Types of Toilets to Know for Your Next Bathroom Renovation
Knowing which types of toilets are best for your bathroom can save you from flushing money down the drain on features you'll end up replacing.
While toilets aren’t the most popular topic of conversation, they’re something we all use on a daily basis. Some toilets may last up to 50 years, while others only last for around 10. Whether your toilet is on its last leg or just ready for an upgrade, this isn’t a project you want to put off for too long; no one wants to be without a properly functioning toilet.
If you’ve started shopping for a new toilet, you’re not alone if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the vast number of options on the market. There are several types of toilet flush systems, styles, and design options to choose from—and some toilets can even flush themselves! If you’re not already familiar with toilet features, it’s a good idea to do some research before you pull the handle on a new one. Continue reading to learn more about types of toilets so you can make an informed decision for your bathroom.
RELATED: The Best Kohler Toilets
Components of a Toilet
Before replacing or repairing a toilet, it is important to have a general understanding of this fixture’s basic components. Here are some of the key parts found in most toilets:
- Handle: A lever that allows users to flush the toilet (some models feature two buttons on top of the toilet tank instead of a handle).
- Flapper: A valve that lifts up when the handle is pulled, triggering the toilet to flush the water in the bowl.
- Chain: Metal links that connect the handle to the flapper.
- Fill valve: A device that maintains the proper toilet tank water level.
- Overflow tube: A tall tube located inside the toilet tank that prevents water from overflowing out of the tank.
- Toilet bowl: The base of a toilet that holds water and collects waste.
- Toilet seat: The spot where people sit when using a toilet. The seat is typically connected to a toilet lid that can cover the toilet when flushing and when it’s not in use.
Types of Toilets by Flush System
There are several factors to consider when deciding what type of toilet you need or want for your space. One of the first things you should decide is the type of toilet flush mechanism and system that you prefer. Below are the various types of toilet flush system out there.
Before making a purchase, decide if you want to install the toilet yourself or hire someone to install it for you. If you have basic plumbing knowledge and are planning to replace the toilet yourself, be sure to set aside two to three hours for the job. Or, if you prefer, you can always hire a plumber or handyman to take care of the task for you.
Homes across the globe commonly feature gravity-flush toilets. Also called siphonic toilets, these models feature a tank that holds water. When the flush button or lever on a gravity-flush toilet is pushed, the water in the tank pushes all the waste in the toilet bowl through the trapway. The flushing motion also helps to leave the toilet bowl clean after each use.
Gravity toilets rarely clog and are relatively easy to maintain. They also do not require many complex parts and are silent when they’re not being flushed. These features can explain why they remain such a popular choice in many homes.
Best For: Residential properties
Our Recommendation: Kohler Santa Rosa Comfort Height Elongated Toilet at The Home Depot for $351.24
This classic toilet features an elongated bowl and powerful gravity flush system, requiring just 1.28 gallons of water per flush.
A dual-flush toilet offers two different flush options: half-flush and full-flush. The half-flush uses less water via a gravity-feed system to remove liquid waste from the bowl, while the full-flush option uses a pressure-assisted system to flush solid waste.
Dual-flush toilets often cost more than standard gravity-flush toilets, but they are more water-efficient and better for the environment. The water-saving benefits of these low-flow toilets have made them the preferred option in areas facing water shortages. They are also gaining popularity with consumers looking to decrease their overall environmental footprint.
Best For: Water conservation
Our Recommendation: Woodbridge Dual Flush Elongated One Piece Toilet on Amazon for $366.50
This modern toilet offers 1- and 1.6-gallon flush options to reduce water consumption. Its one-piece design and smooth lines make it easy to clean, and it has an integrated soft-close toilet seat.
Pressure-assisted toilets offer a very powerful flush, making them an ideal choice for homes where a single toilet is shared by multiple household members. The flushing mechanism in a pressure-assist toilet forces water into the tank with pressurized air. Because of their strong flushing power, it’s rarely necessary to flush these toilets more than once to clear waste. However, the pressurized flushing mechanism makes these toilet types louder than most other options.
Best For: Households with multiple members
Our Recommendation: American Standard Cadet Right Height Elongated Pressure Assisted Toilet at Lowe’s for $439
This pressure-assisted toilet requires just 1.6 gallons of water per flush and has a mold- and mildew-resistant coating.
Double-cyclone flush toilets are among the newer types of toilets available today. While they don’t save as much water as dual-flush toilets, double-cyclone toilets are more eco-friendly than gravity-flush or pressure-assisted models.
These toilets feature two water nozzles along the rim, instead of holes along the rim found in other models. These nozzles spray water for an efficient flush with minimal usage.
Best For: Decreasing water consumption
Our Recommendation: TOTO Drake II WaterSense Toilet at Lowe’s for $495
This toilet uses a centrifugal flushing action to clear waste and rinse the toilet bowl to reduce the need for cleaning.
5. Bidet Toilet
Bidet toilets combine the features of a standard toilet with a bidet. Many bidet toilet combinations also offer intelligent controls to improve user experience. With a remote or integrated control panel, users can adjust toilet seat temperature, bidet cleansing settings, and more.
One benefit of a bidet toilet is that the combination models take up significantly less space than a toilet and bidet purchased individually. They can be installed in place of a standard toilet, so no major modifications should be necessary. However, when considering the cost of replacing a toilet, be prepared to spend a good deal more for a combination bidet toilet model.
Best For: Those with limited space who want a toilet and bidet
Our Recommendation: Woodbridge Single Flush Toilet with Smart Bidet Seat on Amazon for $949
With an integrated bidet, heated seat, air dryer, and automatic flush, this toilet can upgrade any bathroom space.
