It’s safe to say most of us are familiar with the standard two-piece toilet models found in many homes. But did you know there is an entire world of toilet types and styles beyond this basic design?
Toilets can be categorized in several ways, which can get confusing with all the industry jargon used. To make sense of it all, the main toilet types fall into five general categories:
- Installation Types: One-piece, two-piece, wall-hung, back-outlet, etc.
- Flush Types: Gravity flush, dual flush, pressure-assisted, flushometer, etc.
- Bowl Types: Elongated, round front, skirted, exposed trapway, ADA height, standard height, and more.
- Toilet Design Styles
- Toilet rough in dimensions
In this blog post, we’ll break down the common toilet types in each category so you can learn the terminology and understand your options. All in all, we will cover a total of 18 types of toilets, Below are links with all if you would like to jump to a specific sections.
- One Piece Toilet
- Two Piece toilet
- Wall Hung Toilets
- Back Outlet Toilets
- Smart Toilets
- Corner Toilets
- Gravity Flush Toilets
- Dual Flush Toilets
- Pressure Assisted Flush Toilets
- Flushometer Toilets
- Elongated Toilets
- Round Front Toilets
- Skirted Toilets
- Exposed Trapway Toilet
- ADA Height or Comfort Height Toilets
- Standard Height Toilets
- Traditional Style Toilet
- Contemporary Style Toilets
- Transitional Style Toilets
- European Style Toilets
- 10″ Rough in toilets
- 12″ rough in toilets
- 14″ rough in toilets
With so many choices available today, there is a perfect toilet style for every bathroom and need. Let’s explore the basics so you can pick the right throne!
Types of toilet by installation: One piece Toilet, Two Piece toilets etc..
Installation type is most likely the most common way to identify a toilet so it’s only fitting that we start by explaining these. There are four common installation types:
- One piece toilets
- Two Piece Toilets
- Wall Hung Toilets
- Back Outlet Toilets
- Smart Toilets with bidet functionality
You might wonder why we don’t mention Floor mounted toilets but the truth is that all the toilets above other than wall hung are floor mounted toilets. They are simply the standard. Industry professionals will most likely speak in terms of the type of floor mounted toilet we mentioned above.
One Piece Toilets (Floor Mounted)
As the name implies, a one-piece toilet is a type of floor mounted toilet that has a unibody construction,. This means that the tank and bowl are seamlessly integrated into one piece, without any visible joints or seams between them. This gives the toilet a sleek, modern appearance, and makes it easier to clean.
Because of its seamless construction, a one-piece toilet can be more compact than a traditional two-piece toilet, especially in terms of height dimensions. This can make it a good choice for bathrooms with limited space.
The one piece toilet is considered a luxury item. Although the advantages over a two piece seems minimal, the unibody construction gives it more of a high end look. Besides, they are an expensive item for toilet brands to manufacture. As a result, they tend to cost sometimes twice as much as their two piece equivalent.
Two Piece Toilets (Floor Mounted)
A two-piece toilet is the most common type of toilet found in many households. It is made up of two separate components: the tank and the bowl. The tank sits on top of the bowl and holds the water used for flushing.
Compared to a one-piece toilet, a two-piece toilet is generally more affordable as it costs less to manufacture. This is because the tank and bowl are sold separately, allowing for more efficient production processes.
One of the advantages of a two-piece toilet is that if the tank cracks, you don’t need to replace the entire toilet as you would with a one-piece toilet. Instead, you can simply replace the damaged tank, which is a much simpler and more cost-effective solution.
The most obvious drawback with the two piece toilet is that it has a noticeable seam between the tank and bowl that attracts dirt and debris. It makes it much more of a nuisance to clean. Additionally, the separate components makes the toilet look a bit more utilitarian than its one piece equivalent.
Wall Hung Toilets
A wall mount toilet, as its name suggests, is a type of toilet that hangs on the wall instead of being floor-mounted. This means that there is no contact with the floor, and the waste drains to the back of the toilet on the wall.
