What you should know about buying a toilet seat

On the average a person will spend anywhere from 6 months to 4 years sitting on a toilet seat, in their lifetime. That's a lot of sitting.

Toilet Seats are “Not All Created Alike”

The Bad Ones

You should know that all toilet seats are not created alike, there are some good ones and some bad ones. A bad toilet seat usually doesn't cost much is made of flimsy material  and is not comfortable. This category of toilet seat(s) never stay where they should be, won't last long and generally give you a lot of grief. You should only buy a cheap toilet seat if you are moving soon or bought it for a cottage or for a very seldom used toilet. Normally, only available in white. They range in price from $10.00 to 20.00 dollars.  I have even seen some for as low as $6.00 dollars.

The Good Ones

A good toilet seat will be made of better materials like wood or hard plastic, that offer more strength and durability, have a higher quality hinge set, will have better seat support (that's the part that comes in contact with the top of the bowl) it also should have better mounting hardware, although I have seen some good quality toilet seats that have poor mounting hardware. Good toilet seats come in a variety of colors have regular or slow closing lids. The support is generally better and usually have more than two bowls to seat contact support points, not to mention that they are more sanitary and easier to keep clean. Some of the newer seats have rubber supports that don't allow the seat to shift from side to side.

Toilet Seat Sizes

I see people coming to me with all sorts of toilet seat dimensions and charts and drawings looking for that exact match toilet seat for their toilet. It's like if they don't get the right one it won't work. Relax, it's not that complicated. In fact toilet seats only come in two sizes, round and elongated, that's it, nothing else. I know yours is 1/8" or 1/4" wider or longer than the one at the store, big deal, who cares, what difference does it make?
For all intents and purposes, they are all the same, except that elongated seats are (in) longer. Do you worry if all the carrots in the bag of carrots you just bought are not exactly the same size? People get way too worked up over this.

 Tip: Toilet Seats only come in two sizes, round and elongated

Toilet Seat Size Chart
The only two sizes of toilet seats available are either "round" or "elongated"



Now that we have cleared up the size issue there are a number of other features you should consider when purchasing a toilet seat. Like does the seat need to support a lot of weight, is it being used on a daily basis or is it just occasional use like a cottage or a spare room? Does it have to match your toilet style or will a generic style be fine? Some toilet manufacturers offer toilet seats to match the designs of their toilets, usually at a higher price. These can be ordered from your local toilet retailer or online.

Odd Shapes and Size Toilet Seats

Toilet Seat
Irregular Shape Toilet Seat

So why am I talking about odd shapes and size after I told you that they are mostly all alike.  It seems that every rule has some exceptions and toilet seats are no different.  Although the basic sizes and shapes are alike, some seats have a few more curves or don't follow the normal toilet shape. These are mainly intended for those few toilets that have a different bowl shape. Manufacturers have seats made especially for those toilet designs and in many cases if you own one of these you will have to place a special order with your supplier in order to get the matching seat. Something to consider when you are buying a new toilet.

Color Consideration

There are many bathrooms that still have colored fixtures, so what should you do? Colored bathroom fixtures are not readily available these days, so if you need to replace a toilet seat or other colored bathroom fixtures, you will  need to give this matter some thought.  Colored toilet seats normally cost less than $150.00 dollars  and are easy to replace. A bathroom renovations on the other hand cost a whole lot more and take a fair amount of time.  Replacing your colored toilet seat may be an alternative to a bathroom renovation  and allow  you time to save a bit more money.

Colored Toilet Seats
Example of Colored Toilet Seats Available

Easy to Install Toilet Seats

Naturally, you will want to pick a toilet seat that is easy to install.  The easiest ones to install come with two bolts, plastic or metal that fit into the top of the bowl just behind the seat. Nothing to worry about here, most toilets have the same  standard  hole distance (apart) of 5 1/2 inches and the same hole size. Having said that, there are a few exceptions. The distance between the bolt holes can vary from 5 1/2 inch to 7 1/2" on some models of toilets. Generally, you can simply pop the bolts in and attach the nut from just below the toilet rim and you done. It's probably a good idea to measure the distance between the bolts on your existing toilet seat before you go shopping, just in case.

