The loo, latrine, can, commode, porcelain throne: Whatever homeowners call their toilet, getting the right unit can make a world of a difference in how buyers relate to their bathrooms. Today, homeowners want sleek, streamlined toilets that are water-efficient, ergonomic, and full of high-tech features.
Toilet Trends: What’s In and What’s Out
Though some companies are adding black toilets to their collections and others such as Kohler and Dyconn feature units with rose-gold accents, a safe bet is a classic white, porcelain unit. One-piece toilets reign supreme as the most sought out premium feature upgrade at 27 percent, according to the 2019 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study. Trailing behind are double-flush toilets at 18 percent and wall-mounted ones at just 4 percent of upgraded units.
Swiss Madison's Plasir is a wall-hung dual-flush toilet with a concealed tank that still offers access to the plumbing system through the actuator plate. Featuring a sleek and seamless design, it has an elongated bowl, soft-close seat, and an ADA-compliant height. It measures 23 inches long, 16 inches tall, and 16.3 inches wide.
However, toilet manufacturers and renovators are seeing shifts in the way consumers want toilets to function. Big, clunky units that are massive water-hogs are out as homeowners are increasingly asking for streamlined, water-efficient products.
“With evolving plumbing codes that increasingly favor water efficiency, single, 1.6-gallon-flush toilets are on their way out,” Timothy Schroeder, president of Duravit USA, says. “Current WaterSense calls for a 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf), to which all of our floor-mounted toilets adhere, and which our wall-mounted toilets exceed thanks to a dual flush option that averages out to a 1.1 gallons per flush.”
Along with water-efficiency, one of the hottest trends for 2020 is the smart toilet.
“American Standard has seen an interest in bathroom products that incorporate technology,” James Walsh, American Standard’s vice president of product marketing, says. “More people want to be able to customize and tailor their experience within the bathroom to create that spa-like experience.”
The Houzz report found that toilets with high-tech features jumped from 28 percent of the upgraded toilets in 2018 to 34 percent in 2019. So if builders want to design a bathroom that knocks the socks off of a potential buyer, including a self-cleaning toilet with a bidet, heated seats, overflow protection, or an integrated night-light—all top-five high-tech features in the report—will go a long way.
Bill Strang, president of corporate strategy and eCommerce for Toto, also notes that interest in smart toilets is growing, thanks in part to wellness trends in addition to digital sharing on social media platforms or on vacation review sites. When people take a trip to a country that has embraced high-tech shower toilets, they share their stories with friends and family, and Strang says the exposure is helping the smart toilet catch on in the United States, which has been slower in high-tech unit adoption than countries. And people are not just eyeing a high-tech unit for themselves: They want to share their love of bidets.
“On major channels, our sales activity quadruples during the holiday season,” Strang says. “What that means is that a washlet bidet is being given as a gift.”
Still, smart toilet adoption isn’t for everyone: Kevin McJoynt, director of product management of Gerber Plumbing, says that the younger generations are more likely to jump for a high-tech unit, but “because the technology in these products tends to cost more than a standard product, the overall adoption is slow.”
Lena by Ove Decors is a 1.6-gallon-per-flush toilet that features an elongated bowl, a tankless design that means users don’t have to wait in between flushes, and a 1.69-inch fully glazed large trapway. The unit offers smart features such as a remote control, toilet night light, automatic flushing, soft-close heated seat, bidet, and automatic deodorizer, among many others.
Boomers vs. Millennials: Are They Really That Different?
We can’t speak for why political talk gets so tense at Thanksgiving dinners, but when it comes to toilets, Millennials and Boomers tend to agree. Still, there are a few ways that the generations differ in terms of which porcelain thrones they crown king.
Both Boomers and Millennials embrace technology in the bathroom, according to Schroeder. The company finds that each generation’s “appreciation for quality and technology is the same, but their approach to purchasing is different.” Millennials get smart toilets for their app compatibility, while Boomers appreciate that remote-controlled toilets are easier for an aging demographic to use.
Whether they’re downsizing to a smaller home or buying a condo, older homeowners are preparing the residencies with accommodations so they can continue to live alone or with their spouse, Strang says. And even when they remodel their own home, they add products that are “in tune with their chapter in life.”
