How to Buy a Toilet- Features to Look Out For

Last Updated on January 21, 2022 by toilethaven

How Do You Shop For a Toilet?

A toilet is a long term investment and you therefore want to make sure that you only buy the best for you home. But how do you buy the best toilet?

What factors should you consider before buying a toilet? What toilets do plumbers recommend?

Plumbers are one group of people who have seen almost all toilet models as their work involve installing and fixing them. They therefore know the pros and cons of just about any toilet model and brand.

This is why it is not always a bad idea to ask for a toilet recommendation from your plumber before buying one. Unless your plumber is affiliated to a certain brand he/she should know what to recommend you.

From my own experience, I have seen and used great, good and bad toilets. I can therefore tell you what features to look out for while buying a toilet.

The most important factors/features to consider when buying a toilet are:

  1. Water efficiency
  2. Flushing mechanism
  3. Type of toilet
  4. Toilet bowl shape
  5. Rough-in measurement
  6. Legal requirements
  7. Comfort
  8. Toilet dimensions
  9. Bathroom style
  10. Price
  11. Durability
  12. Color

Water efficiency

Let’s to do some quick math. There are toilets that have a 1.6 gallons per flush rating. There are toilets with a 1.28 gallons per flush rating. Assuming two people each using one of the two toilets, how much is the difference in water consumption in a year if each individual uses the toilet 3 times a day?

The 1.6 gallons per flush toilet will consume 1752 gallons of water while the 1.28 gallons per flush toilet will consume 1401.6 gallons in a year.

The figures will be very different if we assume each toilet is being used by a family of five.

A good toilet should be water efficient. You end up saving so much money in the end. Water efficient toilets are also good for the environment. Always check this factor before deciding on a particular toilet.

I wrote an article comparing 1.28 gallons per flush toilet versus 1.6 gallons per flush toilet in detail. Find it here.

Flushing Power

This is one of the most important thing to look out for while buying a toilet. There is nothing more annoying than a toilet which always needs to be flushed twice or thrice to get rid of everything.

Each of the top toilet manufacturers have their unique flushing system which makes it unique from the rest. They include:

  • Toto – Tornado flushing system
  • Kohler – AquaPiston flushing system
  • American Standard – Cadet/Vormax/Champion flushing system

These flushing systems have made it possible for modern toilet models to use just a little amount of water but produce a powerful flush.

This has been made possible by increasing the flush valve diameter, altering how water enters the bowl, changing the shape of the flapper among other adjustments.

You should therefore take time to learn about the different toilet flushing systems and also their flushing power before buying a toilet for your home.

I wrote an article comparing the 7 best flushing toilets in the market. Read it here.

One-Piece vs Two-Piece Toilets

There are two types of toilets depending on the number on how many pieces make up the whole toilet.

  • One-piece toilets
  • Two-piece toilets

A one-piece toilet is the one which the tank and the bowl are made already joined together and are thus one body. A two-piece toilet is the toilet which the bowl and the tank are made as 2 separate pieces and only joined together during installation.

One-piece toilets are generally more compact and are ideal for smaller bathrooms than the two-piece toilets. They are also in most cases more expensive that the two-piece toilets. The one-piece toilets are also relatively more durable.

To read more on the pros and cons of one-piece vs two-piece toilets check out this post.

Elongated vs Round Toilets


Toilet bowls and toilet seats come in two main shapes in the United States:

  • Elongated toilets
  • Round toilets

You can also get D-shaped or toilets with a square bowl but they are more common in Europe than in America.

Elongated toilets have an oval-shaped bowl while round toilets have an almost circular bowl. Each of this toilet types have their advantages and disadvantages.

Elongated toilets are more comfortable than round toilets as they offer the user more surface area to sit on. Round toilets are on the other hand more ideal for people with smaller spaces in their bathrooms.

Elongated toilets a have a bowl length of around 18.5 inches while the round toilets have a bowl length of about 16.5 inches. Their widths are almost similar.

To read more on the pros and cons of elongated vs round toilets check out this post.

Rough-in measurement

The rough-in measurement is the distance between the toilet’s rear wall and the center of its drainpipe. If the toilet is already installed, you should measure from the wall to one of the two toilet bolts. You must always be careful to measure from the wall and not the baseboard.

The standard rough-in of a toilet is 12 inches. Some toilets however have a 10-inch or a 14-inch rough-in. You can replace a toilet with a 14-inch rough-in with one with a 12-inch rough-in. The opposite is not possible though.

It is therefore very important that you you measure your toilet rough-in before buying a new one. You might end up buying a toilet you cannot install.

If you would like to see the best toilets with a 10-inch rough-in check out this post. If instead you would like the best 14-inch rough-in toilet read this post.

Legal Requirements

Not all toilets can be sold everywhere. There are certain regulations that have been put in place to regulate the type of toilet sold in different parts of the United States.

