If you‘re renovating your bathroom, one important decision is choosing the right toilet. Standard toilets with seat heights of 15-17 inches used to be the only option. But chair height models with seats 17-19 inches off the floor have soared in popularity in recent years. In this comprehensive guide, let‘s explore why taller chair height toilets are often considered far superior.
Defining Chair Height Toilets
First, let‘s get familiar with what exactly chair height toilets are. Chair height refers to any toilet with a seat height ranging from 17-19 inches. This matches the seat height of most standard chairs. These toilets have bowls positioned 2-4 inches higher off the ground compared to standard models. The key benefit of this additional height is ease of use—chair height toilets allow you to sit down and stand up with less bending and straining. Many people find chair height toilets much more comfortable and accessible.
Now that we‘ve defined these toilets, let‘s look closer at why they have become a top choice for bathroom upgrades:
5 Benefits of Switching to a Chair Height Toilet
Here are some of the biggest advantages chair height toilets have over standard models:
1. Easier Sitting and Standing
The 2-4 extra inches of seat height make a significant difference for users sitting down on and standing up from the toilet. Less bending is required, so the movement is easier and more natural. This reduces the amount of strain and twisting of back, hip, knee and ankle joints. Climbing on or off a too-low toilet can be very difficult and uncomfortable for many.
2. Reduced Risk of Injury
Multiple studies have shown that the risk of injuries and falls increases dramatically when seniors use toilets that are too low. A 2020 study in the Journal of Aging Research found that 21% of falls during toileting involved getting on or off the toilet. The authors noted that lower toilet seats require greater muscular strength and coordination to avoid injury. Proper toilet height minimizes injury risks.
3. Improved Accessibility
The extra height of chair toilets makes them ideal for people with disabilities, joint problems, and age-related mobility issues. Taller seats enhanced accessibility and independence. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates a minimum toilet height of 17 inches for accessible public restrooms.
4. Contemporary Styling
Chair height toilets come in a range of stylish designs that can complement your bathroom‘s decor. Many feature sleek, elegantly curved one-piece constructions with concealed trapways. If you‘re remodeling, a chair height model can help modernize your space.
5. Powerful Flush Performance
Today‘s chair height toilets boast highly engineered flush systems that thoroughly clear waste with just 1.28 gallons of water per flush on average. That‘s about 30% less water than older 3.5 gallon models use. Some brands like Toto offer tornado flushes that create a forceful 360-degree rinsing action.
Clearly, the benefits go far beyond just height. Now let‘s compare chair height to another common term—comfort height.
Chair Height vs Comfort Height Toilets
When shopping for toilets, you may come across both "chair height" and "comfort height" labels. What exactly is the difference between these two terms?
- Chair height: 15-17 inches high
- Comfort height: 17-19 inches high
- Range overlap: 17 inches can qualify as both chair and comfort height.
As you can see, there is an overlap at 17 inches, which can be categorized as either chair or comfort height. Overall, comfort height toilets sit at the higher end of the spectrum. Both chair and comfort height toilets promote greater accessibility and ease of use versus the standard 15 inch tall toilets.
Comfort height is also sometimes referred to as "right height." But all of these terms refer to toilets in the 17-19 inch range.
Finding the Best Toilet Height for Seniors
Now that we understand chair and comfort height toilets, what is the ideal toilet height for elderly users? Let‘s explore factors like mobility and safety.
For seniors, the recommended toilet height is between 17-19 inches. This taller seat makes sitting down and standing up much easier for those with age-related mobility limitations. One study in the Journal of Applied Gerontology found that people over age 60 had an easier time rising from mid-height chairs around 18 inches compared to regular height seats 15 inches high. The same principles apply to toilets.
Standard 15-16 inch toilets require substantial joint bending and muscular strength that can be extremely difficult for seniors. This leads to discomfort and increases the chances of falls and injuries.