To work properly, a wall mount toilet needs to be installed in conjunction with a wall carrier that is installed inside the wall. The carrier acts as both a support and a flushing system, replacing the tank from a traditional toilet.
One of the advantages of a wall mount toilet is that it gives the bathroom a clean, modern look, and takes up less space, which is perfect for small bathrooms, especially contemporary style ones.
However, the main drawback of a wall mount toilet is that it typically costs more to service and install because of the in-wall carrier system. This can make it a more expensive option compared to traditional floor-mounted toilets.
Essentially, a wall mount toilet is a stylish and space-saving option for those who want a modern look in their bathroom, but it may come with a higher price tag due to installation and maintenance costs.
Back Outlet Toilets
A back outlet toilet is a type of floor-mounted toilet that drains from the back (to the wall) instead of through the floor. It is not a common type of toilet and is only used when there are no other options available.
Typically, back outlet toilets use a pressure-assisted flushing system instead of a standard gravity flush, as the back outlet flushing needs more force to effectively remove waste. However, the pressure-assisted system can be quite loud, making it less than ideal for residential applications.
Back outlet toilets are only available in a two-piece configuration since they are designed to be more utilitarian than aesthetic. Manufacturers typically just modify their standard entry level toilet into a back outlet configuration. Since they tend to be used on commercial applications, they typically come standard as an ADA height.
Smart Toilets with Bidet functionality
A bidet-style smart toilet is a luxurious type of toilet that combines the functions of a traditional toilet with an array of sensor-activated features. It is a one-piece electronic toilet that is considered a high-end bathroom fixture.
Its main selling point is its bidet functionality, which is used to cleanse the user after using the toilet. Other features of this type of toilet include a motion-activated opening and closing seat cover, automatic flushing, air drying, heated seat, and emergency flushes when the power goes out, among others.
One of the major drawbacks of a bidet-style smart toilet is that it needs electricity to operate, and the emergency flushes that it uses for power outages will eventually run out. Additionally, these toilets tend to be quite expensive, ranging from $3000 to $10000, depending on the features.
They have been slowly becoming more and more popular in the United States as Americans are starting to getting acclimated to the bidet functions. When people travel overseas and experience the bidet culture outside of the US, they usually come back here to sing its praises.
Corner toilets are a rare but space-saving solution for bathrooms needing extra clearance. The tank is shaped like a triangle, allowing the toilet to be installed into a corner of the room.
This unconventional positioning allows the toilet to be installed in a space that would otherwise be left unused and as a result helps the homeowner maximize their limited space.
Corner toilets are definitely a utilitarian solution as they are fairly generic looking if not plain unappealing. They are very hard to find and come in very limited options.
Types of Flush Mechanism: Dual Flush Toilets, Pressure Assist Flush etc..
Toilets are also commonly categorized by flush types. The most common of which is a standard gravity flushing system but as there has been an initiative to conserve more water, dual flush toilets are becoming popular. The other types of common flushing systems are the Pressure Assisted flush as well as the Flushometer types which tend to be used more in commercial settings.
Standard Gravity Flush Toilets
The standard gravity flush is the default flushing system used in most toilets. It is a simple system that uses a single flush with a standard fill valve and a flush valve.
When the flush lever is pressed, water rushes downward into the drain, hence the name gravity flush.
You may encounter people referring to a toilet by their gallons per flush rating. The amount of water used for each flush varies, but the current standard flush rate is 1.28 gallons per flush (Gpf), as this meets the EPA guidelines for “watersense” labeling reserved for toilets that the agency says meets their standard in terms of water efficiency and performance1. With that being said, many states still allow flush rates of up to 1.6 Gpf.
Some commercial toilets might be available in lower flow rate as little as 0.9 gpf.
The standard gravity flush is a reliable and efficient flushing system that is widely used in residential and commercial toilets. Its simplicity makes it easy to maintain and repair, as most plumbers, installers and DIYers are familiar with this basic system.
