Toilet Buying Guide

Today, with hundreds of models of toilets available, a homeowner has many choices. The following are some considerations to contemplate as you think about buying a toilet.

If you’re simply replacing an aging, boring, or malfunctioning toilet, you may approach buying a toilet differently than if you’re redecorating the bathroom and planning to use coordinated fixtures. Standalone toilets are available for as little as 150 US Dollars (USD) or more than 3000 USD, while buying a toilet can also be part of a bathroom ensemble or suite combined with bidets, sinks, baths, showers, faucet fixtures, toilet seats, whirlpools, and other items, that sells for tens of thousands of dollars. It is also possible, as another option, to buy a fairly standard, inexpensive toilet and “dress it up” with a special seat that ties in with the rest of the bathroom décor.

If your toilet tank was manufactured after 1994, and meets the legal requirements for 1.6 gallons (6.05 liters) of water per flush maximum use, you may wish to explore the possibility of a repair before considering a new purchase. Frequently needed repairs include needing a new flapper or fill valve, a sticking handle, a disconnected chain between the trip lever and the stopper valve, and a leaking float ball. All of these are fairly easily and inexpensively remedied.

An important consideration will be the toilet mechanism, because this choice needs to fit with the available water pressure, as well as meet your needs for cost and noise level.

  • Pressure-assist toilets, (also called “pressure-assisted” toilets) with their enhanced flushing power, are the kind most often found in public restrooms. Featuring a tank-less design, they’re quite noisy. The water pressure requirements are more than twice that of gravity toilets, about 25 pounds per square inch (172 368 pascals). They may, however, be a good investment for a large household.


  • Vacuum-assist toilets are quiet, but have significantly less flushing power than pressure-assist toilets. Less of them are sold, so there are fewer models available.

  • Gravity toilets are the most common type. They require pressure as low as 10 pounds per square inch (68 947 pascals) and are the most common choice for a household, due to low water pressure requirements, quietness, and track record. There are also the most models of this type of toilet available, which makes them the most affordable.

Other choices one must make when buying a toilet include:

  • Height—the standard height is 14 inches (35.56 centimeters), but manufacturers are offering models at up to 17 inches (43.18 cm), which makes for easier access.

  • Construction—the choice of one-piece, two-piece, or wall-hung construction will matter not only to appearance, but also to how the toilet fits in the room, the ease of cleaning, and the noise level.
    • Two-piece toilets have a floor mount and a separate tank that are bolted together. They are less expensive to purchase than one-piece designs, but more difficult to keep clean.
    • One-piece toilets include both bowl and tank as a single element. They tend to be more compact than two-piece toilets, as well as easier to keep clean, but are also more expensive.
    • Wall-hung toilets are fastened to the wall and have no pedestal. The tank is contained within the wall, saving space in the room and making the flush quieter. This also contributes to easier cleaning.

  • Bowl shape—toilet bowls, made of vitreous china, come in two standard shapes: rounded and elongated. The rounded shape both saves space and works with a greater variety of seats. The elongated shape is more oval and is considered more comfortable.

  • Rough-in dimension—the clearance needed to the back wall in order to connect the water line is called the “rough-in.” The most common rough-in is 12 inches (30.48 cm).

  • Color—colors vary, but most manufacturers offer more light and pastel choices than they do deeper colors. Expect a variety of whites, off-whites, neutrals, greys, and pastel shades of red, green, and blue. In addition you may find black. Style choices often include choices such as traditional, country, contemporary or modern, eclectic, and styles based on particular eras, such as Victorian.

Last but not least, when buying a toilet, consider whether you can (and will) install the toilet yourself, or whether—due to the complexity of the work or simple preference—you will have the toilet installed and adjust your cost estimates accordingly.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Introduction to Bathroom Sink Faucets
  • Introduction to Toilets
  • Water Conservation in the Bathroom
  • Low-Flow Toilets
  • Types of Cleaning Brushes
  • Showerhead Buying Guide
  • Introduction to Bathtubs
  • How to Install a Toilet
  • Introduction to Showerheads