Does Buying a Nice Toilet Make Sense when Remodeling Will Occur In The Future?
March 1, 2012 1:47 PM   Subscribe

We desperately need a new toilet to replace our gross one. Your advice appreciated about some logistics.

We have an old, gross toilet that we were hoping to replace when we remodel our bathroom. The problem is, remodeling the bathroom is going to be one of the last things on our to do list due to our budget (our house has numerous other issues that need attending first.) I was hoping we could hold out (so to speak, heh) until we remodeled, but the old stinker is peeling in the inside of the bowl, and the stubborn stains have acquired this biohazard kinda look to it no matter how much we've cleaned.

So here are my questions:

1. I am willing to put in around several hundred dollars for a decent, attractive, functional toilet. When we finally remodel (which will include removing the laminate floor tile), I assume we're going to have to remove the toilet again? Is this a huge pain? Will the removal and reinstallation associated with remodeling damage the new toilet? Should we just wait our 4-5 year timeline to get a really nice toilet and get a cheap economy replacement in the meantime?

2. Have you had experience replacing ancient toilets (circa 70's) and installing new ones? Any hazards or issues we should be wary of? I'd love to get one of those nice one-piece type toilets that are modern (which, yes, will look hilarious in our 70s-style Brady bathroom but I don't care) but this is the one thing in the house I am willing to splurge on. (Seriously...I love a good clean, beauitful toilet over things like nice sofas, decor, new paint, etc..)

Any other advice appreciated! Thanks much!
posted by The ____ of Justice to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Young House Love just did something similar: they needed to replace a part of the toilet, so they removed it and then reinstalled it. No damage to it upon either removal or reinstallation.
posted by hmo at 2:01 PM on March 1, 2012

We just bought a Toto one piece and love it. I highly recommend it.

Toilets are way easy to install. Get new supply hoses and a new wax ring and you'll be set.

You should remove the toilet for tile so it sits on the tile instead of tiling around it.
posted by just sayin at 2:02 PM on March 1, 2012

I'd avoid a cheap toilet because I'd be afraid of leaking...or worse.
posted by just sayin at 2:04 PM on March 1, 2012

We had to replace our toilet and, like you, plan to do the rest of the bathroom later. The new toilet didn't have the exact same footprint as the old toilet, so it left an unsightly gap in the flooring around the base. And we're not ready to redo the floor now pending all the other stuff we want to do. So we got a rug like this to cover it up and it's worked fine.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:05 PM on March 1, 2012

Do not (that should be in bold, flashing text, but that's too annoying to look at) buy a toilet without checking its flush capacity rating. The legal minimum is something like 200 grams of "stuff"; the good ones can chow down 800 to 1000 grams, all on a 1.6 gallon flush. The good ones don't even necessarily cost all that much more; it's a mystery to me how the crappy ones stay on the market, but I guess people don't tend to research this.

Also don't assume that DIY is always the cheapest route. My plumber was able to buy and install my toilet, on one day notice, for the same amount it would have cost me to simply buy the thing online; I would have had to wait for the shipping, buy the wax ring and hoses separately, etc. It's very much a YMMV (or YToiletMV), but it's not a waste of time to get a quote or two.

There's no issue about installing, then removing, then re-installing a toilet, as long as you don't mind buying a new wax ring each time and don't mind the time and trouble of the process.
posted by Forktine at 2:06 PM on March 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

As everyone else has said, toilet installation is easy. You can probably do it yourself but I paid a plumber for convenience's sake and it cost less than $100 per toilet. You don't really need to spend a lot of money to get a decent toilet, either; we have been beyond thrilled with our American Standard EcoFusions, obtained at Home Depot for around $100 apiece.

Definitely make sure that whatever you get has a high flush capacity, though. At Home Depot (and probably all similar stores) there are little charts underneath each model to show you the capacity and how much water is used per flush.

Also, check to see if your city has a rebate program for replacing older toilets with newer ones; we ended up getting back over half the cost from our utility company.
posted by something something at 2:13 PM on March 1, 2012

I successfully replaced a toilet (with 0 prior experience) in our master bath after we bought our first house. N'thing that it's fairly straightforward. The only thing I'll add to your shopping list wax ring and supply line is a little pack of plastic shims, which will probably be in the same general area as the other toilet parts. They're useful if you need to level the bowl out ever-so-much. More of a just-in-case sort of thing.
posted by jquinby at 2:15 PM on March 1, 2012

You can reinstall toilets. It's kind of a PITA—there are things I would rather do with a Saturday afternoon—but it's not that hard.

One potential gotcha is the distance from the wall to the hole in the floor. The standard in the USA is 12", but some older houses had different dimensions.

My wife and I recently installed this one. The fact that it has slab sides makes it easier clean the outside, and it's dual-flush. It comes with these weird L-shaped brackets for bolting it to the floor. With the blessing of our plumber, we didn't bolt it down at all—it's held in place securely enough by caulk and its considerable weight.
posted by adamrice at 2:15 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

seconding calling a plumber and just getting it done...most guys who do tile should have no trouble moving it and putting it back when it comes time to redo the tile.

