Toilet Decision

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Jdavis37, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. Jdavis37

    Jdavis37 New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Location:
    NC
    After getting really good avice for our next water heater purchase here I started reading about toilets and have narrowed the list down greatly. Am, however, curious about a few things still so here goes.....

    Bathroom remodelling will result in need for 3 new toilets (current toilets are 3+ gallon 1990 builder grade Kohler toilets that are anything but average with multiple flushes more the norm than exception).

    Biggest desire.. a toilet you can flush once and feel reasonably safe there won't be surprises waiting for the next person with good bowl cleaning so frequent skidmark removal isn't the norm. Good quality and preferably made in USA or otherwise similar country.

    The current choices in consideration:

    (a) Toto Vespin II w/ sniflush
    (b) Inax Rio Grande
    (c) Toto Drake II

    At one point I had considered the Mexican Standard Champion 4 but the 3rd world production folowed by many user complaints a little ways down the road made me feel less than comfortable, added with a big box store pricing of $208. I liked the price but felt if a big box retail store could sell that cheaply there had to be some built in cheapness or lack of quality somewhere. Pretty much have ruled it out though must admit pricing is tempting.

    I need to mention our remodels are not going to be cheap but 3 toilets is an area I want to minimize the spending to a reasonable amount.

    My wife decides she does NOT want a skirted toilet, the Drake II will probably win. Priced very reasonably and seems to offer good flushing. But when it is her turn to clean toilets she dislikes cleaning around the caps and all the underneath angles and thus MAY insist on a skirted design.

    I am staying with 2 piece for the cost and perhaps added flushing power. If she decides 2 piece is out then I'll have to consider other options.

    Toto Vespin II compared to INAX Rio Grande... these 2 seem VERY SIMILAR. Any advantage either way? I can find the INAX very slightly cheaper on line as compared to on line Vespin prices. I can buy Toto locally but not INAX. Just concerned about future repairs/parts with INAX. But if the Rio offers something tangibly better than Vespin II I am al ears.

    Also are the Drake II's made in USA or other location? Thx in advance!
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,995
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    The Vespin II and the Drake II had been made in Georgia for a long time.
    The last few Drake II's have been mixed. One part US, one part import. They're running three shifts in Morrow Georgia, and demand is pretty hight.
    The Vespin II and Drake II are pretty much the same. Same tank, only slightly different bowl.

    I like the molding on the TOTO, giving it an edge over the INAX.
    I've been sellling a lot of the Drake II's lately.
  3. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,848
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Just a couple of things to add to Terry's advice.

    When Terry says that the Drake II and Vespin II have the same tank, he means the exact same tank. (In fact, both use the ST454E tank, and the box in which the tank comes says "Drake II/Vespin II tank" on it.) Only the bowl is different. Installation is different because the skirted toilet requires you to install the Unifit adapter -- great if you have a 10" or 14" rough-in and you want the toilet to fit like a glove, but a smidge more work than the Drake II. (Not so much that Terry charges more to install it, but more work nonetheless.) Also, you need that water supply out of the wall to be at least 5.5" off the centerline for the skirted, or you will need to do a (very little) plumbing (which you can do outside the wall) to get it to fit. I'm assuming you have measured and have a true 12" rough-in. We have both skirted Totos and unskirted Totos, and love them all.

    If you're really tempted by the price of the Champion, you might consider the original Drake (CST744S in 1.6gpf or CST744E in 1.28gpf). It's price-competitive to the Champion in its basic version (i.e. no sanagloss or universal height), it flushes exceptionally-well, and the quality is head-and-shoulders above the Champion. Plus it uses standard parts, no gimmicks and nothing weird to go replace. We have two. They're great. However, you're likely to get better skid-mark protection from the Sanagloss, Double-Cyclone flush, and a little more style, in the Drake II. But you won't have to flush any more often in the Original Drake. It can really run the material through.

    As to where the Drake II is made, Terry is a big purchaser of them for customers, so you can take what he says as gold. Toto has a factory in Morrow, Georgia, where it makes a lot of the porcelain they sell in the US. They also use a lot of US-made parts (from, for example, Korky in Wisconsin) in their toilets. I read somewhere recently where the Morrow plant is working flat out because Toto is becoming so popular in the US, so they are bringing in product from some of their other plants around the world to meet the demand. I wouldn't worry about this, because the fit and finish on my original Drakes is amazing, and I had the experience on both where one component was made in the US and the other was made elsewhere. Apparently, the Japanese enforce the same rigorous standards at their plant in Mexico (where one component came from) and Vietnam (where the other came from), because they fit together like butter. If only American Standard could do half as well on quality-control at its Mexico facility. If Toto keeps going like this, at some point they will have to expand Morrow, which is a state of the art green facility, and something that they market heavily.

    As you note, both Totos you mention use American-made Korky replacement parts (i.e. the fill valve and flapper). The fill valve Toto will sell you as a replacement is made by Korky, but Terry recommends the virtually-identical Korky 528MP valve, which will run you about $11 at Lowes. The Korky universal 3" flapper drops right in your Drake II or Vespin II when it comes time to replace the flapper. And that's pretty much it. If you ever need a new flush valve (most people don't), there's a 3" Korky flush valve that also just drops right in.

