There once was a time when toilet designs were fairly standard. They were white, round in shape, and featured a seat to sit upon, a lid that opened and closed, and a lever for flushing. They also guzzled up to 7 gallons of water per flush.
Modern toilets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and varying levels of complexity. They feature different seat shapes and height options for maximum comfort. There are toilets with sleek one-piece designs that are easier to clean, and high-tech toilets with auto-flushing mechanisms, heated seats, and even built-in deodorizers.
Some toilets now offer bidet functions that gently clean you with massaging streams of water. Most modern toilets feature low-flow designs, using at most 1.6 gallons per flush and in some cases less than a gallon. Composting toilets use no water at all.
Below, we’ll review the features to consider when shopping for a new toilet and provide you with a list of some of the best toilet models for your home.
- BEST OVERALL: WOODBRIDGE T-0019-CH Toilet
- CLASSIC PICK: Kohler Santa Rosa Comfort Height Elongated Toilet
- TECH PICK: WOODBRIDGE Smart Bidet Seat Toilet
- COMPOSTING PICK: Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
- PORTABLE PICK: Camco Portable Travel Toilet
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Toilet
When deciding on a toilet for your bathroom, there are several factors you should take into account. Consider the type of toilet that will suit your needs, what size your bathroom can accommodate, what shape will meet your comfort demands, and how much water consumption your budget can tolerate.
Although toilets range in size, most fit standard dimensions between 28 and 30 inches deep, about 20 inches wide, and between 27 inches and 32 inches high. The distance to the top of the toilet seat is between 15 and 17 inches from the floor.
The most important measurement to keep in mind is the rough-in distance, which is the measurement from the back wall to the center of the toilet drain pipe. This measurement ranges between 10 and 14 inches. It’s crucial to know what rough-in measurement you have in your bathroom so you can purchase a toilet that will fit the available space.
When selecting a toilet, there are a variety of types from which to choose:
- Most toilets are two-piece with a tank mounted to the toilet via two large bolts. These toilets are typically the least expensive and may require you to purchase the lid separately.
- A one-piece toilet offers a sleeker look with the toilet and tank consisting of a solitary piece. These models are typically designer and cost more. They’re also easier to clean as they don’t have as many creases and crevices as two-piece toilets.
- Wall-mounted toilets, once found only in public restrooms, are becoming more popular for their minimalist looks. Unlike the models found at your local fast-food restaurant restroom, they feature designer aesthetics. They consist of a seat attached to the wall with no visible toilet tank. Keep in mind these toilets require custom plumbing.
- Bidet-toilet combos offer the flushing power of a toilet with the spray-cleaning function of a bidet. The tank includes a spray jet that emits a gentle stream of water.
- While a smart toilet may initially seem like a silly idea, they actually offer some significant advantages. Smart toilets will automatically flush and can sense how much water is needed to perform an effective flush. This feature cuts the amount of water used to as little as .6 gallons per flush (compared to the standard 1.6 gallons of a conventional toilet), which can save on utility costs. Smart toilets will also shut off when they sense a potential overflow or alert you via a smart device if it detects a leak. Some will even clean and deodorize themselves.
- For those earth-conscious homeowners willing to go to extremes to reduce their impact on the environment, there are composting toilets. These toilets compost human waste using no water for flushing. An organic additive such as peat moss or sawdust is used to promote decomposition, eventually creating matter that can fertilize soil.
- Portable toilets are good options for camping, boating, and RVing and other situations where plumbing may not be readily available. Higher-end models include multiple tanks—one for water that is used to clean the bowl via a manual pump and a second, lower tank that holds waste until it can be dumped later.
Bowl and Seat Shape
While toilet bowls come in a wide variety of dimensions, there are three main shapes to consider: elongated, compact elongated, and round. Elongated bowls have an oval shape that makes the seat more spacious and comfortable. They also add about 2 inches to the bowl’s length for an average overall length of about 18 inches from the seat hinges to the front of the bowl.
Round front bowls don’t offer the comfort of an elongated bowl. They are shorter at about 16 inches long, making them good options for smaller bathrooms in which space is at a premium.
A compact elongated bowl offers a happy medium with a more oval shape that is about the same overall length as a round toilet thanks to a narrower tank.
If you buy a toilet that does not come with a seat, it’s critical to purchase one that matches the toilet’s shape. Toilet seats come in various materials, including plastic, polypropylene, cushioned vinyl, composite wood, and real wood.
Most toilets use the time-honored gravity flush to clear their contents. A gravity flush system creates flushing pressure by releasing the tank water into the bowl, forcing all of the contents through the trapway leading to the drain and ultimately the sewer or septic system. Since these toilets use the natural power of water pressure, there are few mechanical parts to worry about, keeping maintenance relatively low.
Pressure-assisted toilets use the power of siphoned air to create a much stronger flush than a gravity flushing toilet. In addition to rarely requiring a second flush, they can also be quite loud. Pressure-assisted toilets, commonly found in public bathrooms, have been making their way into homes with the development of quiet-flush technology.
