Features to Avoid When Buying a New Toilet

Buying a new toilet is an important decision that requires careful consideration. While there are many great toilet options on the market, there are also some features that you may want to avoid when making your purchase. Being informed about potential downsides can help you select the right toilet for your needs and budget. This article explores key features to be wary of when shopping for your next toilet.

One-Piece Toilets

One-piece toilets have the tank and bowl fused together as a single unit. At first glance, their sleek, seamless look is very appealing. However, one-piece toilets have some disadvantages to consider:

  • Limited style options – One-piece toilets come in far fewer styles than two-piece options. Choices are limited, especially for colors other than white.
  • Heavy and difficult to install – Their fused design makes one-piece toilets very cumbersome, weighing over 100 pounds. Installation is more difficult, often requiring two people.
  • Not suitable for small bathrooms – The large, bulky dimensions of one-piece toilets is problematic in powder rooms and other small spaces.
  • Expensive – Prices run $200-$500 higher than comparable two-piece toilets. Replacement parts are also pricier if repairs are ever needed.

Unless you have ample space and a flexible budget, a one-piece toilet may not be the best option. Carefully measure your bathroom and consider more reasonably priced two-piece models first.

Dual-Flush Toilets

Dual-flush toilets offer a choice of two flush volumes – a full flush or reduced flush. This dual-flush design helps conserve water. However, dual-flush mechanisms have some common drawbacks:

  • Increased likelihood of clogs – The low-flow flush option provides only enough water to clear liquid waste. Any solids often get left behind, increasing clog risks.
  • Confusion over flushing options – If multiple household members use the dual-flush toilet, there can be confusion over which button to press for solids vs. liquids. This leads to wasted water from repeated flushing.
  • More expensive repairs – The dual-flush mechanism has more components that can break. Repair costs for dual-flush toilets run $150 higher on average compared to single flush toilets.
  • Reduced power – Dual-flush models do not have as robust of a flush as a powerful single flush toilet. Performance suffers, especially for removal of solid wastes.

While dual-flush toilets seem eco-friendly, their drawbacks often outweigh water savings. Single flush HET (high-efficiency) toilets with just 1.28 gallons per flush are a better option.

Touchscreen Operation

With innovations in electronics and smart home technology, toilets with touchscreen control panels have emerged. But this futuristic feature also brings some functionality concerns:

  • Electronics can fail – Like any electronic device, the components that enable touchscreen operation can malfunction. Replacement parts tend to be costly.
  • No manual override – If the touchscreen fails, you have no way to manually flush the toilet. This causes obvious sanitary issues until repairs can be completed.
  • Difficult to keep clean – Toilet touchscreens get just as dirty as your phone or tablet. But they are mounted on the tank where they are awkward to reach and clean.
  • No added benefit – Touchscreens offer no practical advantage over a simple handle flush. The extra cost and potential for malfunction make them an unnecessary risk.

A standard mechanical flush lever or button gives you reliable operation for years. Avoid gimmicky touchscreens that serve no real purpose.

Complicated Bowl Design

Innovations in toilet bowl design have created some very elaborate contours and curves. But these overly complex shapes often lead to functionality issues:

  • Difficult to keep clean – All the nooks and crannies that come with complicated bowl designs are prone to dirt and bacteria buildup. Cleaning them thoroughly is a challenge.
  • Prone to clogging – The unique dips and bends in many sculpted bowls can actually impede a strong flush flow. Drainage problems result, requiring frequent plunging.
  • No added comfort – Despite marketing claims, there is no evidence that complex bowl shapes increase seating comfort. The simplest, gently sloped bowl is most ergonomic.
  • Higher cost – Artistically styled bowls are found on expensive designer toilet models. You pay a premium for form over function.

An elegantly simple, elongated bowl offers the best user experience. Avoid fancy sculpted contours that provide no real benefit.

Padded Toilet Seats

Toilet seats with cushy padded vinyl covers seem like a luxury. But the puffy material causes some hygiene and durability issues:

  • Traps bacteria – The porous, non-porous padded material is impossible to fully sanitize. Germs get trapped in the padding, creating a haven for bacteria growth.
  • Retains odors – Padding also absorbs odors over time. No amount of cleaning will remove embarrassing odors from a padded seat.
  • Prone to damage – Cushioned covers easily show scratches, water damage, and stains. Their appearance deteriorates quickly with regular use.
  • Can detach – Adhesives eventually fail and the padded layer of the seat starts to peel away. The loose, wobbly padding becomes a hazard.
  • Not recyclable – Padded vinyl toilet seats cannot be recycled. Their material ends up in landfills. Unpadded wooden and plastic seats are recyclable.

For optimal hygiene and durability, opt for an unpadded, eco-friendly toilet seat. Then add your own removable padded seat cover if desired.