    Either Toto you are considering is one that you should be very happy with. You can sense the quality as soon as you open the box. The Sanagloss surface on both makes a difference, they flush superbly, and they clean very well for a 1.28gpf toilet. The Drake II often shows up as the number 1 selling toilet at a big merchant, and the thousands of reviews you can read online attest to how good it is.

    If you buy locally, which we recommend, be sure to pull out the yellow pages and call around to at least 5 plumbing supply places. When you have your model number [CST454CEFG for the Drake II] and color in hand, and ask for a quote on that particular item (especially if you are ordering 3), you should be able to find a surprisingly-good price locally. But don't be surprised if the first place you call quotes you something stupid. Just be persistent, and you should be happy. Don't be afraid to bargain -- name the price you're willing to pay and see what they can do for you. Can't hurt.

    Buy with confidence and come back to us with any questions or comments on how it went.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013
  4. Jdavis37

    Jdavis37 New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Location:
    NC
    Thx guys,

    Appreciate the fast replies and the insights. Reading many posts here helped shorten the list considerably and also helped avoid somne potential oops. In the long run for me this is more about flushing and cleaning than it is cosmetics though the skirt part may be worth the added cost from a cleanup perspective. But every dollar (x3) saved here can be spent elsewhere up to the budget amount.

    The Drake II probably wins from a price/performance perspective and will get the nod if we go skirtless. Interesting sound to that :) INAX (Ri Grande, or similar) compared to Vespin II I am at this point assuming performance will be very similar since they appear to be virtual clones. INAX concerns me from a replacement parts perspective but am guessing 3rd party parts will work. But question is how do they compare?

    If it turns out the INAX is $60 less (making up a what if) that turns into $180 total. Would that make a decent case to buy that over the Vespin II? Not trying to be cheap just curious!

    I ruled out the Mexican Standard because of that issue alone. PLus when a big box rretail store marks it down to $208 just makes me think it is being cost cut from start to finish. I'll need to price check the Totos around. Doubt I find an INAX dealer so mail order may have to work.


    This will be a big change from out 3.5 gallon bowls that don't flush worth a darn. Looking forward to the remodels being done but oddly am looking forward to toilets that flush!!


    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2014
  5. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,848
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Just one observation -- if you do your research (and/or bargaining locally), you can get the Vespin II for the same price as the (non-dual-flush) Rio Grande, or within $5. [In fact, it can be yours for a price very close to the Drake II, if that makes a difference.] I think the Rio Grande tank's proportions aren't as appealing as the Vespin II, but I guess that's what makes the world go around... And I can't tell from the spec sheet or parts list whether that's a 3" flush valve (especially because if you google the flush valve or flapper part number, the ONLY thing on Google for it is the parts list for that toilet...i.e. circular...a little concerning). It's probably safe to assume that it is, but I try not to assume.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
  6. Jdavis37

    Jdavis37 New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Location:
    NC
    Thx again..... and one universal truth in this world is you can never fully trust measurements. The Rio is *suppose* to have a 3 inch flush valve but guess supposed to is a word ot use until verified.

    If I could get either the Rio and Vespin II for near same price as the Drake II (with ability to exchange with convenience in event of a defect) I would go that route. Spousal unit has already said she is ok going skirtless but part of me thinks the skirt might encourage her to clean the toilets and me clean less as it were (not totally serious on that part).. just seems skirt would reduce cleaning time somewhat and thus could be a welcome feature.

    I did locate an INAX dealer that is close to my now deceased mother in laws house which we still take care of. I'd like to see one but to be honest a toilet is a toilet in terms of how they look to my eyes. Sounds like all of these are nice "appliances" and should easily outperform what we have! But I will do some phone calling locally to see what someone might be willing to do to sell 3!


  7. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    142
    Location:
    Arizona
  8. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,995
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I have the Vespin II and Ultramax II with double cyclone.
    No problems with sitting down and flushing.

    The only difference between round and elongated is the extra 1-1/2" near the end of the bowl. It makes no difference on the flush.
  9. Jdavis37

    Jdavis37 New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Location:
    NC
    Thx for the suggestions (Walljonn) and info (Terry)

    We have a very nice steam cleaner and it works very well but we don't use it every time we clean... setup time and cleanup time of steam cleaner factors in. Seeing the skirt design of Vespin II makes it seem like there are fewer nooks and crannies for dirt and other wonderful bathroom "stuff" to get into. Am leaning towards the Toto CST474CEFG at the moment.

    We have a powder room downstairs that isn't part of the bathroom remodel project so I probably will buy 1 toilet, install it there and see how it goes. The 1 piece versus 2 piece isn't an issue for either of us and I am inclined to buying the same toilet throughout. The Drake II is my second choice. Luckily neither of us is overly concerned with shapes and the like and mostly want an easily cleaned good lfushing toilet with minimal clogs and skid mark type things! I appreciate all the feedback and help here.


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