Toilet Buying Guide

So you’re looking to buy a new toilet? The basic style of toilets hasn’t changed much in recent history. Toilets are available in a variety of colours and can be special ordered with varying designs and patterns.

Rough-In Standards

Measure from the wall behind the toilet to the centre of one of the closet bolts (the bolts that hold the toilet down). Do this before you remove the old toilet so you can buy your new one and have it on hand before you start. If the toilet has four closet bolts, measure to the centre of one of the rear ones. Also, measure from the centre of the mounting holes to the back of the new toilet you are considering. Compare these two measurements. If the base of the new toilet is shorter than the distance between the rear bolt holes and the wall, it should fit. In small bathrooms where space is tight, also measure from the sides of the flange bolts to side walls or other objects to assure side to side clearance.

One-Piece or Two-Piece Toilets

Toilets can be purchased in one-piece or separate piece assembly: tank, seat and bowl.

  • A one-piece toilet is one complete unit allowing for easy cleaning. One piece units include tank, lid, bowl, and a toilet seat. This design also eliminates the potential for leakage between the bowl and tank.

  • A two-piece toilet has a tank and bowl purchased separately. The two parts are usually less expensive than the one-piece design. Make sure you purchase all parts necessary. The seat is usually not included with the bowl.

Other features to look for when choosing a bowl are:

  • Sanitary bar - Blocks liquid from collecting under the tank at the back of the bowl.

  • Trapway - The snakelike tubing on the sides of your toilet through which water flows. Glazed and larger trapways decrease the chance for clogs.

Larger trapways decrease the chance for clogs.

  • ADA designed bowl - Taller bowl design for added comfort and easy accessibility for the physically challenged. The top of the seat is 16 1/2" to 19" from the floor when installed, in accordance with American Disabilities Act guidelines.

Standard height bowl vs. ADA designed bowl

Tanks and Flushing Systems

Almost all toilets have a similar tank capacity. Toilet manufacturers are federally mandated to make toilets that use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. When choosing a tank, you will have flush valve size and flush lever positioning to consider, as well as the flushing system:

  • The flush valve, which is located at the centre of the tank, is activated by the flush lever and releases the water held in the tank. The larger the flush valve, the higher rate of water flow.

  • Flush levers are positioned either on the side, front or top of the tank.

Two standard flushing systems are available the pressure- assisted system and the gravity-flush system:

  • Pressure-assisted flush system - Pressurized air forces water into the bowl when flushed reducing the chance for clogs. This system is noisy, expensive and may require costly maintenance.

  • Gravity-flush system - Uses the water weight to generate flushing pressure. The pressure forces everything from the tank into the bowl and through the S-shaped trapway. A siphoning action completes the flush. This flushing system is quieter and requires less maintenance than a pressure-assisted flushing system.

A gravity-flush system is quiet and requires little maintenance.


Most toilets come in separate pieces and don’t include the seat. Choose a seat that complements the colour of the toilet and the decor of your bathroom.

Think about the following items when choosing your seat:

  • The seat shape depends upon the type of bowl-round or elongated.

  • Seats are available in real oak, cherry,moulded wood composition, cushioned vinyl, plastic or polypropylene.

  • Some seats are contoured for more comfortable seating.

Other Options

Bidet and toilet A bidet is usually placed beside the toilet.

Other sanitary devices are available to equip your bathroom:

  • A urinal is a water-efficient wall-mounted unit. Most urinals are found in commercial or retail settings.

  • A bidet provides convenient facilities for personal cleansing. A bidet is becoming an added fixture in many new construction and remodeling projects. A bidet is almost always placed beside the toilet.

A bidet is usually placed beside the toilet.

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