Kohler Highline Toilet Is Cheap and Available. But Does It Work?

Kohler Highline Toilet
Lee Wallender

Kohler Highline Classic is such an inexpensive and widely available toilet--one of several you will encounter unboxed and displayed on the shelves of Home Depot.  It's worth covering this product's specs, installation, and operation because if you plan to buy your next commode from that store, there's a 1 in 8 chance it will be a Highline.

While I've been pleased with its operation, instructions were not accurate and Kohler's omission of hardware made installation more difficult.

If all you care about is Highline's ability to flush down those large loads, skip to the last section, "Operation."

What Is It?

The Kohler Highline is a two-piece elongated toilet available in white or biscuit colors.  

The two-piece part of their description just 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, it's a toilet that is one single unit, tank seamlessly attached to the bowl.

Elongated means that the bowl is longer, which also increases the total length of the toilet (from back wall to outer edge of toilet).

Kohler calls the Highline "The Complete Solution," which, as you will see later on, did not apply to my installation.  The theory behind that name is that you should be able to take it home and install your toilet, without having to purchase any accessories.

1. Cost

The Highline is one of the lowest cost name-brand toilets at Home Depot.

The Glacier Bay toilet most comparable to the Kohler Highline is Model N2316.  Look at this Home Depot house brand as a generic version of the Highline.

Currently, a Kohler Highline costs $178, as opposed to $98 for the N2316 elongated.

 If you want to save ten bucks on a Glacier Bay, get the round bowl style.

2. Specs

  • Elongated:  This toilet runs 29.5" from back wall to farthest edge of toilet.  By contrast, a conventional toilet is about 28.5"  You will notice the elongation and will probably appreciate it.  Even though it's just one inch more, it feels like 2"-3".
  • GPF:  Gallons per flush is 1.28.  This is the eco-friendly standard you will find with nearly every toilet sold now at Home Depot.
  • Bowl Rim Height:  Rim is 16.5" high, which, to an average-sized person, will feel normal.
  • "Complete Solution":  By this, Kohler means that, along with the tank and bowl, you get a seat, lid, wax ring, and T-bolts.  You'd expect the first two items with most toilets, but the last two items you would normally purchase separately.
  • Easy On/Off Seat and Lid:  I'm sure Kohler has some trademarked word for this, but I'll just put it this way:  the seat and lid have the ability to slide completely off to facilitate cleaning.  No need to unscrew anything.

3. Installation

Highline's installation wasn't the smoothest, mainly due to the poor instructions.

Because of those vague instructions, I felt compelled to write my own instruction manual for Highline installation, including a tip for one vexing problem--attaching the tank to the bowl/base unit.

4.  Missing Items

Kohler neglected to include necessary hardware for attaching the seat to the bowl base. Ironically, I had insisted to the Home Depot employee who was assisting me that I receive a sealed, unopened box, because I know that returned items are often lacking hardware.  So, this means that this was a factory omission.

As a result, I tried to purchase generic plastic toilet bolts at the hardware.  However, because the Highline's seat attachment system is not standard (see next section), these bolts did not fit.  This lead to me purchasing Kohler-branded hardware from Amazon.  

While the cost was not great--less than $5 for the Kohler hardware, using Amazon Prime free shipping--this extra purchase should not have been necessary.  

5.  Seat and Lid

That aside, I do like the easy on/off seat and lid combination (they are a single unit).

 If you've ever spent time mopping up unmentionables around the hinge area--and still not getting it clean--you will like this feature.

The two plastic bases for the bolts do remain after you slide off the seat/lid, so it's not like you have a completely clean slate.  But it's a far sight better than the alternative.

5. Operation (or, Can It Flush Those Big Ones?)

Does the Highline move everything down?  And in one flush?  

If you're a toilet owner who has to plan toilet flushing operations in multiple stages, you'll be pleased to know that the Highline does a fantastic job of flushing large loads of solids and paper in one flush.

It effectively "cured" what I believed was a problem with the first length of my sewer pipe, just below the closet flange.  For the longest time, I was convinced that the need for multiple flushes couldn't be the fault of my toilet.  It had to be a more internal, expensive problem--the sewer line.  Right?

As it turns out, the problem was with the existing toilet.  After I removed that toilet and installed the Highline, I had a normally functioning toilet.

What I like most is the absence of The Endless Swirl.  If you have a touchy toilet, you know how this works.  After the flush, you stand there with bated breath, waiting as the water swirls and swirls...and then swirls even more, as you think:  "Will it all go down?  Will I have to flush a second time?"

No such problems with the Highline:  everything flushes straight down in one decisive swoop.  No swirl.  In fact, for a gravity-fed toilet, it behaves a lot like a pressure-assisted toilet.