Replacing A Toilet Seat? Here’s How To Choose A Size: Round Or Oblong… And A Style: Wood Or Plastic

replacing-toilet-seat-by-theopWho knew I could spend nearly an hour in the Home Depot just examining toilet seats?!

Better yet, who knew I could write a 500-word article detailing the intricacies of toilet seats???

Hold onto your fuzzy toilet seat cover, people… here we go!


Ode To A Commode

In preparation for our move (which is still many months away), we decided to replace our old toilet seats and lids with new ones. Three in all.

We’re hoping that they’ll last long enough to still look good when it comes time to sell this house in a year or so. Besides, we think that our guests deserve a nicer palette upon which to rest their tushies when they visit.

So the search was on for “the best” toilet seat!


First, Some Basic Information About Toilet Seats

How long does your typical toilet seat last, anyway?

I couldn’t find any facts or figures online about this (…see below). In our case, 5-1/2 years seems to be the going rate. The toilet in the powder room bathroom doesn’t even get used much, and that toilet seat is just as bad as the other 2 that get frequent use.

We finally got tired of looking at these old eyesores which were lopsided, faded, and stained from various cleaning products. (Why do they make toilet cleansers blue anyway?! More on that later…)

For the record, our current toilet seats are made by Church. They’re supposed to be good ones, I think. But I’m up for trying a different brand at this point.


What’s A Girl Gotta Do?…

Aye, aye-aye… What’s a girl gotta do to get some good, honest feedback about toilet seats these days?

You know me… I’ll research with the best of ’em online. Only problem is, there’s really nothing online — as far as tips for choosing the best toilet seat.

Oh, there are a million and one articles about why to replace a toilet seat and how to install a toilet seat. But that’s the least of my worries at this point. It looks pretty easy to me… so long as you can handle a screwdriver alright.

I know… most would say that choosing a toilet seat is just a matter of personal taste and opinion. But still, I’d like to read about others’ opinions some before I go out and “try on” toilet seats! I mean, who wants to be known as the person who kept returning toilet seats? (We live in a small town.)


All About Toilet Seats

So, here’s what I’ve learned firsthand about toilet seats…


Toilet Seat Sizes: Round vs Oblong
There are really only 2 sizes you need to concern yourself with: “round” or “oblong” (or “elongated”). Generally, it is easy to tell just by looking whether you have a round or oblong shaped toilet. If you prefer to measure, just to be sure, then measure from the front of the bowl to the middle of the screws at the back of the bowl/lid area. Here are the standard toilet bowl sizes:

  • Round Toilet Bowl: 16.5 inches
  • Oblong Toilet Bowl: 18.5 inches

What does vary is the width of the bowl from side to side. But it’s usually not enough to worry about, as most standard size toilet seats and lids will cover most toilet bowls, even if they’re slightly narrower or even wider than the next one.

Here’s what you need to know about wide toilet seats.


Wood Toilet Seats vs Plastic Toilet Seats
We’ve always had wood toilet seats in the homes we’ve rented, bought, or built. Not for any reason in particular, other than that’s what the home already had or the builder recommended.

But I’ve become so frustrated with all of the stains from using various cleaning products on our 3 wood toilet seats, that I was open to trying a plastic toilet seat this time.

I figured there might be an all-new modern and high-quality plastic toilet seat that would be “all the rage” these days.

But if there is, I couldn’t find it — online or in stores.


Which Toilet Seat Did We Choose?

So after a fair amount of research on toilet seats, we ended up with this one: the Bemis easy clean toilet seat. (Personally, most of the toilet seats on the market appear to have similar features, so I’m not sure this toilet seat is so special after all. But it works fine for us.)

A few thoughts on wood vs plastic toilet seats:

  • As a rule, wood toilet seats are slightly more expensive than plastic toilet seats.
  • Generally speaking, wood seats are also thicker, warmer to sit on, sturdier, and more durable than plastic ones.
  • Plastic seats may have some “additional features” built in (like an automatic slow-closing lid).
  • Plastic lids are likely to show minor scratches — even from soft sponges used when cleaning. They are also more likely to crack.