Obstructed Trapway

The trapway is the waste passageway molded into the toilet bowl, connecting to the main waste outlet. Some decoratively styled toilets feature trapways with right angles or sharp divert angles. These convoluted trapway designs can obstruct waste flow and drain properly. Issues include:

  • Clogs – Any extreme bends or corners in the trapway slow the exit velocity of flush water. This allows solids to accumulate easily and cause clogs.
  • Weak flush – Obstructed trapways greatly reduce the flush power available. Wastes often fail to clear the bowl in a single flush.
  • Noisy operation – Jagged angles and tight squeezes in the trapway create turbulence in water flow, resulting in loud flushing sounds.
  • Need for double flushing – Because of reduced flush power, toilets with obstructed trapways usually require two flushes to clear the bowl. This wastes water.

Always inspect the trapway design before purchasing a toilet. A straight-line, wide-mouthed trapway provides optimal waste passage and powerful flushing.

Bowl Water Volume

Some designer toilet models purposely reduce the normal water volume in the bowl to achieve a sleek, contemporary look. But the ultra-shallow water level causes functionality issues:

  • Increase odor – With less water in the bowl, more smell-producing waste is exposed to air rather than immersed in water.
  • More frequent scrubbing – Low water volume also means the bowl interior needs scrubbing more often to remove stains and mineral deposits.
  • Not ADA compliant – Reduced water levels usually fail to meet the ADA minimum standards for proper waste coverage.
  • Higher clogging risk – The decreased water column provides less water momentum for flushing. Solids get left behind and clog drains.

Check that the toilet you select meets the standard bowl water volume between 1.5-2 gallons. This properly immerses and flushes away waste.

Concealed Internal Trap

Some designer toilet models hide the inner trap passageway for a “cleaner” look. However, the concealed trap comes with some disadvantages:

  • Difficult to access – The trap is buried inside the outer housing, making access for maintenance and repairs extremely limited.
  • Prone to clogging – Concealed inner traps have more twists and turns where debris can get caught and cause obstructions.
  • No standard parts – Brand-specific custom trap designs mean you must purchase more expensive proprietary replacement parts.
  • No visible leak detection – With the trap hidden inside, water leaks are not visible until damage spreads extensively.
  • Reduced cleaning ability – The additional contours where the trap attaches to the bowl hinder cleaning. Bacteria and limescale buildup occurs.

Avoid the form over function approach of a concealed trap. A standard exposed trapway allows full visibility and access.

Flimsy Construction

With so many models competing for your business, some manufacturers cut corners on construction quality:

  • Thin, brittle porcelain – Low-grade ceramic materials result in bowl and tank pieces that chip and crack easily.
  • Weak mounting bolts – Sub-par metal materials lead to failures of the critical tank-to-bowl mounting points.
  • Ineffective glazing – Cheap glaze applications allow the underlying porcelain to absorb bacteria and odors.
  • Leaky tank components – Inferior plastic and rubber parts become porous and leak over time.
  • Short lifespan – Poor manufacturing can mean a new toilet requires replacement in as little as 5 years. More durable options last 20+ years.

Focus less on attractive styling and more on finding a toilet with sturdy, high-grade construction throughout. This provides the best value and service life.

Difficult to Clean Design

Some contemporary toilet designs sacrifice ease of cleaning for unique shapes and silhouettes:

  • Narrow bowl rim – For a sleek look, some toilets have a very narrow rim. But this makes reaching the interior with a brush difficult.
  • Obstructed surfaces – Odd ridges, lips, or setbacks on the bowl block access for thorough scrubbing and disinfecting.
  • Small tank lid – Toilet tanks with a tiny opening restrict hand and brush access for cleaning the interior.
  • Grooved surfaces – While grooves may look interesting, they inevitably collect grime that is tough to remove completely.
  • Joint lips – Any lip or edge between the tank and bowl catches dirt. These awkward areas are key infection zones.

Toilets with lots of hard-to-reach spots can allow mold and bacteria to flourish. Seek uncomplicated designs that make cleaning easy.

Inadequate Warranty

Most major home fixtures like faucets and garbage disposals come with at least a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty. But some toilet brands offer only a 90-day warranty. This short coverage Often proves inadequate.

Legitimate defects may not become apparent within just 90 days of installation. Manufacturing flaws that lead to part failures, leaking, bowl cracking, etc. can arise well after 3 months of use.

Pay close attention to the warranty provided. Seek out brands that provide at least 1-year coverage for functional components like the flush mechanism, valves, seals, and porcelain integrity. This gives you suitable protection against premature failures.

Difficult DIY Installation

Installing a new toilet on your own can save $200 or more in labor charges. But some toilets have installation quirks that make DIY replacement very problematic:

  • Non-standard bowl shapes – Odd oblong, triangular, or rounded bowls may not align with the flange holes from your old toilet.
  • No mounting holes – Some models rely on mounting brackets instead of bolts through the base. This stability is sub-par.
  • ** Heavy and bulky** – One-piece and wall-hung toilets often weigh well over 100 lbs. They become unmanageable for one person to handle and position.
  • Complex tank internals – Toilets focused more on appearance often have a convoluted tank interior assembly. This frustrates DIY repairs.
  • Proprietary parts – Brand-specific designs may require ordering parts from the manufacturer. Generic components won’t fit.

