Toilet talk – a guide to selecting the right throne

White toilet, a bathtub, and a vanity.

Introduction: Choosing Your Porcelain Partner

When it comes to home improvements, selecting the right toilet—your porcelain partner—is a decision that combines personal comfort with functionality and style. It's a staple in any household, a throne that rules one of the most intimate spaces of your home. This guide will navigate you through the myriad of options, from the classic to the cutting-edge, ensuring you make a choice that's both savvy and satisfying.

The Basics of Bowl Selection

Before diving into the sea of shapes, sizes, and styles, understanding the basics of toilet design is crucial. Toilets come in two primary configurations: the one-piece and the two-piece. The former offers a modern look and is easier to clean, while the latter typically has a lower price point and a traditional aesthetic.

Water Efficiency: The Flush of the Future

Water efficiency isn't just good for the environment—it's good for your wallet, too. Modern toilets offer a variety of flushing systems designed to conserve water without compromising performance. Look for models with the WaterSense label, indicating they meet EPA criteria for efficiency and effectiveness.

High-Tech Toilets: Features for the 21st Century

Today's toilets are not just about the basics. High-tech features like bidet functions, seat warmers, and automatic lids offer a luxury experience that can transform your daily routine. Although they come at a premium, these features represent the pinnacle of personal hygiene and convenience in modern bathroom design.

white background to emphasize its sleek lines and modern design.

Flushing Out the Facts: A Comparative Look at UK Flushing Systems

When choosing a flushing system for your UK home, it's important to consider not just personal preference but also performance and water efficiency. The following table provides a detailed comparison of popular flushing systems in the UK, including their water usage and key benefits:

Flushing System TypeWater Usage Per FlushBenefits
Gravity-Flush5 litres (modern), 9 litres (older)Quiet, reliable, easy to repair, but prone to clogging
Pressure-Assisted3 to 6 litresPowerful flush, cleaner bowl, suitable for frequent use, but noisier
Dual-Flush2.6 to 4 litresEco-friendly, conserves water, customizable for different waste types
Double Cyclone/TornadoLess than traditional systemsEfficient, powerful cleaning, simple mechanism, but replacement parts may be challenging to find
Washdown FlushComparable to single flush systemsQuick flushing, less prone to clogging, but may leave skid marks
Rear OutletSimilar to standard systemsModern look, space-saving, powerful flush, but requires regular maintenance and prone to leaks
Composting ToiletNo water usageEnvironmentally sustainable, no water usage, transforms waste into compost

This guide aims to help you make an informed choice that balances environmental considerations with your specific needs and preferences.

The Throne's Aesthetics: Style Meets Function

When selecting your new toilet, aesthetics play an important role. The style of your toilet can impact the overall feel of your bathroom. Whether you're looking for something sleek and modern, or more traditional, there's a range of designs to suit every taste.

One-Piece vs. Two-Piece Toilets

One-piece toilets offer a modern look and have fewer crevices, making them easier to clean. They're often more expensive but can provide a streamlined look and save space.

Two-piece toilets, with a separate tank and bowl, are the more traditional and widely available option. They can be more cost-effective and easier to handle during installation since you can move the pieces separately.

Wall-hung and Corner Toilets

For smaller bathrooms, wall-hung toilets can be a godsend. They're mounted on the wall, allowing for adjustable height and easier floor cleaning. Corner toilets are another space-saving option, fitting neatly into a corner and opening up valuable floor space.

Smart Toilets: The Pinnacle of Personal Hygiene

Smart toilets bring the most advanced features to your bathroom. With customizable bidet functions, air dryers, heated seats, and even music, they offer the ultimate in comfort and cleanliness. Some even have self-cleaning features, making maintenance a breeze.

Choosing the Right Size and Height

Comfort is key when it comes to your toilet, so size and height are crucial. Standard toilets have a bowl height of around 15 inches, but taller "comfort height" models are around 17 to 19 inches high and can be more comfortable for adults and those with mobility issues.

Materials and Manufacturing Quality

The material from which your toilet is made will affect its longevity and appearance. Most toilets are ceramic, which is durable and easy to clean. Some premium models may have special coatings to resist stains and bacteria.

Price Range and Warranty

Toilets can range from under £100 for basic models to several thousand pounds for luxury units. It's important to balance your budget with the features and quality you need. Also, check the warranty — a good warranty can save you money and hassle in the long run.

The bathroom has a clean, minimalist aesthetic with neutral colors

Embracing Eco-Friendly Innovations: The Rise of Water-Efficient Toilets

In an era where sustainability is not just a buzzword but a lifestyle, choosing an eco-friendly toilet is a significant step toward water conservation and environmental responsibility. The market today offers a variety of options that cater to this green revolution, from low-flow models to high-efficiency toilets (HET) that are engineered to use significantly less water per flush.

