If you’re in the market for a new toilet seat, you might be wondering, “Are toilet seats universal?” If so, you might be shocked to find that toilet seats are not universal. In fact, there are two types of seats available to you: elongated toilet seats and round toilet seats.
Here’s what you need to know to decide which one is right for your bathroom.
Are Toilet Seats Universal?
This can be a puzzling question for anyone who has never thought about it. There are two types of toilets: round bowl toilets and elongated bowls. It is really important to make sure that your new toilet seat fits properly because everyone has preferences for what type of seat they want.
The shape of your bowl will determine whether or not an elongated toilet seat will fit properly on your commode. When fitting a new seat on a Round Bowl, an Elongated Seat will stick out too far and therefore create a safety hazard in the bathroom.
How Important it is For Your Seat to be Compatible
Your toilet seat is one of the key components of your toilet. After all, how can you use a seat that does not fit?
If a round seat does not fit on an elongated bowl, or if an elongated seat is used on a round bowl, one of two things will happen: you will sit too far back on your toilet bowl or too close. In either case, you will be uncomfortable.
If you are planning to buy a new toilet seat for your bathroom, make sure that it fits with your existing toilet bowl. While most standard toilets have round bowls, some toilets in North America have longer bowls.
These are called elongated toilets and require special elongated seats.
Elongated toilet seats
Elongated toilets are newer on the market than old toilet seats. Since an elongated toilet seat is made for a wider, longer seat, it often leaves too much room in front of it for comfort. The average dimensions for an elongated toilet seat dimensions are 14″ x 18″ (W x L).
The elongated toilet was invented to accommodate people with disabilities or injuries that make sitting on regular-sized seats difficult. People who use wheelchairs also benefit from having extra space to sit further back from their legs.
It’s also beneficial for tall people who need more space on either side of them while sitting down. However, sitting too far back from your legs can be uncomfortable as it can cause strain in your knees.
Round toilet seats
A round toilet seat or normal toilets are found in most homes worldwide. The average dimensions for an elongated-bowl toilet seat are 14″ x 16.5″ (W x L).
Round toilet seats fit them perfectly. Round seats usually cost less as well due to their simplicity. However, many people find these types of seats uncomfortable and awkward to use, especially when trying to go #2!
Other Toilet Seat Sizing Options
Today, most toilets have a standard seat measurement. But, do you have an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant toilet in your home or office building? These special toilets must be accessible to people who use wheelchairs or similar mobility devices.
You may also want to consider a compact option for small spaces, like an ultra-compact or comfort height toilet. And remember that everything from traditional two-piece toilets to modern one-piece fixtures come in both elongated and round varieties—so choose based on style and shape rather than size alone.
Toilet Seats For Children
Many parents look for toilets with toddler seats built right into them but some of these can be dangerous for young children, depending on their size. Toilet seats designed specifically for children will come with plastic caps that go over the adult-sized seats so kids don’t fall off.
These are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware stores. You may also want to consider installing a small toilet seat onto your existing larger one; it may require drilling or purchasing metal straps, but should not be expensive if bought in bulk.
Extended Size Toilet Seats
Who knew there were so many kinds of toilets in the world. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But even if you only thought about elongated versus round seats, imagine your surprise when someone dropped yet another kind in front of you: elongated with arms.
These are bigger than traditional elongated seats—and they tend to cost more than standard models too. In the end, it boils down to what is most comfortable for you.
If having your legs lifted while sitting on a toilet makes it easier for you to use, then definitely consider spending extra on an elongated seat with armrests!
Padded Toilet Seats
The padded elongated toilet seat is a classic style. Commonly referred to as comfort fit, it was designed to help people who find sitting down or standing up from a standard toilet difficult.
The extra padding reduces pressure on sensitive areas of your body, like your thighs or your buttocks, so that you feel less discomfort when performing tasks like sitting or standing up. If you struggle with sciatica or any back problems, replacing an existing seat with one of these can be a good idea—if it will significantly improve your overall experience!
Time to Measure Your Toilet Seat
Before you purchase your new toilet seat, you’ll have to figure out what kind of toilet seat you have. Measure its length and width, as well as the toilet seat bolts. With measurements in hand, you’ll be ready to go shopping.
