Toilet Suites: Features and Benefits of Toilets and What Determines the Price
What is it that makes one toilet cost $99 and another $1,500? A toilet suite is just a toilet suite, right? Wrong! Toilets are no different to other products like clothing, cosmetics, electronics and cars. You know that you would pay more for a Mercedes with all of the bells and whistles than you would pay for your everyday, run of the mill Mazda and toilet suites are no different (although less talked about because they are not as glamorous as cars, clothing or cosmetics!).
In keeping with our car analogy if a less expensive toilet suite is like a Mazda you will know that it still works well and serves its purpose but it may not have the brand and features that an ‘upmarket Mercedes’ model might include.
Most toilet suites have plastic seats but they are not all the same quality plastic. If you lift the toilet seat you can usually tell how strong it is (the cheapest units have seats that are almost ‘floppy’). The other determinant of the durability of a toilet suite is the hinges. Many cheaper toilet units have plastic hinges rather than the stainless steel hinges that are standard in more expensive models. Plastic hinges are generally very sturdy and can last for years but they may not last decades like stainless steel hinges can and they are not as ‘pretty’.
When you are looking at buying a toilet suite another feature you can look at is the inside of the pan. You need to run your hand along the underside of the base of the toilet pan to check whether there are holes around the rim which distributes the water evenly around the pan making for a cleaner flush – please do this in the showroom on a toilet that has never been used! This is called a ‘boxed rim’ and is generally available in most toilets in the more expensive price bracket (probably $500 and above).
There are a number of different types of toilet suites – link or connector toilets, close coupled toilets and back to wall or wall facing toilets. Link toilets are the least expensive as the pan and cistern are linked using a pipe whereas the cistern sits on top of the toilet pan in the close coupled and back to wall toilets. The other huge design difference is that the link and close-coupled toilets don’t have a pan that sits flush with the wall so you need to clean behind the pan and the toilet itself usually has areas around the outlet pipe where dust can settle. Wall faced toilets have a pan that sits flush with the wall so there is no need to clean the floor behind the toilet as it is enclosed. The more expensive and ‘designer’ wall faced toilets should also have flat sides so there is nowhere that dust can collect.
Wall faced toilets are usually available with flexible plumbing so you can typically get the same toilet suite and it can either be ‘S’ Trap (where the outlet goes through the floor) or ‘P’ Trap (where the outlet goes through the floor) whereas you often need to specify where your plumbing is located on link and close-coupled toilets as the plumbing design is generally not as flexible and the mould of the pan may be different. Another factor with ‘S’ Trap toilets is that if you are replacing an old toilet and want to match the plumbing most wall faced toilets come with a ‘flexible bend’ so the pipe can fit a number of different sizes. Having said all of this, it is advisable that you have your plumbing requirements on hand when you go shopping for a toilet as it is important to ensure that it is 100% correct, particularly if you are replacing an existing toilet.
Most toilets these days have a ceramic cistern but the cheaper toilets have a plastic cistern which is easy to feel when you tap the cistern.
One of the extra ‘bells and whistles’ that you may find in more expensive toilets is soft close seats. Soft closing toilet seats are ideal if you have children who slam the seat or husbands who won’t close it as it is as easy as tapping it and it will close – slowly! Other features of some more expensive units are a quiet flushing mechanism and pans coated with a Teflon like material to ensure an easier clean.
Whilst toilets may not be as ‘sexy’ as other products it is important to select the right one and we hope that this article has helped you work out what to look for when you decide to buy one. It may not seem like an important purchase but your bathroom gets used every day so it requires at least some thought. Good luck!