Chair Height Vs. Comfort Height Toilet: What's the Difference?

Dennis Howard
by Dennis Howard

Doing a bathroom remodel project can be satisfying. However, some decisions can get confusing for homeowners, such as toilets. There are so many variations, brands, styles and sizes that it is easy to get confused. One of the most confusing is the difference between chair height and comfort height toilets.

Chair height and comfort height refer to the measurement of a toilet from the floor to the top of the toilet seat. Chair height and comfort height toilets typically measure over seventeen inches from the floor to the top of the toilet seat. Comfort Height is a registered trademark of the Kohler fixture company. Toilets rarely exceed a seat height of nineteen inches.

Understanding the terms and parts of a toilet may not seem like a very glamorous exercise. However, before you start planning your new bathroom, a little knowledge may help you make better decisions. Toilets are amazingly complex fixtures that we often take for granted. Learn more about what is behind that flush before you push the handle.

Understanding Toilets – The Parts and Dimensions

We use them every day without a second thought. We are accustomed to luxuries unavailable in many parts of the world in the US. Our sanitary sewer systems are marvels of technology and engineering. Our interface is the ubiquitous porcelain toilet in our bathrooms.

For the most part, toilets perform their functions quietly and efficiently. Many of us never consider what goes into designing a toilet that is both functional and comfortable. There is, in fact, a lot of engineering and science behind the common residential toilet.

Toilet Seat Heights

Homeowners, by and large, are unaware that toilets come in different heights. Some people may notice a difference when sitting comfortably on a different toilet. The toilet may seem lower or higher than usual. There are variations in toilet seat heights that can make a noticeable difference in comfort in the bathroom.

Standard Height Toilets

Toilets identified as standard height typically have a seat height of fewer than seventeen inches measured from the floor surface to the top of the toilet seat. There are some advantages and disadvantages to selecting a standard height toilet for your bathroom.

  • Because standard height toilets are a few inches shorter, they are easier for children and shorter stature people to use.
  • Some experts believe that a standard height toilet is a more natural position and can help with constipation problems.
  • Older persons or someone with a disability may find standing from a standard height toilet more difficult.
  • If you or someone in your family is very tall, a standard height toilet may be uncomfortable.

Standard height toilets are typically the default installed by plumbers, contractors, and home builders. Overall, standard height toilets tend to be less expensive than chair height or comfort height toilets.

Research shows that a shorter toilet may be better for health reasons. Studies show that having your hips positioned slightly below your knees is a more efficient position. A shorter toilet can help prevent constipation. Some studies show that bowel cleansing is more efficient and effective as well.

Chair Height or Comfort Height Toilets

The modern flush toilet was invented in the 19th century. Toilet seat heights remained almost consistently between fourteen and fifteen inches much later in the toilet development timeline. However, as the population in the United States average height has grown, One hundred years ago, the average American male was about five foot seven inches tall. Today, the average is closer to five foot ten inches.

To be considered a chair-height toilet, the seat must be seventeen and nineteen inches from the floor. A three to four-inch height difference from a standard toilet doesn’t seem like much. However, most people can tell the difference immediately. As the population grows taller, the popularity of chair height toilets seems to increase.

If you consider installing a chair heigh toilet, there are some disadvantages and advantages that may influence your decision:

  • Children and shorter persons may find using a chair-height toilet difficult or uncomfortable.
  • Some research indicates that the position that a chair-height toilet imposes may be slightly less healthy.
  • These same studies seem to show that chair-height toilets are not as effective a helping relieve constipation.
  • Taller people generally find chair-height toilets more comfortable to use regularly.
  • Older adults or those with disabilities may find chair-height toilets more convenient and easier to use. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires chair-height toilets.

Most manufacturers now make chair-height toilets in almost all styles in their product line. A survey of home improvement stores and plumbing supply companies reveals they stock t chair-height toilets as regularly as standard height toilets.