Dual Flush Toilets
A dual flush toilet is a type of gravity flushing system that offers two flushing options, typically a low flush and a full flush. The low flush option is designed for liquid waste and uses less water, while the full flush option is for solid waste and uses more water.
The most common combination of flush rates is 0.8 gallons per flush (gpf) for the low flush and 1.28 gpf for the full flush. Dual flush toilets are usually activated by a two-prong top flush button, but flush levers are also available, where pushing up activates the low flush and pushing down activates the full flush.
Dual flush toilets are becoming more popular, which is driving down their price. Most professionals are now familiar with the system, so repairing any issues should not be a problem.
It’s also important to note that Wall carrier system for wall hung toilets typically come as a dual flush by default.
Dual flush toilets are an eco-friendly and cost-effective option, as they can help conserve water and reduce water bills. They are also a great choice for those who are environmentally conscious and want to reduce their carbon footprint.
Pressure Assisted Toilets
A pressure assisted flush is a type of toilet equipped with a pressure tank that provides higher pressure flushing. The pressure valve is typically manufactured by a separate company. Nowadays most pressure assisted use the Sloan Flushmate inside their toilet tank.
The pressure assisted toilet works by trapping air inside the tank. When the water supply is turned on, it compresses the air, which in turn forcefully pushes water out of the toilet. The end result is a better flush with a longer drain carry than conventional toilets.
One of the major downsides of the pressure assisted flush is how loud it can be. Due to the high pressure involved, this type of toilet is not recommended for residential use, as it can be disruptive and bothersome to other occupants in the home. However, it is a must for rear outlet toilets, as gravity flush systems do not have enough force to push water out horizontally.
It’s worth noting that there are a limited number of toilets with the pressure assisted system, and they tend to look more utilitarian than traditional toilets. However, this type of toilet is popular in commercial and industrial settings where a powerful flush is necessary. Additionally, the pressure assisted flush system can be more expensive than traditional gravity flush toilets, which may not be ideal for those on a tight budget.
A flushometer toilet, is a type of toilet that uses a valve to release a high-pressure water supply to flush waste. The Flushometer valve connects directly to the supply pipe and is typically mounted on the end of the rear of the bowl (Top Spud Flushometers) and in the rear for Rear Spud Flushometers. When it’s opened, the water is released at a high pressure to force waste out of the bowl and into the drain.
Flushometer toilets are commonly found in commercial and public restrooms because they are very durable and can handle heavy use. They also tend to be more water-efficient than traditional gravity-flush toilets, due to how effective the powerful flush is.
One of the unique features of a flushometer toilet is that there is no tank. Instead, water flows directly from the water supply line into the bowl when the valve is opened. This means that the toilet can be flushed repeatedly without waiting for the tank to refill, making it ideal for high-traffic areas.
However, flushometer toilets too loud for residential use and may require repairs from a plumbing professional instead of your everyday DIYer. Nevertheless, their durability, water efficiency, and ability to handle heavy use make them a popular choice for commercial and public restrooms.
Bowl Type: Elongated Toilet, Round Front Bowl, Skirted Toilets etc..
The shape and design of the toilet bowl is another way to categorize different types of toilets. Bowl types refer to the multiple styles available for the toilet bowl itself.
Elongated and Round Front Toilets address the shape of the toilet seat area, while skirted toilet and exposed trapway toilet indicated whether or not the trapway is visible.
Lastly, toilet bowls can be categorized by the height of the bowl itself with Standard Height toilets and ADA or Comfort Height Toilets.
Elongated toilet bowls are oval-shaped and extend about 2 inches further in the front compared to a round bowl. This elongated shape provides more room and comfort for the user when sitting on the toilet.
The extra space of an elongated bowl is considered a must for commercial and ADA-certified accessible toilets to provide enough clearance. Elongated bowls offer additional thigh room, making them more comfortable.
Most major toilet manufacturers offer elongated versions of the vast majority of their toilet collections, if not all models. Elongated bowls have become the preferred choice for residential bathroom toilets as well. The minor difference in space requirements is worth it for the added comfort.