Dual-flush systems are among the hottest flush technologies on the market. They feature two buttons: a little flush for “number one” and a more powerful flush for “number two.” These dual-flush systems save water by using 1.1-gallon partial flushes for liquid waste and 1.6-gallon full flushes for solid waste.
Cutting-edge double-cyclone toilets use nozzles instead of tiny holes in the toilet rim and an innovative system that increases the pressure of each flush, allowing you to get the power of a full 1.6 gallon flush with just 1.28 gallons of water.
There are quite a few options to consider when shopping for a toilet. Some higher-end toilet seats offer slow-close options, which prevents slamming. Heated toilet seats eliminate the shock of sitting on a cold seat during the winter months. Some toilets also feature high-end options such as touchless flushing, deodorizers, and even LED lighting for those late-night trips to the bathroom.
The standard modern toilet uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush, a far cry from toilets built in the 1960s and 1970s that used a staggering 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. While the Environmental Protection Agency considers 1.6 gallons to be low-flow, some models go even lower, using as little as 1 gallon per flush.
The days of the embarrassingly loud flushing toilet, at least in the home setting, have faded as manufacturers strived to make quieter toilets.
While pressurized toilets in public restrooms can hit an ear-popping 60 decibels or louder, most home toilets are around the 40-decibel mark, while quiet toilets might be around 30 decibels. Quiet toilets are good options for powder rooms adjacent to main living areas and guest rooms.
Toilets offer a variety of looks, ranging from sleek and curvy modern single-piece toilets to vintage-style two-piece toilets with beveled edges and chrome handles. While white is still the predominant color for most toilets, some designer models feature other colors, such as black. Though not as common, the minimalist design of wall-mounted toilets is also increasing in popularity.
Our Top Picks
The list below takes into account the above considerations in ranking some of the top toilets by class. They are made by some of the best-known toilet manufacturers in the business.
The T-0019 one-piece dual flush toilet wraps up power and efficiency into a single attractive package. Its skirted base conceals the trapway, and it has a tank that’s seamlessly integrated into the bowl for a sleek and smooth, modern finish. Its straight edges not only make it a pleasant sight but also easy to clean.
It comes equipped with a soft-closing seat that complements its quiet flushing mechanism. Concealed by its deceivingly quiet operation, the siphon flushing system can remove 1,000 grams of solid waste per flush. An elongated bowl at a comfortable height makes it pleasant to sit on and easier to stand up.
- Clean, contemporary look
- Soft-close seat
- Quiet flush feature
- Affordably priced
- Larger bowl may not suit smaller spaces
If you’re looking for comfort without sacrificing more floor space in your bathroom, then consider this model from Kohler. It features a compact, elongated bowl that offers an ample seating area for comfort without extending much further than a standard round bowl. It’s 31 inches long from the back of the tank to the end of the bowl.
At 17 inches high, the seat is a bit taller than the standard 15 inches, making it more comfortable for taller people to use. A soft-close toilet seat prevents banging, while sleek lines give it a classic look.
A one-piece design makes it easy to clean. Kohler’s AquaPiston canister allows water to flow into the bowl from all sides, allowing for a better overall flush with less water—this toilet uses just 1.28 gallons per flush. The Kohler AquaPiston toilet has a 12-inch rough-in.
- More comfortable for taller people
- One-piece design is easy to clean
- Low water use per flush
- Pricey without modern features
You’d be forgiven if you mistook this toilet/bidet combination for something out of a science fiction movie. When you approach it, the lid automatically opens, welcoming you aboard. The automation doesn’t stop there.
A heated seat and an air dryer keep you warm while you sit. When you’re finished, the bidet cleanses you with a gentle pulsating spray while the warm air gently dries you. After you rise, an automatic flush clears the bowl while a built-in ionizer deodorizes the air around it via a carbon filter.
A wireless remote lets you customize the whole experience, while a soft blue LED night light makes it easy to find the toilet in the dark. With all this hands-free automation, you might even skip a trip to the sink on your way out. While this toilet may add to your electric bill, it will save you water thanks to its dual-flushing function.
- Air dryer and heated seat
- Auto flush
- Deodorizes the air
- Comes with a smart remote
- Installation is more involved
When it comes to a durable, easy-to-use composting toilet, it’s tough to beat this Nature’s Head model. It diverts urine into an easily removed tank and features a side-mounted “spider” handle for churning the solid waste inside the tank. The waste tank is large enough for two adults to use full-time, which will require emptying every four to six weeks.
This waterless toilet uses an electric fan to draw fresh air in and push odors out, helping to keep smells at bay. While the fan uses 12V power, it can convert to 110V with a kit purchased directly from Nature’s Head.
