Need toilet recommendation for a REALLY small powder room

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by CindyJ, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    We're in the beginning stages of three simultaneous bathroom remodeling projects. It's quite overwhelming, but for now my focus is on a powder room which my plumber says is the smallest powder room he's ever seen. It measures 43" x 51". We've found a small pedestal sink that will fit in okay, so the remaining (and bigger) challenge is finding the best toilet option.

    I've been considering Kohler's Santa Rosa Compact Elongated toilet, and I'd like to know if this is a good choice. The toilet is on the longer wall, which means that there's only 43" between the back wall and the opposite wall. The toilet is 27.5". I know that doesn't leave a whole lot of "knee room" but that's what I have to work with. Is the Santa Rosa a good quality toilet? And, is there another toilet I ought to consider?

    One more thing -- the flooring in that powder room will be pre-finished hardwood. Do I need to be concerned about condensation from the tank ruining the floor? Thanks for your advice!
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    Location:
    Yakima WA
    First, welcome to the forum. You may not always get the answer you're looking for, but we do try to provide honest and realistic answers to DIY questions. The Kohler line of toilet does not get very high marks from most of us. Kohler (and American Standard) at one time were state of the art toilets, but they have outsourced and/or merged their production and they quality has dropped considerably. The world's leading manufacturer of toilets today is Toto. Many of their models are made in the US, but their plants in other nations still maintain extremely high quality. You may view many of their models on this forum by following the link at the top of this page. The space specifications are included. Elongated toilets are by far the most preferred design, but you may be able to save a bit of space with a round bowl. I would advise you to rethink the laminate flooring in the bathroom. These to not react well to water spillage. You should have no problem with condensation with a new low flow toilet since the tanks hold about twice as much water as a flush uses, the refill cold water mixes with the leftover and tempers the temperature which means little condensation.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    You're likely going to be grandfathered, but I don't think you'll find ANY toilet that will fit that would meet today's code which requires 24" in front of the toilet. You've got enough side-to-side IF the toilet isn't offset too far to the side (need at least 15" either side of the toilet from the mid-line).

    The next question of importance is to measure the distance from the centerline of the toilet flange (often, but not always the bolts holding it down) to the wall behind (not the baseboard, the wall). That tells you the rough-in dimmension, and if it differs from 12", that will affect where the toilet sits in the room, and what will fit.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    The Kohler Santa Rosa is a compact elongated bowl, that works pretty well.
    I have pictures that I will post later.
  5. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

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    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks for the welcome. I'm trying to find my way around these forums, and I hope I'm doing it correctly.

    I began reading about the virtues of Toto toilets on Garden Web, and that's what brought me here. We would definitely consider a round bowl to save an inch or two, but the Santa Rosa seemed to have a smaller footprint than even round-bowl products. The flooring we want to istall is wood, not laminate. This is a little-used powder room and while I'm not overly concerned about water spillage, I'm concerned enough to wonder what would happen if spills are not wiped up immediately. Also, Thanks for putting my concerns about condensation to rest.
  6. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    This is a powder room that I believe was originally supposed to be a closet; I can't imagine any other way such a tiny space would have become a powder room. My plumber has told me we have 12" rough-in (if that's what it's called) so most standard size toilets will fit in that space. But before I order any toilets, I'll run the specs by the plumber and have him double-check the space.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,824
    Location:
    New England
    Re water on the wooden floor, it very much depends on the finish and the type of wood floor plus how it is installed. Typical T&G, nail down stuff is more likely to allow any spilled water to get underneath, and if it happens often, potentially discolor and warp the stuff. An engineered wooden floor could have very tight seams, and the water would have to stand on it for a fairly long time before much happened. But, if enough got on it to reach the moldings around the edge and get under, all bets are off. Basically wooden floors and standing water are a problem...spills that are cleaned up quickly, if they don't seep into the seams and under, usually aren't.
  8. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I looked at the MaP test for the Santa Rosa, and my (admittedly uninformed) take was that it is a decent performer. Then again, I don't really know how useful those reports are, or even what I should be looking for beyond the flush score. And there are two models, the 3810 and the 3323, and I'm not sure what the difference is, but the 3810 has a flush score >1000 whereas the 3323 has a score of >500.

