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Thread: What's the big deal about Toto's toilets?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member austai's Avatar
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    Default What's the big deal about Toto's toilets?

    I'm just about to cancel an order for three Kohler Class 6 toilets from a big brand hardware store because of all the enthusiasm here for Toto toilets. That and the fact that a local store quoted me a price on the Eco Drake for less than the Kohlers.

    But, to be honest, I'm still unclear on why the Toto's are so well regarded here. I've read enough to know even the Class 6 Kohlers have a bend for the outflow that is more prone to clogging, though they get plenty of positive reviews elsewhere (vs more negative reviews for Class 5 models.)

    Still, that supposedly troublesome bend cannot be the only notable difference between Toto's and Kohlers, or between Toto's and American Standard toilets.

    So, do Toto's last longer? Have a better warranty? Made in the USA? Cost less to maintain? Etc. All sincere questions. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Quality is a big factor...
    Some of those other brands have had me have callbacks which quickly change profit to loss...
    So it becomes a matter of common sense when you have poor quality affect your profits...

  3. #3
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Better design. Toto was already ahead of the competition when low flow became mandated. Their design makes for toilets that rarely, if ever clog. The use off the shelf fill valves and flappers when they are needed. Kohler on the other hand redesign the internal parts with virtually every model, repair parts for many are available only from Kohler...maybe. The are known for discontinuing support and actually destroying their parts. Another well known brand, American Standard pushes factory defects out the door apparently dumping them on Big Box Stores. These have a very high rate of return. Both of these brands seem to be relying on their well known name and living on their past reputation. Almost all of the brands attempted to make their old 3.5 gallon toilets work with less water. This failed and gave many people the idea that low flow meant, "Have Plunger Handy." These inferior brands continue to sell of course because few people know the difference until it's too late. and builders, in order to make their homes have the lowest price possible, put the very cheapest toilet in the house. Plumbers like Terry Love make a great many Toto sales removing these a few months after the home is sold. While Kohler and American Standard are very well known names, they are in no way the same companies that they were when they earned their reputations. Toto may not be as well known among the lay public, but Toto is the largest manufacturer of toilets in the world. You made a wise choice.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member austai's Avatar
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    Interesting. Specifically, do the class 6 Kohlers only take Kohler parts? I notice instead of a flapper, there's a column/tube instead. That looks more expensive to replace. Are there no advantages to that design?

    Toto deserves credit for apparently coming out with a low-flow toilet that works before the others, but I'm surprised that design hasn't been improved on.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The hassle with Kohler when you need parts is not necessarily the cost (although that can be high) but that because they seem to redesign things on a whim, often, you can only get them from the factory since it's too hard for anyone to keep all those different things in stock. Thus, the big advantage on the weekend when you need to replace the flapper valve or some other thing because you realize it's leaking. They all have wear parts and those need to be replaced. How often depends on your water.

    Toto is the largest toilet manufacturer in the world. Some of their stuff is made in Georgia, but they also make stuff all over. The big thing is not necessarily where it is made, but the quality control they exert over their factories. It's not that others can't make a good toilet, it's that many have trouble with qa/qc. then, like with Kohler, they always seem to decide they know better, and make their own design. Not necessarily bad, but really tough on wear parts that need to be changed out once in awhile. Toto tends to use commonly available guts, so the economies of scale come into play where you can get the repair parts cheap and nearly anywhere. this is rarely the case with Kohler.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I'm getting fewer then 1% returns on Toto.
    The other brands can't touch that.

    I can get parts for the Toto at any Lowes hardware.
    With Toto, I can sell them and forget em. And the owners are kind enough to tell their friends and family. They sell themselves.
    There are areas of the country that don't have all products yet. I read some forums where the plumbers have never seen a Toto in person.
    In the Seattle area, they're everywhere you go. The airport, resturants, churches and homes.

    The Kohler class Six, clogs more, are a rinse that is more sparce, has their own Canister flush valve now, which I'm getting reports that the chain hangs up, and I get more returns on quality issues with Kohler.
    But they do work better then their old Wellworth. When the new dog can run faster then the old dog, it's a big deal.
    But when the new dog comes to town and easily runs down the young pup, then it's "race over".
    Toto has been around the longest, and has become the biggest in the world. And if I want to sell you a bowl made in the USA, the choices get fewer.
    Many of the Toto toilets I sell are made in the US.
    But the big deal for me, is that I can sell them and forget them, and that they sell themselves.
    I sell all brands, but it's tough to sell a second bowl if they didn't like the first one.

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Hype and hysteria, for the most part. I have only installed about 6 TOTO toilets EVER, but the toilets I do use do not seem to have the problems that people are reporting with theirs.

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Hype and hysteria, for the most part. I have only installed about 6 TOTO toilets EVER, but the toilets I do use do not seem to have the problems that people are reporting with theirs.
    Same here. I go get a Mansfield whenever I need a new toilet, and I have only ever had a flush problem after the bowl had been a bit overloaded. My latest Mansfield is an ADA-height Summit III my wife and I got for my mother-in-law and ourselves together here in our own little "old-people's home", and I am absolutely amazed by how very well it flushes with so little water even when the bowl is heavily loaded.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member austai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Hype and hysteria, for the most part. I have only installed about 6 TOTO toilets EVER, but the toilets I do use do not seem to have the problems that people are reporting with theirs.
    Hype and hysteria about Toto, or other brands?

    Anyway, so the Eco Drake should work as well as the Cimarron Class 6? How quiet is the Eco Drake? What about "Sanagloss"? Is that worth it?

    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Default Did you love your bug?

    Better then the Class six Kohler.

