A bad toilet means continual problems and low-level frustration. On the other hand, a good toilet means that life goes on as usual, with no aggravation and little thought given to the most basic of your home's operations. For a basic toilet that does its job at a low cost, it's worth considering the Kohler Highline series.
What Is the Kohler Highline?
The Kohler Highline is an inexpensive and widely available series of two-piece elongated toilets sold by Home Depot and by other home centers. Some of the Kohler Highline toilets rise higher than the average chair-height toilets: an extra 2 inches higher. This makes those models of the Kohler Highline a good choice for anyone who could use the extra height boost that the Highline affords.
Kohler Highline Basics
Some have a high seat: 2 inches higher than average
1.28, 1.6, or 1 GPF (Gallons per flush)
All installation items except for the supply line are included: bowl, tank, seat, wax ring, and hardware
Cost: $217 to $470
Kohler Highline Toilet Description
The Kohler Highline is a two-piece elongated toilet available in white, almond, black, and biscuit colors. The two-piece part of Kohler's description means that this is a conventional toilet with a separate tank that you attach to the back.
This is in contrast to a toilet that has been making its way into residences lately, the one-piece toilet. As the name describes, the latter is a toilet that is a single unit, with the tank seamlessly attached to the bowl.
The Highline is an elongated toilet, so the bowl is much longer but only slightly wider. Not only that, but the elongated feature also increases the total length of the toilet (from the back wall to the outer front edge of the toilet).
The Highline's increased length is something to keep in mind when installing the toilet in a small bathroom. On the whole, bathroom codes require a minimum of 21 inches of clearance between the front of the toilet and the closest obstruction, such as a wall, shower, or tub. Thirty inches of clearance provides an even more comfortable amount of space.
Kohler advertises the Highline as "The Complete Solution," the theory being that you can take the single box home and install the enclosed toilet without having to purchase any accessories. Tools are not included, nor is the braided metal water supply line.
Kohler Highline Pros and Cons
Advertised as complete kit
Excellent flushing operations
1.0 GPF model available
Difficult to attach the tank to the bowl/base unit
Kohler Highline Toilet Specifications
The Kohler Highline toilet runs 29-1/2 inches from the back wall to the farthest edge of the toilet. A conventional toilet is about 28-1/2 inches long.
If you currently have a regular-sized toilet, you will notice the elongation and may probably appreciate it. Even though the elongation affords just one additional inch, it is an inch that counts for much.
The Highline toilet's rim height is 16-1/2 inches. Kohler calls this chair-height seating. The taller Highline toilet models are called comfort height, and they are 2 inches higher than the chair-height models.
The Highline series has toilets rated at 1.28. 1.6, and 1.0 gallons per flush (GPF). The 1.28 GPF toilet is now standard and is mandated by many communities.
The 1.0 GPF toilet is a unique water-saver developed by Kohler over a decade ago. Kohler engineers re-engineered the toilet so that greater pressure, not a greater quantity of water, would send the waste away. They completely re-built the water canister so that it would blast the same amount of water through a smaller valve, thus creating more pressure. They also found a way to re-direct the water in a slightly different direction so that it would be more effective.
When Kohler says that the Highline toilet is a "Complete Solution," they mean that, along with the tank and bowl, you receive a seat, lid, wax ring, and T-bolts. You would expect the first two items with many toilets, but the last two items—the wax ring and the T-bolts—are ones that you would normally purchase separately.
The flexible water supply line is not included with the Highline, nor is this piece included with most other toilets. This is nearly always a separate purchase with any toilet since lengths vary according to the specific owner's needs.
Seat and Lid
The Highline toilet's seat and lid have an easy on/off operation. The seat and lid have the ability to slide completely off to facilitate cleaning. There is no need to unscrew anything.
If you have ever spent time trying to clean up around the hinge area and still not getting it clean, you may like this feature. Note that the two plastic bases for the bolts do remain after you slide off the seat/lid, so you still have those obstructions.
Kohler Highline Installation
The Kohler Highline's installation process is moderately easy. If you have installed toilets before, the process is roughly the same as with any other toilet. Even so, the Highline toilets that were reviewed did have two issues that made installation more difficult than it should have been.
The separate components are relatively light and easy to carry once they are out of the box. Items are well-organized and the instructions are mostly, but not always, clear.
Attaching the tank to the bowl/base unit is difficult. The Highline has gasketed bolts on the bottom of the tank which appear to be long enough to extend through the mounting holes on the toilet bowl.
However, in the way that the toilet is shipped, the bolts are not long enough. Instead, those gasketed bolts need to manually be forced back into the tank so that the tank can properly attach to the toilet bowl.
Two of the reviewed Kohler Highline toilets did not ship with the necessary hardware for attaching the seat to the bowl base. Kohler customer service indicated that it could not send replacement hardware. Instead, the toilet would need to be uninstalled, cleaned, and returned to the place of purchase.
Finally, many toilets come with two sets of differently sized bolts for mounting the toilet to the closet flange. The Highline comes with one set of long bolts, which may entail cutting off the ends of the bolts with a hacksaw or a multi-tool.
The Kohler Highline is one of the lowest cost name-brand toilets found at Home Depot. The toilets most comparable in cost to the Highline toilet are Home Depot's Glacier Bay toilets. Because Glacier Bay is a house brand of Home Depot, prices on these toilets tend to be a little less than the Highline.
Kohler Highline prices range from about $215 to $230 for a basic model in white or biscuit colors. Special models can cost substantially more. The Highline toilet in black with the 1.0 GPF feature costs upward of $500.
Should You Buy the Highline?
If you're a toilet owner who has to plan toilet flushing operations in multiple stages, you might be pleased to know that the Highline does an excellent job of flushing large loads of solids and paper in one flush. Even though the Highline is a conventional gravity-fed toilet, it has enough power that it behaves almost like a pressure-assisted toilet.
If you are a very slim person—or for children—the larger toilet seat (and thus a larger toilet opening) might be an uncomfortable fit, as the person using the toilet may not feel secure.