“What that means is putting in products such as a zero-threshold entry shower” Strang says. “Toilets are also getting a little taller, which makes it easier to get on and off of the toilet.”
On the other hand, Walsh says that younger generations are also seeking reliability and functionality in a toilet, but they also want to curate an entire oasis. “This generation is concerned with creating a spa-like experience at home,” he says. “A toilet isn’t just a toilet. It is the first seat they take in the morning before a long day of work.”
With a 16.5-inch chair height and elongated bowl, this Dual-Flush, Elongated All-in-One Toilet by Glacier Bay will lessen the strain on aging homeowners. The unit is one of the more affordable options, but its dual flush still drives the gpf down to about one gallon.
Rethinking Toilets for Everyone
Ensuring a comfortable and safe toilet design is essential because homeowners will use the toilet often. But building for some demographics can call for even further accommodations. Here are some tips for alternative models and extras to make the experience as pleasant as a trip to the bathroom can be.
Use Comfort-Height Toilets
Comfort-height toilets, also known as ADA toilets, are designed to be taller, making it easier for users to sit down and stand up while using the facility. These toilet models are good for those who are disabled or for aging homeowners who cannot bend down as far as they were able to in the good ‘ole days. According to the remodeling experts at Fixr, Comfort Height toilets stand between 17 to 19 inches from floor to seat, which is higher than the standard 15 inches.
Install Automatic Opening and Closing Smart Toilets
Some toilets now come with sensors that can tell when a user is approaching the unit. These activate the toilet seat to open, and when the user moves away, they close automatically as well. For those who have mobility issues or arthritis, this automated nature could help them use the washroom more easily without having to reach down to lift the seat.
With a tank-to-bowl connection, the Turner Elongated Toilet by Delta is protected against leaks, according to the company. Because of its ADA-compliant chair height and elongated bowl, the unit is fit for those looking for a more comfortable bathroom experience.
Don’t Shy Away from Grab Bars—And Don’t Forget the Wall
If builders know they are designing a home for an aging client, they can include grab bars on either side of the toilet. Some models connect to the unit while others are attached to the floor or wall to provide users a place to grab while they maneuver themselves onto the toilet. Grab bars for toilets, which the National Association of Realtors lists as an element of Universal Design, are also often installed on a wall near the unit so users have an extra space to hold onto as they stand up and move away into the next room or hallway.
Consider Installing Alternative Seating for Clients with Heightened Sensitivity
Some homeowners have heightened sensitivity that make certain textures or sensations overwhelming or painful. With its cold, hard surface, the toilet is a prime candidate for improving the experience for consumers with these sensory concerns. Some details that could alleviate distress include soft-close toilet seats to reduce noise and heated seats for comfort. Redfin suggests using clothed or cushioned toilet seats as another option.
Go Bidet All Day
Including a bidet in a shower toilet or with a bidet can help those who have limited mobility. “Bidet functionality provides an incredibly important assist to those who are struggling with loss of ambulatory or dexterity skill sets,” Stanger says. “By using the bidet, they can take care of their peri care needs, which is cleaning up after toileting, more effectively than they would if they were just using a standard toilet with toilet paper.”
At an average of 0.6 gallons per flush, the Nano by Niagara Conservation is any environmentalist’s’ dream. Despite the low gpf, however, the dual-flush toilet still empties every time, according to the company, and with the unit’s EZ height, consumers can easily sit and stand.
So What Is the WaterSense Rating, Anyway?
Today’s high-efficiency toilets tout their WaterSense rating as a badge of pride. But what does it mean? WaterSense is a federal program launched by the Environmental Protection Agency that is intended to promote water efficiency and reduction. One of the hallmarks of the program is the WaterSense label, which is verified by third-party reviewers to ensure credibility. According to EPA, toilets were the first product to bear the WaterSense label, which signals that they use less than 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf). Nowadays, however, high-efficiency toilets are crushing that standard with some flushing with rates as low as 0.6 gallons per flush.
The WaterSense label helps consumers identify products that meet the WaterSense efficiency standards and is found on items from showerheads to toilets to bathroom faucets. And to add to the efforts, builders can get their homes certified.
