- the usable clear floor space in the bathroom.
- the availability of accessory equipment.
- the availability of replacement parts.
Below you will learn about typical toilet bowl sizes and shapes and why the size and shape of the bowl matters when selecting a new toilet.
Toilet Bowl Shapes
Toilet bowls and toilet seats can be found in the following shapes (in the USA):
- Compact Bowls: circular or square-shaped
- Elongated Bowls: oval or rectangular-shaped
Average Toilet Bowl Size
- Toilet Bowl Width: Most toilet bowls are between 14 to 14.5 inches wide. Some toilet bowls exist in widths up to 16.5 inches.
- Toilet Bowl Length: As a general rule, toilets with a compact-sized toilet bowl (round or square) tend to be on average 2 inches shorter in length than toilets with elongated bowls (oval or rectangular). Compact-size toilet bowls are typically 16-17 inches long measured from the front edge of the toilet bowl to the bolts attaching the toilet seat. Elongated toilets bowls are typically 18-19 inches long.
Which toilet bowl shape is best?
The best toilet bowl size and shape for each individual will vary based on personal needs, preferences, and the size of the bathroom. To determine which toilet bowl shape is right for you, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Comfort: Most adults feel an elongated-style toilet bowl is more comfortable to sit on than a compact-size toilet bowl because the longer seat supports more of the thigh and because there is a larger opening, making it easier to reach down inside the bowl to wipe yourself after using the toilet.
- Best for Small Bathrooms: Compact-size toilet bowls are usually best for small bathrooms, because they typically occupy two inches less floor space than toilets with standard elongated-style toilet bowls. For persons who rely on a walker or wheelchair to move around inside a small bathroom — every inch counts!
- A Happy Compromise: If you prefer an elongated toilet bowl, but have limited space in your bathroom, a hybrid toilet is newly available on the market called a compact-elongated toilet. It is has an elongated toilet bowl, yet occupies the same footprint (floor space) as a compact toilet.
- Best Toilet Bowl Shape for Children: Children tend to find compact-sized toilets easier to use than elongated-toilets, because the opening in the center of the seat is smaller, which reduces the chances they will slip through. A special child/adult toilet seat combo, with two toilet seat sizes neatly joined together into one unit, can further be added to enhance comfort and safety for young children and petite adults.
- Widest Toilet Bowls: The majority of toilets have a bowl width of 14″ to 14.5″ wide. A very small handful of models can be found with a toilet bowl width 14.5″ or greater. If you are on a quest to find a toilet with the widest sitting surface possible, it is firstly helpful to be aware that elongated toilet bowls will provide more surface to rest your legs and a larger hole than compact-size bowls, making it easier to reach down to perform hygiene. Furthermore, it is possible to enhance a standard round or elongated toilet bowl width further by adding an oversized toilet seat to the toilet bowl, which can increase the seat width up to 19 inches.
- Replacement Parts: The more common a toilet bowl shape is, the easier it will be to find a replacement toilet seat. The most common toilet bowl shapes are circular and oval. Toilet bowl shapes that are less common, such as square or rectangular ones, or toilet bowls with an unusual length or width (that fall outside of the average size ranges defined above), will make it more difficult to find replacement toilet seats if one cracks or wears out.
- Accessory Equipment: Circular or oval-shaped toilet bowls are much easier than square or rectangular-shaped toilet bowls to pair with other toilet equipment, such as bidet-style toilet seats, toilet rails, elevated toilet seats, heated toilet seats and the child/adult toilet seats discussed above. To learn more about different types of toilet equipment, click here.
Important Details to Know!
- Confirm the Rough-in Size is Correct: The new toilet you pick must have the same rough-in size as your existing toilet – so the plumbing underneath the toilet will line up correctly. A toilet’s rough-in size refers to the measurement between the wall and the center of the toilet drainpipe. Sound complicated? It’s not. The bolts located on the sides of your toilet, that secure the toilet to the floor, rest at the centerline of the drainpipe. So, all you need to to is measure from the wall (do not include the baseboard) to the center of the toilet bolts and this measurement is your toilet’s rough-in size.
- Check Door Clearance: If you intend to swap out a compact-size toilet bowl for one with an elongated bowl and your toilet resides close to the bathroom door, make sure to confirm that there will be enough space for the bathroom door to swing open and closed if a longer toilet is installed.
- Toilet Price: The price listed for a toilet usually does not include the toilet seat. Most toilets and toilet seats must be purchased separately. A toilet seat can cost as little as $10 or as much as $400 (or more) depending on the model selected.
Average Cost to Install a Toilet
Prices will vary depending on the model you select and your geographic region. A standard, floor-mounted toilet (aka pedestal toilet) usually costs on average between $200-$800 to both purchase and have installed. A wall-hung toilet usually costs an average of $1,500-$2,000 to purchase and have installed. Wall-hung toilets cost more because there are more parts to purchase (toilet + carrier tank) and it requires additional labor to install the carrier tank inside the wall.
The Homeability Advice™
Some people have a definitive preference for either a compact or elongated-shaped toilet seat and feel that one is comfortable and the other is not, while others are content with either one. If you are not sure whether you prefer a compact or elongated-shaped bowl, try sitting on different toilets in your own home or friends and family members homes to see which bowl shape you like best, prior to selecting a new toilet.
If you use a walker or wheelchair and are seeking to maximize usable clear floor space in the bathroom, a compact-size bowl is one good consideration. You may also want to consider installing a toilet with the tank installed in the wall, such as a wall-hung toilet or back-to-wall toilet, to gain additional floor space. To see an overview of the different toilet types and styles and learn what makes each more or less accessible, read Accessible Toilets & Toilet Equipment: The Basics.
When selecting a new toilet, it is important to consider not only the size and shape of the toilet bowl, but also the the toilet height as well. To learn more, read: What is the Best Toilet Height?
More Topics You May Be Interested In:
- “I Have Difficulty Wiping Myself!”
- “I Can’t Get Up From the Toilet!” 10 Remedies
- Accessible Toilets & Toilet Equipment: The Basics
- Bidets: An Overview of the Basics
- Best Type of Toilet for a Wheelchair User