Why Are North American Toilets So Crappy?


Image credit Geberit UK

In France last year, I never saw a regular toilet sitting on the floor of a bathroom; they were all these gorgeous wall-hung units with the tank hidden behind the wall. Jackie Daly of KBB News explains why they have become so popular:

At last, here was an option that turned the often cumbersome and sometimes ugly WC and basin into stylish solutions. Gone was the unsightly and dust-trapping pipework and no longer would we have to get down on bended knee to scrub pedestals. So popular is this trend today that wall-hung sanitaryware is offered by virtually all manufacturers available at every price point.

Of course, this isn't as cheap or as easy as the good old bolt-it-down American toilet. It is a solid piece of construction that goes behind the wall and has to be fastened to something solid; it is hard to find anything solid in most new houses.


Image Credit Kohler

In America, the only wall hung toilets one sees are commercial installations, where cleaning the floor has to be fast and efficient.

But even this $ 3,600 Kohler with built in bidet sits on the ground and has a big dirt-collecting base.


Image credit Lloyd Alter

In Paris, even a cheap restaurant had an expensive toilet. It just seems to be the standard. So why do we not have these in North America? Why not install toilets that take up less space, use less water and make less noise?

My first thoughts were that service must be a real pain, having to do everything through that little panel with the buttons on it. But I am told that the things are so well made that they almost never need service, and that all of the mechanical parts are carefully situated in that little box above the cistern.

My second thoughts were that people wouldn't pay over a thousand bucks for a toilet, but in fact people do all the time.

All I can think of is that ultimately, as Heather Mallick put it in the Star today, we are worshipping at the altar of cheap. She writes:

The West imports so many goods from China now that it would benefit the planet if we all moved to China and saved on the fuel it takes to send us badly made plastic things. As the next oil price shock approaches, we're failing to consider the benefits of local jobs, so entranced are we by Cheap.

We buy fruits and vegetables on the cheap from California, forgetting that they're grown in bulk next to the runoff from giant pig farms, and wonder why they're coated with E. coli.

Household appliances get cheaper every year because they have more plastic in them, which makes them unfixable.

And Chinese made toilets at the Home Depot start at $ 95. No wonder.

More on bathrooms and toilets:
Re-Thinking the Bathroom: Who Needs It?
Why Do Showers Point Down Instead of Up?
Save Water; Shower Japanese Style

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