    I've gotta say, this is waaaay more than I ever wanted to know about toilets.
  9. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Okay, I say this knowing that Terry's clients have had decent experiences with the Santa Rosa, but here's my reflexive reaction based on personal experience:

    The 3323 uses the Ingenium flushing system, which I think borders on engineering malpractice, and so would avoid it.

    My personal experience: I had a Kohler Portrait with that flushing system and ended up hitting it with a sledgehammer and replacing it with a Toto. This appalling bit of non-engineering is the reason that the 3323 has a MAP score of 500 using 1.6 gallons per flush when the 3810 has a MAP score of 1000 using only 1.28 gallons. If you are going to get a Santa Rosa, get the 3810.

    This is why you are smart to do your homework and ask the questions, even if "Toilet Expert" wasn't your life-goal. Before today.

    Now, I know that the MAP scores have been distorted because they have cooked the books by changing the "media" used in the tests by, well, let's just say, "making it easier to go down".

    Nevertheless, when you look at the specs on the 3810 and see that it has a 2-1/8" trapway instead of 2", and a 3" ("Class 5") flush valve instead of the 2" Ingenium flush valve, you're just going to get a better flush. Obviously, the thing has been redesigned. (It's also a quarter-inch longer, but believe me it should be worth it.)

    The 3810 is also "comfort height", which the 3323 is not. It's a couple of bucks more, but likely to be a much better toilet.

    Of course, were it I, and fully-aware that the elongated is more comfortable for a guy than the round (having a round and an elongated version of the same Toto toilet), I would probably get the Round Original Ultramax at 26.5" MS853113S (or "SG" if with Sanagloss). Before the latest round of great-performers from Toto came out, the Original Ultramax was touted here as the best-performing toilet on the planet, and it's still hard to argue with how great it is.

    Looking at your later posts, I should say that you are asking the right questions. In Terry's consumer toilet reviews above, he does a great job of defining some of those "other questions", which I would summarize to include real-world flushing, flush noise, reliability in terms of breaking down, simplicity of design of the moving (replaceable) parts and likely down-the-road parts availability. The G-Max flush in the Toto is a straightforward, proven design that uses a fill valve and flapper that you can replace with American-made Korky parts available at Lowe's and elsewhere at a reasonable price when the time comes. (Korky invented the flapper decades ago and makes flappers, fill valves and other parts for Toto and other major manufacturers, as well as replacement parts under their own brand, in Wisconsin. So when this toilet, or any other in your house, starts running or whatever, just come back here and we'll tell you how to fix it yourself in a minute or so with a few dollars of replacement parts. Sometimes not as easy with some other brands.)

    Finally, if you do look at Toto, be aware that the list prices are scary, but nobody should be paying list. Prices vary widely from supplier to supplier even in the same city, so start with Terry's prices in the red box above as a rough idea of a fair deal and do your research from there.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  10. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I do believe I'm narrowing down the fiels of options. Now, if someone would just make a decision for me, my order could be placed before the weekend.

    I'm looking at Toto's UltraMax MS853113S (round front bowl) and Eco UltraMax MS854114EL(G) (Elongated bowl, ADA-height). The primary advantage of the MS853113 is it's footprint, which is a very important consideration, given the size of the room. According to the specs, it measures 26.5" to the front edge of the bowl. I also see that the tank is positioned 3/4" from the wall. The drawbacks: it's got a round bowl and it's standard height rather than ADA height. I had come to believe I'd be better off with the ADA height seeing as how my husband and I are both in our mid-60's. That said, I'm willing to be persuaded that the height isn't such a critical thing.

    The Eco UltraMax is ADA height, and has the elongated bowl, but it measures 28.25" to the front edge of the bowl, and when I add the 1" between the wall and the back of the tank, that's 2" more than the UltraMax, and in my small space, that's a significant difference. I think I've just talked myself out of the Eco UltraMax.