Stick with a traditional two-piece toilet with simple bowl contours and basic tank components. This allows hassle-free DIY installation and repairs.

Pressure-Assist Flushing

Pressure-assisted flushing uses compressed air in the tank to provide a turbo-charged flush. However, this non-standard technology has some inherent drawbacks:

  • Noisy operation – Releasing high-pressure air creates loud sounds each time the toilet is flushed. This bothers many homeowners.
  • Limited tank space – Much of the tank interior gets occupied by the pressure vessel, leaving little room for extra flush water.
  • Frequent tank refill – The violent flushing action siphons out all the tank water with each flush. The toilet must refill more often.
  • Few repairs options – The pressure vessel contains proprietary components. Only the original manufacturer provides replacements parts.
  • Higher energy use – Electrically-powered compressor pumps that generate the tank pressure add to your utility costs.

Unless you have problematic drain lines beyond the toilet, avoid pressure-assist models. Standard gravity-based flushing is quieter and more reliable.

Excessive Water Usage

With concerns about water conservation growing, toilets with wasteful water usage are problematic:

  • High-volume flush – Avoid any models still rated at 3.5 gallons per flush. Current standard toilets use 1.6 gpf or less.
  • Frequent double flushing – Poor flush performance requiring two flushes to clear the bowl doubles water usage.
  • Constant tank refilling – Faulty flapper valves that allow the tank to repeatedly refill waste water.
  • Leaking components – Leaks in tank fittings, the valve, or seals results in hundreds of gallons of wasted water.
  • No low-flow option – Dual flush toilets without at least a 1 gpf mode for liquid waste remove too much water.

Carefully research the typical gallons per flush for any toilet model you are considering. Also make sure it performs waste removal efficiently to avoid frequent re-flushing.

Short People Design

Standard toilet bowl height is around 15 inches – but some models are even taller. This causes problems for users of smaller stature:

  • Difficult sitting down/standing – Excess bowl height makes it hard for those with mobility issues or arthritis to sit down or stand up from the toilet.
  • Straining and discomfort – Overly tall bowls force shorter users into an uncomfortable hunched position. This strains muscles during use.
  • Safety hazards – Elderly or disabled users forced to reach excessively high for standard toilets are at greater risk for falls and injuries.
  • Poor hygiene – Insufficient thigh support on tall toilets causes shorter users to hover over the seat. This leads to urine spray messes.

Seek out compact elongated toilet bowls offering chair-height seating 12-14 inches above the floor. This provides optimal ergonomics for users of all sizes.

Summary of Features to Avoid

When selecting your next toilet, steer clear of the following problematic features to ensure the best functionality and value:

  • One-piece construction – Heavy, hard to install, limited styles
  • Dual-flush mechanisms – Higher clog risk and repair costs
  • Touchscreen controls – Prone to failure with no manual override
  • Complicated bowl contours – Difficult to clean and clog-prone
  • Padded seats – Trap bacteria and odors
  • Obstructed trapway designs – Cause poor flushing and clogs
  • Low bowl water volume – Exposes wastes and allows odors
  • Concealed internal traps – Limit maintenance access
  • Weak construction – Leads to cracks, leaks, and early failure
  • Hard-to-reach cleaning surfaces – Allow buildup of bacteria and grime
  • Inadequate warranty coverage – Fails to protect against early defects
  • Difficult DIY installation – Non-standard shapes and heavy units
  • Pressure-assist flushing – Very noisy and may require frequent repairs
  • Excessive water usage – Avoid outdated 3.5 gpf models
  • Tall bowl height – Creates difficulties for shorter users

Choosing a toilet with simple, proven technology and durable construction ensures reliable performance for years. Prioritize practical factors like bowl size, comfortable seat height, powerful flush, and ease of cleaning when shopping for your new commode.

Frequently Asked Questions About Buying a New Toilet

What are the main types of toilets available?

The most common toilet types are:

  • Two-piece – Separate tank mounts on the bowl via a gasketed connection. Offers wider style selection and easier installation.
  • One-piece – Tank and bowl fused into single porcelain unit. Limited style options but seamless look. Difficult for DIY install.
  • Wall-mount – Bowl mounts directly to wall. Tank hardware concealed inside wall cavity. Saves floor space but very tricky installation.
  • Compact/mini – Smaller dimensions ideal for powder rooms but reduced bowl room is problematic.

Two-piece is generally the most practical and economical option. One-piece looks more modern, while wall-mount saves space.

How much does a new toilet cost?

Average costs:

  • Basic models – $100-250
  • Mid-range models – $250-350
  • High-end models – $350-600+

Budget-priced toilets have lower quality components that tend to require repairs sooner. Spending $250-350 gets far better durability and performance. High-end designer toilets are largely decorative rather than functional upgrades.

What are the different toilet bowl shapes?

Common toilet bowl shapes include:

  • Round – Compact but smaller seating surface area
  • Elongated – Oval shape offers more room and comfort
  • Compact elongated – Shorter but maximizes limited space

Elongated bowls are preferred for residential bathrooms. The extra room accommodates all users. Round