In California, Texas and Colorado for instance, all new toilets sold must not have a higher water consumption rating than 1.28 gallons per flush. If you are a resident in any of these states you should therefore look out for a compliant toilet model.

Another legal requirement concerning the sale of toilet applies to toilets that are meant to be installed in public bathrooms. By law, these toilets must comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Among other requirements, ADA requires that all toilets installed in public restrooms have a seat height of 17 to 19 inches.

Comfort Height vs Standard Height Toilets

Comfort height toilets which are also called right/chair/universal height toilet are the ADA-compliant toilets with a seat height of 17 to 19 inches. Standard height toilets are the regular toilets with a seat height of 15 inches.

Comfort height toilets are the best toilets for the elderly, tall and people with limited mobility. They are very easy to sit and stand from, as you don’t need to bend you knees too much.

Standard height toilets are on the other hand the best option for people who are not too tall and also children. To read more on the pros and cons of comfort height vs standard height toilets check out this post.

Some times back I wrote a detailed article comparing the comfort height toilets in the market. Read it here.

Toilet Dimensions

Credit: Toto

It is very important that you first determine the dimensions of the toilet you want to buy relative to the bathroom space you have. Needless to say, some toilets are bigger than others and hence need a bigger space.

Two of the most important toilet dimensions is the width and the depth. Take you time to measure your bathroom space to make sure that your desired toilet will fit.

The height of a toilet is important when you want a toilet to fit under a shelf. In that case you should take your time to check out the toilets specification drawings and not just any dimensions you see online. Some of those are shipping dimensions and not the actual dimensions.

For people with small bathrooms, some toilets will just not fit. Choosing one of the following toilets would be the right thing:

  • Round toilets
  • Compact elongated toilets

Round toilets mean they occupy a less surface area compared to normal elongated toilets. They are thus a great choice for small bathrooms.

Compact elongated toilets are smaller than the normal elongated toilets but still as comfortable. They are among the best toilets for small bathrooms. Check out the best compact toilets for small bathrooms here.


Your bathroom will have more than just a toilet. You will most likely have a bathtub, a vanity, a mirror, a flower vase among other accessories.

For some people, a toilet is both a sanitary facility as well as bathroom décor item. You should try as much as possible to make sure your toilet helps accessorize your bathroom.


Toilets cost from between a hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. There is always something for everyone. Getting a cheap but powerful flushing toilet is unfortunately not very easy these days.

I would however advise you to not to underbudget while buying a toilet since a toilet can last for many years hence better to buy a great toilet once and for all. That is not to mean that you go for the most expensive toilet on offer. Let your finances guide you.

Most importantly also, check if the price of a toilet includes the toilet only or all accessories are included. Buying toilet seats, wax rings and mounting bolts separately could raise the total price of what would have looked like a cheaper toilet.


Cheap is expensive in the long run. A good toilet should serve you for many years. In this regard most people prefer buying from established brands, who have a history of making long lasting and good flushing toilets.

Some of the biggest brands in the toilet industry are Toto, Kohler and American Standard, not necessarily in order of their brand size and quality of products.

There is also other toilet manufacturers who make great toilets. The best thing to do is to do a thorough research through product reviews from other buyers.


It is not always that toilets have to be white in color. These days people are exploring other colors to spruce p their bathrooms. Some of the most new favorite toilet colors are black and bone.

White toilets are still the most preferred by most homeowners. I wrote an article reviewing some of the best black toilets. If interested read it here.


These are the factors you should consider before buying a toilet, among others that I have not listed. Reading other buyers’ reviews is one of the best way to check if the toilet you wish to buy will be worth spending money on.


1. Which is the best flushing toilet?

If you are looking for the most powerful flushing toilet, you wouldn’t go wrong choosing from these 3:

  • Kohler Highline Classic Pressure Lite Comfort-Height Toilet
  • American Standard Champion 4
  • Toto Drake Elongated Bowl and Tank Toilet

2. What is the best budget toilet?

Some of the best budget toilets include:

  • Kohler Cimarron Comfort-Height Elongated toilet
  • American Standard H2 Optimum Siphonic
  • Toto Eco Drake 2-piece elongated toilet

3. What is the best high-end toilet?

The best high-end toilet is the Toto Neorest Dual Flush Toilet

4. What is the most water efficient toilet?

The most water efficient toilet is the Niagara 77001WHCO1 Stealth toilet with a rating of 0.8 gallons per flush.

5. What is the best composting toilet

The best composting toilet is the Nature’s Head Self-Contained composting toilet

6. What is the best toilet for not clogging?

Most toilets these days have great flushing systems while being water efficient at the same time. We however feel that the best toilets for not clogging are:

  • American Standard Champion-4
  • Kohler Highline Classic
  • Toto Ultramax II

7.How often should you replace your toilet?

Toilets can really last for many years and are only replaced if they are cracked or if you want to give your bathroom a face-lift. However some toilet components like flush levers, flappers, fill valves, wax rings and seats are replaced from time to time.