Why are there different toilet seat shapes?

Written by toni owen
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Why are there different toilet seat shapes?
Selecting a toilet seat shape is part of planning your home decor. (toilet bowl painting Gzhel image by Vasily Smirnov from Fotolia.com)

Traditionally round with seats to match, toilet seats have evolved in the 21st century. Designers created elongated toilet seat models for high-end businesses at the end of the 20th century. These quickly found their way into private homes. Toilet seats holes also evolved. Originally completely round, open-ended horseshoe models were mandated for public toilets in the 20th century. Shapes range from egg to chevron to rounded rectangles for private toilets.

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Round Seats

Round toilet seats fit round toilet tanks, which are ideal for small spaces like apartments or trains. Round toilet seats are traditionally 11 inches in diameter and accommodate smaller body shapes.

Elongated Seats

Created for style, elongated toilet seats also accommodate larger bodies and allow more room in front for elimination without splashing. Generally 2 inches longer than round seats, they are more comfortable for the elderly or disabled and provide a larger platform on which to sit and from which to stand. They take more space and are more expensive but have a lower water consumption.

Why are there different toilet seat shapes?
Elongated seat shapes fit more body shapes. (Toilet bowl and bidet in a toilet image by terex from Fotolia.com)

Elevated Seats

Elevated toilet seats allow those who are feeble or unsteady to use a toilet without help by raising the height of the seat. They can be used by anyone, but are designed for those with bending or sitting difficulties.

"O" Shape

The traditional shape of a toilet hole was round. Variations included size, with smaller circles for children, or position, with holes for toddlers placed further forward. Round holes were common for home toilet seats when bathrooms were small.

Horseshoe Shape

The open ended toilet seat shape was created to improve hygiene, primarily in public toilets. The opening allowed more room in front and a larger target area, which reduced splashing. It also eliminated some of the seat's surface, so there was less chance of one user coming in contact with the area another user had occupied. Seats seldom have lids to reduce cleaning and speed up use for large crowds.


Dozens of toilet seat and hole combinations suit all bathroom decors from D shape for maximum space for elimination to decorator-inspired sextuplet shapes.

Choices include family seats with an inset smaller seat for children, self closing lids and seats with arms for convenience, lids that fit inside the seat and lids that wrap over the seat edge for cleanliness and neatness.

Total luxury toilet seats are sleek electric models with control panels to operate self-cleaning washers that clean and massage users with warm water, heated seats, blow dryers, motion sensors that raise and lower the lid and automatic deodorisers.

Why are there different toilet seat shapes?
Toilet seats to suit all needs. (salvage yard with vintage toilets image by DSL from Fotolia.com)

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