Need a new toilet - suggestions?

As noted in this thread, I need a new toilet.

Does anybody have any suggestions or things I should note about getting one, and having it installed?

For example…
[li]Buying one - Home Depot/Lowes, or directly from a plumber?[/li][li]If I get it from a store, should I have the store install it, or call a plumber to do it? (Will most plumbers even install a toilet that you didn’t buy from them?)[/li][li]One-piece or two? (Or does it really matter?)[/li][li]Brand recommendations? American Standard? Kohler? Somebody else?[/li][li]Is there a maximum price that I should be paying?[/li][/ul]

Why is self installed not an option? Installing a toilet is one of the easiest DIY plumbing jobs there is and will save boucoup cash…

I generally go with the economy model two-piece-sold-as-one-unit found at any big box home store. I am, after all, going to be crapping in it. It doesn’t have to be anything but functional.

There’s 2 separate things, albeit very related, you need to do.

  1. Purchase a new toilet.
    B. Have it installed.

Discussion of #1. Shop around at your local stores. I don’t know what you drive, but they generally come in two pieces, the tank and the bowl. If you don’t think you can fit them in your car you might ask about delivery. To my knowledge, there are 3 basic types of toilets going around. Standard flush, reduced water flush, and I don’t know what they’re officially called but I think of them as 2 way flush.
a. Standard flush is just that. Standard flush. They use more water than the others.
ii. Reduced flush. Like the name says, they use less water per flush. They work fine when you’re flushing away yellow, but they might take multiple flushes for other. Depends on your concern for your water bill.
0011. Two way. They work like this: When you flush, flip the handle up for yellow, and down for brown. Reduced flush if you go up, standard if you go down. They’re more expensive to buy but in the long run, your water bill will thank you.

Discussion for B. Replacing a toilet is probably not more than the 3rd thing a plumber learns how to do. Call a couple plumbers for their rates. They know what they’ll charge you for that. I don’t know if Home Depot or Lowe’s has plumbers on staff, they probably just have a list of local plumbers they can call. Maybe they’ll have a lower rate. Call around the plumbers first, then when you go to buy your new throne you can ask them about guys to install it.

Well, that’s what I think, anyway. Good luck.

Moved from MPSIMS to our advice forum, IMHO.

For a lot of discussion/reviews of toilets, you may want to check out the toilet forum at Terry Love Plumbing:

I had a Toto Drake II installed about three years ago and have been happy with it.

Get one that you can poop in.

1 year ago I bought 3 Toto Drake II toilets. These are 2 piece models, and very low flow. (Like 1.2 gallons per flush.) These were used to replace 3 old “low flow” toilets that never worked well. They either didn’t flush everything or got stopped up.

The Toto toilets are a dream. They work just about every single time on a single flush. (TMI warning!!! There was one rather prodigious, er, situation where it took 2 flushes.)

I’d highly recommend these. Note that they are more expensive than the standard Home Depot toilets. I think I paid $285 for each from Amazon (with free shipping!). But they’re worth every cent.


p.s., also splurge for the “soft close” toilet seat. A small luxury that makes a lot of difference!

Vacuum-assisted flush. That is all.

Only clogs on extra-large elephants, very reliable operation, and much quieter than commercial jet-flush units. About 30-50% more than standard flush, but DON’T fall for hand-waving and punchy names in place of real vacuum-assist gear. It seems like every toidy at HD or Lowe’s has SuperMega PowerFlush or some other fake “system.”

Dude, just go to Home Depot and buy a toilet you like, take it home and hook it up. You are waaaay overthinking it. This is not a difficult project. There will be instructions if you need support. If, somehow, you manage to screw up this most basic of tasks (I am in no way trying to make anyone feel inadequate about their home improvement skills, but installing a toilet is pretty easy), just call any random plumber with a 24/7 help line, and they will come hook it up. It is a ten minute job.

Don’t buy it directly from a plumber, you will pay more that way.
Random plumber won’t care where you bought said toilet, should you ask him to hook it up.
One piece is even easier to install.
Toilets are toilets, just pick one you like.
Price is really up to you. I think I paid $174 for the ones we installed when redoing the bathroom. I like them. This was at Home Depot.

I’d concur only if the OP is comfortable with basic hand-tool jobs around the house.

Toilets are heavy and fragile. I got one of the worst cuts I’ve ever had from one - dropped it a tiny bit setting it in place, broke a rear corner off the flange. Reached down to feel if the break had gone through to the bolt hole, and got a mad-slasher-with-a-scalpel cut across my fingertip. No pressure, no effort, not moving fast, just such a razor-sharp edge it went through delicate me like I wasn’t there. Besides the expense of replacing a brand-new toilet for a little slip.

Toilets have to be adequately sealed to to the waste collar. Not trivial, but assuming everything is in relatively good condition, just a matter of using a new, clean wax ring. “…assuming…” - I had one toilet that needed an extra-deep ring, and found out only when the pipe backed up momentarily and poured sewage all over the underside of the toilet base.

Toilets have to be mounted and shimmed so that they are securely bolted down, without overtightening and breakage, and without annoying rocking or movement. Can be a little touchy to get that balance without risking a compression break.

