Toilet on last leg - want full remodel but DH doesn't

a2geminiMarch 7, 2014

Hi all,
Our master both Kohler toilet is 25 years old and is on its last leg (now my parents toilets lasted forever!!!)

At the minimum, we need new sinks, countertops, and a toilet.

I would like a full remodel to more efficiently use the space but DH is not wanting to do this (although he loves the kitchen but his plumber friend says don't remodel......)

Please tell me about your favorite toilet and what you like and don't like about it.

I am leaning towards a Toto but American standard is much less and I could also snag a toilet in Canada.


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We ended up with a Toto Vespin, which I'm told is just a skirted Drake. The Drake is very popular, as is the Aquia if you want dual flush, and seem to be very, very reliable from what I read.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 10:43PM
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What are the reason's DH and plumber don't want to remodel?

I like the idea of making a bathroom more efficient. I like the idea of making a bathroom more accessible for aging in place and for safety. It can be very expensive though, new wiring, plumbing, fixtures, flooring, walls, doors, hardware, etc, etc.

If you are going to be moving then I wouldn't do a full remodel. But if I had the time, money, and the long term plans were to stay in the home, I would do it.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 12:05AM
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I have the Toto Soirée in my master bath. It is ADA height and wow, what a difference that makes. It is also skirted so the bottom is easier to clean. It is elongated to make hubby happy although I like that too. It has the double cyclone flush which is great. It is a big improvement over my old Kohlers. And of course, the Washlet.....DH loves, loves that.

We have two Toto Ultramaxes in our other bathrooms. They are lower and round front. They are very reliable and good for smaller spaces.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 7:02AM
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What do you mean your toilet is on its last leg? There's not much that can't be cheaply repaired on a toilet, unless it's cracked and leaking. There are a lot of reasons to remodel, but I'm not convinced that's one of them. Perhaps if you came up with a better reason?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:02AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You can replace the entire working parts of a toilet for under $15. Yourself. Easy. Not a reason to relace it for sure. Certainly not enough of reason to tackle a compete remodel.

You need to separate ''need'' and ''want''. No reason to not do a complete redo if that is what you ''want'', and can afford to spend the money for the pleasure of having a new bath. Any other ''reason'' for the remodel though is not logical, and is gonna get (justifiably) shot down from someone who thinks logically and not emotionally.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 1:12PM
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I guess the toilet issue is that the parts keep failing and DH is tired of fixing.
It is also not water efficient and does clog regularly.

Also, it is forest green with a white seat as the color is no longer available

The matching sinks are rusting away.

We don't plan on moving and will plan aging in place as long as we can climb stairs. I expect we will be here 15-20 years.

We have the resources but year one of retirement, DH is being conservative.

This post was edited by a2gemini on Sat, Mar 8, 14 at 14:17

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 1:28PM
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Not that it helps you...

But my boss is looking at retirement (Retirement waves. It's close enough for Boss to recognize it) What he's doing is renovating NOW as he thinks after retirement the budget will be much tighter. So.. the bath was reno'd last year. A new fridge was purchased a couple years ago.

You won't have more money later will you? I'd be looking at accessibility issues (toilet height, is the shower big enough to accommodate a shower chair? Can you step into it? Would one with a fold-down seat be preferable?)

I suddenly feel very old. I'm only 58...

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 2:16PM
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To where do you climb the stairs? Can you consolidate all activities on one floor? I know this is beyond the scope of this question. But if I had stairs to climb, I wouldn't consider the place an aging in place home. I might not put much effort into the bathroom, just to make it updated with more efficient fixtures.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 2:30PM
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Thanks for your thoughts. We got the kitchen done before retirement (although, I have been consulting as a young retiree)

I am in the same decade as you but only admit to being 38 and not 59.

I am running Boston this spring. I have to think young!

The bathroom has a shower with a door and a 3-4 inch threshold and we could put a shower chair in it.

We are looking at comfort height for DH back

If we need wheelchairs, we most likely would move or need extensive renovations as our lower floor only has a half bath an no bedroom.

