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How do I choose the right toilet?

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Designing a new bathroom or looking to renovate the old? Don't overlook the importance of choosing the right toilet!

While it's not as luxurious as a massaging shower or as glamorous as a mosaic backsplash, the right combination of style, comfort, convenience and sustainability in a toilet can make it the star of your bath. Here are just a few qualities to consider as you shop for your next throne:

Color/design

Toilets come in a rainbow of colors and a wide variety of styles, from ornately traditional to sleekly modern. If you're matching existing fixtures, such as a tub or sink, you’ll want to choose something complementary.

To tank or not to tank?

Typical commodes in the U.S. consist of a tank behind a bowl and seat, supported by a pedestal. If that’s not the look you want, you’re in luck! Today's market offers a range of alternatives including slim-tank, high-tank, tankless and more. These options can be particularly attractive for small bathrooms because they reduce a toilet's footprint.

  • Tank toilets may have flush-assisting technology, but they primarily work using gravity. The water in the reservoir rapidly pours down into the bowl when you flush, causing the siphon beneath it to suck the waste away, into the sewer line. As soon as the tank is empty, a flap covers the drain and allows the tank and bowl to refill.
  • Slim-tank toilets use the same principle, but the reservoir is shaped in a way that hugs the wall, allowing the toilet to take up less floor space. Slim tanks may also come in different shapes—rectangular, round, oval, or whatever the designer had in mind.
  • High-tank toilets are a holdout from an earlier age in toilet technology. Rather than sitting behind the bowl, a high tank is located above the toilet and is flushed by pulling a chain or cord. They are typically harder to install and maintain, but they are an option if you're passionate about creating a vintage bath design. It’s certainly a conversation piece!
  • Tankless toilets don't have a reservoir and don't use gravity to flush. Instead, the force of the flush comes from the water pressure in the supply line—or, more often in residential settings, from a mechanical pump or other flush-assist technology. Tankless toilets haven't been popular for home use because of their expense, potential incompatibility with residential plumbing and their noisy flush. If you’ve used a tankless toilet in a public restroom, you know that’s a sound you’d hesitate to make in a sleeping household!
 

Bowl/seat shape

Bowls and seats may be compact, elongated or somewhere in between.

  • Compact toilet bowls are round and take up less space in the bathroom. However, they’re also less comfortable, since all your weight is supported by a small part of your legs.
  • If you're looking for seat comfort, elongated toilets are probably for you. The extra length allows your thighs to support more of your weight.

Seats are typically interchangeable (unless you have a smart toilet), and can be made of wood, plastic, metal or a padded material.

Another component of comfort is the seat’s height. Pay attention to how low the seat is, especially if you're buying for someone with mobility issues.

Flush style

Unless you're interested in an eco-friendly but high-maintenance composting toilet, you’ll probably have a choice of single- or dual-flush models. Single-flush toilets use a uniform amount of water to flush each time. Dual-flush toilets let you choose a low-water flush for liquids and a full flush for solids.

Both types of toilets may come with WaterSense® certification, so look for that label if water conservation is important to you. Even replacing an older toilet with a newer one might provide noticeable water savings, since modern toilets are so much more efficient than those manufactured just a decade ago.

Additional functionality

The toilet manufacturing industry has created an array of luxury features that can add to your experience. Here are just a few of the bells and whistles you might find:

  • Heated seat—no more chills on winter nights!
  • Self-closing lid
  • Touchless (or remote-controlled) flush
  • Bidet wash
  • Air drying
  • LED lighting—find your way without turning on a glaring overhead light!
  • Automatic cleaning & deodorizing
  • Leak monitoring via your smartphone
 

Need help with the next step? Call the plumbing pros at ARS®/Rescue Rooter®! We're here to help you select a toilet that fits your space, needs and budget: 1-800-277-9400.

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