The Complete Guide To Choosing The Right Toilet

Buying a new toilet is a big decision that will affect the décor of your entire bathroom for years to come.

The toilet is one of the most frequently used fixtures in your home. Heck, you might even be on it now! In this post, we will break down all the toilet options available to you in 2021. 

The toilet has gone through a massive style makeover in recent years.

We'll cover:

  • The types of toilets
  • Different pan shapes
  • Water efficiency
  • Installation costs
  • And important considerations

1. One-Piece VS Two-Piece Toilets

The majority of the toilets used in Australian homes are what's known as two-piece toilets. This means that the bowl and the tank (also known as “The Cistern”) are separated. 

If a toilet isn't a two-piece, it's a one-piece model and there’s no separation because the tank and the bowl are molded together.

One-piece and Two-piece toilet comparison

Figure: One-piece and Two-piece toilet comparison (source: bestflushingtoilet.org)

Two-piece toilets are:

  • Cheaper
  • Offer more design options as the cistern and bowl can be different designs and colours
  • Easier to ship
  • Can be both floor or wall-mounted

There are a couple of disadvantages however as two-piece toilets tend to be harder to clean and the installation cost is greater.

​If you opt for a one-piece toilet, you'll be greeted with a couple of advantages:

  • Easier to clean
  • Faster and cheaper installation
  • A sleeker design

Of course, there are a couple of drawbacks which you should be aware of. Namely, they can only be floor-mounted and tend to be more expensive.

2. Floor-Mounted VS Wall-Mounted Toilets

You also have the option of choosing between the traditional floor-mounted toilet, or the more progressive wall-mounted toilet.

The traditional floor-mounted toilet sits on the surface of your bathroom, where the entire toilet is visible. It’s the toilet we grew up with, and It is a cheaper option, both in terms of price and installation cost.

Wall-mounted toilets take a newer and more stylistic approach to the dunny, and are suited for modern homes.

In this wall-mounted design, the cistern is installed inside of a wall and just the toilet bowl sticks out. The flush buttons are embedded in the wall like a light switch. It is a minimalist design and gives off a sleeker appearance. A very fashionable toilet, but a comparatively expensive option, both in terms of unit price and installation cost.

Figure: Floor-Mounted Toilet (Left) vs Wall-Mounted Toilet (Right)

3. The 4 Types Of Toilets

Whilst toilets are either floor or wall-mounted, one-piece or two-piece, they can be further broken down into 4 key designs or types. It's best you are aware of them since most wholesalers of toilets in Australia primarily sell these 4 types.

A) Close Coupled Toilet Suites

In this design, there is no gap between the cistern and the toilet pan, creating a streamlined look. Such a compact build is great for tighter spaces and makes for easy installation. These toilets are generally taller than other designs, so ensure you take the correct measurements of your bathroom before purchasing one.

B) Connector Toilet Suites

In connector toilets, there is a gap between the cistern and toilet pan which is connected via a pipe. This feature means that the pan can be further situated away from the cistern. The piping can either be concealed or exposed. This level of flexibility is great if you are not 100% sure of the dimensions required for the toilet. The distance of the pan from the cistern can be adjusted upon installation to fit perfectly into your space.

C) Back To Wall Toilet Suites

Wall faced or back to wall toilet suites offer no gap between the cistern and pan. As the name suggests, this type of toilet sits flush against the wall making a contemporary and sleek look that hides all the pipes. On top of that, it's also easier to clean.

D) In Wall Cistern Toilet Suites

Again, pretty self-explanatory. The cistern is hidden behind the bathroom wall, ceiling, or piece of furniture like the vanity. If you are looking for a modern, minimalistic look, this type of toilet is a fantastic option and also saves a decent amount of space. The concealed plumbing will usually be accessible by a panel.

4. Choosing The Correct Toilet Pan

The pan is the bottom part of the toilet. It is essentially the 'bowl' part of the toilet and located directly under the seat. The trap is part of the pan and disposes of toilet waste.

There are 3 basic pan options to choose from.

  • An S trap pan, where the pipe is connected to the sewer through the floor. This is the most common pan type used in Australia.
  • A P trap pan, where the pipe connects the pan to the sewer through the wall. This is the most preferable option to go for if you have a wall-mounted toilet.
  • A Skew trap pan, where the waste exits through both sides of the toilet pan. This design is only good if you have a very small or tight bathroom design.

Figure: S-Trap, P-Trap and Skew-Trap Installments (source: expertplumbing.com.au)

5. Determining Your Setout

You'll notice that P or S traps always come with a setout measurement. This is the distance from the wall to the centre of the waste outlet for an S trap or the distance from the floor to centre of the outlet if it's a P trap.

An S trap has a typical setout of 140mm - 165mm, whilst a P trap is 185mm.

6. Your Inlet Type

The inlet is responsible for bringing water into your toilet's cistern.

Inlets are either back or top (located in the cistern) or a bottom inlet (located next to the toilet pan)

If you're looking to replace your existing toilet, you'll save money in plumbing costs by matching your existing plumbing system - both setout and inlet type - with that of your new toilet.

