Advice and learnings

How to choose the right toilet


The loo, dunny, WC, ladies, lav, powder room. Whatever you choose to call it, every home needs a throne.

This humble fixture is no longer just a necessity – it’s become a bonafide design feature in many modern bathrooms. This indispensable piece of porcelain will be sitting there for at least ten years, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs and bathroom style. With so many new designs on the market, here are the basic definitions and five key steps to help you choose the right toilet.

Terms to learn before you start shopping

Toilet pan – the ceramic ‘bowl’ part of a toilet that holds the water
Trap – the bend (shape) in the toilet pipe that expels the waste from the pan and keeps the sewer gases from coming up into the bathroom
Water inlet – is where the flush water enters the toilet cistern. Often you will see the tap located at the bottom left or right side of the toilet.
Toilet suite – combination of toilet pan and cistern

Photo credit: Houzz – Wall faced design showing right water inlet

Key steps to choosing the right toilet

1. Check the plumbing

Using your existing toilet plumbing will affect the style and size of new toilet you choose. Changing the existing plumbing to suit the toilet will be an additional cost to your renovation, so this may affect whether it is worth the change. Note the location of your existing water inlet (usually a visible tap) when choosing a new toilet.

When building a new bathroom, you can design your plumbing around the toilet style you want.

2. Measurements

Set-out is the distance from the wall to the centre of the waste outlet for an S-trap, and the floor to the outlet for a P-trap. Set-outs can vary depending on the age of the house you are renovating and will affect the choice of toilet to buy. Most new homes will have a standard set-out of about 140-165mm, which will enable installation of most toilet suites on the market.

3. Choose the pan type

The three common pan types in Australia are the S trap, P trap, and Skew trap.
S-trap – the waste pipe from pan connects to the floor
P-trap – the waste pipe connects from pan to the wall behind
Skew trap – the pipe comes out either side of the back of the toilet pan. Skew pans were sometimes used in older homes so changing the trap style in a renovation will add more to your plumbing budget.

4. Styles

Close coupled – the pan and cistern are joined together, so the flush pipe isn’t visible. Neat, compact and easy to keep clean.

Wall-faced (or ‘back-to-wall’) – The back of the pan sits flush against the wall, with no gaps between the toilet and the wall at all (i.e., no waste pipe or water tap is visible). Due to no pipework exposed between the toilet and the wall it is easier to keep clean.

Concealed – The cistern sits hidden inside the wall cavity or under-counter so only the toilet pan is visible. A modern, discreet and space-saving style ideal for small bathrooms.

Wall-hung – the toilet is mounted on the wall and has clear space beneath it with a hidden cistern, as above. A clean, minimalist look ideal for small bathrooms.

Connector – the most traditional looking toilet with the plastic flush pipe visibly joining the pan to the cistern. Usually the most economical to buy.

Photo credit: Houzz – Wall hung toilet with large switch plate


5. Water efficiency

To help reduce water consumption, choose a toilet with a high WELS star rating. Something as simple as changing a traditional single-flush toilet for a dual flush toilet could save you more than 50 litres of water per person, per day.

Extra design features to consider

  • Soft-closing lid
  • Thick or thin toilet seat
  • Rimless design
  • Height of toilet seat
  • Hands-free electronic switch plates

And lastly… a few expert tips

  • A concealed cistern will only work if the wall rebate is deep enough. Otherwise, it may need a hob built around it. Is the cost of cutting into the wall and plastering in your budget? Use a larger switch plate so your plumber can access the cistern for any future repairs.
  • A wall hung toilet will require reinforcing within the wall. Consider the weight recommendation of the toilet vs. the size of the users. The toilet may loosen over time.

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