Other than that… I can’t think of anything else that affected our choice of toilet seats. Well, maybe metal hinges vs plastic hinges… but if a toilet seat’s only going to last 5-10 years, I think the plastic (less expensive) hinges do the job just as well. Others might prefer the “looks” of the metal hinges though.

I’d be interested in hearing from others if there are features that I should have looked for. Or, if there are any new & improved models that might be worth considering!

Those with special needs or unique circumstances might find this adjustable toilet seat helpful.


How Long Will It Last?…

I did find that toilets themselves will typically last a lifetime, while the faucets and fixtures associated with them last around 10 years. Not sure whether that includes toilet seats or not (I doubt it). But as stated above, our toilet seats lasted about 5-1/2 years.

UPDATE:  Who knew there were so many different colors for toilet seats? Check out this Cross Reference Chart for Toilet Seat Colors!

Lynnette Walczak

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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Fun From Around the Web

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the interesting and informative info on your experience with toilet seats.
    I currently live with a roommate who weighs about 450lbs. He broke his current toilet seat that came with the apartment (wood). They replaced it, but he broke it again. I looked into getting him a special-needs seat ( but those seats are almost $200 bucks. Someone told me a stainless steel seat would be a good option, but I haven’t been able to find one anywhere, not even on the web. Do you know where I might be able to find one?
    Many thanks,
    Curious Roommate

  • kontai69

    Nice writeup on toilet seats. I personally chose wood over plastic. In addition to what you mentioned (weight, feel, etc) the wooded seats have a deep glossy lacquered (clear-coated) finish that better matches the porcelean of the toilet. The plastic seats look dull in comparison. I’m pretty happy with the Kohler wooden seat I got at Home Depot for less than $20.

  • FunTimesGuide

    I did a quick search for “stainless steel toilet seat” on Google and found a bunch…

  • Anonymous

    It seems that most “wood” toilet seats that are white are actually the equivalent of particle board, which is not very sturdy (ever try to move a particle board desk?). For a heavy person, an alternative to stainless steel (yow cold) would be an oak seat which would still have the strength integrity of the wood grain. Also make sure the bolts stay tight because as the person’s weight shifts in doing what needs to be done, the seat can shift towards the hole and not be properly supported and – snap goes the seat.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Nelson. I have two boys and they have some problems with keeping the urine in the bowl. I am replacing a wooden toilet seat with a plastic one to see if this will help the problem.

    I also replaced a different toilet seat with one of the “removable” seats, and I try to give it a thorough cleaning in the bathtub (with the water running over the hinges) about once a month. It really helps with the odor, but I should probably do this once a week (or everyday). I think the “removable” seat is wooden.

  • Anonymous

    i have 3 toilets which have 9″ centres for fitting toilets seats but cant find any seats anywhere, can anyone help please

    • Susan Pels

      Did you ever find toilet seats with 9″ centers? Mine are functional but would like to replace them with ones that have a cover. I search the internet occasionally and never have any luck.

  • Cis

    I am looking for a seat with metal hinges due to the fact our daughter uses an assistance bars on the toilet and the plastic hinges loosen up too easily and the lid moves from side to side. If you have and elderly parent you may consider this when replacing a toilet seat.

  • Anonymous

    It is not true that all round toilet seats are the same size, nor are all elongated toilet seats the same size. If you pick too small a size, you will find that the toilet seat does not cover all of the porcelain and you will be cold when you least expect it.

    An example of this are two, ordinary, round toilet seats sold by Kohler, one being 15″ from back to front and the other being almost 16″ in that dimension.

  • Ted

    Good article but you did not mention weight capacity.
    I an a 200 lb male. I had a composite wood seat crack after 12 years of service. It was the first seat ever to crack in my home.
    I replaced it with a standard wood seat 5 months ago. This seat showed small cracks in 2 months and was unusable in 3.
    Checking up on it I found the weight capacity was 250 lbs.

    When sitting down on the seat, the instantaneous weight can approach 50% more that one’s actual weight.
    Then shifting on the seat can change the weight distribution causing overloads on areas of the seat. The weight capacity is distributive weight capacity, not point or zonal.
    With the average US male weighting in at at 190 and and the average female at 164 lbs, the seat’s 250 lb capacity now seems barely adequate.

