Toilet Seats 101

Here are the three criteria which distinguish a normal-style toilet seat:

  1. The seat hinges are 5-1/2" apart from center-to-center.
  2. The hinges mount down vertically, not back horizontally.
  3. The shape of the front of the seat is curved, not angular, square or squared-off.

If a toilet seat is different from any one of these features, it is special, unique and proprietary.

Normal-style toilet seats come in two sizes: Round or elongated. Round is also called "regular" and "plain." Elongated is also called "extended." Some consumers say "oblong." Although round and elongated are shapes, the length difference of 2" is key. The shapes refer to the front-half of the seat. When measuring to determine the size, measure the porcelain toilet bowl, not the seat itself.

 Toilet seats are made of primarily two material types:

  1. Enameled wood.
  2. Plastic.

Enameled wood is a composite of tiny wood shavings (almost saw dust) which are mixed with resin and compression-molded to form a solid material. The "wood" is then enamel painted. Since around 2000, MDF, Medium Density Fiberboard, has also been used to make "wood" seats.

Plastic seats begin as a molten material which is injected into a mold to form the product. The material and color are solid-through.

A common question is:

Q: Aren't wood seats better than plastic?
A: Not necessarily. "Wood" seats, aka enameled wood, aka composition wood, aka molded composition are not made of beefy lumber. They are made of sawdust and resin which are compression molded. ...Much like particle-board. The compressed sawdust is then painted. They look thicker and stronger and feel heavier because they must be two-to-three times thicker than plastic to achieve the same strength. The paint color is very thin compared to plastic seats where the color is solid through. (Drill a hole through each to see.) The moisture from bowl water and the acid vapors from urine and the chemicals from cleaning agents will eventually cause the paint on wooden seats to fail. Plastic seats are not susceptible to this failure. The paint on wooden seats can chip. Plastic seats won't chip. The bumpers on wood seats are screwed, nailed, or tacked onto the seat - they can fall off over time. The bumpers on our plastic seats are molded-in - they are integral and cannot come off. If you are replacing a wood seat now, it is probably for one of these reasons. In the case of toilet seats, plastic is better than "wood" in our opinion.

A recent advancement/enhancement for toilet seats is the slow-close hinge feature. This appears by various names such as slow-close, whisper-close, silent-close. The feature is a winding mechanism when the seat is raised which creates resistance when the seat is lowered. The function is the seat lowering itself without dropping. The benefit is lowering the seat and closing the cover hands-free. Plus there is no slamming if the seat is dropped to close. This feature is only available on plastic some seats.

Not covered here are bidet toilet seats.