Need advice for new toilet, reviews are inconsistent with needed info

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Williamsem, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Williamsem

    Williamsem New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    NY
    I'm planning a kitchen and powder room remodel. I need to gather all materials by the middle of April. I'm finding researching which toilet to get is much harder than the kitchen stuff due to low number of reviews, large number of models, and probably my priorities.

    So I came to the experts. This forum has been recommended several times over at Gardenweb, my usual resource.

    We remodeled the full bath last year. While I don't have any issues with performance of the Kohler we installed, I do find the comfort height, well, uncomfortable. My feet don't rest on the floor completely, so I find it uncomfortable to sit on for extended periods.

    Needs
    - must flush well enough to clean the bowl after use, I have never had to brush each time and I don't intend to start (have read about several models having this problem)
    - must be comfortable to sit on for 20-30 minutes due to a GI medical issue (within reason, of course, I know it's not a chair)
    - standard 12 inch rough in

    Wants
    - dual flush
    - skirted
    - easy off lid for cleaning, though that can be switched out after if needed
    - floor mount

    No preference for round/elongated or 1/2 piece models. I'd really prefer to stay below $350, but that's negotiable.

    Thoughts/suggestions? We will be installing new glue down cork tiles, so footprint is not important.
  2. GoKohlerGo

    GoKohlerGo Brand New Plumber

    Messages:
    67
    Location:
    Michigan
    I would recommend the Kohler Persuade Circ toilet. It is a 2-piece toilet and is skirted. It has very good flushing performance and is a little bit under $350. Meets all of your expectations. Hope I helped!
    --GoKohlerGo
  3. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,894
    Location:
    New York, NY
    The Toto Aquia and the Toto Maris are both dual-flush, skirted toilets. Both will have good bowl wash.

    In the Aquia line, there is a one-piece and two two-piece toilets. Doing some price research, the street price of both models of Aquia two-piece is in your price range. CST416M is called the Aquia II. It is 1.6gpf/.9gpf on the dual flush. It does not have the Sanagloss glaze which adds a little more resistance against staining and leftovers. The Aquia II is a washdown flush. The Aquia II is not Universal Height: The rim is 15.375" above the floor; the recommended seat adds an inch. (CST412M, called just the Aquia, IS universal height, at 16.125 off the floor plus an inch for the recommended seat, so make note of that.)

    The Maris is a 2-piece toilet that uses only 1.28gpf/.9gpf on the dual-flush. It has Sanagloss. It uses a double-cyclone flush, for ease in cleaning and good bowl rinse. However, it IS universal height, at 16.125" off the floor plus 1.125" for the recommended seat.

    You will find that toilets of the last 15 years are not as good with bowl wash as the 3-5 gallon per flush monsters. That said, these Totos clean the bowl pretty well.

    These toilets have recommended Toto seats, the SS114 being the primary one. However, the seat is sold separately, so you can choose any seat that fits on this toilet's standard bolt holes. So if you want to put a Bemis/Mayfair seat with the easy-clean top-mount hinges on these toilets, you can do so. (I think you are referring to the seat when you say lid, correct?)

    The Kohler Comfort Height toilets have a higher seat position than the Toto Universal Height toilets. The Totos are usually 16.125 (plus about an inch for the seat) from floor to top of bowl, while the Kohlers are about 1/2" more, at 16.5". That half-inch can be significant in how the seating position feels, so maybe you could get away with a Toto Universal Height. However, if you go with the Aquia II, which is not Universal Height, it will be more than an inch lower than your Kohler, at 15.375" from floor to top of bowl.

    Generally, the vast majority of posters here advocate for Toto toilets; you just got the one guy above who routinely says that he "hates" Toto and loves Kohler. But that's the fun of a forum. After my experience with a poorly-performing Kohler a few years ago (with a different flush system than they use on most of their toilets now), I vowed never to purchase another one again because I couldn't believe that they actually put that hunk of junk on the market, and tried to sell it as a good-performing toilet. When the MAP rating (flushing ability) tests came in, the pathetic Kohler I had came in in the low 200s, as compared to the Totos that were routinely flushing in the 800 range. That's only one measure, of course, and one that's widely abused in marketing, but the numbers were consistent with my experience, and it was just shameful that they ever sold that product. Hence my antipathy. Fool me once and all that...

