What is the basis for choosing a bathroom fixture collection? Price, aesthetics, quality, brand? How to orient yourself among the many models of toilets and bidets on the market? What are the characteristics of a good quality sanitary ware? And what tests must you pass in order to be a good product, durable and safe, and easy to clean? I found the answers to these questions and I share them with you in this post.
Today’s post anticipates a topic that I will discuss in depth in the next e-book – dedicated to the choice of sanitaryware for the bathroom – and takes advantage of what I learned during one of the last blogger tours: a few weeks ago I visited the sanitaryware factory of GSI Ceramica, in Civita Castellana. I discovered many things that today I am happy to share with all those who are facing the purchase of toilets and bidets and do not know how to orient themselves.
I had never been to a ceramic sanitaryware factory before. I visited tile factories (and learned how porcelain stoneware tiles are made), bathroom furniture, shower enclosures and taps. But I had never seen how a sanitary fixture is made! And I realized that I didn’t know a lot of interesting things.
We are often attracted by a particularly attractive design, but it does not rhyme (not always at least) with comfort and affordability. We get bewitched by a collection for its colors, now that colored sanitary ware are back in fashion, but we know nothing about how those colored enamels are applied, or if they will last over time. Or we choose beautiful sanitaryware that then… unloads badly. In no shop do they actually show them in operation.
The most “serious” thing is that we often underestimate the purchase of sanitary ware to save budget to devote to the rest of the furniture or tiles, but we should think well about the importance of toilets and bidets, which, if nothing else, are the only fundamental thing in a bathroom (I mean: without which the bathroom itself would not be defined as such). It’s also one of the most complicated and expensive to change over the years.
What would be useful to know, then, before buying the toilets?
Here is a list of the aspects that affect the quality of toilets and bidets, which I have drawn up after visiting the factory. I always talk about both toilets, although in this post I refer mainly to the toilet: I recommend you choose a collection based on the latter, it goes without saying that the bidet will have the same characteristics of aesthetics, ergonomics, finishes.
1. The importance of raw materials
I am referring to the quality of the raw materials used for the production of sanitary ware, which are of two types:
- raw materials for the creation of the ceramic mixture (for sanitaryware, glass is used, while fireclay is more used for shower trays or washbasins);
- raw materials for finishing enamels (glossy, matt, coloured)
In both cases, these are natural raw materials, which in themselves are therefore variable in an unpredictable way. For this reason, every time they arrive at the company, they must be checked, and this check is carried out at GSI in a laboratory by specialised personnel. In the captions of the photos you will find some tests carried out on the raw materials.
It is true that when you go to the store this information is not provided to customers but you can easily ask yourself, or (in case the salesperson is not so informed) deepen thanks to the Internet: the company sites now have beautiful pages that explain everything, and active social channels to which you can turn directly. Today we have many means to inform us before buying anything, do not be afraid to ask the source, companies are happy to tell you what is behind their products.
GSI toilets are internally enamelled at every point in contact with water, including the drain. This ensures hygiene and longevity of the sanitary over time (thanks to the fact that it will remain cleaner over the years).
Do you know those toilets (maybe not even very old) streaked on the bottom, impossible to clean? Well, that is a problem related to the quality of the internal glazing. And one of the reasons why when you enter a new house with already used sanitary ware … it would always be a good thing and right to change them for hygienic reasons. Over the years, in fact, the dough absorbs everything that passes in the badly enamelled parts. That’s why sometimes toilets emit bad smells even in the absence of leaks or hydraulic problems. The stench comes from the ceramic, which over time has absorbed what it had to let flow away.
3. Ergonomic functionality
Not only beautiful but comfortable. Wc and bidet must be comfortable! Have you ever sat on a toilet that seemed really uncomfortable to you? Maybe with a narrow hole, or a seat that didn’t fit well, or edges that were annoying for sitting? The design of a sanitary fixture does not always go well with its comfort, which is why I always recommend sitting on the fixtures before choosing them. It won’t be a great thing to do in stores, but it will save you from future regrets!
4. Compliance with regulations and quality standards
At GSI, quality controls are very accurate, and are performed on a sample or piece by piece basis depending on the type of test.
Vacuum tightness test
This test, for example, is done on all toilets and consists of closing all the holes in the sanitary to check that the ceramic has no cracks or microholes that are not visible and could cause future leaks. Once the holes are plugged, a machine draws air from the toilet and returns the internal pressure data through a video.
A sample test is carried out to check the stability of the suspended sanitary fixtures hooked to the wall: a 400 kg bar is placed on a toilet for 24 hours. Sanitary fixtures that do not fail pass the test. This is to reassure those who still don’t trust the suspensions for fear that they are less stable or safe than the floor sanitary fixtures!
5. Exhaust efficiency
Even the exhaust is subjected to rigorous analysis and tests to verify its quietness, sketches and efficiency.
Artificial faeces (simulating the weight of real faeces) and balls are used to check the amount and power of the water jet needed to discharge. GSI performs American-style tests (i.e. it compares its own models with those of its competitors), so as to have an overview.
6. Ease of cleaning
The easier an object is to clean, the harder it will be over time. This applies to any product, let alone a toilet!
And what makes a toilet easy to clean? A good integral internal enamelling (we saw it above), a clean and linear design (without dodging with annoying accumulations of dust), a water-repellent and maybe antibacterial finish, and the possibility to unhook the seat!
EXTRAGLAZE® | This is a glaze finish that minimizes the porosity of the ceramic, making it smooth and shiny, and therefore easily washable. Water and dirt slip away quickly, along with limescale and bacteria. As it is applied before firing, the treatment is permanent, allowing even less detergent to be used (which is good for the environment). The Gold and Platinum sanitary wares (gold and silver series) are also equipped with Anti Scratch, a very resistant enamel specific for this type of finish (I talked about it here).
EXTRAGLAZE ANTIBACTERIAL® | To the Extraglaze enamel is added the strength of Titanium and Silver ions, which guarantee resistance to bacteria certified ISO 22196. Currently available only on sanitaryware for the disabled, the next application is also planned for the sanitaryware of the top lines.
DUALGLAZE | Even those who love opaque sanitaryware can count on the guarantee of maximum hygiene inside the sanitaryware: with Dualglaze GSI offers glossy internal glazing (with Extraglaze®) and matt external glazing.
QUICKRELEASE | Recent models, in addition to the soft-close slow closure, have the possibility of removing the seat with a simple click, which allows full access to the ceramic seat and to clean the seat well.