Tips for Buying a Toilet(page 1 of 2)

Consider where it will be placed and the size of your bathroom when picking for your remodel

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To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a toilet is a toilet is a toilet. Or so you'd think, until you take a look at the spectrum of possibilities available from today's manufacturers and see that styles and shapes abound. Add in options for comfort, interactivity and water conservation, and today's toilets can do almost anything—including glow in the dark.

From taking care of your most basic needs to elevating your green quotient to making the ultimate style statement, there's a toilet that's right for you and your budget. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 for a basic commode to more than $7,000 for an ultra-chic toilet with all the amenities.

Before choosing a toilet, you'll need to consider a few factors, such as what sort of flush you prefer and whether you want amenities such as a bidet or heated seat. You'll also need to consider what your budget will allow. Other considerations include the size and layout of your bathroom and what sort of toilets are typically found in similar homes in your area.

Toilet Types

Two-piece toilets. These traditional models have separate tanks and bowls, which make handling easier, especially for DIY installations and for getting a toilet into tight spaces. The water inlet hole and the bolts used to fasten the tank to the bowl are sealed, and the seam between the two pieces is sealed with rubber gaskets. While the gaskets are good for years of service, they'll eventually fail, causing leaks. Replacing the gaskets can be a hassle because the bolts and nuts tend to rust and "freeze," requiring cutting.

One-piece toilets. This style eliminates the seam between tank and bowl. The result is a sleek design with no crevices to trap dirt. One-piece toilets tend to be more expensive than comparable two-piece models.

Round-front bowls. The snub-nose bowl design fits smaller spaces. Before the advent of the elongated toilet, the round-front was the only shape made.

Elongated bowls. This pear-shaped bowl has several additional inches of bowl space in the front of the toilet. It works well for people who appreciate the extra room.

Bowl height. Standard bowl height is 14 or 15 inches above the floor, but taller bowls that are 17 to 19 inches off the floor are gaining popularity, especially with seniors and those with limited mobility.

Solid- or partial-foot. This refers to the part of the bowl in direct contact with the floor—some foots are small and result in an opening between the foot and the back wall. Solid-foot bowls extend all the way to the wall, meaning there's no wiggle room for retrofits. Mismatching the foot is a frequent cause of headaches when replacing a toilet.

Wall-mount toilets. Rather than rest on the floor, these models attach directly to a wall. The tank is concealed inside the wall cavity, resulting in more usable floor space—especially handy for tight quarters. Common in public restrooms, wall-mount toilets enjoy some popularity in residential designs because it's easy to clean underneath the bowl. For retrofits, additional structural material must be added to the wall.

Tankless toilets. Instead of using a tank of water to clear waste, a tankless toilet uses water directly from a supply line connected to the toilet bowl. In cases where there may not be enough forceful pressure to clear the bowl, such as in most single-family homes, the flush is helped along with pumps or other devices.

Tankless toilets have a small profile and are quiet—there's no tank to refill after every flush. Pump-activated flush technology may require electricity, which means the toilet won't work if the power is out.

Color options. Color choices lean toward the conservative. There are stages of beige, along with airy blues and greens, and black for that executive sensibility. However, upwards of 90 percent of all toilets sold in the United States are white. You can avoid having your color choice go out of style if you simply pair basic white with a colored toilet seat.

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