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Toilet Buying Guide

Purchasing a toilet is an investment that you'll want to get right the first time. Let our handy guide help you determine the proper toilet for your bathroom and lifestyle needs.

Types of Toilets

Types of Toilets

Despite the fact that toilets are configured in either one piece or two pieces, each model has its own unique look. But it's how the toilet functions that is all-important -- because dealing with the consequences of a malfunction is uniquely unpleasant. Choosing a new toilet might not be your favorite task, but getting one that is right for your needs saves you time and trouble down the line.

One-Piece or Two-Piece Toilets

A one-piece toilet is seamless; it has no crevices between the tank and bowl to collect dirt and odors. A two-piece toilet has a separate bowl and tank that are bolted together. Some two-piece models have a "sanitary dam," a raised area at the back of the bowl where material can be cleaned off rather than accumulating. Two-piece toilets are the most common installation.

Floor-Mount or Wall-Mount Toilets

By far the majority of toilets are plumbed through the floor. Wall-mount toilets are plumbed through the wall, which must be thicker than normal to hold the toilet's weight. Maintenance on a wall-mount toilet might require opening the wall where the tank is housed. These toilets, however, are easy to clean under and provide a sleek, dramatic look for your bathroom.

Pressure-Assisted or Gravity-Feed Toilets

In a pressure-assisted toilet, water displaces air within the tank and creates pressure that pushes waste out through the bowl. This type works well but can be a bit noisy. In a gravity-feed toilet, water drops from the tank into the bowl to move waste down the drain. This type also works well and flushes more quietly.

Round-Front or Elongated Toilets

Round-front toilets are compact, ideal for smaller rooms. Elongated toilets have extra room in the front, which adds a comfort factor for adults.

Traditional-Height or Tall Toilets

A standard toilet-bowl rim height is 15 inches from the floor; taller bowl heights of about 16-1/2 inches are gaining in popularity because the added height makes it easier to stand up.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Toilets represent 30 percent of residential water use. To reduce this figure, the U.S. government mandated that toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. So when you choose your new toilet, you'll want to check not only on its flushing power, but on its water efficiency as well. We've outlined some things to think about before you make your purchase.

WaterSense Certification

High-efficiency toilets with a WaterSense label use 1.28 gallons or less per flush, and most flush just as well as the 1.6-gallon models.

Dual-Flush Option

Some toilets offer a partial flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste, allowing you to save water whenever possible.

Rough-In Dimensions

Toilets come in a variety of sizes, so check the width, depth, and height of the space your toilet will occupy. Most (but not all) toilets bolt to the floor 12 inches from the wall. If you're using existing plumbing, make sure the toilet model you buy fits the existing specifications.

Surface Treatments

Some manufacturers apply a glaze with antimicrobial properties to the toilet's surfaces, making it easier to keep clean.


Toilets are available in an array of colors, but 85 percent of homeowners choose white. Why? It ages well and doesn't date the look of your bath as some colors might.

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