Whether you are looking to renovate an old bathroom or kitchen, or to build a new one from scratch, you probably want the highest quality products for the money you have to spend.
Two brands you might be focusing on for your plumbing needs are Kohler and Toto. So, between the two, which one offers the better quality, warranty, and product selection? Which one should you choose?
A Brief History of Kohler & Toto
In terms of company age and size, Kohler is one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of plumbing products out there. Besides plumbing products, Kohler also produces a variety of generators, tiles, cabinets, and furniture among other products.
The Kohler company, officially known as Kohler Co. was first founded in 1873 by John Kohler. This US-based manufacturing company is currently based in Wisconsin.
What is worth noting about Kohler is that in 1883, John Kohler took an old cast iron horse trough and decided to apply a layer of enamel to it. The result of this undertaking was the creation of the very first bathtub to be sold by the Kohler brand, and it was hailed for its superior durability and longevity.
At this time, Kohler Co. is a huge company, as it has estimated annual revenues north of 6 billion dollars, along with over 32,000 employees worldwide. Kohler is now seen as a leading producer of plumbing and related products.
On the other hand, we have Toto, officially known as Toto Ltd. Toto is a Japanese manufacturer of toilets and other fixtures. The company is currently based out of Kitakyushu, Japan. It was first founded in 1917 and has quickly become a very popular brand.
What Toto is best known for is the invention of the Washlet. For those of you who don’t know, the Washlet is like a combination of a regular toilet and a bidet, with pressurized water jets built right into the toilet seat.
This was seen as revolutionary at the time of its invention, as it eliminated the need for users to use toilet paper, as the pressurized water jets took care of the cleanup. Some of these Washlets even feature seat heaters, air fresheners, and more.
Although Kohler might be more well known than Toto, especially in North America, by all standards, Toto is actually the larger company. Whereas Kohler has around 32,000 employees, Toto has over 35,000, but that said, estimated annual revenues for Toto are around 5.5 billion dollars, compared to the 6 billion dollars which Kohler pulls in on a yearly basis.
Kohler vs. Toto: Which Offers Better Quality?
When it comes to quality, Kohler is regarded as being one of the better brands out there. Kohler produces a wide variety of products for the kitchen, the bathroom, and even lighting products as well. Most people would agree that Kohler products are quite high in quality across the board, they are durable, they look nice and are highly functional too.
For the most part, you really won’t find too many complaints about Kohler.
Although Kohler might not be seen as the number one brand for kitchen and bathroom fixtures in the world, in terms of keeping up with its competitors, especially the other big boys in the world of plumbing, Kohler has managed to keep pace.
Most consumers appear to be very happy with Kohler’s line of bathroom fixtures, as well as the large selection which the brand has to offer. People are especially happy with the bathtubs and toilets. Of course, seeing as Kohler products are some of the better ones out there, you can also expect to pay a decent amount of money for them.
In other words, Kohler is one of the more expensive brands out there, but keep in mind that you do get what you pay for.
Kohler has several manufacturing facilities across the USA, specifically in Wisconsin, Texas, South Carolina, and Arkansas. These facilities make toilets, faucets, sinks, and more. Kohler does make a few products in Mexico, India, and China, but the majority of manufacturing is still in the USA. Kohler appears to be moving manufacturing outside of the USA more and more by the year. The effect that this will have on product quality is as of yet undetermined.
On the other hand, we have Toto Ltd. This company is seen as producing average and slightly above average plumbing fixtures, particularly toilets. It’s not viewed as the best company with the highest quality, but not the worst either. The general consensus is that Toto products are just fine, and they do the trick, especially for basic home needs, particularly the toilets which they sell.
What is cool about Toto is that although most of the products are not high end by any means, they do feature products in mostly every price range, from low budget to high cost (there are far more low priced options than high priced products).
Toto features many above average toilets that come in at below average prices. In other words, from Toto, you can buy decent products at low prices.
It should be noted that Toto manufactures most of its products in the USA, Mexico, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan. However, what is interesting to note is that Toto is currently moving much of its production to one of its major facilities in Georgia, USA. What effects this will have on product quality is yet to be seen.
Which Offers a Better Warranty?
Kohler offers a one-year warranty on the vast majority of its products. There is no other warranty information for Kohler that we have been able to find.
In terms of Toto, the warranties are as follows. Cartridges come with a lifetime warranty, finishes and mechanical parts have a lifetime warranty too. It does appear as though Toto offers the better warranty on products.
Kohler vs. Toto: Which Has a Better Product Portfolio?
Something that can be said about these two brands is that Toto does make plenty of Washlets and bidets. While Kohler does make some bidets, it does not manufacture washlets.
Something else that can be said is that the Toto website has a section dedicated to commercial installations, something that Kohler does not have. It appears as though Toto produces products for both commercial and residential plumbing, whereas Kohler is mostly for residential purposes.
With that being said, Toto’s focus is solely on the bathroom, and this includes toilets, faucets and showers, bidets and washlets, sinks, and more. Kohler also sells these products, yet this brand also produces plumbing fixtures for the kitchen, as well as lighting solutions for both kitchens and bathrooms. Overall, Kohler has the much larger selection.
Which Brand Offers a Better Selection of Toilets?
When it comes to toilets, at this time, Kohler has 44 products available for sale on the website, compared to the well over 240 toilets currently featured on the Toto website.
Which Brand Offers a Better Selection of Bathtubs?
At this time, Toto has just under 40 bathtubs available for sale on the main website, compared to the well over 600 bathtubs available for sale on the Kohler site.
Which of the Two Brands Should You Choose?
If you want well priced products of an average quality level, Toto is a great way to go. Toto is an especially good brand if you are looking for a new toilet.
However, if you are looking for above average quality and are willing to spend a good bit of money, and if you need plumbing fixtures for the kitchen and bathroom, as well as lighting solutions too, then Kohler is the better option.
The bottom line is that while both Kohler and Toto produce some of the same products, they are actually fairly different companies.
Toto is great if you want good products at good prices, particularly for things like toilets, bidets, and Washlets. However, Kohler does appear to be the higher quality option with a larger overall selection of products, not only for the bathroom, but for the kitchen too.