TOILET RECCOMENDATION: get a dual flush model (mine is by waterridge) that has 2 for low for um 'heavier' needs...they dont cost much more and the water savings are significant
posted by sexyrobot at 2:17 PM on March 1, 2012

I am approachign the end of a one+ year bathroom remodel (lots of other more dire projects came up and it is our second bathroom for just two of us). The first thing I did was take out the old wall mount sink and crappy 70's toilet. It was disgusting. I then put in new flooring just around the toilet (it is a small bathroom-about 40 sf) and under the new cabinet sink) and stopped there until i could get to the rest. When I mean stopped, we have had bare subfloor, and exposed studs in our upstairs bathroom for over a year now. I installed the new floor because it is fast and easy to install engineered wood flooring and i had to take up the existing badly done vinyl floor anyway because the toilet was installed under it still on the 100 year old wood subfloor and I didn't want to install the toilet first. So anyway that is an idea is just accept the bathroom will be done slowly by phase as money and time allow. or just install the toilet now in the crappy bathroom and, as several others have replied, reinstall later when you do the whole bathroom. it is really easy to remove and reinstall the toilet. BTW the two piece design is easier to install because it is much lighter since the bowl and tank are seperate and if you buy a good one (I got an amercian standard cadet i think) they are not prone to leaking.
posted by bartonlong at 2:18 PM on March 1, 2012

We just got a new toilet. The guy who installed it used something like this rather than a wax ring. These are supposed to last forever and not leak.

Also, he did not seal around the base of the toilet, once installed, because he saw no need to. In your case, you would do that also, which would make the removal and replacement of your new toilet a lot easier.

nthing dual flush.
posted by Danf at 2:31 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

start early, in case you need to run to the hardware store for anything (don't start pulling stuff apart at 8PM)

be sure to have one of these hacksaw blade holders on hand, just in case any old bolts are seized.

whenever I'm lacking confidence about a repair job, I trawl youtube for tutorials (but stay away from anything by "expert village")
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:42 PM on March 1, 2012

Replacing the toilet and rereplacing the toilet is easy. The biggest liability is that when you or your plumber takes up the old toilet, you will discover that the old toilet has been leaking into the floor under your tile and its time to start the bathroom reno now...
posted by at 2:45 PM on March 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Replacing the toilet and rereplacing the toilet is easy. The biggest liability is that when you or your plumber takes up the old toilet, you will discover that the old toilet has been leaking into the floor under your tile and its time to start the bathroom reno now...

Yeah I was going to comment along the lines of this. Be very prepared to find some not so happy things under there...

But replacing one is really easy. Biggest problem I've had in our two very small bathroom was space and moving the thing around without wrecking the ring. They are somewhat heavy and bulky making manipulation difficult.

Also you might look into rebates in your area. I had both of ours paid for through a water savings program. They even would have covered labor, which I found out after the fact.
posted by Big_B at 2:55 PM on March 1, 2012

get one with a spring loaded seat. Life-changing. No more inadvertently slamming the lid.
posted by cosmicbandito at 2:58 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Strangely enough I did just this last weekend. Took out the old 70's thing and put in a couple Totos, a drake and a drake II. The process was literally unbolt the old toilet, pick it up, shake out the remaining water into a bucket. Scrape off the old wax ring using a Popsicle stick or piece of wood. Install the new wax ring on the new toilet, bolt it down, hook up a new water line, and that's it. Took about 20 minutes. Hardest part was lining up the toilet with the bolts, I am glad the toilets I bought were two piece as it cuts down the weight you have to heft into place. I would recommend buying a couple extra wax rings in-case you do what I did and and set it down on top of the bolt.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 4:21 PM on March 1, 2012

If you're willing to spend $350 or so for a great toilet, I suggest checking into Pressure Assist toilets. I was at my wits end a few years ago with my kids constantly clogging our, not cheap or low-flow, toilet. I invested in a Kohler 1.4 gpf pressure assist and have not used a plunger since. It was definitely one of my best investments ever.
posted by snsranch at 4:41 PM on March 1, 2012

We put three toto drakes in our old house. I miss them every single day. Worth every penny -quiet efficient, and never had to be plunged. We paid to have them installed but the price was negligible given all the work we we're having done. If we were to do it again, we would do it ourselves.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:58 PM on March 1, 2012

We remodeled a bathroom and then soon after, the dryer caught on fire and we had to gut and remodel the whole house. The almost new toilet got moved to the backyard for six months and then cleaned off and reinstalled in the re-redone bathroom without a problem. So, if ours handled being outdoors, yours will be fine being moved around in your house a bit.
posted by artychoke at 7:55 PM on March 1, 2012

Danf: "We just got a new toilet. The guy who installed it used something like this rather than a wax ring. These are supposed to last forever and not leak."

Check your local plumbing code before using that. In some areas the Fernco fittings are not code-compliant, as stupid as that may sound.
posted by wierdo at 10:34 AM on March 2, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for all the advice everyone! Though I am not technically marking everything as best answer, that's what I consider these responses.

I am completely thrilled about my options now. I do not kid about the excitement I have over this new toilet!!!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:56 PM on March 2, 2012

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