Since all toilets are not universal, length is the most important factor to consider. You’d still want to get the measurement of the other 2 dimensions so you can be thorough about your purchase unless you would prefer not to remember more than one number.
Lift your seat up, take your ruler and measure the length of your toilet bowl seat from the toilet seat bolts to the very end of your toilet bowl seat. This will give you an accurate measurement of your toilet bowl.
The width of toilets are actually universal, but when shopping for a new seat it’s still important to take measurements just in case you have a fancy toilet that is not the American standard.
We’re going to measure this one the same way as the length. Lift up your seat, take your ruler and measure the toilet bowl from the widest point from one side to the other in order to get the most accurate measure. It should come out to about 14″ give or take a few cm.
Measure Your Toilet Seat Bolts
Toilet seat bolts are what help secure your toilet seat. The problem is, these bolts can come in different sizes. Make sure to measure your bolts before you buy a new seat.
This time you’re going to lower your toilet seat to measure the space between both your toilet seat bolts from the center of the first bolt to the center of the second bolt. If it’s around 5 and a half inches, then any toilet seat you purchase in the U.S. will fit.
What if Your Toilet Seat is Non-Standard?
If your toilet seat is not the standard measurement for a round or elongated toilet seat, it’s not the end of the world. You’ll still eventually find a toilet seat that works for you. They aren’t too difficult to replace if you’re handy.
Non-Standard Toilet Seats
Your non-standard toilet seat may have more or less width or length than we discussed earlier. It might be a completely different shape altogether, and the toilet seat bolts may be spaced differently.
The hinges on a non-standard toilet seat may be spaced differently than the standard space of 5.5″ we discussed earlier. If they aren’t, you can probably pick up some replacement hinges and fix them to your toilet seat so that you can save money on having to purchase a brand new fancy non-standard toilet seat.
OEM (Proprietary) Toilet Seats
Manufacturers are trying to stay unique and competitive so they make non-standard toilet seats. While such an idea may make sense, it actually results in a lot of time and money spent. You will then have to purchase non-standard parts that fit exactly the toilet it was designed for.
Think how Apple is constantly changing their ports on the electronics so that people will have to buy special accessories that only work for their devices. Eventually, 3rd party manufacturers will make generic versions of these accessories that fit Apple products.
It’s the same way here. There are many plumbing supply stores that sell non-standard toilet seats, so you may just have to do some digging around.
How Do I Know What Type of Seat to Get?
One of the biggest factors that go into determining what type of toilet seat you will end up with is to figure out which company manufactured your toilet seat. Most toilets are manufactured by one of three companies: American Standard, Toto, or Kohler. Some toilets are made by a company other than these three.
To find out who manufactures your toilet, look around your toilet and see if there is a logo anywhere on your toilet. Sometimes it is under the lid of your toilet tank.
If you go to the manufacturer’s website, there should be a place to order a replacement toilet seat or you can call them and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
You May Have a European Toilet Seat
D-shaped toilet seats are prevalent in Europe, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Asia. In countries where D-shaped toilet seats rule, they account for upwards of 85% of all toilets.
These countries have a lot of round and elongated toilet seats as well, but mostly they use the D-shape. The good thing about this is that you’ll easily be able to take your measurements and find a toilet like this online.
How Do I Know What Size Toilet I Should Buy?
Toilet seats come in a range of sizes but typically fall into two categories: standard or elongated. Elongated toilets are 1 to 2 inches longer than a standard seat; they have three inches more space in front of them to help people who have trouble balancing when sitting down.
Regardless of what type of toilet you have, there is also a wide range of what different manufacturers consider to be standard-sized seats. Measure your current seat or go see for yourself at your local hardware store. If you’re buying online, being stuck with an incompatible part can be frustrating—not to mention uncomfortable.
How Do I Replace My Toilet Seat?
Many different toilet seat manufacturers will have different ways for their seats to be installed. If you’re looking for a general way to do this, here’s a short guide:
- A new Toilet Seat
- An adjustable wrench
With all these items gathered, follow these steps:
- Use an adjustable wrench to loosen up any existing nuts and bolts holding down your current seat.
- Lift off your old toilet seat
- Slide your toilet seat replacement under the flange/ring, then tighten up any nuts & bolts.
- Sit back down on your newly installed toilet seat and enjoy using it for years to come!