It would be possible to modify but not the best option.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 2:37PM
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I would replace the green toilet and sinks. It will make you happy now and be one less thing a buyer has to moan about later. :)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 5:54PM
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a2gemini, I would do it right and rip it to the studs. But you know me. I tell the dh they are taking me out of here in a body bag. Whe I can't manage the stairs I'm getting a stair glide. We had one a dozen years ago for my MIL; worked like a charm and fairly unobtrusive.

But I digress. I just put two Toto Promenade Ecos with Sanigloss in for my mother, and wow, was I impressed. Chose them for the retro look as it went with the cottage look I was going for. My first experience with Toto. I'm getting ready to do the powder room off our new kitchen and I will definitely be going Toto and almost certainly Promenade as it is so old fashioned in appearance and very space saving in length. They use about a gallon of water, flush like a powerhouse, and oddly, make almost no noise. I believe Promenade is just another Drake version in a retro shape, but not sure..

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:19PM
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a2gemini: "At the minimum, we need new sinks, countertops, and a toilet."

I assume that you recognize that those cane be separated into at least two separate stages of your remodel.

"I would like a full remodel to more efficiently use the space but DH is not wanting to do this."

Unless you plan to move the toilet to another location or put the sink where a door is, there is no reason that you need to make all of your remodeling decisions before you replace aged hardware. However, if you do not have an electrical outlet close by to the toilet, I suggest that earlier, rather than later, would be a good time to install one. The electrician has more room to work when the toilet is out; it is easier to locate wall studs for the same reason; and cutting a hole for the electrical junction box can generate a lot of dust.

"I am leaning towards a Toto but American standard is much less"

Well yes: Totos and Inaxes are the gold standard of toilets, while American Standard is best known for "contractor grade" toilets. The Toto and Inax toilets are designed in Japan, and any Toto that you are likely to purchase will be made in the State of Georgia, USA. All current American Standard toilets are made in third-world countries, and currently available Inax toilets are made in Japan; but that may change following Lixil's 2013 purchase of American Standard: Lixil is the parent company of Inax.

Like williamsem, we purchased a made-in Georgia Toto Vespin II in 2010, and are happy with it. We have had in our home over the years a 5 gpf toilet and a 3.5 gpf toilet, and the toilet in our other bathroom is a 1994 vintage 1.6 gpf toilet. The Vespin II is easily the best flushing, and fastest refilling, toilet we have had, and the easiest to clean.

Like nycbluedevil, we have an advanced toilet seat, as (I predict with confidence) just about everyone will have within a decade. Once you get accustomed to using an advanced toilet seat, you will not be satisfied with a non-performing toilet seat; would you go back to a flickering B&W television set with a couple of hundred lines of resolution after using a high-definition color television set?

Although our toilet is a Toto, we matched it with an Inax Clessence toilet seat, and we are glad that we did. I am composing this reply while sitting at the kitchen table of my sister-in-law in Japan, and her home has two Toto Washlets, each a couple of years newer than our Inax Clessence; we also spent three nights in a quality 4-star hotel in Yokohama last week that had Washlets in the guest room bathrooms; and the Washlets simply are a pound short -- in our opinion -- to the Inax. It all boils down to decisions made respectively by Inax (the inventor of the category) and Toto back in the 1980s when the original models were being made. Toto decided to design around a single washing wand with two nozzles for "posterior" and "feminine" washing functions, while Inax designed around two separate wands, one for "posterior," and one for "feminine," cleansing. As a result, each of the wands of the Inax seats can be positioned to optimize the angle of incidence of the water stream, while the angle of the water stream of the Toto seats must be a compromise for both of the functions. As you are unlikely to have the opportunity to compare the feel of the different design approaches in person, allow me to tell you that, from real-world experience, the design differences do make a big difference in operation.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:44PM
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Hello A2, haven't communicated with you in a while. Tell your DH that your cyber twin says remodel now. As long as you have another bathroom in the house, it is not a big deal to live through a bathroom remodel. Tell him that a comfort height toilets are great but a new one would look very out of place with your lovely 80s green sinks. If he is worried about the financial aspect of it, tell him you will work a few extra consulting gigs. Also an updated bath will make your house more marketable to today's picky buyers if you would by chance need to sell your home in the near future.
As you may recall I had fabulous 80s raspberry beauties in my bathroom. If your sinks are over mount too, have him look at my pictures below and show him how much more counter space you can possibly gain.