Toilet Seat Shapes

If comfort is a primary reason for choosing a standard height toilet or a chair-height toilet, the shape of the bowl should also be a consideration. Toilets come with various shape bowls, which must be paired with a toilet seat and lid that matches the shape. In general, there are three standard toilet bowl shapes to consider.

Elongated Toilets

As the name suggests, elongated toilet bowls have a more pronounced oval shape from front to back. Historically, all toilets had a round bowl. Over time, the elongated bowl shape was introduced and became more and more popular. Today, the majority of toilets installed in residential applications have elongated bowls.

For the most part, the choice of elongated over round bowls is a personal preference. However, some bathrooms may have space limitations that require a different choice of bowl shape. There are some pros and cons associated with elongated toilets than can affectt your decision.

  • Space limitation may prevent an elongated toilet. Proper clearance between the front of the bowl and other obstructions in the bathroom can be an issue.
  • Most people find an elongated toilet more attractive than other styles.
  • Elongated toilet bowls offer more comfort for some individuals. Taller or larger persons usually find an elongated toilet easier to use.
  • The ADA requires elongated bowls in installations that must meet the code requirements.

Your current toilet is probably an elongated bowl unless someone made a change. The easiest way to determine if your toilet has an elongated bowl is to measure. The distance from the seat bolt hole to the front edge of the toilet bowl is typically 18.5 inches on an elongated bowl. An elongated toilet measures 26.75 to 28.5 inches from front to back.

Compact Elongated Bowl Toilets

The hybrid-style toilets are a rather recent addition to the market. These compact elongated toilets incorporate a more oval shape than a round toilet bowl and require less space in the bathroom. Some manufacturers claim that their compact elongated toilets require ten percent less space than a standard elongated toilet.

Compact elongated bowl toilets are a compromise. Many people find this toilet style less comfortable and less visually appealing than an elongated toilet. Space savings can be a significant factor when making a decision. You must consider the compromise between comfort and appeal when making your toilet decision.

When considering a compact elongated bowl toilet, keep these factors in mind.

  • The compact elongated toilet may not be as comfortable for larger or taller persons.
  • In smaller bathrooms, a compact elongated toilet can provide ample comfort with a bit of space savings.
  • Compact elongated toilets will not meet the requirements of the ADA code.

Compact elongated toilets are gaining in popularity. Many people find compact elongated toilets as comfortable as elongated toilet bowls, and the visual appeal also carries over. Unless ADA requirements restrain you, a compact elongated toilet may be an excellent choice.

Round Bowl Toilets

From its inception, most toilets were made with a round bowl. This slowly began to change as more research was done and feedback from toilet users began to gather. Still, round bowl toilets remain popular for various reasons.

There isn’t a lot of difference between round bowl and elongated bowl toilets. The 2” difference from front to back of the bowl doesn’t sound like much. However, in spaces that are smaller or have obstructions such as doors, that two inches can make a tremendous difference.

There are other considerations that should be taken into account when making a decision between round bowl toilets and those with elongated bowls. These are some of the things you need to think about.

  • The biggest consideration is space. Just a 2-inch difference in size can be important in tight spaces. Some bathrooms are just small and you need to conserve as much room as possible to make the bathroom comfortable to use.
  • Small children find round bowl toilets easier to use. Just consider that children grow and the issue may not last long.
  • Many people don’t like the looks of round bowl toilets. Many people consider esthetics a huge issue.

There is no wrong choice. In most instances, the type and shape of a toilet is a purely personal preference. It important thing is to choose wisely. In the long run, you will be much happier with your bathroom.

Chair Height, Comfort Height, or Standard Height

The truth is that there are not three choices but only two. Comfort Height is the same as chair height and is a term used by Kohler to identify their chair-height toilets. Whether you chose chair-height or stand-height, the important thing is to make an informed decision.

Understanding the differences, the pros, and the cons of each style of toilet gives you the ability to decide which best suits your needs.

Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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