- Rotates solids without opening
- No water required for use
- Fan keeps odors at bay
- Can be troublesome to empty alone
When there’s no toilet where you’re going, you don’t have to answer nature’s call outside. Take a toilet with you with this portable travel toilet from Camco. Ideal for camping, RV trips, and boating, this model features a seat and 2.5-gallon flush tank that sits atop a 2.6-gallon plastic basin. The flush tank holds water used to flush the bowl with water via a hand pump. A pull handle flushes the waste from the bowl into the basin below, where it remains until you can dispose of it.
This unit is made of durable polyethylene that holds up to waste and chemical treatments. It is compact but large enough to sit comfortably upon, at 14 inches wide, 16 inches long, and 15.5 inches high.
- Great when on the go
- Sturdy yet lightweight material
- Odors are sealed off
- Not ideal for frequent use
For a solid all-around pick, grab the WOODBRIDGE Toilet which is affordably priced and boasts a modern aesthetic. If on the hunt for the ultimate toilet-going experience, look no further than the WOODBRIDGE Smart Bidet Seat Toilet and enjoy the latest technologies.
How We Chose the Best Toilets
Toilets tend to become an afterthought when it comes to building a home or updating a bathroom. However, recent technologies are beginning to catch shoppers’ attention, so we have compiled a list of options to consider which could surprise readers when they see how far this basic equipment has come. We made sure to include the range of options out there, from traditional models for quick and inexpensive replacements, to top-of-the-line gadgets that will wow anyone coming into contact with it.
Environmental awareness is also certainly a top priority for many, so our list of recommendations includes options that use lower volumes of water per flush all the way down to a product that requires no water whatsoever!
Perhaps the biggest deciding factor is bowl size and shape, since comfort is the most important consideration for this frequent activity, so we took care to ensure our favorites are able to satisfy people of all shapes and sizes.
If you’re wondering how to measure for a new commode or how to complete some basic toilet repairs, read on for answers.
Q: How do you measure a toilet?
The best way to measure for a new toilet is to use its rough-in measurement. Measure from the wall to the center of the toilet’s drain hole. Make sure this matches the toilet rough-in measurement to ensure a proper fit.
You may also want to measure the toilet’s length, which is taken from the back of the tank to the front lip of the bowl, to ensure it will not take up too much space in the bathroom.
Q: How do you unclog a toilet?
You can unclog a toilet using a chemical method or manual method. If you own a plunger, stick the plunger into the bowl so that it covers the drain hole, making as tight a seal as possible around the hole. Make sure there is enough water in the bowl to cover the head of the plunger so that it can create enough suction. Begin slowly plunging until the clog is released.
If you don’t own a plunger, combine one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar and pour it down the toilet drain. The mixture will bubble up, loosening any clog in the toilet.
Q: How do you drain a toilet?
Turn off the water supply valve to the toilet, located near the floor on the wall just below the tank. Flush the toilet multiple times until most of the water in the bowl and tank has drained away. Use a sponge or old towel to remove any remaining water.
Q: How do you remove hard water stains from a toilet?
Begin by adding 1 cup of vinegar to the toilet bowl. Use a brush to mix it in with the water, then let it sit for a few minutes. Add a cup of baking soda and another two cups of vinegar, which will cause the water to bubble and fizz. After 10 minutes, scrub the stains with a brush. Let the mixture sit for another 30 minutes, scrub again to completely remove the stains, then flush. Some toilet bowl cleaners are also effective at removing water stains.
Q: Why is my toilet not shutting off?
If your toilet continues to run after it’s done filling the tank, you likely need to replace the flapper, which is the rubber piece that covers the drain at the bottom of the toilet tank. The flapper is supposed to create a watertight seal over the drain while the toilet sits idle. If the flapper is faulty, it will not make a good seal, causing water to leak into the bowl continuously.
Q: How do I fix my toilet pump?
If your toilet pump, better known as the fill valve, is making screeching noises or takes an excessive amount of time to fill the toilet, it likely means that the fill valve has become clogged with sediment, which is hindering its ability to refill the tank with fresh water after each flush. You’ll need to replace the fill valve with a new one, which, like toilet installation, is relatively straightforward.
Q: How do I fix a toilet that runs intermittently?
A toilet that runs intermittently suffers from a leaky flapper that is allowing water to continuously run into the bowl through the drain at the bottom of the tank. The intermittent hissing is the sound of your fill valve trying to keep the tank full as the water leaks out of it and into the bowl. You’ll need to replace the flapper to fix this issue (and halt the flow of money going down the toilet in the form of wasted water!).
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Tony Carrick is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, landscaping, and design. A recipient of a degree in journalism and a Master of Arts in English, he spent ten years writing for a variety of local newspapers and business publications before becoming an English teacher. Mr. Carrick now works as a freelance writer from his home in North Carolina. When he isn’t furiously typing away on his laptop or working on his latest home improvement project, he enjoys spending time with his family and cycling through the beautiful North Carolina countryside.