Selecting The Perfect Toilet
It has been referred to as the lieu, the throne, the john, the pot, and less favorable terms. By most it is known simply as the toilet; a modern convenience often taken for granted. Before the days of indoor plumbing, the call of nature necessitated a trip to a small outdoor shanty appropriately known as an “outhouse.” Neither of us is old enough to have ever used an outhouse. We are certain, however, that some of our readers have vivid memories of those days.
Where most homes were only equipped with one outhouse, it is not unusual to find two or more toilets in today’s homes. And, according to real estate and remodeling industry statistics, a bathroom addition to a one bathroom home is rated as one of the most cost effective and comfort enhancing home improvements.
The bathroom has evolved from being simply a necessary convenience to a venue for homeowners to express their desire for heightened comfort and decorating flair. A tub, toilet and sink remain standard equipment in most bathrooms. However, today’s bathrooms boast larger, more luxurious tubs, oversized stand-alone showers, double sinks and stylish toilets.
Most design-conscious homeowners are opting for color-coordinated plumbing fixtures that incorporate a shared style. Plumbing fixture manufactures refer to these as “suites.” Each of the plumbing fixtures in a suite contains a design element that is common to all of the others. For example, the pedestal supporting a lavatory and the base of a toilet can share the same design. The same can be true for the shape of the lavatory and the shape of the tub. The goal is to create a bathroom that appears less cluttered and more appealing. Layout, style and color are a few of the most effective means to accomplish this.
Anyone who has shopped for a toilet lately no doubt knows that the task is not as simple as one might think. Toilets come in more shapes, sizes and styles than ever before. Accordingly, you can pay under a hundred dollars or well over a thousand dollars for a toilet depending upon what your needs and budget dictate.
One element that has great impact on the price and appearance is the number of pieces. In days gone by, toilets consisted of two pieces—a tank (mounted high on the wall above the toilet) and a bowl that was bolted to the floor. A brass pipe traveling from the bottom of the tank to the top of the bowl transported water creating a flushing action. The modern version of this toilet has no trace of the brass pipe that previously connected the two components. What’s more, the tank has moved from its previous location high on the wall to rest snuggly upon the bowl. This is referred to as a “close coupled” freestanding toilet. There are many variations of the two-piece toilet.
For those with a bigger budget, the one-piece model is a favorite. In contrast to the two-piece model, the tank and the bowl are united to create one piece. One-piece toilets typically sport a lower profile and contain an elaborate flush mechanism that produces a more quiet flush.
Insignificant as it may seem to some, the shape of the bowl is another design element. A round bowl is the standard, less expensive choice. An elongated bowl is two to three inches longer than the round bowl creating an oval-like shape. The elongated bowl is a popular choice for people with looking for that added bit of design flair. An elongated bowl is generally more expensive than a round bowl and is not always an option with some models.
Bowl height, the distance from the floor to the top of the toilet bowl, is an element of growing concern especially for the older set. Studies by plumbing fixture manufacturers demonstrate that lower bowl height can be difficult and dangerous for people with back and leg problems or other physical ailments. In fact, some manufacturers classify their products as “elderly” or “handicapped.”
An alternative to the traditional freestanding toilet is the wall-hung model. Instead of being anchored to the floor, the wall-hung model attaches to a metal plate that is affixed to the wall framing. This configuration is rare for residential use, but is the primary installation method for commercial restrooms. The primary advantage of the wall-hung model is that it makes housekeeping around and below the toilet a breeze. Also, a wall-hung toilet can be mounted at virtually any height to suit the specific needs of the owner. On the other hand, the plumbing for a wall-hung toilet is slightly more complex and wall-hung models can be considerably more expensive.
The building code requires that a toilet have a minimum of fifteen inches of clearance from its center to a permanent structure at either side. Also, the code requires a minimum clearance of twenty-four inches from the front of the bowl to an adjacent structure. We suggest that, whenever possible, these minimum requirements be exceeded to heighten comfort. Where space is at a premium, a corner toilet may be the perfect answer. A corner toilet has a right angle at the rear of the tank that allows it to be positioned snuggly into a corner without being cramped.
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