So for example, if your current toilet uses a back inlet with a P trap setout of 185mm, it'd be a good idea to get a toilet with the same specifications so you can minimise any changes to your existing plumbing. Despite this, you can purchase a toilet with different specifications, but just expect to pay a higher price during installation.

7. Choosing The Flush System

Once you have decided on a design and style, it is time to choose the flush system for your toilet.

Many homeowners aren’t putting enough thought into choosing the correct flush system, which is unfortunate because different flush systems have varying water efficiency ratings.

Here are some of the most common types of flush systems that you will see.

Gravity Flush System

Gravity Flush Systems are the most common flush system. The system works by dropping water from the tank to create flush pressure.

The pressure then forces the waste out of the toilet bowl and into the trapway. This system relies solely on the water pressure. For efficient flushing, the tank needs to be filled to the top, so that the water has more velocity, and creates more pressure.

These types of toilets are quiet, easy, and cheap to repair, and it's pretty easy to find replacements if something breaks.

On the flip side, this type of flush system is prone to clogging and slow to fill.

Pressure Assisted Flush System

These flush systems were mainly used for commercial spaces. They are what you might see at an airport or on a train. However, the technology has become much more affordable in recent years. So, they are becoming very common in homes as well.

Pressure Assisted Flush Systems include a compression tank and a water tank. The compression tank creates additional pressure for the flush, so it gives a  more powerful flush while using less water.

This flush system benefits from a strong flush and the tank refills faster. On the downside, they can be very noisy and installation may be expensive.

Dual Flush System

These days most toilets are dual flush systems and have two different buttons, one for solids and one for liquids.

Others come with one button that has two sides for each type of waste. These systems drop different amounts of water to create variable flush pressure, depending on the type of waste you choose to flush.

Liquid waste does not require much water or pressure to be flushed, so only half the tank is dropped.

Solid wastes require a much stronger pressure and water to be pushed down the trapway and into the sewer, so the entire tank is dropped.

By giving the flusher a choice, this system can efficiently manage water consumption. It is a smart approach to flushing and is water efficient which is good for the environment.

In fact, the most efficient dual flush systems use about 4.5L for a full flush and only 3L for a half flush.

Because of the greater moving parts, installation costs can be higher than other flush systems and likewise, repairs can be expensive.

Tips and Tricks To Buying Your Toilet

Take Measurements

Before you commit to a specific design or style of toilet, think about how well it will fit into your bathroom. It is very important that you take the measurements of the spot where you plan to fit the toilet. The last thing you want is to buy a toilet that’s too big for the space, but there are other dimensions to consider.

Consider the toilet height...

When buying a new toilet, you're not just looking for style and design, but also for comfort. When it comes to comfort, the bowl height is very important.

The standard toilet bowl sits at 38.1cm or 15 inches above the floor.

However, the so-called “comfort height”, or as we like to call it the goldilocks zone, is 17 inches or 43.18cm. The problem with a lot of small form wall-mounted toilets, excessively cheap ones especially, is they put you too close to the water, and you get splashback.

Higher toilet bowls are also very good for your knees and back and are advantageous for the elderly and people with mobility issues.

The best idea would be to sit on the model before buying it to make sure that it suits your needs.

If you have a lot of small children in the house, you might have to go for a lower-height toilet bowl.

So, it is always better to understand the needs of your household, because the so-called “comfort height” might not be specifically comfortable for your household members.

Toilet Seats

Toilet seats are perhaps the most important and often forgetful part of a toilet. It is also the part that gets damaged very easily. The most recent trend in the market is the soft-closing lids. Nobody likes the slamming sound of a standard toilet lid in the middle of the night. So, soft-closing lids are a quieter solution, and they are also very durable compared to standard toilet lids. There are also smart toilet seats that automatically opens when someone comes near and closes when someone leaves the toilet. However, these are a more expensive option.

Think About Water Consumption

Choosing a toilet that has a high Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) rating, will not just save your money but also will reduce your environmental impact. A 3-star rating means that the toilet will use six litres for a full flush. However, a 4-star rating means that the toilet will use only four and a half litres for a full flush. In some local councils, there is a minimum WELS rating toilet that you are required to install. So, always remember to see the WELS rating of the toilet before making your purchase.

Consider The Cost

It might sound like the most obvious thing to remember, but try to make a cost-conscious decision. It does not necessarily mean going for the cheaper option. Consider the warranty of the toilet, its installation cost, repair, and replacement parts cost. It is often better to go for a relatively expensive option if it will likely reduce the cost of future repairs and replacements. Remember that toilets are a long-term investment, so it is important to invest wisely.

Final Thoughts

Buying a toilet is definitely not a simple task, but you can make a well-informed decision by following our detailed purchase guide. It is very important that you consider your household needs and decide upon a specific budget before making the final purchase decision.

The toilets we sell here at Sydney Home Centre are both high in quality and have modern features like soft close toilet seats. We have toilets to suit any budget. Browse our selection and feel free to call us on 02 9707 1466 so we can further assist you.