Toilets have to be assembled and the incoming line plumbed without leaks - immediately, six months later or while you’re off to work. An upstairs leak can destroy a house in hours.

So, yeah, I can do that in ten minutes. Done it many times. Done it enough that I wouldn’t tell a casual DIY’er to tackle it without forethought and help. :slight_smile:

Very generally speaking, the job is easy in a newer house with no plumbing issues or floor problems, and gets tougher as the waste pipes, feed plumbing and floor get older and less “even.”

Within the past four weeks, I have purchased a replacement toilet and did extensive internet research. Here are the highlights:

• I ended up with a unit made by Toto. I had never heard of that brand prior to my investigation, but it ranks up there along with Kohler and American Standard.

• Get a “Comfort Height” seat; it is about 16” above the floor compared to about 13” for standard height. These were formally called “Handicap Height” but people didn’t like that connotation but enjoyed the height, so there was a name change. That small height increase make a significant improvement.

• My unit uses 1.28 gallons per flush (GPF) and it works without fail. My city is on a “Green Push”, and gives a $50 rebate for this feature.

• I ordered on-line from National Builders Supply in Georgia (I’m on the west coast). The price was right, complimentary fast shipping by FedEx, the amount of foam protection for the container would sustain any rough treatment.

• It came with a Soft Close seat, a “must” if you have children who bang the seat down.

Another vote for Toto. We installed our first one (a Drake) about 10 years ago. We needed our other two toilets replaced a couple of years ago, and went with similar models.

Reliable, powerful flush. They are expensive–I think we paid about $250 each for the recent ones. Also, do yourself a favor and spring for the slam-proof seat.

How’s your water pressure? Those slick low-boy units use a large tube spraying water directly into bowl (well, mine did) for scrubbing - if your water pressure isn’t up to it, stick with full-sized tank models.

I haven’t looked, but DIY has to be full of videos of how to remove/install a toilet (properly called a “water closet” - now you know where that word came from for the “closet bolts” and such).

The big boxes ar OK on this - as long as you stick with Am Std or Kohler models - and ones NAMED Am Std/Kohler - not “by xxxxxxx” - they make crap lines for the big boxes just like everyone else.

DO NOT BUY the ring at the big box - I did and now have a New! Improved! Reinforced! piece of crap - the ring is to be 100% beeswax yes, beeswax. This piece of crap is a plastic ring with a thin coating of wax.

Find a real plumbing supply - and it wouldn’t hurt to throw a bit larger purchase their way, esp. if you want the option of having them around next year.

buy a new ring and the weird closet bolts (the flat head slides under the flange).
You will also need a caulking gun and waterproof (preferably silicone) caulk.

Install water line on tank, place ring on flange, install bolts, lower w/c onto ring (and the mounting holes over the bolts), press down evenly all around the closet until it is sitting on the floor. Caulk perimeter.
Install washer, nuts, and caps on bolts, carefully snugging then down - do not tighten once it touches the ceramic - it will break.
Connect water supply to shut-off, turn on water.

You’re done. Total time:
Pro: 10 minutes
handy person: 15 mins
complete klutz: 30 mins.

A plumber will absolutely love the job unless it is in a tiny space with no way to get to the water connection - toilets are their bread and butter, and people who are intimidated by them a gold mines.

Apartment renters in large, rent-controlled cities:
One slumlord trich to get people to leave is to remove the toilet “it needs repair”. If you have a toilet, water line, and ring in the closet…

I recently put in some cheapie 1.28 gallon “chair height” elongated bowl toilets from Lowes and they cost something like $99 each. One of them had a hairline crack in the tank that made it drip ever so slowly and needed to be swapped out, but other than that, they flush better than the 1.6 gallon ones they replaced and I haven’t managed to clog one yet in four months.

The extra three inches of height makes a difference in comfort, but did cause a surprise in installation. The existing water line was three inches too short! Also, be sure to measure if your toilet is in any sort of alcove or cubby, or if there’s a countertop or shelf above.

You should never caulk around the base of a toilet. If the wax ring seal ever fails, you will have no idea there’s a leak until the toilet falls into the room below because the floor has rotted away.

As for wax rings, I’ve never had any problems with Oatey brand, and they’re sold pretty much everywhere, including the “big box” stores. They also tend to come with bolts and nuts in the box.

If I couldn’t replace my toilet myself for some reason (I’ve done a few) I’d call a handy-man, not a plumber. It really doesn’t require a plumbers skills or labor rate.

Probably five or more years ago, someone posted this link with toilet reviews from that same site.

Some time ago, I bought a new toilet, from Lowes, I think. Several of the parts were missing, and I ended up just returning it. So if you buy from a big box store, make sure the box is unopened.

Something else to consider - dual flush toilets. I’ve replaced two of my three toilets so far, and went with dual flush for both.

There are two shapes for the bowl - the standard, and the elongated. I opted for elongated.

Don’t buy a Bemis, those things clog if you look at them funny.

One thing you should check is the rough-in measurement. Basically, it’s the distance from the wall to the drain pipe the toilet sits on. It’s simple to measure. 12 inch is most common, but it’s better to know before you buy one.