By contrast, the taller 17-19 inch toilet heights allow elderly users to sit down and get up in a more natural, relaxed motion. Some key perks include:
- Less strain on knees, hips and back
- Reduced risk of falls or injuries
- Easier maintenance of independence
- ADA compliant for accessibility
If you can‘t replace the entire toilet, adding a raised toilet seat can increase the height 2-4 inches for seniors. Grab bars and handles also greatly aid stability and safety. Let‘s move on to another important topic—whether comfort height works well for shorter adults too.
Do Comfort Height Toilets Work for Shorter Adults?
Comfort height and chair height toilets have become popular for their increased accessibility. But how do they accommodate shorter adults under 5 foot 3?
Well, comfort height models may actually be a bit too tall for some petite users. Shorter legs mean reaching farther down to get properly seated on the 17-19 inch toilet height. This can create strain on the hips, knees and back.
Standard height toilets around 15 inches high may be a more ergonomic fit for smaller statured adults. The key is selecting a toilet height where the user‘s feet rest fully flat on the floor when seated. This provides optimal comfort and stability. For some shorter folks, the right height toilet may be a standard 15 inch rather than comfort height model.
If children will also use the toilet, providing a sturdy step stool allows them to comfortably reach the seat at any adult height. Just be sure it‘s slip resistant. Proper toilet height comes down to the user‘s unique needs and proportions.
Now that we understand heights, let‘s examine the elongated bowl found on many chair height toilets.
Benefits of the Elongated Toilet Bowl Design
Chair height and comfort height toilets often come with elongated bowl designs. This contrasts with the traditional round bowl shape. Let‘s look at the purpose and perks of the modern elongated bowl:
Extra seating room: Elongated bowls are 2 inches longer, offering noticeably more space to sit comfortably.
Enhanced accessibility: The extended shape makes it easier for users to get on and off the toilet.
Better hygiene: The elongated bowl minimizes splashing and contact with the inner bowl.
Contemporary style: The sleek elongated silhouette modernizes the look of your bathroom.
Ideal for chair height models: The extra length provides the ideal ergonomic proportions for taller toilets.
The increased space and accessibility of elongated bowls make them a smart match for chair and comfort height toilets used by those with mobility challenges. That said, the elongated shape does have a larger footprint. Be sure to measure your space—some smaller bathrooms may only accommodate a round bowl.
Now that we‘ve covered design, let‘s examine which users benefit most from chair height models.
Who Should Consider a Chair Height Toilet?
Chair height toilets provide the greatest benefits for:
Seniors: The tall height reduces injury risks and improves accessibility.
Those recovering from surgery: The height minimizes strain which aids the healing process.
People with mobility issues: Makes sitting, standing and daily use easier for those with disabilities.
Obese individuals: The taller seat prevents excessive bending and discomfort.
Tall people: Allows long-legged users to avoid cramped leg positions.
Caregivers assisting users: Allows for comfort and safety when helping users get on and off the toilet.
Guest bathrooms: Universally accessible for visitors of any age and mobility level.
The slightly higher seat position of chair toilets makes them the most versatile, accessible choice for all users. Let‘s look at exactly how they compare to standard height models.
|Seat height range
|Water surface area
|Easier to sit/stand
*When installed properly
Table 1. Comfort height vs standard toilet comparison
While standard toilets work fine for many, comfort height models excel when it comes to accessible, comfortable use across more diverse populations.
Next let‘s weigh the pros and cons of taller vs. shorter toilet heights.
Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Toilet Heights
Higher toilet seats in the 17-19" comfort height range offer advantages:
- Easier to sit and stand for diverse users
- Reduced joint stress and injury risk
- Stylish elongated bowl design
- ADA compliant for accessibility
- Potentially uncomfortable for very short users
- Kids may need step stool to reach
- More expensive than short toilets
Shorter 12-15” toilets also have some pluses:
- Comfortable height for small kids
- Accommodates short adults well
- Quick and easy installation
- Very affordable options
- Can be difficult for seniors and taller users
- Doesn’t meet ADA accessibility standards
- Low height limits seat riser options
When selecting toilet height, always consider your users. For universally accessible households, a chair height model between 17-19 inches tends to work well for the widest range of people.