Products that have the WaterSense Label:
- Perform as well or better than their less efficient counterparts.
- Are 20 percent more water efficient than average products in that category.
- Realize water savings on a national level.
- Provide measurable water savings results.
- Achieve water efficiency through several technology options.
Builders gunning for that WaterSense-Certified Homes must ensure:
- There are no visible leaks in the home.
- Service pressure tests less than or equal to 60 psi.
- Water changes temperature within 10 degrees within less than or equal to 0.6 gallons.
- Use WaterSense labeled toilets, bathroom sink faucets, and showerheads.
- Use ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher sand clothes washers
But the high-efficiency movement is not just a government push: Manufacturers are seeing an increase in demand for low-flow model trends from consumers, which they attribute to overall environmental consciousness as well as concerns over the changing climate.
“Whether it is escalating water rates or challenges with overall infrastructure or drought related issues, that’s what’s driving much of the concern,” Strang says, and he adds that even if regions are not experiencing a drought yet, the anxiety surrounding a future one hangs over people's heads.
Noses will appreciate DXV's LS Spalet Integrated Electronic Bidet Toilet’s air circulation, room refresh deodorizer, and an air shield deodorizer. Other features include a heated toilet set, a self-cleaning nozzle with feminine and posterior wash settings, and a night light.
Advice for Buying a Toilet
Splashy walk-in showers, freestanding tubs, and floating vanities may get a lot of attention in the world of kitchen and bath, but toilets are a major touchpoint that both builders and homeowners should think about diligently.
Josh Feldman, director of marketing for Delta, says that consumers are shopping for a toilet only every seven to 10 years. To find the best fit, Feldman suggests that buyers come in prepared and realistic, saying to “do your homework and narrow your list down to a few options that meet your budget and feature set desires.”
Schroeder says to treat new toilets as an investment that will be comfortable as homeowners age and to consider factors such as cleanliness preferences and interest in technology to find the best fit.
“Perhaps that is a shower-toilet seat, perhaps it is a floor standing toilet at ADA height, perhaps it is a wall-mounted toilet set at a certain height,” Schroeder says. “Do you prefer something that is not on the floor, so you can keep the space open underneath the toilet, or perhaps you prefer a skirted floor mounted toilet with seamless sides that are easier to clean?”
The new Scandanavian-inspired Studio S Low-Profile 1-Piece Toilet by American Standard is a high-efficiency, compact unit that is designed with the company’s PowerFlo technology for a quieter flush.
With a touchless dual flush, adjustable bidet, heated seat, and automatic open and close, the tankless Prodigy P770 by BioBidet is a true smart toilet. When a consumer uses the toilet, it senses how strong of a flush is needed.
The Smart Dual-Flush Toilet Suite by Caroma boasts a completed skirted bowl and a fully glazed trapway that is twice the size of an industry standard, which the company says “virtually eliminates clogging.” The ADA-compliant unit’s bowl stands at 16.5-inches high, and its dual flush technology allows for a 0.8 gallon flush.
Duravit's SensoWash i Plus includes a touchless, automatic lid with an antimicrobial glaze and a heated seat. While users can use the wireless remote included with the bidet toilet, one of SensoWash i Plus ’ hallmark features is its app-integrated control system that controls the toilet’s features. The SensoWash line also includes bidet seats to retrofit compatible toilets.
Love a good accent color? The Aphrodite Smart Toilet by Dyconn has all the function of a bidet smart toilet with a touch of fashion due to its rose gold or black function panel. With a heated seat, a soft-close lid, and instantly heated water, the smart toilet creates a comfortable environment for consumers.
Want a toilet bowl that stands out from the rest? Try this Square, Modern Wall-Mounted Dual Flush White Ceramic Toilet Bowl by Eago. The soft-close toilet features a bowl that is fully glazed to avoid stains and a dual flush allows for a 0.8 high-efficiency option.
Gerber’s latest addition to the Viper line, the Viper 0.8 gpf toilet, saves up to 33 percent more water than other high-efficiency toilets and 50 more than the national standard. For those looking for an ergonomic design, the toilet is available in a model that includes an ADA-compliant elongated bowl with a 17-inch height.
