How to Measure Your Toilet Seat in Five Minutes

Every once in a while, we get a phone call that asks how to install a new toilet seat. The caller is always quick to apologize, since they know it’s one of those things that seems easy enough: “I tried googling it, but I couldn’t find a quick and easy solution.” Not that it bothers us; at Fountain Plumbing, we pride ourselves on answering all sorts of questions from homeowners, big or small.

Since it’s such a common question, we put together this simple guide that will explain the nuts and bolts of measuring, selecting, and installing a new toilet seat. Read it through from top to bottom, and you should be done inside of five minutes.

Figure Out Your Bowl’s Shape

There are two types of toilet seats: round and elongated. There are others, but for most homeowners, their toilets will fall into one of those two categories.

Unsure which is which? Grab a measuring tape and remove your old toilet seat to get a better look. Measure the distance from the front of the toilet bowl to the midpoint between the two bolt holes at the back. If this number is around 16-17 inches, you have a round toilet; if it’s between 18-19 inches, it’s elongated. Knowing this is important to determining which seat to buy.

Figure Out Your Bowl’s Width

Next, figure out the width of your bowl by measuring the distance of the outside edges of the bowl where the bowl is at it’s broadest. Don’t go too far up or down on the edges; shoot for the midpoint so that you get the most accurate number, normally falling around 14-14.5 inches in width. When you put your toilet seat back on, it will end up being slightly narrower than this number.

Figure Out Your Bolt Distance

Since the toilet seat is already off, you might as well measure the distance between the bolts as well. Measure the distance between the middle of the two holes where you bolt in the seat to the toilet; a normal measurement is around 5.5 inches. Write this number down next to the other two numbers you’ve collected, and head down to your local hardware store to pick up a new seat!

A Few Things to Remember

First, it’s important to keep in mind that because of the specific purpose of a toilet seat, some stores will not allow you to return a toilet seat, especially if it’s outside of its plastic. Keep it wrapped until you know you’ll be able to use it, and review the store’s return policy just in case.

Second, toilets are not the sturdiest items in your house, so you should never stand on them for any length of time. Standing just a little off-center can cause the porcelain to crack and possibly cause a major issue in your bathroom.

Third, consider what type of toilet seat you want. High-impact plastic is most commonly used these days, but you’ll also have your choice of wood (or wood composite), bamboo, fiberboard, or cushions. If you have an elderly member in your home, consider an elevated seat, or alternatively, if you have children, slow-lowering seats are also available so that fingers aren’t accidentally smushed.

Easy peasy! Installing a toilet seat isn’t especially difficult, but it’s hard to know what to look for if you’ve never done it before. As always, we would love to assist you with all of your plumbing needs, and can answer just about any question you ask. Call us today!

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