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Toilet Shopping Guide: How To Choose the Right Toilet For Your Home

Reliant Plumbing recently worked with Austinite and blogger Vilma Iris on her Powder Bath Remodel. We helped her through the toilet selection process and finished with a low-stress install. Vilma was looking for a toilet with a modern look, a height that would be comfortable for her tall family, and eco-friendly functionality. We knew she wouldn’t be able to find the right aesthetic from the big box stores, so we called our friends at Facets of Austin. We finally landed on the Acquia IV Toilet by Toto, which is a modern full-skirted, one-piece, elongated, comfort height commode. It also has dual flush operation to conserve water, a high efficient 1.28 gpf flush system, a ceramic glaze that prevents mold & debris from sticking, a quiet flush, and a softclose seat. Unfortunately, most toilet brands have not caught up to current trends so they do not offer hardware in gold or black finishes. Vilma got creative and painted her chrome push-button to a brassy gold finish that matches her other fixtures perfectly!

If you don’t know what “full-skirted”, “gpf”, or any of those other words meant, we are here to help! Read on for the Ultimate Toilet Shopping Guide.

Vilma Iris Powder Bath Remodel Featuring Toto Toilet

See more photos and details from Vilma’s remodel on her blog.

How to Choose the Right Toilet For Your Home

Until you’ve decided you are fed up with your toilet and need a replacement, you’ve probably never given toilets that much thought. You may not even realize how many options you have until you google “toilets” and see the hundreds of results. Before you get overwhelmed looking considering all the different shapes, styles, techologies, and colors, we will you let you in on what’s really important in choosing the right toilet for your home.

The Perfect Fit

To begin your toilet shopping journey, you’ll need to take some basic measurements to be sure the toilet you select will fit your space. Before removing your old toilet, measure from the wall behind the toilet to the center of one of the bolts holding the toilet down. If you’ve got four bolts, measure to the rear bolt closest to the wall. This is your rough-in measurement. You’ll need to be sure the new toilet’s rough-in measurement is the same or smaller than your existing toilet. Today’s standard rough-in is 12 inches, but you may see 10 or 14 inches if you have an older home.

While you’re taking measurements, you should also go ahead and make sure the placement of your toilet is up to code. See the below graphic to help:

Toilets need a minimum 15" to either side and 21" in front to be up to code.

Flush Performance

Most toilets see a lot of traffic every day, so it’s really important that they perform their most basic function – flushing – really well. To determine a toilet’s flush performance, you need to look for its MaP score. Most retailers & manufactures list MaP scores on their website or packaging. The MaP score tells you how many grams of solid waste a toilet can remove in a single flush. The higher the MaP score, the more the toilet can flush. We recommend a minimum MaP score of 400 – 600, but some toilets even go up to 1,000!


The next important consideration is how much water the toilet will use. Before 1994, toilets used 3.5 to 5 gallons per flush (gpf). Today’s toilets are much more efficient using a maximum of 1.6 gpf. High efficiency toilet models use 1.28 gpf, while ultra high efficiency models use 0.8 gpf. Even with using so much less water per flush, toilet technology has improved. You can expect a MaP score of 800 grams even with the ultra high effiency models, so you don’t have to worry that saving water is going to lead to a lot of headaches. If effiency is a top priority for you, you may want to consider a Dual Flush toilet. These give you the option to choose a higher flow rate for solid waste and a lower flow for liquids.

Another helpful thing to look for is whether or not the toilet is WaterSense Certified. Like the Energy Star program for appliances, the EPA’s WaterSense certification makes it easy to find fixtures that use at least 20 percent less water than the 1.6 gallons currently mandated.

Siphonic or Washdown

There are two basic toilet functionalities to choose from and each have their pros & cons. Siphonic toilets are the most common in America and probably what you are used to. These toilets use the power of gravity to create a siphon that pulls water & waste down through the toilet. They have a lot of advantages: they use less water, they are virtually odorless, they keep a cleaner bowl, and they flush quietly. However, siphonic toilets use a long, narrow trapway that is more prone to clogging.

Washdown toilets do not create a siphon – they use the force of rushing water to push waste out of the toilet. They have a short and very wide trapway that does not clog. This sounds fantastic, but there are a few drawbacks. Washdown toilets have much less water sitting in the bowl at all times. This means that odors sometimes arise and “skid marks” are much more common. You may need to flush multiple times to remove sticky waste. Also, these toilets tend to be much louder when flushing.

Bonus Features

Many toilet manufacturers are getting really creative with the features they can add to their toilets. If you aren’t a fan of a noisy bathroom, you can find models that offer a quiet flush or a soft close lid.

If you experience a lot of issues with clogging in your sewer system, you might want to opt for a toilet with a pressure-assist unit. These units can empty with the force of a 5 1/2 gallon flush without using more water. They do not require electricity, but they are very loud and only work in toilets designed for them.

Another feature that can prevent clogs is a fully glazed trapway. In these toilets, the trapway has an extra slick surface to keep waste from sticking as it goes down.

Different manufacturers have also created advanced specialty finishes for their toilets. To keep you bathroom clean, you may want to select an antimicrobial glaze that actively kills germs that try to grow on your toilet or a glaze that prevents mold and debris from sticking.

One Piece vs Two Piece

Two piece toilets are the most common in America because they are less expensive and easier to install, which saves you additional money. But, a one piece toilet may be right for you if you have an eye for style. They do have a much sleeker modern look. One piece toilets are also easier to clean and more durable since there are fewer parts that can potentially leak or break.

Skirted vs Non-Skirted

Most toilet models come with options for a full skirt or an exposed trapway. This decision is really up to you – it’s just a personal preference on the look you like best. Skirted toilets tend to be easier to keep clean since there are fewer bends to collect dust and debris.


When choosing your toilet, it’s important to consider that you may be using this toilet for decades to come. For this reason, we recommend that our customers go with Comfort Height toilets where they can. Standard toilets are 14-15″ tall whereas Comfort Height or ADA toilets are 16-18″. If you’ve got someone especially tall in your household, you can sometimes find a Tall toilet coming in at 19-22″. Comfort Height toilets feel good for most people and are appropriate for those with disabilities, so they are a great idea to keep your family and any visitors happy in your home.

Now you know just about everything there is to know about selecting your toilets. If you’d like help sourcing your toilet or you’d like to schedule an installation, you can call our office at 512-222-6029!


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