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the lost lady's guide to toilet buying

the lost lady's guide to toilet buying

often considered the grimiest, grungiest, and ugliest part of a bathroom, a toilet is frequently overlooked in terms of design. when it comes to buying one, there are so many options that it's hard to know where to even begin.

let's start with the basics; toilet footprints. this is the bird's eye view measurement from center of the seat bolt to the very front of the bowl exterior. there are three types of toilet footprints - elongated, compact elongated, and round.


elongated bowls are the longest and usually the most comfortable for adults at 18.5", providing the most room. round bowls are about 2" shorter than elongated, and are great options for kids or those that are seriously lacking bathroom space, since they aren't as protruding.

if you'd like to have an elongated bowl but are confined to a round bowl due to space, a compact elongated toilet is a fantastic way to go. compact elongated toilets have narrower tanks, but are designed to fit in a round bowl footprint. compact elongated tanks have the same capacity of most regular sized tanks, so you're saving space without sacrificing function.

next up: trapways. a toilet trapway is the "intestine" of the toilet, what you see snaking at the base. not often noticed, there are different base traps and each can impact the design of your bathroom.


an exposed trapway is what most people generally think of when they think of a toilet base: a tubular shape with a hole cast straight through the middle. hence the name "exposed," you can see the entirety of the trap.

partially revealed, or 'concealed' trapways disguise the trapway by extending the ceramic covering down and extend out at the base.

fully skirted trapways are traps that extend from the bowl down straight to the floor without any break, creating a seamless look.

when considering trapways, be sure to keep price, cleanability, and style in mind. an exposed trapway toilet is often the lowest in price, but it has the most nooks and crannies to clean, whereas a fully skirted trap has none, but generally is at the highest end of the price spectrum.

the next step is to determine the height you want for your toilet. there are three heights to choose from - chair height, "standard" height, or custom height.


the relatively new "thing" in toilet height is comfort/chair height. this is a 17" bowl height, a measurement taken from the floor to the top of the bowl - about 2" higher than your typical old school 15" toilet. if you're in a new residence or commercial building, chances are you'll be using a chair height.

custom height toilets are popular for ada purposes, as there are toilets on the market that can be raised as high as 23". all custom height toilets are wall mounted, which requires a behind-the-wall tank to which the toilet is attached. don't be fooled by it's semi-levitating appearance; most wall-hung toilets can withstand a minimum of 800lbs.

now that we've got the basics covered, what other considerations are there when purchasing?

first, make a wishlist. if you could have the toilet of your ~dreams~ for the space you're putting your new toilet in, what would it be? you don't need to find the exact one online or do lots of research, but put together a list of things that you would like to have.

this list should include

* color (toilet color and finish/metal color for trim)
* style (traditional, transitional, contemporary)
* brand preferences
* bowl size
* bowl height

then, determine your budget. if you're doing a major remodel or building, you probably already have a set budget for a toilet and/or fixtures, but if your toilet suddenly breaks and you need to replace yours...stat!, then you most likely don't have an emergency toilet breakage fund. in either scenario, determine how much you are willing or able to spend. (you can spend from $80 to upwards of $7500 for an 'intelligent' toilet, so this is an important planning stage).

I would strongly urge you to a) never purchase a toilet online!, and b) go to a plumbing showroom to talk to a specialist once you have your wishlist and budget. especially if you're not completely confident in what you're looking for, purchasing online or from a big box store can be overwhelming, carry cheaper product (it's true) and unknowledgeable store associates may misguide you. ultimately, you may end up with a shotty toilet or one that doesn't even fit in your space.

so behold, the toilet design and buying basics!

what kind of experiences have you had purchasing toilets? sound off in the comments!

xo - mk

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