    Shopping for a new seat, I find none telling the weight capacity. Online I find references indicating about 250 lbs to be the norm for both plastic and wood seats.
    Note: I found most of the inexpensive seats are composite wood and are painted or coated white.

  • Angela

    Thanks! I’ve actually never replaced a toilet seat, and was looking for more info! This was very helpful!

  • David

    I had this same problem a few years ago. There just didn’t seem to be any info out there. I actually found my solution accidentally while searching for a grip for a handgun I used to have. Apparently Hogue, who makes some of the best rubber grips, also makes one of the best rubber toilet seats we have ever used. It even has a quick release for cleaning. Check it out…

  • Nbuzzelli

    Thank You! I almost ordered oblong but after measuring I realized it’s round.

  • Jaxs135

    Great article and info! We just moved into a new house that needs new toilet seats, but I’ve never had to replace one. I had a suspicion there was something to know about round vs oblong seats. This article told me what I needed to know. Thanks!

  • Carolingardia

    Well I must agree. After just getting a brand new Toto toilet, yesterday when turning on my new bathroom recessed lights, I noticed a million scratches all over the lid. I began to research for hours and wrote to the company to see if this is normal. Then I found your article. Glad to see I am not nuts. And that plastic scratches. But brand new? The only other factor could have been after it was installed the contractor did some sanding in the bathroom.perhaps the particles did that. Oh well

  • FunTimesGuide

    Djbuzshy – Yay – so glad you found this info helpful!! I’m thrilled that you were able to make an “informed choice” 😀

  • Anne Earney

    we just had to replace our plastic toilet seat because the bottom part broke off at the hinge. It was the plastic seat that came with the toilet. We have had the toilet for less than two years. We bought a wood seat to replace it with and it seems so much more comfortable and solid, but we’ll see if it lasts. 

  • Tkento

    Hello, I just put on 3 new plastic toilet seats in 5 days! After getting sick of the wooden ones peeling with any cleaner other than antibacterial wipes I opted for plastic. I had a hard time finding one in our local Walmart but happened to find one in the Family Dollar. When I put this one on it was cheaply made and sat right on the toilet and it was smaller so the bottom of the toilet bowl popped out around the seat. That was a negative for me!! Soooo, I went to Lowes and was surprised to find tons of seats!! In my glory I choose a nice plastic one from Aqua Source. It was also too small for the toilet!….but it looked great!! Shiny and modern. It was very uncomfortable though! The seat dipped so far in it felt like you were going to fall into the toilet!! It also was too small for my toilet and once again, the bottom of the toilet bowl popped out! My husband insisted our toilet was round!!! I kept saying then why don’t these toilet seats fit?? I returned to Lowes to get a different brand and this time a wood one again. I thought a different brand would fit better. I opted for the wood one again as the plastic ones were limited and the one I found was very comfortable. I have a plastic toilet seat in my other bathroom I LOVE!!! It is comfortable and cleans easily with any kind of cleaner with out marks or worrying about wood chipping but I got that seat 12 years ago!! The ones I found today are not like that. Anyhow, back to the wood seat #3. It is so much more comfortable and made by Church. It also is to small!! So now despite my husbands insistance of it being a round toilet I am going to go measure it. I have and it is a 17.5 in toilet. Inbetween elongated and round so I will live with the wooden seat I just got for now. Who knew a whole week of this year would be dedicated to searching for something so silly but yet so important. I guess it is the little things that really make life happy:)

    • FunTimesGuide

      I know… it seems silly to be talking so much about toilet seats. But until you find yourself in search of a replacement toilet seat… you don’t realize how important one little decision can be 😀

      • Emmab

        I feel the same but having recently purchased a replacement toilet seat (which does not fit!) I need advice on re-purchase. The one I purchased was 18″ but obviously far too long but thought I would put up with that but now it has slipped off just about completely. I cannot return it to the store and now I have looked at loads and afraid to make another purchase! Emmab

  • mona19595

    I like soft toilet seats, nice and warm in the winter and soft on your tush……..

  • SparkyTWD

    In my experience, Bemis toilet seats are sub-standard. I have had a 100% failure rate in the last three Bemis seats that I purchased, and I will never buy another. All attempts to contact the company for customer support have been ignored.

    I have since switched to Kohler seats and have had good luck so far.