Round Front Toilets
Round front toilet bowls have a circular shape that is more compact than elongated bowls. They don’t extend out as far in the front. The round shape makes them space-saving, but many users find them less comfortable than elongated bowls.
Round front bowls are a good option for small bathrooms where every inch counts. They are almost always more affordable than their elongated counterparts, so they are popular with landlords for basic rental units.
Most toilet manufacturers only offer round front bowls with their most basic model collections. You typically won’t find round front bowls in higher end designer collections.
While some people don’t mind the round front shape, most find elongated bowls to be more comfortable. The extra few inches in length provide more thigh room and clearance. If space allows, elongated is generally preferred.
Skirted Toilet Bowls (Concealed Trapway toilets)
Skirted toilets feature a bowl with an integrated “skirt” or apron that covers the trapway portion underneath the bowl. This skirt gives the toilet a sleek, contemporary look by hiding the functional parts from view.
In addition to aesthetics, the main advantage of a skirted toilet is easier cleaning. The smooth skirt minimizes nooks and crannies where dirt can hide. There are fewer grooves and crevices to scrub compared to exposed trapway bowls.
We’ve done a deep dive on Skirted Toilets, you can check it out here
Skirted toilets can also be referred to as “Concealed Trapway” toilet. While it is true that skirted toilet have a concealed trapway, not all conceal trapway toilets are skirted. In order for a toilet to be considered “skirted”, it needs to have an apron, but some toilets can conceal the trapway without an apron,.
These toilets are not as common. As of the time of this writing, Kohler is the only manufacturer in the US that offers a concealed trapway toilet that does not have a skirt: The Kohler Kathryn and San Souci being the two most popular.
Skirted toilets have been gaining popularity in recent years. However, they are still not yet available as an option for most toilet model collections from major manufacturers. But this is changing, as more brands expand their skirted toilet offerings.
Exposed Trapway Toilets
The exposed trapway is the standard toilet style, where the curved pipe underneath the bowl is completely visible. This utilitarian design shows all the inner workings of the toilet’s plumbing system.
With the trapway exposed, it can collect dust, debris, and mineral deposits. This can make cleaning more tedious as you have to scrub inside the nooks and crannies of the trapway curve. Some homeowners find the visible trapway unsightly as well.
However, the average homeowner is very familiar with the exposed trapway design. It is the default toilet style that has been around for decades. Exposed trapway toilets also tend to be more affordable than skirted or other specialty toilet styles.
Simply put, the exposed trapway is the easiest toilet to shop for as manufacturers expect homeowners to put up with the downsides.
ADA toilets a.k.a. comfort height toilets
ADA toilets are designed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines. ADA toilets need to achieve a total height of at least 17” to 19” measured from the floor to the top of the toilet seat.2
These taller ADA toilets are often referred to as “comfort height” in the bathroom industry. The term “comfort height” was first coined and popularized by Kohler for their line of ADA-compliant toilets.
Other manufacturers have their own marketing names for ADA toilet height, such as Toto’s “Universal Height” and American Standard’s “Right Height.” ADA toilets are also sometimes called “chair height” toilets, since their seat height is similar to a standard chair.
The extra height of comfort height toilets makes sitting down and standing up easier for those with disabilities or mobility challenges. But they have become popular for able-bodied users as well due to the increased ease of use.
Standard Height Toilet Bowls
Standard height toilets sit lower to the ground than ADA height toilets, typically around 14-15 inches high. This is the traditional and once standard toilet height, but it has lost popularity due to the rise of comfort height models.
Most major toilet manufacturers offer standard height bowls with their basic, entry-level toilet models. However, standard height is rarely seen in higher-end designer collections nowadays.
It’s important to note that most round front toilets only come in a standard height configuration. This is because round front bowls do not meet ADA guidelines, so they cannot be considered ADA compliant models. However, some brands may market round front toilets as “comfort height”, “universal height, and “right height” since those are manufacturer-specific terms.
