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What Makes Porcelain Better For an RV Toilet? Why Use Plastic?

What Makes Porcelain Better For an RV Toilet? Why Use Plastic?

Weight and cost are both big factors for RV manufacturers, which is why plastic toilets are so common. But is a porcelain toilet an option in an RV? You bet it is! Most higher-end rigs, like our old 2005 Newmar Mountain Aire, come with them.

These days, many RVs in other classes are coming with higher-end porcelain toilets as well, including our brand-new Outdoors RV travel trailer. But plastic toilets are usually found in smaller, lighter, less-expensive RVs due to their lighter weight and lower cost.

In this post, we’ll cover the pros and cons of both porcelain and plastic RV toilets. If your rig has a plastic model and you’d like to upgrade it, we’ll share some choices from both Thetford and Dometic, including the one we have (and love) in our new rig.

Is a Porcelain RV Toilet Better Than Plastic?

As we mentioned above, plastic toilets are found in lots of RVs, especially smaller, less expensive models, due to their lighter weight and lower cost. But many people who’ve had a plastic RV toilet for a while will probably say that when it comes time to replace it, they’ll be looking to upgrade to ceramic.

As with most choices, there are pros and cons to both plastic and porcelain RV toilets. One isn’t better than the other in every regard; most things are a compromise.

Advantages of Plastic RV Toilets

We’ve already noted that plastic RV toilets offer a couple of advantages.

Inexpensive

Plastic toilets are the cheaper alternative. Not only do they cost less for RV manufacturers, allowing them to keep prices of new rigs down, but they’re also less expensive to buy if you need to replace your current RV toilet.

Lightweight

Plastic toilets weigh considerably less than ceramic/porcelain models, and weight is often a big consideration in RVs, especially smaller rigs. A porcelain model may weigh anywhere from about 30-50 pounds, where plastic RV toilets often weigh only about 10-15 pounds. So the weight difference can be pretty substantial. If you’re already bumping up against your maximum GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), you may decide to stick with plastic.

Disadvantages of Plastic RV Toilets

Many RVers will likely agree that plastic toilets have some significant disadvantages.

Harder to Clean

Plastic RV toilets are porous and more difficult to clean because the material absorbs stains and odors rather than repelling them the way a ceramic surface does.

A man cleaning an RV toilet

Plastic is a porous material and is more difficult to clean than porcelain/ceramic. Plastic also retains odors and tends to yellow over time, making it a far less aesthetically pleasing choice overall.

Discoloration

The plastic used to manufacture RV toilets tends to yellow as it ages, making the toilet more difficult to clean as it ages.

Odor Absorption

Plastic also tends to absorb odors. Considering the “odors” we’re talking about here, that’s never a good thing, especially in a small space like an RV. The odor can vary from barely noticeable on a nice cool winter day to pretty awful during summer heat. As with the yellowing of the plastic, odors can be difficult to remove, too.

Less Durable (Lower Weight-Bearing Capacity)

Plastic RV toilets are less durable than higher-end models for a pretty obvious reason — ceramic/porcelain is a more durable material. Plastic units can even crack or break due to their lower weight-bearing capacity. This not only requires replacement, but even a hairline crack can cause leaking.

Creaking/Noisy

As Mary commented down below… plastic toilets can “creak” when you’re sitting on them. This may not be a problem for everyone, but if you don’t want to wake anyone else when using the toilet at night, it can be a real issue.

Advantages of Porcelain RV Toilets

Now let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of RV porcelain toilets.

Easier to Clean

Ceramic toilets are definitely easier to get really clean. The finish of a ceramic/porcelain RV toilet is such that keeping the bowl and base clean simply involves using your favorite cleaning/sanitizing product to wipe it down. The more porous finish of plastic is more difficult to thoroughly clean and keep clean.

Doesn’t Yellow

Ceramic doesn’t yellow with time and use as plastic tends to do. This makes it more aesthetically pleasing, especially over time.

Doesn’t Absorb Odors

Because porcelain/ceramic isn’t porous, it will never absorb odors the way plastic can. That alone is a distinct advantage of porcelain toilets over plastic toilets.

More Like a Home Toilet

Most home toilets are made from porcelain, so having the same material for an RV toilet makes it feel more like a higher-end home. This applies to routine use, cleaning, and general maintenance and durability.

A person cleaning a porcelain toilet

A porcelain RV toilet is more like the ones found in a nice home. They’re easier to clean, repel stains and odors, have a greater weight-bearing capacity, and feel more like a regular household toilet.

Higher Weight-Bearing Capacity

Porcelain RV toilets have a greater weight-bearing capacity than plastic toilets, and the difference can be substantial. While this may not be a factor for most people, it very well could be for some, since plastic toilets are often limited to 250-300 lbs, while some porcelain models can easily support double or even triple that weight. If that’s an important factor for you, it may make your decision easy.

Following are three examples of popular porcelain RV toilets:

Dometic Porcelain RV Toilet Model 310 (Round Bowl)

This is the exact model we have in our new Outdoors RV Creekside 19 MKS Titanium Series camper, and we like it a lot. We’ve been spoiled by having a very high-quality ceramic toilet on our motorhome during the past 18+ years, and we don’t feel as though we’ve taken a step down at all with this one.

Sale
Dometic 310 Standard Toilet | Oblong Shape| Lightweight and Efficient with Pressure-Enhanced Flush | White | Perfect for Modern RVs
  • INNOVATIVE DESIGN: The Dometic 310 toilet is a full-size and lightweight model, which is ideal for modern RVs. It has a simplified design, which makes...
  • EFFICIENT FLUSHING SYSTEM: This toilet uses a pressure-enhanced "PowerFlush" rim wash system that clears the bowl quickly and effectively. It can...