Why Close the Lid? It‘s Simple Etiquette
Beyond height, one toilet etiquette matter comes up in many households—putting the seat and lid down after use. Here‘s why it‘s polite to fully close the toilet:
Improved Hygiene: Closing the lid contains germs inside the tank rather than leaving them to spread to nearby surfaces. One study by the University of Arizona found that failing to close the lid can spread bacteria up to 6 feet away within 5 seconds of flushing!
Enhanced Appearance: An exposed toilet full of water just doesn‘t look very appealing. Closing the lid keeps the bathroom looking cleaner and more visually appealing.
Increased Privacy: Shutting the lid offers an added layer of privacy when not in use.
Equal Effort: Lowering both the lid and seat means equal effort for all users.
Child and Pet Safety: Prevents little ones or curious pets from falling into the toilet or playing in the water.
Noise Reduction: Closing the lid muffles flushing sounds that can be distracting for others nearby.
Simply closing the lid transforms a bathroom into a safer, quieter, healthier space for all users. It also demonstrates awareness and consideration of other people in the household.
Tracing the Evolution to Taller Toilets
Today‘s modern comfort height toilets stand much taller than vintage models. Let‘s look back at some key reasons toilet seat heights have risen over the decades:
- Durable vitreous porcelain becomes standard toilet material
- Elongated bowls introduced, adding 1-2 inches of height
- Knowledge of ergonomics increases and focus shifts to accessibility
- Americans with Disabilities Act passes, mandating 17”+ public toilet heights
- Chair and comfort height models rise in popularity for homes
- Contemporary tankless one-piece toilets allow greater heights
Thanks to material advances, accessibility regulations, and ergonomic research, toilet comfort and seat height have improved dramatically. The increased heights make toilets easier for almost everyone to use safely and comfortably.
But does a few inches really matter when it comes to toilet height? Let‘s find out.
Does Height Really Impact Toilet Usability and Comfort?
Toilet height has a substantial impact on the usability and comfort for many groups of users. Here are key factors to consider:
User Height and Mobility
Standard 15 inch toilets require tall users to stoop and shorter users to climb up. Either can lead to strain and discomfort. Chair height provides improved ergonomics.
Seniors and People with Disabilities
Studies show chair height toilets allow elderly users and those with mobility limitations to sit and stand with less pain and greater stability.
Injury and Surgery Recovery
The range of motion needed to use very low toilets may interfere with healing after procedures like hip or knee replacement. Added height eases the process.
Standard adult toilet heights don‘t fit children‘s proportions and require unsafe climbing. With a step stool, any height can work.
While one size doesn‘t fit all, the research shows chair and comfort height models between 17-19 inches provide the widest level of comfortable accessibility for diverse households.
Can Toilets Be Too Tall? Maximizing Comfort and Safety
Yes, it’s possible for a toilet to exceed a height that’s comfortable and safe to use. Here are some issues that can occur with oversized toilets:
- Excessive reaching or bending to get seated
- Loss of balance while situating on the tall toilet
- Increased safety risks like falls for seniors and kids
- Discomfort from strained joints and muscles
- Poor fit for users of smaller stature
Toilets taller than approximately 19 inches may be difficult or unsafe. Some remedies if your toilet is too tall include:
- Replacing the toilet with a properly proportioned chair height model
- Adding a toilet seat riser to reduce the overall height
- Providing sturdy step stools to boost younger users
- Installing grab bars for stability getting on and off
The key is ensuring all users of your bathroom can comfortably sit, stand and use the facilities safely. Don’t hesitate to take measures if your toilet is causing difficulty.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Perfect Toilet Height
The rise of chair height and comfort height toilets has expanded options beyond the standard 15 inch tall models. Toilet heights from 17-19 inches are revolutionizing comfort, accessibility and ease of use—especially for seniors and people with mobility challenges.
But be sure to evaluate the unique needs of the users in your home before selecting toilet height. Factor in ages, heights, disabilities and physical limitations to make the best choice for your household. And don’t forget about proper installation, safety handles and step stools to create a bathroom environment tailored for your users.
With some planning and smart toilet selection, you can craft a bathroom that allows everyone to comfortably take care of their needs independently and with dignity.