Toilet Styles : Traditional Toilets, Contemporary Toilets etc..
In addition to installation types, flush systems, and bowl shapes, toilets can also be categorized by their overall design aesthetic and style. Just like other fixtures and furniture, toilets come in a range of designs that coordinate with different decor tastes and bathroom themes.
Most toilets will fit into one of these design aesthetics.
- Traditional style.
- Contemporary design
- Transitional style
- European style
Traditional Style Toilets
Traditional style toilets have a classic, ornate look with decorative accents and details. The intricate styling is often found on the base of the toilet bowl and the tank lid.
The tank lever is another component that often stands out in a traditional style toilet as they are often styled to match the ornate look of the toilet.
Traditional toilets usually come with a higher price tag than other styles especially compared to their entry level toilets.
These toilets typically have an exposed trapway bowl to fully match the look of the desired era. Skirted bowls are sometimes offered, but mainly for function over form.
Contemporary Style Toilets
Contemporary style toilets have a sleek, minimalist look characterized by clean, simple lines and a lack of intricate details. The emphasis is on seamless, streamlined silhouettes.
These modern toilets are often paired with toilet seats that have a cover extending down to hide the seams between the bowl and seat. This contributes to the smooth, integrated look.
Ideally, contemporary toilets will feature a fully skirted bowl. The skirt continues the clean lines by hiding the trapway and points of connection.
Wall-mounted toilets are a popular contemporary style, taking up minimal floor space. Even floor mounted contemporary style toilets tend to be on the more compact side.
Transitional Style Toilets
Transitional style toilets fall in between traditional and contemporary designs. They have cleaner lines than traditional toilets with less intricate details, but are not as streamlined as contemporary models.
Many basic, entry-level toilets have a generic transitional look. These toilets can be considered a default style when there is a lack of design focus. This style can be sometimes described as pedestrian.
However, there are some transitional toilets that do show character while not distinctly fitting into traditional or contemporary categories. These toilets walk the line between classic and modern with subtle styling cues.
The middle-of-the-road transitional style allows this toilet type to appeal to a broad range of tastes. They offer a flexible aesthetic designed to blend in, rather than stand out.
European Style Toilets
European style toilets are a subset of contemporary toilets with a distinct bowl shape design. The bowls are almost always fully skirted, and have a more squared off front opening as opposed to elongated or round front.
These European-inspired bowls do not conform to standard American toilet dimensions. As a result, there are no universal toilet seat sizes that will fit European style models.
European toilets have slowly gained popularity in the US over the years as the more modern design has continued to make headway in this country. However, they remain in the minority compared to standard American bowl types.
There are several European brands trying to expand their market share in the US, but Duravit is the clear leader that can be readily found in many kitchen and bath showrooms.
Toilets by Rough in Dimensions
Another way to classify toilets is by their “rough-in” measurement. The rough-in refers to the distance between the wall behind the toilet and the center of the toilet waste outlet where it connects to the rear drainage pipe.
We’ve written a full detailed article regarding Toilet rough in dimensions here.
There are three common toilet rough-in sizes: 10″ , 12″ and 14″ rough in.
10″ Rough in toilets
10″ rough in toilets are toilets that fit in a 10″ rough opening for the toilet floor area. They are the second most popular of this type of toilet, as they are used in older homes when 10″ used to be standard for most toilets.
12″ rough in toilets
12″ rough in toilets are the standard toilet for all toilets in the US. All new construction homes get roughed in for standard 12″ rough toilets unless there is an issue at the job site that prevents the builder to do so.
Additionally, manufacturers tend to manufacture most of their collections in 12″ only and only leave 1 or 2 skus for 10″ and 14″ rough in toilets
14″ rough in toilets
The 12″ rough-in is the standard in the US and accounts for over 90% of the market. Most major manufacturers offer toilet models to accommodate all three rough-in measurements.
However, the 12″ rough-in is the default that you’ll find readily available. The 10″ and 14″ rough-in toilets are produced in smaller quantities for bathrooms with different layouts and dimensions.