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Toilet Shopping Tips

untitled Cake, Prosecco and an American Standard Toilet

When my husband and I were engaged to be married, my work colleagues threw us the most beautiful surprise wedding shower, complete with garden-party theme. The women wore flowery skirts or cardigans, and the men wore floral-print ties. There was cake and prosecco. And then, the big gift: everyone had pooled their money together to buy us a very generous gift card to a hardware store. The perfect gift for a young couple who’d just bought a classic New England fixer-upper. I blushed. I cried. We laughed. We ate cake. It was glorious.

Still glowing from the show of support (and honestly, a couple of glasses of prosecco) when Ben drove us home I turned to him and said, “Honey, I know exactly how I want to spend this gift card.”

“Oh yes?” He kept his eyes on the road.

“Two words,” I said. “New. Toilet.”

“YOU CAN’T SPEND THE WEDDING SHOWER MONEY ON A TOILET!” His eyes momentarily came off the road. “What will you tell your coworkers if they ask how we spent it?!”

“Um,” I said, “That we bought something we use every day? And that every time I use it, I think of work?” We started to giggle. And ultimately, we didn’t spend the wedding shower money on a toilet.

But that meant we did have to put up with our ancient toilet for another couple of years, which did occasionally put a damper on the newlywed bliss. (I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say, it took a lot of the mystery out of our relationship.)

Choosing the Right Toilet

This did give us some extra time to think about what we wanted from a toilet, however. One thing we both wanted was a dual-flush option. This is something that has been available in Europe for a few years, but is relatively new to the American market. Basically, the toilet has two flushing options: one for #1, and a second for #2. As a general rule, I like efficiency; I also like saving money on our water bills. So that was something we definitely wanted.

We also wanted a toilet that was “classic height” as opposed to “chair height.” This may not be something you’ve thought about if you’ve never shopped for a toilet, but “chair height” is something of a fad right now. The basic idea is that a “chair height” toilet is a couple of inches taller, like a normal chair. This makes it easier for the user to sit down and stand up (which makes it especially popular with older people) but frankly, it makes it tougher to actually use the toilet, if you get what I mean. (You can see more about that in this video if this explanation is too cryptic for you.)

The only problem? It is really tough to find a dual-flush toilet (exciting new feature!) on a classic-height toilet (old school style).

American Standard to the Rescue

Enter American Standard, which has a huge array of toilet options, making it really easy to find the combination of features you want. Their H2Option Dual Flush Toilet comes in both classic height and chair height, so you can pick the one that’s right for you. (A lot of older people do prefer the chair height option.) It’s certified by the EPA as a water-saving appliance, and lets you choose between a 1.6 gallon flush or a single-gallon flush. (For the sake of comparison, our ancient toilet flushes over four gallons a flush, and some old toilets use as many as seven gallons!)

The classic look fit right into our antique New England home; while I may have wanted the trendy Euro-style dual-flush option, I did not want a trendy Euro-looking toilet. However, they do have futuristic modernist toilets if that’s more your thing.

Finally, as a bonus (at least for me, Lady-Wife Cleaner of the Bathrooms), the H2Option toilet also features an antimicrobial surface that inhibits the growth of stain- and odor-causing bacteria.

So, now we have a new toilet, and everybody’s happy: we’re saving water and money; I’m saving time on cleaning; and we can even introduce a little mystery back to our marriage.

Moral of the story? Never underestimate the power of a toilet.

Toilet Shopping Tips

Educate yourself about modern toilet features.

If you’ve never shopped for a toilet, or it’s been years since you did, a lot has changed! There are new water-saving regulations and devices, and new technologies. (American Standard also offers the Vormax, for instance, which unleashes a powerful vortex of water in the bowl, keeping it ridiculously clean.) There are also “tankless” toilets, which can be space-saving. Do your research.

Find a brand that you like.

We went with American Standard because of its great reputation in the industry. You can’t become a 140-year old company without doing something right! And while American Standard toilets are very reasonably priced, I feel I have to point out that this is not an area where we wanted to cut costs. Seriously, if you amortize the cost of the toilet over the number of times you expect to use it, you’ll quickly realize that it’s not a place to try and save 50 or a hundred bucks. If you’re really tight on cash, buy a cheaper medicine cabinet or light fixture — but to put it bluntly, don’t skimp on the thing you’re going to be pooping in for 20 years!

Measure the space.

Make sure your chosen location has enough room for the toilet you’ve chosen. You don’t need much space – 15- inches to the center is pretty standard – but you do want to make sure your nice new toilet fits into your bathroom!

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