Kohler vs American Standard: Which Toilet Brand is the right choice?
Here’s a wager. Go to your bathroom right now and carefully remove the lid from your toilet tank and look at the underside. Chances are it will say either Kohler or American Standard on the lid.
(and if not, you need to see our guide to the best toilets here)
If you bet against that, and you live in the United States, chances are you lost the best. The overwhelming majority of toilets in the US are one of these brands; a close third is TOTO.
So how do these two titans stack up? Is there a substantial difference? Keep reading to find the answer to these questions and more about the two biggest toilet brands.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of each brand, it’s worth delving into their history for a little context.
The Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company, that would eventually become American Standard, was founded in 1875.
Following a series of mergers with smaller plumbing manufacturers, the company became larger rather quickly. In 1927, another merger with American Radiator turned the company into the largest manufacturer of bathroom fixtures in the world.
The name American Standard wouldn’t come into effect until 1967. By 2008, American Standard Americas, Crane Plumbing, and Eljer formed the current iteration: American Standard Brands.
The 140+ year journey of American Standard has made the company into what it is today – the true American standard for toilets and bathroom fixtures.
Now, on to the fun part.
What Makes It Stand Out?
If there’s one thing that sets American Standard toilets apart it’s water efficiency.
For years, American Standard has been making strides in designing and manufacturing toilets that use as little water as possible.
And the efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2016, American Standard was awarded a WaterSense Excellence in Innovation and Research Award from the EPA.
That makes a big difference. In American homes today, toilets account for 27% of an individual’s water use .
So, if you really want to make a splash with your choice of toilet, chances are you’ll find the right fit with American Standard. They have the biggest variety of EPA WaterSense-certified  toilet models.
Another big selling point of American Standard toilets is their self-cleaning models.
Believe it or not, there’s research into what Americans hate cleaning most in their homes. Yep, you guessed it, it’s toilets.
Through a series of design decisions that include changes to the rim curvature and other factors, American Standard toilets are excellent at remaining clean without your help.
Now, this self-cleaning doesn’t mean you’ll never need to reach for your toilet brush again, but any help is appreciated.
You’ll also be happy to know that there’s not much of a tradeoff in terms of extraction power. American Standard toilets have some of the largest trapways and flush valves available.
Most American Standard models have a maximum extraction power of over 1000. That means they can extract over a kilogram of waste in a single flush without clogging.
Related: Round vs elongated toilet seats.
Don’t let the name deceive you, Kohler brand toilets are as American as apple pie.
The company was founded by John Michael Kohler in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Back then, their stock-in-trade was plows and farm equipment.
After their facilities burned down and they moved to a bigger location, they added an enameling workshop to the complex.
Then, something transformative happened.
At the time, Horse troughs were a popular item made by Kohler, and some were enameled to extend their longevity. Inspiration struck at some point in 1883 when John Michael Kohler decided to add decorative feet to a horse trough and market it as the first modern bathtub .
As it turns out, being the first to market a staple of every bathroom in the world is an excellent way to become successful.
That quickly changed things as the newly designed clawfoot tub started to gain popularity.
The company slowly moved away from farming equipment and started mostly focusing on bathroom fixtures.
In 1912, the Kohler Co. took on the name by which it’s still known today.
Since then, the company has become multinational and at one point even manufactured spacecraft parts.
What Makes It Stand Out?
Kohler’s biggest claim to fame is how popular it is with professionals in the industry. More plumbers use and recommend the brand than any other toilet. They even make basement style toilets.
That gives you a lot of information.
Perhaps the most important piece is that Kohler toilets tend to have excellent price points. Plumbers wouldn’t recommend them if they didn’t think the toilets made sense economically for them.
The other thing you can deduce is that Kohler products are reliable. Nobody wants to get a call and learn that the toilet they installed last month needs to be replaced at their expense.
What impresses me the most about Kohler is they hold themselves to a different standard. And I was very impressed by that when I was taken through a factory tour.Howard Van Natta, Van Natta Mechanical
Lastly, Kohler toilets have great design options. You can’t recommend a toilet unless it’s in line with someone’s other fixtures.
Have You Made Up Your Mind?
Kohler and American Standard are at the top for good reason. They’re both time-tested and reliable brands.
American Standard wins out slightly with more eco-friendly models but Kohler makes up for it with a wider variety.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either of these brands. Your next decision: A wood or plastic toilet seat?
- Rastogi, Nina Shen. “What Kind of Environmental Impact Do Toilets Have?” Slate Magazine, Slate, 25 Aug. 2009, slate.com/technology/2009/08/what-kind-of-environmental-impact-do-toilets-have.html.
- “The WaterSense Label.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 18 Apr. 2019, www.epa.gov/watersense/watersense-label.
- Aquatica Bath USA Aquatica Bath USA – Premium Bathtubs> www.aquaticausa.com 12005 SW 130 St. Ste. 302. “A Brief History on the Invention and Rise of the Bathtub.” Luxury Freestanding Tubs with Modern Design in the USA, 27 Dec. 2016, www.aquaticausa.com/blog/a-brief-history-on-the-invention-and-rise-of-the-bathtub.