Push-Button Toilet vs. Handle-Flush: What Are the Differences?

Jan17 By Home Services Plumbing Toilet
Female hand pressing a button to flush a modern toilet

Are you ready to upgrade the old toilets in your home? The many variations in replacement toilets might surprise you. Two popular flush options include the classic handle-flush toilet and the more modern push-button toilet. Each offers unique features and benefits, making your decision a matter of personal preference, budget, and bathroom style.

Handle-Flush Toilets

Handle-flush or lever-flush toilets have been the standard in homes for decades. With a simple mechanical lever, these toilets offer reliability and hassle-free operation. Here are the factors to consider when deciding if a handle-flush toilet is right for your home.


  • Widespread availability and familiarity: Handle-flush toilets are the most common type, making them a familiar fixture in most households and public spaces. This widespread use means just about everyone is comfortable with how they operate, reducing the likelihood of user error.
  • Ease of repair and maintenance: Due to their long-standing presence in the market, replacement parts for handle-flush toilets are readily available, making repairs simple and affordable in most cases.
  • Diverse design options: These toilets come in various styles, from classic to contemporary, allowing them to fit any design preference.
  • Lower initial cost: Handle-flush toilets are generally more affordable to purchase and install than their push-button counterparts.
  • Modifiable flush systems available: Some handle-flush toilets allow users to adjust the amount of water used per flush, mimicking the water-saving features of push-button toilets. These systems typically include an adjustable flapper that closes faster if you release the handle prematurely, reducing the amount of water released from the tank. Dual-flush conversion kits are also an option for existing toilets. This modification enhances water efficiency while maintaining the familiar handle-flush mechanism.


  • Higher water usage: The single-flush mechanism in standard handle toilets uses a predetermined amount of water per flush, deemed strong enough to carry away solid waste. To overcome this drawback, you’ll need to install a toilet with an adjustable flush system.
  • Older technology: While the availability of replacement parts is praiseworthy, the parts themselves are not as advanced as those in push-button systems. This isn’t a deal-breaker in terms of functionality, but it’s something to consider.

Push-Button Toilets

Push-button or button-flush toilets are activated using a button. These toilets typically offer dual-flush technology, allowing users to select the appropriate flush volume for their needs. Consider the arguments for and against installing a push-button toilet in your home.


  • Advanced water efficiency: Dual-flush button-activated toilets maximize water conservation. The user has the option to choose between a lower-volume flush (typically 0.8 to 1.0 gallon per flush, or gpf) for liquid waste and a higher-volume flush (typically 1.6 gpf) for solid waste. This simple adjustment can save thousands of gallons of water every year.
  • Modern and sleek design: Push-button toilets are known for their contemporary style, fitting seamlessly into modern bathroom interiors. Their sleek design often makes them a focal point in bathroom decor.
  • Hygienic and easy to clean: The button mechanism is a breeze to clean and less prone to harboring germs than traditional toilet handles.
  • Potential long-term savings: Despite the higher initial cost, the efficiency of push-button toilets reduces your water bills over time, helping the upfront investment pay for itself.
  • Innovative features: Intelligent toilets tend to have button-flush operation. They also come with advanced features like automated flushing, multifunctional bidet seats, smartphone app compatibility, seat warmers, and LED lights, enhancing the user experience.


  • Learning curve: Confronting a push-button toilet in a guest bathroom or public space can be awkward for first-time users. They may not be sure how the dual-flush system works, leading to unnecessary water consumption if they choose a higher-volume flush for liquid waste or insufficient flushing power if they choose a lower-volume flush for solid waste.
  • Limited accessibility: For some individuals, such as older adults or those with mobility issues, pushing a button might be less intuitive or more physically challenging than pressing a traditional lever.
  • Complex repairs and maintenance: When repairs are needed, they may be more challenging and costly due to the specialized parts and mechanisms involved, especially in the case of intelligent toilets. Plus, some plumbers have less experience with push-button toilets because they are relatively new advancements.
  • Higher initial cost: Button-flush toilets are generally more expensive to install due to their sophisticated technology and design.

Making the Right Choice

Handle-flush toilets offer familiarity, affordability, and ease of use, making them a practical choice for many. However, their higher water usage and lack of advanced features compared to button-flush toilets are drawbacks to consider. The decision between the two often hinges on practical considerations, personal preferences, and budget constraints.

Button-flush toilets represent a leap forward in bathroom design and efficiency. While they offer the distinct advantages of water conservation and style, their higher cost and repair complexity are important factors worth considering. Ultimately, the choice depends on whether you favor innovative features and designs or practicality and ease of use.

Schedule Toilet Installation & Repair in Puget Sound

Whether you’re renovating your bathroom or simply replacing outdated toilets, Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating is here to help. We provide quality toilet installation and repair service at a fair price, focusing on unbeatable work and customer satisfaction. With over 20 years of experience, our family-owned business also offers 24/7 emergency services, so we’re always here for you when you need us. For help selecting and installing the right toilet for your Seattle-area home, please contact us at (206) 938-3219 today.

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