I am helping my daughter with her bathroom remodel that started this week. The contractor/tiler is great. Everything is planned out to the day and he will have it done in 3 weeks. I have seen his work and it is great. He is super meticulous. Wish I could send him your way.
Good luck on convincing your husband to remodel.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:51PM
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Good to hear from familiar kitchen friends (NYC, badger, williamsem, enduring, hollysprings, etc) and great posts from others.

Herring- great information. I have a Korean friend and was talking to him about Migun massage beds which digressed to toilets. He said everyone in Korea has a Migun. Everyone in Korea has a washlet toilet.
His wife pipes in - everyone with money has them. LOL.

I like the analogy of the BW TV. My DH will understand that. The plumber won't. I think that will get me washlet toilet. Great idea to power now!

Badger- what is the width of your vanity? I am thinking of a similar concept but we have a weird size. I think about 78 inches. Initially I was thinking of a tower to hide the toys (toothbrush, waterpik , UV cleaner for bite splints hair dryer, etc but am wondering about power in a drawer. I had forgotten about your beauties.
I also thinking of a bottom drawer under the sink part of the vanity if I can figure it out.

We plan to go with 36-38 inch high vanities. DH has a bad back(but tided 4000-5000 miles per year, so despite his back- he does OK)
The kitchen is 36 and with the under mount sink, he says it is too low

I was hoping to create a jack and Jill out of our current bathroom and closet downstream but I don't think I have the room for it to work.

I would like to enlarge the shower and possibly move the shower to replace the big green jet tub. If I ditch the jet tub, my vanity plans change. The toilet will stay

In any case, I have to figure out something for the big green tub or I will never sell a Spartan bathroom (MSU) in wolverine territory. (Green and white won't fly)

Misslizzie- you are great with your pearls of wisdom! - body bag!

NYC - I will look up your model!

UP- lots of snow up there this year. My cuyrent consulting gig is just north in SSM ontario. I hope to visit the ice caves

Usual iPhone errors

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 7:01AM
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We just replaced our toilet with an American Standard from Lowe's, $250.00 or so. It's great.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:41AM
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We have always been pleased with American Standard. It sounds like you are on your way to a nice renovation. We just completed ours and it is a headache but worth it! I found this website useful, so perhaps it will help you as well:

Here is a link that might be useful: Shower Info

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:21AM
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Herring - Brilliant!
DH totally understood the analogy and it almost on board with the washlet concept.

Badger - I showed DH your before and after and he totally understood and liked! What are your faucets? I want something similar for the BR.

He also understood - no Spartan Bathroom in A2, so either we move the shower or we put in a new tub if we can find one that fits.

We can expand the current shower but have to find room for "toady" - it is a whimsical piece of art that we both enjoy.

Enduring - our current shower is fully tiled and in OK shape. I will either stay with current shower or tile a new one. Thanks for the link

Anyone out there do drawers under the sink with a U cut out for plumbing? I might start a new thread when back in A2 for good.

I have to head back to SSM today (leaving DH all alone) but when I am back, I will post diagrams of the BR to get other ideas.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 12:09PM
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a2- We talked to 2 guys about our MBR project-one owned a plumbing co. and the other one was a GC who gave us the rough estimate. Both of them raved about a washlet-totally urged us to at least put in power behind the toilet when we remodel. Which we will do. But it cracked me up how into it they both were-they were convinced that it is the best thing EVER. Having never used one I don't know. After all the climbing and stuff we've done (and I know you can relate) I'm just happy to have a place to sit down.