    If you have both in the home, it's an obvious difference.

    If you have only used Kohler, then you don't have a reference point.
    If you grow up driving a VW bug with air cooled engine, then that's pretty cool.

    I don't know which Toto that hj has seen, but I know he has Eljer one-piece toilets at his home.
    So until hj puts a Drake in his home, his opinion doesn't mean much.
    I can give opinions all day long like hj, but I don't.
    When people ask about toilets I haven't used yet, I tell them that. I tell them that until I have used it, I can't comment.
    I had the Class five Kohler in my home for weeks, and it was clogged weekly.
    I use the Class six Kohler with I go to the Tulalip. I know what that is like too, louder then the Toto, but that could be that it's in a room with a lot of tile. Or that they made the flush valve so big that it both leaks all night, or that the water is going out so fast that it's just plain noisy.

    I would love for hj to try a Toto in his home for a while. Then he would something to go on when he gives his "expert" advice.

    Most toilets work, or they wouldn't be able to sell them, the questions that get asked here, are which are the better ones.
    If that is the question, then the answer isn't going to be

    "I drove my VW Bug to college, back and forth for years. It worked plenty good enough."

    That's not even the question I'm getting. hj's usage is quite a bit different from the customers I'm getting.
    If they were "easy" on bowls, they would be sticking with their Mansfield toilets.
    The Mansfield, which is a builder grade bowl, is good enough for the hj's of the world.
    My daughter was able to plug three Mansfield toilets the day she moved into her new home.
    And yet, sometimes a Mansfield is just fine.
    We do throw a lot of them away every week. So some people don't like them.
    But if you go by averages, and you want to know which bowls have been giving the least amount of problems, that's when you get the people that replace brand new bowls with Toto every time they move. Even though they could have stayed with VW Bugs (Builder Grades).

    One of the posters here wanted hj to install a Toto Carlyle toilet for them in Arizona. I guess it wasn't the kind of work hj wanted.
    The Carlyle is a piece of cake to install, we do them all the time in Washington.

    Last edited by Terry; 06-25-2010 at 11:44 AM.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member austai's Avatar
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    Just bought the Toto Drake tank and bowl (plus plastic seat and install bits.) Nice to see the bowl and tank are made in the USA. I'll install it in the downstairs restroom and if it's quiet enough, I'll get two more for upstairs, maybe with the fancy seats that do not slam.

    I'm coming from an old Eljer 3.5 GPF so I guess any new toilet will be an improvement.

  12. #12
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    The Mansfield, which is a builder grade bowl, is good enough for the hj's of the world.
    Ouch! But hey, I did greatly enjoy your story about a visit to Bill Gates' bathroom!

  13. #13
    Engineer Furd's Avatar
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    I can't speak about the different toilets on today's market but I will say that of the six toilets I have lived with in sixty years of life the Toto Carlyle I have now beats all the others.

    I grew up with a Wellworth that was probably installed in the 1930s. That toilet probably used a minimum of five gallons per flush and when it stopped up you had to get that plunger working REALLY fast or be REALLY fast in turning off the supply water or it would overflow. The next toilet I lived with I don't remember because it was for just six months and then I moved to my first owned home. That house had a washdown toilet and it was the WORST flusher I have ever seen. I replaced it with a used toilet that was a siphon jet model and while it was far better than the washdown it would still plug fairly often and you had to be quick with the plunger.

    When I moved into my present home it had Eljer 3.5 gpf toilets that flushed okay for the most part but less than a year into this home I had a deal where the county was paying $40 per toilet to replace with 1.6 gpf models. I ordered two Toto Carlyles and installed one the next day. The second one is still waiting (grin) but someday soon I will get it in.

    Yes, the Toto sometimes doesn't flush but it NEVER rises to the point of overflow. When it doesn't flush it is because of really hard and large, ahem, "deposits" that jam up on their way down. As long as I eat enough roughage the toilet is far and away the BEST I have ever used for an extended time.

  14. #14

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    If you want a really lousy toilet buy a Cimarron. This picture illustrates your new best friend. This is not just my opinion either I live the part. Pray for me.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    qujote; So until hj puts a Drake in his home, his opinion doesn't mean much.

    My opinion is NOT relative to the toilets in my house because I do NOT install Eljer toilets in customer's homes. Since NONE of them EVER call back and say, "This toilet is a POS and it plugs up every day", my opinion is that the ones I do use seem to be as effective as the TOTO. 60 years of experience and installing toilets without "replacing ANY because of poor performance" gives me some cachet to express my opinion.

    One problem with putting a TOTO in my home for evaluation, would be that I would have NOTHING to compare to. The Eljers do not plug up, so all the TOTO could do would be just as good, and no way to say they are BETTER. I was never blessed with the experience of driving a Volkswagen. My first car was a 1954 "Mexican Road Race" Lincoln converible, and it took a long time before my wife could convince me to start buying "practical" cars, ( I have probably had about 40 since that one). My sixth car was the #50, (almost preproduction), 1966 Riviera, and when I stopped at a gas station to have the oil changed the attendant asked his associate, (What is this thing?)





    As an aside, whether a toilet overflows or not when it is plugged up depends on the amount of water being used to flush it. NO 1.6 gpf toilet has enough water to overflow the bowl, even if it is NOT a TOTO.

    If the customer wants a TOTO, I will supply and install it. That customer, and I am not sure which of the two it was, either did not like the price for the toilet or the price for installing it, even though I gave them the estimate before I found out they were on the OTHER side of Phoenix, (about 50 miles away, one way).



    1954 Lincoln Capri
    Last edited by Terry; 06-26-2010 at 10:32 AM. Reason: added video

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