMore style optionsGreener option
1.6 – 6.0 Gallons per flush (GPF)1.6 – 6.0 GPF1.28 – 1.6 GPF

Toilet Seat Height

what size bathroom mirror above bathroom vanity 2

The seat height of toilets varies, but they should be comfortable and easy to use. A shorter person might find a standard 15″ seat height works well for them, but a taller person might want a taller 17″-high seat. (In the world of bathrooms, taller fixtures are referred to as being “comfort height.”)

To find out the seat height, measure from the floor to the top of the seat.

Toilet seat heights are:

Toilet typeSize from the floor
Standard15 – 16″ (38 – 40cm)
Comfort – ADA17 – 19″ (43 – 48cm)

Elongated Or Round Toilet Seat

round or elongated toilet seat

The shape of your toilet seat really can make the difference between a blissful toilet experience and an unhappy one. Fitting the wrong-shaped seat to the toilet bowl can affect the stability of the seat on the bowl, creating a very uncomfortable user experience.

Don’t assume that the seat you have purchased will automatically fit your toilet bowl. Instead, use these measurements to determine the shape and size of your toilet bowl before your buy a toilet seat to match: 

Toilet ShapeLength (back to front) measured from bolthole to top of the toilet bowlMidpoint between boltholesDistance between midpoint and tank
Round16.5”(41.9cm)5.5 – 7.5”( 14 – 19cm)3”(7.6cm)
Elongated18.5”(47cm)5.5 – 7.5”(14 – 19cm)2”(5cm)

Toilet Flushing Systems

A person flushing a toilet.

All toilets need a functioning flushing system to wash away waste and debris from the toilet bowl. Most modern systems offer a single flush to remove liquids, and a dual flush to remove solid waste. A dual flush toilet provides a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to save water.

Read on to learn more about the different types of toilet flushing systems.

Gravity Flush Systems

Gravity-fed toilets are the most common type used in most households. A gravity flush system toilet tank uses the force of gravity to flush away the contents of the bowl. Older models can use up to 5 GPF (Gallons Per Flush), but newer models use about 1.6 GPF.

Pressure-Assisted Systems

Pressure-assisted toilets use pressurized air and water to force the contents down the drain. This system uses about 1.1 to 1.4 GPF, making this system very cost-effective.

Flushometer Systems

While regular toilets rely on gravity and a water tank to flush away the contents of the toilet bowl, tankless toilets rely on a two-valve system (or “Flushometer”) to achieve the perfect flush.

The high-pressure valve regulates water into the system from the main supply, while the low-pressure valve reduces the pressure of the water entering the bowl.

Toilet Features

smart toilet control panel

Modern toilets are built for comfort and ease of use. Gone are the old-fashioned porcelain white toilets and seats of yesteryear. In their place are various good-looking, comfortable, stylish, and luxurious toilets designed to enhance your bathroom décor.

Standard toilets offer many features, including your choice of shape, style, color, and flushing options. Try a Smart toilet if you are looking for something special and different to add to your bathroom space. A smart toilet is a worthwhile investment due to its many convenient features.

Smart Toilet Features

Although standard modern seats are designed for comfort, smart toilets offer so much more:

  • Self-cleaning and self-deodorizing
  • Hands-free flushing
  • Comfort height seats
  • Overflow protection
  • Integrated bidet
  • Self-closing lid
  • Heated seat
  • Foot warmers
  • Adjustable settings
  • Music
  • A remote control connected to your Wi-Fi

Read my post on whether a smart toilet is worth the money. And for other smart bathroom ideas that can transform your life, don’t miss my post on smart bathroom fixtures

How Much Does a Toilet Cost?

white Toto toilet on white background.
Click to see the Toto NEOREST NX2 smart toilet

Toilets are available to suit any budget, and we mean any budget. The chart below contains toilets available on Amazon that range in price from $146 to $18,000!

Toilet TypeLowAverageHigh
1-Piece$227$467 $6,025
2-Piece$146$220 $2,083
Tankless$419$639 $3,641
Integrated bidets$499 $799 $8,782
Smart$799$1,590$18,154

Water Sense or Water Guzzler?

smart toilet with bidet

Most regular toilets in an average household are water guzzlers using 6 gallons (22.7 liters) per flush. This accounts for 30% of indoor water consumption, costing you a fortune!

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), replacing your regular old toilet with a water-saving low-flow toilet can save 13,000 gallons (49,210 liters) of water per year – saving you around $140/year or $2,900 over the lifetime of the toilet.  

What is the WaterSense Initiative?

The WaterSense initiative is a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Purchasing bathroom fixtures with the WaterSense label means you’ll reduce water consumption compared to buying fixtures without the label.

The WaterSense label guarantees the product that you buy meets the EPA’s criteria of:

  • Efficiency
  • Performance
  • Energy saving
  • Water reducing

Try this WaterSense calculator to figure out how much water (and money!) you’ll save by buying bathroom appliances with the WaterSense label. 

What Are Low-Flow Toilets?

Water Saving Toilet

A water-efficient or low-flow toilet is designed to save water by using less water per flush. A single flush from a water-efficient toilet uses 1.28 gallons (4.8 liters) per flush, saving you money.

A water-efficient toilet uses water velocity instead of water volume to remove water and waste from the toilet.

 A WaterSense-certified low-flow toilet can:

  • Clean the bowl’s surface.
  • Transport human waste through a drain line.
  • Clear waste and toilet paper from the bowl.

So, How Do You Choose The Best Toilet?

Water Saving Toilet

Buying a new toilet is not an easy decision. Consider what you need, what you like, and what you can afford before choosing your next throne. You’ll need to account for your budget, decor and your priorities, ranging from water conservation to heating your backside. 

If you’re just out to do your business and get on with your life, select a low-cost toilet that fits our space and your height and comfort requirements, keeping in mind many people find the toilet with an elongated bowl more comfortable, and taller people should consider a “comfort height” toilet.

Bathtubber.com works with Maya’s Design Studio, a team who can help you every step of the way. Click the button above to contact Maya. Tell her you found her on Bathtubber.com and she’ll give you a FREE extended virtual bathroom design consultation. Read more about Maya’s Design Studio here.

Tags: Elongated Or Round Toilet Seat, guide to pick a toilet, how to choose a toilet, How To Measure Toilet Rough-In, Toilet Features, water sense toilet

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