With an antimicrobial and non-staining glaze, the Clarity wall-hung toilet by Icera keeps the bathroom clean, according to the company. It is dual-flush capable, using as low as 0.8 gpf, and the toilet can be mounted at an ADA-height.
Coming soon, Kohler will release a new intelligent toilet, Eir. The toilet, which stands out with its rose gold accentated band options, will have a front-and-rear wash bidet with adjustable temperature and pressure as well as a heated seat, an automatic flush, warm air dryer, and other high-tech offerings.
The Statis G Shower Toilet by Inax features a bidet nozzle positioned at a comfortable height, deodorizing mist, and a foam core that reduces urine backsplash--a detail that we didn’t know we wanted, but are glad they did. The automatic lid will open when a consumer approaches and closes with they are done.
The No Clog Point 8 two-piece toilet from Sustainable Solutions uses only 0.8 gallon per flush. It incorporates an efficient, high-performance, barrel-style flushing valve, an elongated bowl, and a soft-close seat. The product is ADA-compliant.
This high-efficiency toilet by Toto features a heated seat, automatic-flushing capabilities, and a front-and-rear washing bidet that consumers can set to their ideal temperature and pressure. With an adjustable 15-to-19-inch mounted height, consumers can position the toilet to a comfortable height, saving up to nine inches in floor space according to the company.
Designed for wall-hung toilets, Viega's sleek touchless flush plate features a glass design and allows users to flush from front or top. Users may flush with either 0.8 gallon or with 1.6 gallons. It comes in black glass or light gray glass.
Magic Flush by Whitehaus Collection is an eco-friendly toilet featuring one-piece construction that’s easy to clean, a single 1.28-gallon flush, elongated bowl with soft drop seat, and a 12-inch rough in. It has a comfort-height seat.
The smart toilet and bidet by Woodbridge features an elongated bowl, a one piece deign, and a comfort height that is ADA-compliant. It offers a water heater, warm air dryer, heated seat (with five adjustable temperature settings), and an oscillating, pulsating wash with adjustable water pressure for feminine and posterior. The unit has a quick-release seat and an energy saving mode.
To read our previous Product Guides, click on these links:
American Standard, Piscataway, N.J., americanstandard-us.com
ANNZI, Livonia, Mich., U.S. anzzi.com
BioBidet, Crystal Lake, Ill., biobidet.com
Caroma Burnaby, B.C., Canada, caromausa.com
Delta Indianapolis, Ind., deltafaucet.com
Duravit, Hornberg, Germany, duravit.us
DXV, Piscataway, N.J. dxv.com
Gerber, Woodrige, Ill., gerberonline.com/
Geberit, Des Plaines, Ill., geberitnorthamerica.com
Glacier Bay, East Hanover, N.J., foremostgroups.com
Icera, Santa Ana, Calif., icerausa.com
Inax, Torrance, Calif., inax.com
Jacuzzi, Chino Hills, Calif., jaccuzzi.com
Kimberly-Clark, Neenah, Wis., kimberly-clark.com
Kohler, Kohler, Wis., kohlercompany.com
Niagara Conservation Flower Mound, Texas, niagaracorp.com
Mansfield Plumbing, Perrysville, Ohio, mansfieldplumbing.com
Moen, North Olmsted, Ohio, moen.com
Ove Decors, Quebec, Canada, ovedecors.com
Panasonic, Osaka, Japan, panasonic.com
Porcelanosa, Castellon, Spain, porcelanosa-usa.com
Roca, Barcelona, Spain, roca.com
Saniflo, Edison, N.J., saniflo.com
Sterling, Kohler, Wis., sterlingplumbing.com
Sustainable Solutions, British Columbia, Canada, sustainablesolutions.com
Swiss Madison, Dayton, N.J., swissmadison.com
Toto USA, Morrow, Ga., totousa.com
Viega, Attendorn, Germany, viega.us
Whitehaus Collection, West Haven, Conn., whitehauscollection.com
Woodbridge Bath, Cerritos,Calif., Woodbridgebath.com
Zurn, Milwaukee, Wis., zurn.com