Some people put a lot of emphasis on their bathroom habits, designating ‘throne time’ and keeping a stack of magazines or enabling Bluetooth access in their toilets. Others barely give it any thought, though they do get impressed by the heated seats or Japanese designs in fancy hotels. When it comes to your own home toilet, you might consider a few things, like how noisy it is when it refills, or how many times you have to flush before it goes.
These aren’t things you’ll typically think about unless you’ve had a bad experience. And by the time you note these problems, the toilet is probably already installed in your house. You’d have to decide whether you can live with the quirk, or whether you’re willing to go to the trouble of replacing your toilet. Still, whether you want a faster re-filler, fewer floaters, or you’re refurbishing your entire bathroom, here are some toilet-selection tips.
Take it out and measure it
You don’t often peep behind the toilet, but if you check it right now, you’ll see there’s a small gap between the ‘stem’ of the toilet (the S-curve) and the wall. In many homes, that distance is one foot. But some toilet bowls only leave a gap of 25cm, or they stretch the gap to 35cm. If you pick a toilet bowl that has the wrong distance, it’s not going to fit. So, before you go toilet hunting, get a ruler or tape measure and confirm the rough-in distance. You also need to measure the space from the wall to the farthest tip of the toilet bowl. This influences shape.
How so? Well, most people like oval / elongated toilets because they’re more comfortable to sit on. However, oval toilets have a wall-to-tip distance of about 80cm while rounded toilets are closer to 70cm. So if you have a smaller bathroom, consider installing a rounder (and cheaper) toilet. You could also consider colour. Most toilets are white, but if you want a stand-out commode, you could pick a shade that matches (or stylishly contrasts) your wall tile. After all, colour is a big mood influencer, so your toilet should get into the game as well.
Stand, sit, hover
In the past, all toilets had the same height – roughly 35cm. (Except of course in nursery schools, or in cultures with squat toilets and spigots.) In recent times, devices like toilet stools and Squatty Potties are becoming popular. The concept is more curvature means healthier, faster, and more comfortable Number Twos. This means some people design toilets with shorter stems to increase your curve. At the other end, some are building taller toilets. These are intended for two targets – tall people and differently-abled users.
Patients who are older, experience knee/back problems, or have other health issues that make it hard to sit down … they prefer higher toilets. The heightened seat makes it easier for them to position themselves on the seat because they don’t have to lean over as much. If you have height considerations, don’t just buy the standard commode. Ask the hardware attendants what’s available within your specifications, and sit on the commode to test comfort levels before you buy. Be sure to keep your pants on though.
One-piece or two?
No, we haven’t digressed into swim wear. The most common toilet styling is the two-piece, where the cistern attaches to the wall and is connected to the bowl via bolts or pipes. In a one-piece toilet, the cistern and bowl come as a single piece. It can still be attached to the wall, but because it’s carrying dual weight, the wall needs to be thicker and stronger to support it. One-pieces cost more, and are more complex to install, but they’re easier to clean.
In some one-piece toilets, the cistern isn’t visible at all. The bowl seems to just ‘grow out’ of the wall with the cistern hidden behind the tile. Sometimes, these wall-mounted toilets come with a bidet, which is a kind of basin for your rear. Even if you don’t install a bidet, you might want extra features in your toilet, like cleansing fountains or automated flushing. You might be interested in a toilet that uses less water per flush, but check the pressure as well.
Some low-flow units still have enough power for an effective flush, but it’s not guaranteed. And once your toilet is installed, it’s unlikely you’ll change it. It seems like too much fuss, so you’ll probably just live with it. That’s why you should take some extra time (and use a little more money) before you buy that commode. You’ll probably be sitting on it for a long time.