Good luck with your project and convincing DH-he'll get there.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 12:35PM
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A2, just curious as to what kind of consulting you do and where A2 is?... now I understand why you said you could buy a toilet in Canada, but believe me (living in Canada), Totos are much cheaper in the US... as are almost ALL plumbing supplies/fixtures so I wouldn't think it would be worthwhile to shop up here!

I'm approximately your age (A wee bit younger), and just got rid (well we started gutting over a year ago, left the toilet in as long as possible) of our avocado green fixtures! Though previous posters are correct about relative cost of fixing toilets (again costs more up here), I totally get your position. You can only fix things for so long until you begin to ask, shouldn't we just replace it? For that reason, we have a brand spanking WHITE toilet in our otherwise sky blue fixture BR (#3 and last BR to be remodeled). We had literally duct-taped the toilet seat down, cuz I refused to pay $60-$70 for a new one as I knew that toilet was going to be replaced. Unfortunately, there are unremoveable rust stains on the linoleum cuz the old toilet had a bigger foot print, but I have lived with this 'new' toilet in this old BR for 3 years now. So, personally I would start looking at toilets, replace the present one, and just reuse it in your new remodel.

On another note, I just got back from visiting family, and I guess I haven't sat on a non-comfort height toilet for awhile, as I used my mother's BR I almost pulled a muscle, because for a second I thought I had sat down and missed the toilet bowl! I stayed with my sister, and really I thought I was using a kid's vanity and toilet, they seemed so low (I really do think her vanity is even lower than the normal low BR height)

Our new BR vanity does have all drawers, top drawer is U-shaped to fit around sink. I had it custom made so it was deeper than sink. Since the plumbing was in the middle I had him make the 2 sides 2" longer. The other two drawers are 2" shallower to allow room for pipes in back. The second drawer has the U cutout to clear plumbing.

As you can see, not installed yet:

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 2:04PM
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Raehelen - A2= Ann Arbor. I am doing electronic medical record implementation as a retired PT (physio in Canada)
Thanks for the pictures. Years ago - you could get different models in CA that weren't available in the states - but maybe that has changed.

Leela - Definitely will plan on putting in power and plumbing. DH is on board with the washlet concept now - but not the whole thing.

Lots of snow up here! Hope to have BR pictures soon

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 9:59PM
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A2, sounds like your DH's resolve is already starting to weaken regarding a bathroom remodel. Maybe we should start a pool here on GW to guess the day when he will acquiesce. I think you should quietly start planning so you will be ready when he finally agrees.

You asked about my vanity. It is only 60 inches wide. I decided to use the Kohler Caxton sinks in the smaller 12x15 size to gain a few inches of countertop space. I find that the size of the sinks is more than adequate. Your vanity at 78 inches sounds like a nice size. The other full bath in my house has an 96 inch vanity. I hate to think what that will cost me to replace. I better get on that before my DH retires.

We have a good size window in our bathroom that we were unwilling to mess with so that limited our remodel decisions. A too large whirlpool tub was centered on that window. We we able to increase the size of the shower a few inches by putting in a smaller tub. I am a tub person and enjoy having a whirlpool bath fairly often. I would think with your DH's back problems he might benefit from a tub with some type of hydrotherapy.

The faucets we used in the bathroom are Kohler's Forte. We intended to have a single hole and no estescheon plate but the plumber mistakenly told the countertop fabricator that our faucets were 4 in. center set so they cut 3 holes instead of just one. Oops! The plumber did offer to replace the granite because of the mistake but we let him off the hook by just covering the extra holes with the plate.

Can't leave you without a picture. (Sorry it's a little dark)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 12:29AM
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Badgergal - great shots of your BR.
Thanks for sharing the faucet info as well.
Yup, he is melting but I think the layout will be hard to modify without significant expense due to the angle wall that is part of the 2 story entry.
I might be able to swap the shower and tub for a larger shower.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:31PM
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