Understanding Water Regulations and Standards

In the United Kingdom, water regulations for toilets differ slightly from those in the United States. The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 specify that the maximum flush volume for a toilet (WC pan) should not exceed 6 litres. Additionally, for toilets with dual flush systems, the lesser flush must not be greater than two-thirds of the full flush volume​.

For commercial settings, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) sets standards for toilet flush volumes. Most commercial toilets come with a standard dual flush volume, commonly 6/3 or 4.5/3 litres. BREEAM allocates up to 5 credits for achieving a 3-litre effective flush volume, with a sliding scale of credits based on decreasing flush volumes from 6 litres down to 3 litres.

These regulations and standards aim to promote water efficiency and conservation, a crucial aspect of environmental sustainability. While the specific numbers differ, the underlying principle of reducing water usage in toilet flushes is a shared goal in both the UK and the US.

The Technology Behind High-Efficiency Toilets

Toilets have come a long way from the traditional gravity-flush systems. The latest models incorporate advanced technologies:

  • Dual-Flush Mechanisms: This system gives the user a choice between a full or a reduced flush, depending on the waste type. It's a practical feature that can save thousands of gallons of water annually in a typical household.
  • Pressure-Assisted Flushing: Utilizing pressurized air to push water into the bowl, these toilets maximize the flush's effectiveness while minimizing water usage.
  • Tornado/Double Cyclone Flushing: A design that uses multiple nozzles to create a powerful vortex of water that cleans the bowl efficiently, these toilets are both water-wise and thorough in waste removal.

The Aesthetics of Eco-Friendly Toilets

Today's eco-friendly toilets are not just functional; they are also designed to enhance the bathroom's visual appeal. The sleek designs of modern toilets can complement any bathroom aesthetic from minimalist to luxury. Manufacturers are paying close attention to the form as much as the function, resulting in elegant fixtures that serve as a focal point in the bathroom.

Assessing Your Bathroom Space

When shopping for a new toilet, it's crucial to consider the size of your bathroom. For smaller spaces, wall-hung or corner toilets can be a boon, saving space without compromising on efficiency. For larger bathrooms, the size and shape of the toilet can afford more comfort and accessibility, with elongated bowls and higher seats being favourable options.

The Cost-Benefit Analysis of Eco-Friendly Toilets

While the initial cost of eco-friendly toilets may be higher than standard models, the long-term savings on water bills are considerable. Moreover, many local governments offer rebates and incentives for installing WaterSense-labeled toilets, further reducing the overall expense. It's a worthwhile investment that pays dividends to both the homeowner and the planet.

Personal Comfort and Hygiene

An often overlooked aspect of toilet selection is personal comfort and hygiene. Features such as bidet functions, self-cleaning surfaces, and antimicrobial glazes can elevate the user experience. These features, once considered luxury add-ons, are becoming increasingly mainstream, thanks to their convenience and hygiene benefits.

Installation and Maintenance Considerations

Installing a new toilet can be a DIY project, but it's important to understand the plumbing requirements and any potential modifications needed for eco-friendly models. Maintenance is also a key factor; high-efficiency toilets often have simpler mechanics, which can mean easier and less frequent repairs.

Final Touches: Enhancing Your Bathroom Experience

Selecting the right flushing system is a significant step, but the final touches are what truly complete your bathroom experience. Consider these elements:

  1. Toilet Seat Comfort: Choose a seat that complements the design and offers comfort. Soft-close seats prevent slamming.

  2. Efficient Accessories: Invest in high-quality, water-saving taps and showerheads.

  3. Aesthetic Appeal: Match the toilet's style with your bathroom's overall theme for a cohesive look.

  4. Eco-Friendly Products: Use environmentally friendly cleaning products to maintain your toilet.

  5. Regular Maintenance: Regular checks and maintenance ensure longevity and efficiency.

By paying attention to these final touches, your bathroom will not only be functional but also a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing space. Remember, the smallest details often make the biggest difference.

Final Thoughts: Sitting Pretty

Your toilet is an investment in your home's comfort and functionality. It's worth taking the time to research and select a model that fits your space, style, and needs. Whether you opt for a basic model or a high-tech toilet, remember that this humble throne can make a significant impact on your daily life. In the end, the right choice will bring a sense of satisfaction to a room that's often overlooked but always important. Here's to finding the perfect fit for your personal retreat — where you can sit back, relax, and let the cares of the day melt away.