    I have since aquired 3 Totos, two Toto Drake toilets and one Toto Carlyle II toilet. None are dual-flush, but the Carlyle II, a skirted toilet, has the Double-Cyclone flush and Sanagloss, and we like it. We also love our Drakes, because they look nice and are a great value.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  4. Williamsem

    Williamsem New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    NY
    Thanks so much for the quick replies.

    I have been reading some more about the recommended models. It seems that Kohler parts are an issue when replacements are needed. As I have replaced parts many times on the current model we have in the powder room, I would prefer something that I can get parts for locally when needed. I'm crossing my fingers with the Kohler in the main bath, I was not aware of the issue before, never occurred to me to ask. I also had a very complicated experience attempting to install a Kohler suite in the main bathroom, which another GW forum member also had, and ended up returning it all due to difficulty with the complicated parts structure they have in their product lines.

    I also noticed skirted toilets are slightly more difficult to install. Does this make routine parts replacements more difficult? I want to be able to do routine flapper, etc replacements myself. While I love the look and presumed ease of cleaning, the skirted base is the easiest of the "wants" to give up if needed.

    The Toto Aquia line is one that mentions quite a bit having to clean residue after most uses. However I noticed reading here that that issue is not mentioned much, and people seems to have great success with them. Is this a function of needing to adjust habits to the newer water efficient toilets? If so, I'd love to hear how to avoid that particular problem. When making repeated urgent visits, that's literally the last thing I need to worry about, and I'd rather pay more if needed than have any doubts about cleaning ability.

    If someone can put the cleansing issue to rest, I'd love to get this settled and move on to obsessing about the next item on the list. I love reading all the insight here. Thanks so much for sharing, and recommending products to check out.
  5. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,894
    Location:
    New York, NY
    The dual-flush toilets necessarily have a more-complicated flush mechanism. Most Toto gravity toilets (Drake, Drake II, Ultramax, etc.) all use a standard Korky flapper and standard fill valve. As Terry says, he can be prepared to fix almost any Toto by carrying a single flapper (Korky 3060BP) and a single fill valve (Korky 528MP) on the truck. Both of those parts are available at any Lowe's and the flapper is available at any HD, and, of course, online and at a lot of local hardware stores, like Ace.

    Not so much with the dual-flush. On the Aquia, you replace a rubber disk. You can do it yourself pretty-easily, but the repair part isn't as easy to find locally. Of course, you can just order a few in advance from Toto and throw them in a drawer for when you need them.

    Even though the Maris uses a handle rather than pushbuttons, it still has a more-complicated flush valve than just a flapper. Like the Aquia, you twist-to-unlock the mechanism, turn it over, and swap out the rubber disk.

    Again, if you stock a couple of the seals, it shouldn't be a big deal. And the fill valve on both should be replaceable with the Korky 528MP (Silver-capped Maxperformance) fill valve from Korky, or the Toto TSU99A.X Universal Fill Valve (available at plumbing supply stores or from Toto), which is almost identical to the 528MP and is also made by Korky for Toto. Both are very easy to replace, generally with no tools required.

    As to bowl-cleaning, it kind of depends upon what is usually deposited, if you will. Some stuff is stickier than others. That said, the 5-gallon toilet we have doesn't clean any better than our Drakes do. Sanagloss helps with this, but it's no panacea.

    Bottom line is if you want dual-flush, then you're going to end up with a skirted toilet. If you want non-Universal-height, then you want an Aquia II, and that doesn't come in Sanagloss. and it has a washdown flush, which means a smaller water spot than a Gmax or Double-cyclone flush, because the sides of a washdown-flush toilet necessarily have to be more vertical. However, you are dumping a lot of water on the little pond in the bowl, so it should do a decent cleaning job in most spots.

