The best toilets have

  • Gravity-assisted flush. Toilets using gravity-assist instead of pressure-assist flushing technology are generally quieter.
  • Dual-flush technology. Dual-flush toilets have one flushing option for liquid waste that uses just 1 gallon of water, and another for solid-waste flushes. Most reviewer-recommended toilets are single-flush models.
  • Efficient gallons per flush (gpf). If water efficiency is important to you, choose a toilet with a lower gpf. Most low-flow toilets use 1.28 gpf, but even the 1.6 gpf models that are standard today are a major improvement over the 3 gpf models of the 1990s.
  • Height. Toilets that meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have seats that are between 17 and 19 inches tall. These are considered universal and are better suited for adults of taller stature, according to
  • Wide flush valves. Wider flush valves ensure more solid waste removal with each flush. Standard flush valves are about 2 inches in diameter, but many current models offer 3-inch flush valves for better performance.
  • Wide trapways. Like flush valves, wider trapways of 2.125 inches or wider allow more waste to exit with every flush.
  • An included seat. While the vast majority of toilets sold today don't come with an included seat, choosing a model with a seat can be more affordable.
  • A warranty. Most toilets come with warranties of at least one year. A few models have limited lifetime warranties for consumer confidence.

Know before you go

Measure your rough-in. Toilets are designed to work with rough-ins (the concealed portion of your plumbing) of specific sizes. Some manufacturers offer multiple toilets of the same model number to accommodate different rough-in sizes, but you'll need to know before you make a selection.

How much space do you have? If you have a small bathroom or partial bath, a round bowl may better suit your needs. Elongated bowls tend to take up more space in the room.

Do you have small children? ADA-compliant toilets are taller and more comfortable for both tall and disabled individuals. However, shorter people and young children could have difficulty using this kind of toilet.

Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it

When it comes to toilets, there are really no hidden costs, but water efficiency is becoming a bigger issue as the public becomes more aware of environmental concerns. Not only do water-efficient toilets conserve water, but they can also reduce your water and sewer bills. Toilet paper waste is another concern, and some homeowners are embracing the European trend of installing a bidet. Bidets use a gentle stream of water to clean delicate areas, drastically cutting down on the amount of toilet paper needed.

What's to come

As the push to become more environmentally friendly grows in importance, designers are producing innovative toilets that maximize style, function and efficiency. The Roca W+W, for instance, saves space by attaching to a wall instead of sitting on the floor, and dramatically reduces water waste by recycling water from the attached sink for use in the toilet.

Regulatory guidelines are tightening, and options like dual-flush toilets that reduce the amount of water used per flush are becoming more popular. About a decade ago, most toilets used 3 gallons per flush (gpf). Today's models use just 1.6 gpf, and many use only 1.28 gpf. Dual-flush models can use as little as 1 gallon of water to flush liquid waste.

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