Are Toilet Seats Universal Or You Can Buy Just Anything?

Needing a new toilet seat? The first question that pops into your head is ‘Are toilet seats universal?’

However, there is more to buying a toilet seat that is functional and comfortable. You will need to know more than just how to measure the toilet seat. Or what the most common toilet seat sizes are.

This article will help you choose the right toilet seat size. Moreover, you will find out about other features that are important in these products.

How to measure toilet seat? Are toilet seats universal at all?


Toilets are not universal. They can have different lengths and shapes. Measuring your toilet correctly is paramount because not all toilets are the same size. We all have seen those products that claim they match all toilet sizes. Nothing further from the truth.

Toilets come in different sizes and shapes, with the most common being elongated vs round toilets. In order to measure your toilet, follow these steps:

  • Measure length

This measurement is maybe the most important because it can differ a lot.  Measure from the middle of the distance between the seat post holes to the front edge of your bowl. The right way to do it is to measure to the outside edge of the toilet bowl. The most common measurements you will find are 16.5 inches and 18.5 inches. If the measurement is different, your toilet is not a standard type.

  • Measure width

Width is usually standard in all toilets but measure it anyway. There are also unusually sized toilets and maybe yours is one of them. Measure across the widest part of your toilet bowl. Again, make sure you measure from outside edge to outside edge. The most likely measurement you will get is 14 inches. A different width indicates a non-standard toilet.

  • Distance between seat post holes

Finally, make this measurement too in order to ensure your toilet is a standard size. Measure from the center of one seat post hole to the center of the other. You can do it even if you don’t take your toilet seat off.

What are the typical toilet seat sizes?


Round vs elongated toilet seat includes the most common toilet seat sizes. Here is how you recognize both of them:

Elongated toilet seat

The length of a round toilet from between seat posts holes and the front edge is 18.5 inches. This type of toilet is a newer one and is included in an increasing number of residential projects. Its advantages include:

  • Being more comfortable for adults;
  • Is preferred by men because they have extra space where needed the most. Thus, they don’t touch their body parts against the front edge of the toilet. There is also the advantage of aiming more easily into an elongated toilet; [1]
  • Can be easier to clean because the longer shape makes it easier to see in the front of the bowl;
  • Has a modern look that makes it more appealing to homeowners; contributes to the bathroom’s aesthetic;
  • Lower clogging chances as this type of toilet has more water due to its larger size. This makes the flushing force higher and the toilet will clean better.

A disadvantage of elongated toilets and elongated toilet seats is the higher price. This type of toilet costs around $50 more than its round counterpart. Even if the two types come from the same manufacturer, there is a significant price difference.

Another drawback is taking more space into your bathroom. If you have a small bathroom, an elongated toilet can make access to lavatory or other items more difficult.

Round toilet seat

A round toilet has a length of 16.5 inches from front to back. This is by far the most common type of toilet, even if it begins to be replaced by elongated models. Benefits of round toilets are:

  • Occupying less space, which can be very important in small bathrooms;
  • They are cheaper, and so are the round toilet seats;
  • They are better for children because they can’t sit all the way back in an elongated toilet. When using a larger toilet, waste can drop onto the front slope instead of in the water. An elongated toilet used by children will have to be cleaned more often.

The round toilet is usually chosen by those who prefer a conventional, traditional look for their bathroom.

What is a proprietary toilet seat?


Toilet types can vary greatly by shape (square, angular, D-shaped, round) and by size. Differences in toilet dimensions can vary anywhere between 350mm to 500 mm. D-shaped toilets, for instance, are becoming increasingly popular in the UK.

There also are unusual toilet sizes or proprietary toilets. In this case, the manufacturer needs to provide a matching toilet seat. Finding a toilet seat for an unusual toilet can be a little difficult, but not impossible.

Are there toilet seats for kids?


Toilet seats for kids are either separate potty-training devices or adult toilet seats with built-in potty seats. The former is simply placed on the toilet seat when the child needs to use the toilet. The latter is represented by built-in potty seats that can secure into cover when not in use.

The benefits of built-in toilet seats for kids are reducing clutter, allowing toddlers to use the toilet seat with confidence, and easy removal for cleaning.

There are also real toilets for kids, complete and fully functional. These kids’ toilets can be a good idea if there is always a small child in your home. The toilet seat comes with the toilet or is sold separately and usually has specific measurements for each model.

What to look at when choosing a toilet seat?


With so many toilet seat sizes out there, knowing how to measure toilet seat is crucial. The answer to the question ‘Are toilet seats universal?’ is definitely no.

However, the size of the toilet is not the only thing to consider when buying a new toilet. There are many other important aspects, such as:

Open front toilet seats

These are mostly found in public bathrooms as required by the law. Open front toilet seats are being installed and used for hygiene reasons.

These models miss that part of the toilet seat where bodily fluids usually drip. This way you don’t risk having contact with a contaminated toilet seat. Open front toilet seats are unlikely to be found in private homes.


Toilet seats come in two main categories when it comes to material: plastic and wood.

Plastic is popular due to its low price, durability, and versatility. Plastic can be easily molded into a variety of shapes. This type of toilet seat is more resistant to scratches and is lightweight.

Toilet seats made from wood offer other advantages, such as adding a feeling of warmth to your bathroom. They are not as cold when you sit on them. Drawbacks include the higher price and the fact that they will deteriorate faster, especially in a humid environment.

Soft close

Soft close is almost a standard feature these days. This kind of toilet seat uses a spring mechanism to avoid the seat cover coming down with a clatter.

Benefits include: no finger injuries, minimizing wear and tear, and being less annoying. On the other hand, your need to be careful not to damage the spring by forcing the toilet seat down.

Easy to take out

No matter how careful you are, toilet seats will get soiled, especially at the back and around the seat posts. These areas are difficult to clean when the seat is installed. This is why you might like a toilet seat that can be removed easily for cleaning, without needing tools.


Heated toilet seats use a remote control or a mounted control panel to adjust the seat’s temperature. They often come with other features such as a bidet, LED lighting, and air dryer. Heated seats are preferred to cloth toilet seat covers for hygiene reasons.

Night light

Nobody likes to turn on the light when using the toilet at night. This is why you might enjoy a toilet seat equipped with LED light that uses motion and light detection. The light only turns on only when you reach the bathroom at night.

Bidet functions

Toilet seats with bidet are common in other parts of the world such as Asia and the Middle East. Lately, they have been gaining popularity in the US as well. Once you try them, you will never go back to using dry toilet paper. They ensure better personal hygiene while reducing the risk of plumbing issues.

One piece toilet vs two-piece toilet

Using a one-piece toilet does not influence your choice of toilet seat more than using a two-piece one. [2]The first model is more durable and easier to clean, while the typical two-piece model is easier to install.


Are toilet seats universal? Absolutely not.

Before buying a new toilet seat, measure your toilet carefully and check its size.

Researching the most useful toilet seat functions is also a good idea. This way you will enjoy full comfort each time you do your business.