If you need to replace your toilet seat or simply want to buy a new one, you might have wondered how to make sure you get the right size of seat. Obviously, not every toilet bowl shape is the same, so measuring your toilet seat is a crucial step. In this article, we’ll discuss how to properly measure a toilet seat.
How to Measure a Toilet Seat
#1. Basic Seat Measurements
Before anything else, you’ll want to get basic seat measurements for your toilet. Your new toilet seat should match up with all of these measurements to make sure it fits properly. For each of these measurements, the only items you’ll need are a tape measure and somewhere to write down the different measurements.
Here are the 3 key measurements to take:
- Length: Start by measuring the length between the front of the seat and the two bolts. Make sure that you go down the center of the bowl. Depending on how your seat is constructed, you might need to snap up the covers of the bolts to take the measurement properly.
- Distance: Next, measure the distance between the two bolts. If you haven’t lifted the covers, a screwdriver can come in handy to help access the bolts. In the US, the default distance between these bolts is 5.5 inches, while in Europe it’s between 6 and 6.5 inches.
- Width: Lastly, you should measure the width of the seat. For the most accurate measurement, be sure to measure from the center of each side. The width is usually standardized, but especially if you have an old toilet, you should measure it properly to make sure you pick a seat that matches your toilet perfectly.
Reading our full guide about how to measure your toilet could help you.
#2. Specialty Seat Measurements
If you want to buy a specialty seat, there are a few additional factors to remember. While you should again measure the distance between the two bolts, the length, and width of the toilet bowl, there are a couple more measurements to take depending on the type of seat:
- For bidet attachments and raised seats – You should also measure the distance between the bolt holes and the tank because bidet attachments, raised seats, and similar seats, all require minimal clearance between the tank and the holes. In general, before you order a new seat, do some additional online research about the required clearance and make sure it’ll fit with your toilet. These products can be quite expensive, so you don’t want to waste your money on a model that won’t fit.
- For a snap-on attachment – If you want to buy a snap-on attachment instead of a totally new seat, you’ll need to measure your existing seat itself. Even if it seems like the attachment will easily fit, it’s always better to measure everything to be positive. You’ll also want to make sure there’s enough space around the toilet for any other components of the seat, such as the attachment clamps. Similarly, if you want to buy an attachment with armrests, make sure that there is enough space between the toilet and any nearby fixtures.
Choosing a New Seat
The measurements above will help you determine what type of seat to select. For example, if your bowl length is around 16.5 inches, you should buy a round seat. If it’s longer than 16.5 inches, you’ll need to buy an elongated seat. You may be able to tell just from looking if your seat is round or elongated, but it’s always a good idea to measure quickly to be sure.
If you have a European toilet, you’ll also want to select a seat that matches your bowl shape. In Europe, seats can be rounded, pointed, or D-shaped. It’s easy to see the difference with the naked eye, but you’ll also be able to use measurements to confirm similar to American-style toilet seats.
Finally, if your toilet is not standard, it may be easiest to simply buy a replacement of the same seat. To ensure you get a perfect fit, you’ll want to check which model the seat is and buy a matching seat accordingly. You can find the exact model name by lifting and checking the tank lid, where the seat should list its brand name and model number.
Different Types of Toilet Seats
As you might have expected, not all toilet seats are the same, or universal. Let’s discuss some of the most common different types available.
#1. Seat Shape
The first difference you’ll likely notice between toilet seats is their shape – there are three main shapes of seat commonly available. The shape of seat you’ll want to look for should match your toilet bowl’s shape.
- Round Seats – These toilet seats are the most common in households, and they fit only on a round toilet bowl. They’re often slightly smaller and work well in compact bathrooms. However, they are not as comfortable as elongated seats because of their smaller size.
- Elongated Seats – These seats are relatively new compared to round toilet seats, and due to their shape, they tend to provide more comfort. However, note that elongated seats might cost a bit more, and will only work if you have a toilet with an elongated bowl.
- Square Seats – With quite a modern look, these seats are ideal for residential use. Also known as rectangular seats, these toilets have sides that are roughly parallel. They aren’t as common as round or elongated seats, but if you’re going for a unique, specific look, a square toilet seat could be a great choice for you.
You may want to read though a variety of toilet seats reviews.
#2. Seat Material
Material is another factor that impacts the quality and comfort of a toilet seat. You’ll have more choice between different materials regardless of your toilet’s design, although some people look for seats that blend in with their toilet. These are the three main toilet seat material options:
- Thermoplastic – This material is one of the most popular available. Attractive and low maintenance, thermoplastic provides a finish that is easy to clean and maintain.
- Duroplast – If you want a stylish and contemporary toilet seat, buying the one made from duroplast might be your best choice. It’s durable and will look beautiful for years, so a duroplast seat will be a great investment for your bathroom.
- Solid wood – For more traditional bathrooms, you can also consider a toilet seat made from solid wood. Not only does wood look nice and rustic, but it also lasts for a long time, and can even be more comfortable because it won’t get as cold as a plastic seat would. However, wooden seats can be harder to clean and maintain, and may not blend into every bathroom depending on the decor and style.
Check out our featured guide about differences between a wooden vs. plastic toilet seat.
How to Install a New Toilet Seat
Once you’ve measured and selected your new seat, it’ll only take a few steps to install in your bathroom. To install a new toilet seat, you will need an adjustable wrench, a screwdriver, WD-40 spray (optional), and a small hacksaw (also optional).
- Before buying a new seat, measure your current bowl size as we mentioned above, and buy a new seat accordingly.
- To remove the existing seat, pop off the bolt caps. Then, loosen the nuts with the adjustable wrench.
- Remove the bolts at the base of the hinges with a screwdriver, and use a bit of WD-40 if the bolts are stuck. If the WD-40 doesn’t help, you can also use a hacksaw to remove the old bolts, but usually a screwdriver and the WD-40 will be all you need to get the bolts off
- Then, set the new seat in place and place the hinges where the old ones were located.
- Drop the bolts into place and thread the nuts onto the bolts. Note that bolts and nuts should come in the package with the new seat you purchase.
- Depending on the model, you might be able to thread the nuts with your hands. If not, simply use a screwdriver. Be careful not to tighten too much to avoid damaging the seat. Then, that’s it! You’ve successfully installed the new seat.
Take a minute to read through our toilet installation guide.
As you can see, buying the perfect new seat for your toilet is not a difficult process. However, you can make the process even more seamless by making sure to take all the proper measurements and finding a seat according to those dimensions. Even if it seems that the seat will fit, it doesn’t hurt to take a couple of minutes and do some measurements before buying. The last thing you want is to buy a great new seat only to realize it won’t fit as you expected. We hope this article helps show all the important measurements to take so you can be confident in all of your future toilet seat purchases!