Are you trying to upgrade your bathroom so it doesn’t feel like a reject from the 1990s? Do you want to incorporate a unit that offers advanced water-saving features that could save you a sweet bundle of cash year after year?
You will discover that there are several fantastic models available on the market today. Many of them are competitively priced at $300 or less. That means there are excellent deals to find if you know what to look for.
That’s what this guide will help you accomplish today. You’ll discover the steps that you must follow to ensure you’re purchasing the best possible product for your home.
Step #1: Measure Your Bathroom
Even though this step might seem like common sense, it is the primary reason why purchases go awry. You must measure your bathroom to ensure that the fixture you want will fit into the space you have.
The first part of this measurement is for the “rough-in” component. You obtain this figure by measuring from the center of the drain to the baseboard of your wall.
• Start the measuring tape at your baseboard instead of trying to center your position over the drain.
• Do not start the measurement from tile, trim, or molding. Use the wall as the foundation of your measurement.
• Then stretch out the tape until you reach the middle of the drain.
Most homes will have a 12-inch rough-in. You may discover a slight variation based on the way your home is built, but anything within 1/4-inch will meet this standard.
Some bathrooms have a two-inch variation of this measurement. Older homes sometimes have a 10-inch or a 14-inch rough-in. You’ll need to shop for a model that meets this measurement or adjust the positioning of your drain pipe (which costs a lot more!) to accommodate this setup.
You will find the occasional new home with a non-standard rough-in as well. Rather than make an assumption about this step, take a couple of minutes to verify this item.
Then make sure to measure the width, length, and height of the space where the fixture will sit. Compare these measurements to the best models in your budget to ensure your preferred fixture will make a welcome addition to your bathroom.
Step #2: Collect The Necessary Items
Once you have an idea about the size of the model your bathroom can accommodate, it’s time to ensure you have the tools and products that will support your insulation.
Verify that you have the seat coming when you purchase your preferred model. Some manufacturers do not include this essential component when you purchase the primary fixture.
You will need to have a new ring with a sleeve. Wax or synthetic are both suitable, although most homes opt for the latter option these days.
You may also require new closet bolts and caps to complete the installation. Then make sure these tools are available as well:
- Slip-joint pliers
- Open-ended wrench
- Philips and flat-head screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench
- Lots of rags
- Needlenose pliers
You must replace the wax ring when you upgrade the model in your bathroom. This step is not one that you can skip. Before you finish the installation, you will want to give the flange where the seal sits a good look too. If it is damaged (which can sometimes happen when you remove a fixture from the ring), you will need to replace this item before installing the new fixture as well.
Step #3: One-Piece or Two-Piece
You can purchase a model that comes in one ceramic piece or one that comes with the tank and bowl separate.
One-piece units require less maintenance because there are fewer parts involved. They also tend to be easier to clean.
Two-piece units are easier to fit into tight spaces because you’re moving individual pieces instead of one solid unit. They’re an excellent option for tight spaces. Review the product description to ensure a sanitary bar comes with this unit to prevent liquid wastes from accumulating near the back of the bowl.
If cost is a top priority for you, then a two-piece model can be up to 25% cheaper than one-piece models.
Another option to consider for the home is a unit that is wall-mounted. Although these are standard in commercial bathrooms, many homeowners are discovering that the space-saving features of this design can help to free up some space.
If you think this option might be the right way to go in your home, you may need to speak with a general contractor or plumber to ensure your structure can support the added weight. This change may also require a building permit.
Step #5: Trapway Design
The trapway is the “drain” that runs waste from the bowl to your drain. You can choose from a hidden design, an exposed option, or one that adapts to the fixture to save space.
Exposed trapways are usually the most affordable option available today, but it’s also the most challenging to clean.
The size of the trapway is critical to the success of your installation as well. Most models today feature a 2-inch opening. If you choose an option that is 2.5 inches or wider, you will typically experience fewer clogs during regular use.
Step #6: Choose Your Bowl
Modern units offer two different bowl designs to consider for your bathroom: round or elongated.
This decision is usually dictated by the amount of space you have available in your bathroom. Although elongated options are considered “standard” today, you will find 2-4 inches of additional space available if you choose round design instead.
Once you’ve chosen the design that you prefer, it is time to consider the height of the bowl from the floor.
The standard height for most models is between 14 to 15 inches. That means the upper rim of the bowl is that high above the floor.
You may see models that say they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with their design. That means the minimum height of the bowl above the floor is 16.5 inches. You can purchase tall models that sit over 20 inches above the floor as well.
The purpose of these “tall s” is to make it easier for the elderly and those with physical challenges to use the fixture independently. If you have children at home, then make sure you have a smaller model in a different bathroom or a stepstool available to ensure they have safe access.
Step #7: Choose Your Flushing System
A standard model will provide a lever on the front, left, or right side of the tank which allows you to engage the flapper. This process allows water to rush into the bowl to create the flushing mechanism.
You’ll want to review the placement of your lever in coordination with your space. Having a side-mounted switch that gets trapped beneath your bathroom counter will create an uncomfortable user experience at best!
All brand-new units offer a 1.6-gallon flush or better per activation. High-efficiency models must have a minimum performance of 1.28 gallons per flush.
One way you can save some extra water with your bathroom habits is to install a dual-flush model instead. This gives you two buttons or levers to use. You can then choose if you want to use a half-tank or full tank of water based on what needs to go down the drain.
Some dual-flush models use less than 1 gallon of water per flush.