    If you look at the Aquia review thread (click the green box above, scroll down to the Aquia and click on "comments"), Terry indicates in a post about a year ago that he has sold well over 300 of them, and has less than 1/2 of one percent returns. He says there that it's one of the most-trouble-free and most-liked toilets he has sold, even when compared with the Original Drake (which is the gold standard of toilets as far as user satisfaction and reliability goes). That's a pretty-good testament to the toilet, but with all toilets, you're unlikely ever to have one that never ever needs a brush.

    You can look at the various flushes on youtube. I would use the amateur videos rather than the professional ones, as they are often more-revealing. Here's one:
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2014
  6. Williamsem

    Williamsem New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    NY
    Thanks, wjcandee! I had not really given much though to repair difficulty with dual flush, I just decided I wanted it as that's the most used toilet. You would think I'd eventually learn investigate first, but apparently not. I can handle having an extra ring or two around. At the moment I keep a fill assembly tucked away, I've replaced it at least 4 times in this model. Granted I could have probably just replaced a piece here and there, but for the cost and effort just plopping a whole new one in was easier for me. If I can read up online, I'll be fine. My DIY motto is "first do no harm, and have a backup plan/phone number". I'll generally try the repair if I'm pretty sure I won't make things worse, lol!

    Ok, I think I can manage to find Toto parts easily. Now to settle the flushing/cleansing issue...thoughts? Price is negotiable to some extent, $350 would just be the ideal breakpoint, not set in stone.
  7. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,894
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Here's my feeling on the flushing issue: if you run that video above, you'll see the advantages and disadvantages of a washdown flush. Disadvantage: more bowl area uncovered by water when using the toilet. Advantage: ALL the water used in the flush swirls around the bowl before going down, because there is no siphon jet in the bottom. One way most modern toilets get power in the flush is with a jet of water in the bottom that bypasses the bowl and is used to push the stuff down the trapway. That water is then not available for bowl rinse. With a washdown model, all the water goes through the bowl, and you can see all the swirling and stuff that happens in the video above. That should be enough to handle a fair amount of spatter, for example.

    Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. Terry has a broad array of customers, from all walks of life. True, those who want a dual-flush are probably a little-more eco-conscious, and perhaps a little more forgiving of their water-saving toilet. But for that toilet, with a big number of installed toilets out there, to generate as many compliments and as few complaints as Terry apparently has had speaks well of the toilet.

    One other thought: any mechanism more complicated than a flapper could be prone to failure, but the Aquia seems to have a very robust mechanism that doesn't break. AS had failures with their original champion flush valve -- a disaster leading to a silent recall and a replacement of all the valves for free with two successive design changes. Costco has had it with the mechanism on their Water Ridge dual flush -- constant complaints about it breaking. On the Aquia -- nothing. The design of that mechanism, on a large installed base of toilets over several years now, has held up and stood the test of time. So I'd be inclined to just go for it on the Aquia II (CST416M). You'd get the non-universal height, the skirt, the dual-flush, and a pretty decent bowl rinse. All for a street price (in cotton white or colonial white) around what you're looking to pay (more exotic colors cost a bit more). (Shop around at various plumbing supplies, and maybe even quote them an online price, and you should be able to get a decent deal. Prices vary really-widely from place to place. One way is just to call and ask for a quote on the exact model number and color that you want, and let them know that you're ready to order it today if the price is right.) For the comfy seat, that SS114 Toto plastic seat is a very nice one, as is the ss204, which will also fit this toilet but is a little pricier. But it wouldn't hurt to do a little online research on seats, because most of them will fit just fine (although the Toto-designed seats look pretty nifty on this toilet).

    Good luck, and let us know if you have more questions and how you make out.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  8. Williamsem

    Williamsem New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    NY
    Just wanted to update in case anyone is wondering. I ended up ordering a Vespin II. I had lingering doubts about the small water spot and gravity flush so I kept looking just in case I found another option. The Vespin II provided a larger water spot, and I read lots of good things about the dual cyclone system. Plus one reviewer posted a great review about how it handled his Crohn's issues very well (see bowl listing).