Rather than flushing waste down into a drain like most toilet types, an upflush toilet pushes waste out of the back into a macerator. There, it’s processed and pumped into PVC piping connecting the toilet to the home’s main stack for discharge.
The benefit of upflush toilets is that they can be installed in parts of a house lacking plumbing, making them a good option when adding a bathroom without spending thousands to hook up new plumbing. You can even connect a sink or shower to the pump, allowing for a simple DIY bathroom nearly anywhere in the home.
Best For: Bathroom additions without existing plumbing
Our Recommendation: Saniflo SaniPLUS Macerating Upflush Toilet Kit on Amazon for $1,295.40
Install this toilet in a new bathroom addition without breaking up your floor or hiring a plumber.
7. Composting Toilet
Composting toilets, a type of waterless toilet, treat waste by using aerobic bacteria to break down the material. Once properly treated, the composted waste is safe to handle and can even be used to fertilize plants and improve soil structure.
There are several benefits associated with composting toilets. They are an optimal choice for RVs and other spaces where conventional plumbing isn’t available. Moreover, composting toilets conserve water better than any other type of toilet. Because no water is required for flushing, a compost toilet can be an optimal choice in drought-prone areas and for those looking to reduce their home’s overall water consumption.
Best For: RV or boat use
Our Recommendation: Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet on Amazon for $1,030
This composting toilet has a spider handle for processing solid waste in the tank, with enough capacity to hold a two-person household’s waste for up to six weeks.
In addition to the various flush systems, there are also several toilet styles available to consider. These style options include one-piece, two-piece, high-level, low-level, and wall-mounted toilets.
One-piece toilets, as the name suggests, are made using just one piece of material. They are a bit smaller than two-piece models, making them an ideal choice for small bathrooms. Installing this modern toilet design is also easier than installing a two-piece toilet. Moreover, with fewer hard-to-reach areas, they are generally easier to clean than more complex toilets. However, one downside of one-piece toilets is that they are more expensive than traditional two-piece models.
Two-piece toilets are the most popular and affordable option. The two-piece design features a separate water tank and toilet bowl. While they are durable and long-lasting, the separate components can make these models more challenging to clean.
A high-level toilet—the traditional Victorian-style toilet—features a cistern mounted high up on the wall. A flush pipe extends all the way down between the cistern and the toilet pan. The toilet is flushed by pulling on the long chain attached to the cistern.
Low-level toilets offer a similar design. However, rather than the cistern being fitted at such a high level on the wall, it is mounted lower down the wall. This design requires a shorter flush pipe, but can still add a vintage feel to a bathroom.
Also called wall-hanging toilets, wall-mounted toilets are more likely to be found in commercial buildings than in a private bathroom. The toilet bowl and flush plate are mounted to the wall, with the toilet tank behind the wall. Wall-mounted toilet design takes up less space in a bathroom and is also easier to clean than other styles.
Toilet Design Options
Finally, you’ll also want to consider different toilet design options—such as height, bowl shape, and color. Choose a model that coordinates with your bathroom and matches your comfort preferences.
When shopping for a new toilet, there are two main height options to consider. Standard toilet size offers a height between 15 and 17 inches. These lower-profile toilets may be the best choice for houses with children or people that don’t have mobility limitations that limit their ability to bend or squat down to sit on the toilet.
Alternatively, the seat on a chair height toilet is higher off the ground than that of a standard height toilet. The seat is approximately 19 inches high, making it easier to sit on. Out of the different toilet heights available, a chair height toilet may be a better option for people with mobility issues, as sitting on these toilets requires less bending.
Toilet bowls come in different shapes. These different shape options can impact the comfort of a toilet, as well as its overall appearance in your space. The three main bowl shape options are round, elongated, and compact elongated.
A round toilet bowl offers a more space-saving design. However, the round shape is not as comfortable for many individuals as an elongated seat. Elongated toilet bowls, on the other hand, are more oval-shaped. The additional length of an elongated toilet seat makes it more comfortable for many individuals. However, that added length also takes up more bathroom space, so this toilet bowl shape may not be ideal for small bathrooms. Finally, compact elongated toilet bowls combine the comfort of an elongated bowl with the space-saving properties of a round bowl. These toilet bowls take up the same amount of space as a round bowl but feature an elongated ovular seat for extra comfort.
The trapway is the part of a toilet that connects to the plumbing system. An S-shaped trapway helps prevent clogs and allows for the proper toilet function. While all toilets use this S-shaped trapway, some feature exposed trapways, skirted trapways, or concealed trapways.
With an exposed trapway, you’ll be able to see the S-shape along the base of the toilet, and the bolts securing the toilet to the floor will be covered with caps. Toilets with an exposed trapway can be more difficult to clean.
Toilets with skirted or concealed trapways are generally easier to clean. A concealed trapway toilet features smooth sides with caps covering the bolts securing the toilet to the ground. Skirted trapway toilets feature uniform sides connecting the base of the toilet to the bowl.
When picking a toilet seat, select one that matches the color and shape of the toilet bowl. Many two-piece toilets are sold without seats, and most one-piece models feature removable seats, allowing you to replace the seat when needed.
There are several toilet seat material options available, including plastic, wood, molded composition wood, polypropylene, and cushioned vinyl. Beyond the material of the toilet seat, you can also look for additional features to enhance your bathroom experience. You can find soft-close seats, heated seats, lighted seats, bidet and dryer seat attachments like this highly rated option available at The Home Depot, and much more.
While traditional white and off-white are the most popular toilet colors, they are’t the only options available. If desired, you can purchase a toilet in any of a range of colors to coordinate with the rest of your bathroom’s decor or to make a statement. Some more common colors include various shades of yellow, gray, blue, green, or pink. Some manufacturers offer toilets with custom colors or even custom designs, if you’re willing to pay a premium.
The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on 10/28/22.