How to Choose the Best Toilet For You

Toddler playing with toilet paper in bathroom

For some, getting a new toilet is their No. 1 priority (groan!). Seriously, though, if you’re doing a bathroom renovation or your toilet is old, it could be time for a change.

When is it time for a new toilet? Answers to the following questions may signal that repairs just won’t cut it anymore:

  1. Does your toilet need too many replacement parts? Fix-ups can cost time and money. It may be cheaper and easier overall just to buy something new.
  2. Does your toilet get blocked often? If so, you should replace it to save the aggravation of constant plunging and double flushing.
  3. Does your toilet have a porcelain crack? Toilets with such cracks will leak. We don’t want to scare you, but, if this is left unchecked, the end result might not be very pleasing. Water-damaged floors cost much more to replace than a toilet.
  4. Does your toilet have scratches? Scratches make cleaning a hassle. Bacteria and gunk get into those scratches, and you’ll have to work harder to clean them out. You can reduce time spent maintaining a sparkly shine by getting a new toilet.

If you’ve decided your toilet does need replacing, here are some thoughts to consider and tips for buying a toilet.

The Best Toilet Saves Water

A big factor in thinking about a new toilet is getting one that saves water. In Calgary, buying a low-flush toilet is crucial to conserving the clean water supply. Calgarians use more water per person than most places in North America and Europe. Considering that a toilet uses about a third of your household water, low-flush toilets will do two things:

  1. Help protect the environment by saving water.
  2. Reduce your water and sewage costs — perhaps by $100 or more yearly, but it depends on the size of your family.

The first thing you should look for is a high-efficiency toilet. If you get one with the WaterSense logo on it, you may be eligible for a $50 rebate. WaterSense toilets save more than 15,000 litres of water a year.

Dual-Flush Toilets

Dual-flush toilets use about 25 percent less water than a regular low-flush toilet, which uses six litres of water per flush. (Dual-flush toilets have a three-litre button for liquid waste and a six-litre button for solid material.) You can get them in gravity and pressure-assist models.

There are cons to these toilets, of course. They:

  • Can cost at least $200 more.
  • Have a harder-to-push flush button or handle on some models.
  • Come in fewer style and colour choices (although that’s changing as these become the standard).

If you choose a dual-flush toilet, you’ll have to do your research to find one that is perfect for you.

Do Low-Flush Toilets Even “Work”?

You might be wondering if high-efficiency toilets flush well. When they first came out in the 1990s, they often didn’t flush well for -er- larger volumes. These toilets, however, have gotten more powerful since then with manufacturers’ design improvements. New models often flush better than older toilets that use about 26.5 litres of water each flush.

There’s even a joint Canada-US Maximum Performance (MaP) Testing Program that grades these toilets. A good MaP score is 500 or more. Searching for a toilet on your own on-line that meets or surpasses acceptable MaP standards can be complicated, though. All WaterSense-certified toilets pass this test, so, to make life easier, you should just look for those.

2. More Expensive Toilets Are a Better Value

If you’re planning to have your new toilet last years and years, think about opening your wallet. While you can get a toilet for less than $100, the problems with cheap toilets are that:

  • Parts, such as handles, are often made of plastic and you’ll be replacing them more frequently.
  • Plastic parts are harder, if not sometimes impossible, to find.
  • Glazed surfaces will be of poor quality and you’ll spend more time cleaning them.
  • Flushing power will be low.

If long-term value means more than a cheap price to you, then you should expect to pay about:

  • $130 to $660 for a toilet that relies on gravity for flushing.
  • $300 to $800 for a pressure-assist toilet.

Incidentally, if you’re looking to save money and are doing a full bathroom renovation, keep the toilet where it is. Moving the soil stack is one of the most expensive things you can do.

3. Get a Toilet That’s Easy to Clean

If you hate cleaning (and don’t we all), then there are some toilets you’ll probably want to avoid. For one, traditional two-piece toilets can be tough to keep shiny. They have all sorts of areas that are hard to reach. One-piece toilets are much easier to clean. Just one caveat, though: they’re more expensive.

Wall-mounted toilets are good if you want to clean less and have little space in your bathroom. The only downside is, again, that they cost more, usually ranging from $600 to more than $1,600.

When you weigh your new toilet’s expense against how long you spend cleaning it, maybe you’ll want to splurge, though. It’s something to think about.

4. Think About Your Life Circumstances

You should expect your new toilet to probably last 20 to 30 years. Toilets are a long-term investment, so you must consider where you are now and where you’ll be in the future:

  • If you’re young and want to start a family, a shorter toilet will be necessary for children to use.
  • If you’re middle-aged, you might need a higher bowl for when you get older.
  • If you’re disabled, tall, or a senior, a higher bowl will also be vital.

That said, depending on your current life circumstances, you also might not want to (at the moment):

  • Be too uncomfortable with a too-high toilet.
  • Pay more.

For instance, if you buy a taller “comfort-height” or “right-height” toilet, it:

Think about tomorrow, but the best advice for right now might be from the Fonz of Happy Days: “Sit on it!” By that we mean sit on the toilet in the store. That will help you decide if it is the best toilet for you.

5. Have the Experts Install Your Toilet

Once you’ve made your decision, you should keep in mind that most people should not install their own toilets, even if they’re relatively handy:

  1. Toilets are really heavy and difficult to move into place.
  2. There are lots of small details you have to get right to get a perfect seal around the base.

Leaking sewage is not only gross, it’s amazingly destructive to your floors. It’s not expensive to get a professional to do it right once and for all. That way, you can enjoy many years of worry-free flushing.

Finally …

With these buying new toilet tips, you should have no trouble finding a perfect porcelain throne. One that saves water, offers value, is easy to clean and is comfortable. Those four things are what you’ll need to get the best use and savings out of your brand new toilet.