Since hitting the road nearly a week ago now Crystal and I have collectively taken approximately 9 showers and used the commode roughly 39 times. (I have a very small bladder.) Save about six trips to the tree next to our pop-up at the James Island site we used the facilities in the community washroom. This led to a couple of conversations about toilet option in the tiny house. I am sure we aren’t the first to contemplate such an issue but when you have virtually no experience using anything other than the traditional, indoor, commode, the thought of using a composting or even incinerating toilet can be a touch frightening. It seems though that 3-4 things need to be considered when choosing a toilet for the tiny house.

  1. Building Codes and Zoning Laws. Our tiny house as well as most others, I think, will be spending 90% of its life in a stationary position rather than on the road. Therefore, we should consider a toilet that functions well within such a context. We know we will have access to municipal water and sewage on our land.
  2. RV or Marine Toilets for Full-Time Use. I have used a total of 3 RV commodes in my life. The most recent being in the last two years. I have not felt that either of the three was adequate and supported my weight. They appeared almost completely plastic and had parts such as flush handles and foot pedals that were flimsy and small. I would like to think that larger, more expensive RVs such as 40′ motor coaches and land yachts had much more substantial units. But because I don’t normally hang out in such homes I don’t have much point of reference. This says nothing about the look either. Just because we are choosing to live on a small scale does NOT mean we have to live void of style or class. I don’t like the look of plastic. I don’t believe in the creation of or short life cycle of plastic and certainly don’t want something as such in my house. Granted they are probably plastic so as to stand up to road conditions and the occasional use of the RV lifestyle, I still don’t think they could handle day-to-day use for any long amount of time.
  3. Size Restrictions. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a toilet. There are different bowl lengths, different widths, different heights, etc. We are going to have to measure the total space available for both the toilet and a person sitting on such as well as the rough-in space, or how far the center of the toilet bowl is from the finished wall. We also have to consider the size of the toilet trapway. That is the part of the toilet through which the water and waste exit. The minimum standard allows waste with a diameter of 1.5 inches to pass through. To avoid clogging we may want to think about a larger diameter.
  4. Price. We don’t have $1000 to spend on a toilet. In fact, our budget will allow for about a $120 commode (unless we choose to go with a composting unit in which we will have to totally reevaluate our budget to accomodate such an investment.) A plastic RV toilet is not worth the money you would spend. A completely ceramic may not be the eco-friendly solution we are looking for either and may not at all answer the problem of the 10% we will be traveling in our tiny house.

And if those considerations weren’t enough, I still have not yet begun to truly weigh the pros and cons of “alternative” toilets. That just seems like a lot to wrap my head around right now.

Have you used an RV toilet for any amount of time? Did you feel like it was as good as a more solid, ceramic, indoor, unit?