    It's going to save a ton of water compared to the current toilet, so I'll be happy with that and try the dual flush next time! It should arrive in another 10 days or so, but install will be the week of 5/13.

    Thank you for all the great info, it was very helpful!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2013
  9. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,894
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Thanks for the follow-up! I always like to hear how people use our opinions. Let us know how you like it once it is in!
  10. benlinus

    benlinus New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    I ll suggest you to have Rak Series 600 Close Coupled WC Pack With Seat,The close coupled WC projects from the wall by only 595mm., This really looks fantastic. Here i'm gonna share a picture of it . I'm sure you will really like it. close coupled wc-228x228.jpg
  11. Williamsem

    Williamsem New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    NY
    So now that I've had the Vespin II for several weeks I wanted to stop by for another update. I did an incredible amount of research for this kitchen/powder room project and found so much useful feedback online, though it was frustrating not to hear how things ended up.

    We love the Vespin so far. No clogs. No streaks. No issues at all to report. I was somewhat hesitent to really test it out at first, but more recently I've given in to convenience as it's on the first floor. I've been pleasantly surprised with the bowl rinse. Haven't had any issues, even with the concerns mentioned above. I've even noticed fewer double flushes are needed than with the old toilet, even though the old one used more water.

    Overall, I'd recommend the Vespin without hesitation.

    I am a little concerned about cleaning. Are regular toilet brushes considered "soft nylon" brushes? All the ones I see feel pretty stiff and I don't want to scratch the Sanagloss. Some mold spots and water stains need a little effort, so I want to check before things get too far.
  12. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,894
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Liquid dish detergent and a typical plastic-bristle brush are fine. Works great for us.

    Thanks for the follow-up! It makes participating in this forum more fun when we get to hear (good or bad) how our suggestions and discussions turned out.
  13. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,125
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    For 1-1/2 years I was emptying an Ileostomy, which needed good rinsing for the bowl. All of the TOTO II series were doing a wonderful job at that. For that short period of time it was like carrying around my own "testing method".
    Not all bowls rinse that well I've found. Sometimes what was provided at the clinics were poor excuses for those visiting them with problems.

    Your standard toilet brush and liquid bowl cleaner work fine. I have the Ultramax Sanagloss version downstairs installed in 2006 and the bowl still shines.
    I also have a Vespin II.
  14. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,894
    Location:
    New York, NY
    You're an admirable guy, Terry; you talk about your experiences like they were no big deal. So refreshing to a guy like me who lives in The Land Of The Whiners.

    In any event, I am always intrigued how some highly-talented professionals like doctors, lawyers, chefs, etc., are poorly-served when it comes to handling what a restaurant calls the "front of the house". My favorite doctor has the meanest receptionist, but he doesn't see it because she's nice to him and very loyal. I know he loses business because of it.

    Similarly, these same folks have left it to some architect or tradesman to design their space, and therefore unless somebody tells them, things get done without taking into account matters that any doctor would address if he bothered to give it a moment's thought. I know that in my business I would want to know if something was happening that I was missing or would do differently, as I'm sure you would, so I always make a point of nicely-mentioning these issues to folks when I see them, constructively, peer-to-peer. About half the time, I am ignored, and half the time I am enthusiastically-thanked for the insight.

    At places like large hospitals or chain hospitals, they often pay somebody to think of these kind of things and make sure they are handled properly, and it shows.

    Still, it is surprising that a clinic that specializes in gastrointestinal matters wouldn't give more thought to the facilities offered to their patients... Obviously, they are just not thinking...
  15. Williamsem

    Williamsem New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    NY
    Agreed, very much appreciated! I would guess it's a little less shocking to share that kind of stuff on a forum like than than some other places though!

    My GI doc has an office in a building where you have to get the key from the receptionist and wander down the hall to the facilities. o_O
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