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Choosing the perfect toilet

by Meghan Moravcik Walbert on Apr 3, 2015

It will last for 30 or 40 years and will be used several times a day, yet many new-home buyers overlook the importance of a toilet’s performance, comfort and style.

“When you buy your home, the first thing you use is the toilet,” said Jason Fitzsimmons, a vice president of sales for the United States for TOTO USA, a plumbing products manufacturer. “It is going to be in the house from the first day you’re in your home until the last day, so buying a nicer toilet that meets your family’s needs is essential.”

Performance

The most important thing to consider about the toilets in your new home is performance, said Gray Uhl, brand education director for American Standard, a bathroom and kitchen products manufacturer. 

“It doesn’t matter how good a toilet looks if it doesn’t perform well,” Uhl said. “It should work flawlessly every day without you having to think about it.”

A very good toilet will have a high rating from MaP, an agency that tests and compares how well different toilets remove solid waste, Uhl said. 

“The homebuyer should ask the builder about the MaP score on the [new home’s] toilet,” he said. “The higher the number, the better the performance. You want one with a score of 800, 900 or preferably 1,000.”

Another consideration is the amount of water a toilet uses. “The toilet is one of the biggest water-uses in your house,” Uhl said. “A 1.28-gallon toilet uses much less water and has tremendous performance. It will pay for itself.” 

Dual-flush toilets are another option. These models have two flush buttons — a small button that uses less water for liquid waste and a large button that uses more water for solid waste. 

“If you only push the button for the lower flow for liquid waste and use the bigger button for solid waste, it will average out to use less water overall,” Uhl said.

If you opt for a dual-flush model, though, Uhl recommends one that uses a siphoning method to remove waste. “There are dual-flush toilets that use a wash-down method rather than a siphoning method; those do a poor job of taking out waste water,” he said.

Comfort

Taller toilets are becoming popular, particularly among Baby Boomers but also among younger populations, as well. These toilets — known as universal-height, right-height or comfort-height toilets — are easier to access than lower standard-height toilets.

Bowl shape can make a difference too, and in fact, an elongated bowl may provide more comfort for some. “An elongated bowl is good for taller people, while a shorter person may prefer a round bowl,” Fitzsimmons said. “This is something the buyer should consider.”

Style

The toilet may not be considered the most attractive appliance, but for an increase in price [and depending your builder], new-home buyers can sometimes choose models that are a little easier on the eyes.

Many models of toilets are made in two pieces — the bowl and the tank are made separately and then bolted together for an easier installation. Some toilets, however, are made as one large piece — but generally for about 50 percent more in price. The one-piece benefit? “There are fewer seams in a one-piece toilet, so they’re easier to keep clean,” Uhl said. 

Colors other than white are another consideration. “In the Southwest, there is a real trend for a warmer color palette; those colors seem to work better with tile and décor commonly found in the Arizona markets,” Fitzsimmons said. 

The future

Toilet-makers say they are starting to sell more bidets and high-tech toilets and toilet seats in the United States than in previous years.

“They can do a myriad of things including washing the body with warm, aerated water and drying it, along with helping clean and deodorize the bowl,” Fitzsimmons said. “It’s a more hygienic, more luxurious experience.”

While many new-home buyers aren’t ready to take the high-tech toilet plunge, Fitzsimmons recommends having a grounded electrical outlet installed within a foot or two of the toilet when your new home is being built.

“In five, 10 or 15 years from now, there will be more technologies on the market that utilize electricity,” he said. “The trend now is to put in an outlet so you can use these new technologies as they come out.”

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