The Size of a Toilet Bowl

People come in all lengths, shapes and sizes, so it’s little wonder that toilet bowls do too. Often when buying or building a home, people overlook small but important details like the height and shape of a toilet bowl. But as the average person will spend approximately six months of his life on the “john,” size, height and shape are worth considering.

The Basics

People often overlook toilet bowl size when buying or building a home.

With the exception of plumbers, most individuals probably give little thought to toilet options, but like cars, they too have a surprising variety of features. When choosing a toilet, homeowners must consider such options as gravity-fed versus pressure-assisted models, one- or two-piece construction, floor-mounted or wall-mounted models, round or elongated bowl shape, water efficiency and seat height.

Bowl Shape Considerations

Toilets come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

While your grandparents may have been stuck with round bowls only, today's homeowner has a choice between two standard bowl shapes: round or elongated. While both round and elongated bowls aare the same width -- about 14 inches -- the more traditional round models tend to be shorter in length, with a standard measurement of 16 1/2 inches from the holes on the seat hinge to the front edge of the rim. The more modern elongated models are usually 18 1/2 inches long.

Seat Height Considerations

While few people will wax poetic about toilets in their lifetimes, comfort is a consideration, and seat height should be another leading factor when comparing toilet bowls. Most toilet bowls fall within a standard range of 14 to 19 inches in height. Tank heights vary too, ranging from 10 inches to 14 inches in height. Given these ranges, standard toilets can vary from 24 to 33 inches in overall height -- a grand total of 9 inches.

Other Considerations

Smaller people prefer smaller bowls.

Given such a range, choosing the right size toilet bowl can seem confusing, especially since it’s a decision that many homeowners will live with for years. Thus when choosing a toilet bowl, first take into consideration the average age of the household. In a younger household with small children, smaller toilet bowl heights will make potty training that much more convenient. Individual height is another consideration, too. While a 10-inch toilet bowl may be perfect for singer Miley Cyrus, basketball star LeBron James probably prefers something taller.

Toilet Bowl Testing

Toilet bowls in all sizes are rated for their performance.

Toilet bowls of all shapes and sizes are tested and rated according to standards set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Known as “toilet performance” in the trade, the flushing ability of bowls of varying sizes is rated through tests that flush known quantities of such items as plastic balls, sponges, dye and even soybean paste models that resemble human waste in size, shape and texture.

The World’s Largest Toilet?

To a child, a 19-inch bowl may seem better suited for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Kids Commons, a Columbus, Indiana, children’s museum, claims to be the home of the world’s largest toilet. The porcelain "throne" is so large, two adults can fit together in the bowl. While the Guinness Book of World Record’s doesn’t weigh in on toilet bowl size, it does offer insight on a nice companion -- the world’s largest roll of toilet paper, which stands nearly 5 feet 7 inches in diameter.

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