If you find that you have a toilet that is not the standard 5 1/2" center to center bolt hole pattern, you will be able to able to get around the problem with the American Standard Elongated Quick Connect adjustable bolt hole distance toilet seat or the American Standard Round Quick Connect adjustable bolt hole distance toilet seat. Both these seats fit Kohler, Toto, and American Standard toilets.

American Standard Adjustable bolt distance toilet seat

Not So Easy to Install Toilet Seats

White two piece toilet
Smooth side toilet with sides extending to back wall

I hate to say it, but there are some not so easy to install toilet seats.  These are mainly the ones that come with what I refer to as smooth side toilets, especially those toilets with sides that extend all the way to the back wall.  See illustration

The initial installation is usually not too difficult to manage if you install the seat prior to attaching the toilet to the floor, however should you have to replace one of these seats, then things have a tendency to become a bit more complicated. You might even want to consider leaving this task to a very handyman or your local plumber.


Removing a Toilet Seat

Many of these types of seat are installed using plugs or expansion bolts that once they have been installed have a tendency to be hard to remove, as in one case where the use of a crowbar is necessary.   Take a look at the video, just below.

 Removing Toilet Seat Bolts


Slow Close or Regular Slam Close Seats?

Everyone should be familiar with the regular type of slam close toilet seats, you know the ones that have been around for years.  You can close the seat by slamming it down, letting it fall or holding on to the seat, which means you have to grab it from both sides to close the cover without slamming it. Some people don't like having to do that, which is why public washrooms don't have lids on their toilets.

Slow Closing Toilet SeatSlow Close or Whisper•Close® Toilet Seats are a fairly recent innovation in the world of toilet seats. They allow you to individually close either the seat or the lid or you can close both at the same time, without having to hold on to the seat. This is much more sanitary, eliminates slamming and is easy on the fingers, especially those of young children.

 Bidet, Toilet Seats

Ha! Bidet toilet seats, what can I say?  For one thing working in this industry I have found that there is definitely a growing  interest in the bidets  market in North America. A few years ago we had one bidet on display and hardly had anyone looked at it, which might explain why we only had one on display.

Bidet Toilet Seat
Bidet Toilet Seat

Now I see many more people coming in looking for bidets, bidet, toilet seats, replacement bidet faucets and bidet parts.  Bidets can be expensive and run from approx $500.00 up to several thousand dollars.  This is where a bidet toilet seat comes in, it cost much less, from just under $100.00 to approx $2,000.00.  Yes; I know that you can spend more, but you don't have to.

The bidet toilet seat offers many advantages over a regular toilet seat as well as a stand alone bidet.  For one, they don't take up any additional floor space which is good if you don't have a lot of room but still would like the convenience of a bidet.  They save on toilet paper and reduce the chances of clogging your toilet; not to mention  improved personal hygiene.  They are better for the environment, something we all need to be concerned about these days. Not to mention they make doing the laundry cleaner and easier.

All of that being said, there a lot of good reasons for considering a bidet toilet seat the next time you are looking at replacing your toilet seat.

Heated Toilet Seats

If you are one of these people who doesn't like the shock of dropping down onto a cold toilet seat in the middle of the night, then you should definitely consider the convenience of a heated toilet seat. Heated toilet seats don't only offer luxury and comfort, but many of them are available with a built in LED night light as well. Most offer adjustable temperature settings and a non jarring blue nightlight that is easy on your eyes and your wallet.  They range in price  from $ 80.00 to $200.00 us.

Lighted Toilet Seats

Q3, Kohler lighted toilet seat
Kohler Q3 Lighted Toilet Seat



There are a few toilets available with a night light built in. Most of these operate on "AA" batteries and do not require a power cord. If you are one of these people who doesn't like to be awakened in the middle of the night  by the glare of bright bathroom lights, then you should consider the new


4 thoughts on “10 Steps To Buying A Toilet Seat”

  1. I am trying to find a toilet seat elongated measures approximately 16 inches by 18 inches long. We have an old one we find comfortable and need to replace it. Please help.

    1. Hi Patricia,

      Finding a 16-inch wide toilet seat is not going to be easy, most toilet seats are 14.5 inches wide. What I suspect it that the seat you have was designed for the specific toilet that you have, your best bet would be to contact the toilet manufacturer and try to get a new seat from them. The name of the manufacturer is usually located on the top of the bowl just behind the seat hinges. If you don’t find anything there you could try looking in the tank and under the tank lid, sometimes there is more information there. Good luck.

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