    Question: should I also be considering the Eco Promenade CST423EF(G)? I haven't seen a mention of that model here. From what I see on the spec sheet, it looks like the back of this toilet tank sits right up against the wall, so the distance from the wall to the front of the bowl is 26 1/8". That's the smallest footprint of the three, however, it's also got the widest tank (19 1/8"), and that's a consideration on a wall that's only 51" long. Please, can someone help me choose the best toilet for the space? Should I still be considering the Kohler 3810? I don't want to be toilet-obsessed on Thanksgiving. Thanks!!
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  11. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    At your ages, the ADA should be the #1 priority, and that means it will have to be elongated too. The space behind a toilet will vary from model to model. Some models will have a lot, some very little. That's with the rough-in distance the same. You don't seem to have mentioned a door conflicting with the toilet, but if that is a factor, consider a pocket door. Great space savers. It's certainly up to you, but if it was my problem, I'd sacrifice an inch or so of space in front of the toilet if necessary, and get a Toto. Toto toilets are essentially clog free barring children trying to flush GI Joe or Barbie. That isn't the case with many of the other brands. The wider tank should not be a problem because it will still be inside of the 30" width required for a toilet. (15" center to walls) I would suggest you seriously consider the Promenade. I seems to me that it would be the best fit and certainly be a quality toilet for you.
  12. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    1,771
    Location:
    New York, NY
    If you can do 28.25 then get the ultramax II, ms604114cefg. The eco-flush, the "universal height" (ada compliant with the seat), and sanagloss all come standard, and it has the double-cyclone flush, which is very effective at bowl rinse. I have its sister, the Carlyle II (same but skirted), and it's great. In the "II" line, Toto just throws all that in Standard, so it's actually less expensive than the original ultramax in the ADA height (but only comes in elongated). Kind of a funky marketing/pricing thing that Terry has commented on before. If you like the look of the Ultramax II, that's the ticket.

    As far as how much room it takes up, unless there is an architectural feature like a swinging door that's going to hit it, even in the small room I don't think the extra 1-2 inches is going to be noticeable. I bought one round bowl drake because it replaced an ancient round toilet in a teensy bathroom in this old house, and the thing faced the tub. I was concerned about space between the front of the bowl and the tub, which space you had to walk in. Having a round Drake and an elongated Drake, I now think that in retrospect the elongated would have provided extra comfort without affecting the space perception as much as I thought. Not a big deal, but I would have done it differently.

    Because I have the Carlysle II, I can tell you that these units, because of their shape and height, actually seem small in most spaces. It's just an aesthetic thing, but the fixture doesn't appear to be large.

    As to the Eco Promenade, I'm not sure which version of the spec sheet you are looking at, but the drawing I am looking at shows 3/4" between the back of the tank and the wall, which is the same as the Ultramax II.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  13. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

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    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Yes, you're right. I must have overlooked the 3/4".
  14. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Location:
    New York, NY
    No worries. There are new versions of the spec sheets coming out all the time, and you'd be amazed at the number of typos and useful data left off some versions; this is true for all manufacturers.
  15. wptski

    wptski Retired Machine Repairman

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    137
    Location:
    Warren, MI
    You have to watch where your water inlet is also. Floor or wall and how close it is to the toilet. I think it was at the AS site, they have video showing replacing a one piece and the wall shut off is behind the toilet with about a 1/2" of space.

    I have a new AS Cadet 3 two piece and the wall inlet shut off can't be seen from directing in front of the toilet. It's not an issue but I never gave it a thought till afterwards.
  16. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Good luck to you on this. Unless your powder room is original or very old....if the inspector finds it was put in without a permit, he may very well turn down your grandfather request.
  17. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    By process of elimination, I think I've pretty much decided on the Toto Eco Promenade CST423EFG. It's got a round bowl, but that helps to conserve space. It's ADA height and it has the E-Max flushing system. There's not a lot written about the Eco Promenade on this forum, so I'm curious about it's performance. I did read in another post that virtually all Toto models with the 1.28 GPF perform well, but it would help me to hear from someone who has first-hand experience with this model.
  18. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

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    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    The powder room is original to the house.
  19. CindyJ

    CindyJ Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Between the Kohler Santa Rosa and the Toto Eco Promenade (CST423EFG), which is the better choice?
  20. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Location:
    New York, NY
    I can tell you that the Promenade is going to have a great flush, be well-made, and have straightforward working parts for which you can find replacements anywhere. The Kohler is using that tower flush valve, which you can get a Korky replacement seal for easily but which is otherwise essentially-proprietary. I have no first hand experience with the Santa Rosa. Its advantage is the compact elongated bowl. The Promenade is probably a better toilet, but the elongated bowl is an advantage. That's why in the other thread I was recommending mocking up the difference between the round and elongated Totos, because it's an easier decision if you can use an elongated Toto, which is going to be superior to the Kohler.
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