Dometic Model 320 (Elongated Bowl)

Dometic 320 RV Toilet | White | 302320081 | Standard Height | Gravity Toilet | Elongated Ceramic Bowl | Flush with Foot Pedal | For RVs, Trailers, and Outdoor Campers
  • EASY TO CLEAN: Dometic's 320 standard height toilet boasts a deep, 100% vitreous ceramic bowl designed to facilitate effortless cleaning and...
  • AT HOME COMFORT: The Dometic 320 toilet goes beyond mere functionality, offering an elongated residential-style design that brings the comforts of...

Thetford Porcelain RV Toilet Aqua-Magic Style II (Round Bowl)

Thetford 42058 Aqua-Magic Style II RV Toilet, White, High Profile
  • Stylish, contemporary and home-like
  • Vigorous flush with 100% bowl coverage

Disadvantages of Porcelain RV Toilets

There are only a couple of disadvantages to porcelain RV toilets but they could be deal-breakers for some RVers.

Heavier

As we’ve already mentioned, ceramic toilets usually weigh considerably more than plastic RV toilets. That’s a benefit in terms of the weight they can support, but it’s a drawback for anyone whose rig is already near its maximum weight capacity. For many RVs, especially smaller rigs, every pound counts. The smaller and lighter the TV, the more likely it is that an additional 30-40 pounds might be a problem.

More Expensive

Cost is a factor for most of us. If you’re replacing your RV toilet and your budget doesn’t accommodate the cost of a porcelain model, many plastic options may work well for you. Just keep in mind that a plastic RV toilet is less durable than a porcelain one, so it may be a wash in the long run.

That’s especially true if you’re confident you’ll be keeping your rig for many years, or if your RV gets a lot of use because you travel with multiple family members or you’re a full-timer. You may want to weigh short-term cost savings vs. durability.

What You Need to Know About Porcelain RV Toilets

It’s important to note that there can be differences in the construction of ceramic toilets for RVs. Some have a plastic base/pedestal that’s attached to and supports only a ceramic bowl, as is the case with the three we linked to above.

They’re made this way because certain plastic parts, such as the flush pedal, would be harder and more expensive to integrate with a full ceramic base. But even having just a ceramic bowl is great for cleanliness and odor prevention. However, the toilet’s base may still be prone to cracking with age or the weight of users.

We should also note that some plastic toilets have a ceramic-like coating designed to make them less susceptible to moisture and odor retention. The important thing about these toilets is that the coating can wear off over time, leaving you with the same problems most other plastic toilets present.

Some porcelain RV toilets (like the Thetford Aria II that we had in our Mountain Aire) are completely ceramic, just like a standard household toilet.

There’s no doubt that from a use perspective, porcelain RV toilets are more desirable. It’s also good to know that if you’d prefer a porcelain toilet in your rig, you can install one as long as your budget can handle the greater expense and your RV can handle the extra weight.

For more information, see our posts on Dometic RV toilets and Thetford RV toilets. And if you’re dealing with odors from your rig’s toilet or black tank, check out our post on why your RV toilet stinks and what to do about it.

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Dan

Tuesday 21st of May 2024

Let me add this to the "easier to clean" point: poop slides off of porcelain better than it does off of plastic.

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 21st of May 2024

😂💩🤣 That's true, @Dan!

Linda McCaughey

Sunday 12th of May 2024

Please do an article on replacing an RV toilet. More specifically, I would like to change the angle of the toilet to increase leg room. Is it possible to move a toilet 45 degrees in the same spot?

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 12th of May 2024

Hi Linda. We'll add that topic to our list. But in regard to your question about rotating the toilet angle for more leg room, there are a couple of ways that it could work. But it depends on the "closet flange" (the part that connects the toilet to the plumbing/black tank) that was used. Some can be rotated (though 45 degrees may be pushing it a bit far). On others, it may be possible to drill new holes for the bolts that hold the toilet down to the flange. But you'd have to remove the toilet first to figure that out.

Another thing you may have to address when rotating the toilet like that is whether or not the fresh water plumbing will reach. It may need to be extended, since the point that it attaches to the toilet will now be moved further away.

Check out any of the videos on YouTube about replacing an RV toilet and you'll get a look at how that closet flange works/looks so you have an idea before you tackle the project.

Gary

Sunday 12th of May 2024

Toilet considerations aside, it was nice to see the link to your new RV. It looks like a nice rig. Hopefully you two will enjoy it as much as your diesel pusher you had for many years. I’m looking forward to hear more about how The transition from a class A to a towable. Good luck. Gary

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 12th of May 2024

Thanks, Gary. We've been out on the road in our new trailer for a little less than a week and we're already loving it! We're thinking of all of the great new articles & videos we want to make about our experience, so stay tuned!

mary

Sunday 12th of May 2024

Thanks for this post! I have had 2 RV's over 25 years, both with plastic toilets. The first one was fine. When I got a new RV, my biggest complaint was one you didn't mention.... it creaks when you sit on it. I've had other campers tell me the same about theirs. Sounds like a small thing, but at night when I get up to go and am trying to be really quiet to not wake my companions, I hate sitting on a creaky toilet!

Jerry

Sunday 12th of May 2024

We had two Dometic 300’s in one year replaced under warranty. There was some serious fault with them. Finally we paid the upcharge and installed a Dometic 320 (porcelain). What a difference. Dometic wouldn’t own up to the problems with the 300.

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