Front levers are a better option because this design places less stress on the internal mechanisms of the tank. It is an essential element of a low- or no-maintenance product for your bathroom remodeling project.
If you have concerns about how fast your flushing experience will be, then the final consideration of this step is to review the size of your flushing valve. Most models have a 2-inch flush valve and flapper that you’ll activate to drain the fixture.
A 3-inch flush valve is available on some models. Even though the size difference is just one inch, the difference in flushing power is tremendous, especially if your preference is for a high-efficiency model.
If you upgrade to a 4-inch flush valve, the design typically includes a piston that allows the water to evacuate the tank at 360 degrees. This process gives you a strong flush without requiring a lot of water to create results.
Step #8: Pressurized Systems
If you’re concerned about the speed of flushing for your preferred model, look at models that offer a pressurized system. The added air pressure helps to break up the waste particles while reducing the amount of water needed during each activation.
A pressurized system can be an excellent choice if your bathroom can isolate sound. This design tends to be loud, which is the chief complaint of users who purchase this feature.
Step #9: Choosing The Seat
When making your purchase you must review the manufacturer’s description to determine if a seat comes with the product. Most models do not include this necessary item in the box.
You’ll need to match the shape of the seat to the shape of your toilet: an elongated seat goes on an elongated model, and so forth.
Your toilet will come with a bowl dimension or length measurement. Make sure to match this number to your seat to ensure that it fits correctly.
There are several different seat styles available today. The cheapest products tend to be wooden seats that are fairly heavy, but they are also exceptionally sturdy. Plastic seats are lighter and equal supportive. Polypropylene is an option as well.
Some seats come with specific features that you may wish to consider when upgrading your bathroom as well.
- Electric or battery-powered bidet
- Heated seat
- Slow-closing hinges
If you opt for the cheap wooden seats (that get the job done), you can find some models available for under $10. The other end of the pricing spectrum is a fully featured electric bidet that could set you back over $300.
Your water supply needs to support a bidet if you choose this option. Most seats come with a T-connector that you can run from the main supply, but if space is tight in your bathroom this may not be an available option.
Step #10: Portable Bidet
If your bathroom is not large enough to support a seat bidet, you might still have enough space for a portable model. This unique bathroom feature is usually $100 or less, connects to most toilet seats, and gives you the same sanitary benefits.
Most portable bidets will install between the rim of the toilet and your seat.
You’ll need to remove the plastic screws that anchor the seat to the toilet. Then place the bidet between the two according to the instructions provided by the product manufacturer. Replace the screws to tighten the seat back into place.
Some models have portable heating elements that give you a warm water splash to enjoy. You could speak with a plumber about tapping the device into the hot water pipes that are likely near your fixture as a way to provide more comfort.
Make sure to purchase a model with a self-cleaning nozzle for the best possible results. The last thing you want to be doing is wiping down a dirty bidet!
A self-retracting feature with a portable bidet is a nice feature to have as well because this option limits the risks of damage to your investment.
Step #11: Removing Your Old Fixture
Let’s skip ahead and assume that you have the toilet installed correctly in your bathroom. If you have a new construction project, you’re finished and can skip this final step.
If you have a leftover unit after your remodeling project, the best way to dispose of the item is to recycle it. Many facilities will crush the porcelain to turn it into concrete that’s useful for local roads and sidewalks.
Follow these steps to see if this option is a possibility in your community:
- Contact your community’s recycling center or utility office to ask if a recycling program exists.
- Look for a private recycling company in your local listings.
- Ask if curbside pickup is available.
- If someone will pick up at the curb, then smash it to avoid someone using it before they stop by.
- Remove non-porcelain components if necessary.
Some communities will allow you to exchange an older model for a high-efficiency model at specific locations. Contact the wastewater treatment or solid waste service provider for your area to see if there are any programs available.
If your toilet is still useable, then listing it on your community’s Freecycle site or system could help you repurpose it as well.
You may also decide to re-use the unit if a recycling program is not available. Homeowners have turned their older models into flower pots, outdoor miniature gardens, backyard chairs, and even coolers.
If neither option is available, the landfill is your last choice. You’ll need to take it out there in your vehicle. Then the facility will weigh your car coming and going to determine a waste disposal charge.
Whatever you decide to do, never attempt to dispose of your toilet in an area that is not designated as a waste disposal area. Not only could you damage the local environment by doing so, but you could also be liable for legal consequences, including steep fines.
VIDEO: How To Choose A Toilet For Your Bathroom
For some additional considerations, watch this video. It discusses the benefits of low-flush, dual-flush, state-of-the-art toilets and high efficiency toilets!
Saving money and water in the long run is always a great idea!
What’s the Best Option for Your Home?
Choosing the best toilet is an easy task when you have an informational guide like this one helping you to sort out the various features and options available.
The goal is to help you make an empowered choice about your bathroom remodeling project or new construction effort. When you take the time to measure your space, then it becomes much easier to find a fixture that will work in your bathroom.
If you purchase your new toilet online, it’s critical that you inspect the fixture immediately to ensure no damage occurred during the shipping process. Most sites allow for a 30-day return because of shipping issues. Nothing is worse than letting the unit sit while you prepare your bathroom for it only to discover that the product is broken and outside of the return window!
As a final reminder, you’ll want to tighten the bolts so it doesn’t wobble. Making them too tight could crack the unit. On two-piece installations, it helps to attach the bowl to the floor before installing the tank.
Now let’s find the best toilet for your home today.
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