ADA toilet, Comfort height toilet, Standard height toilet, Custom height toilet? Alternatives? Here are your choices.

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.
According to ADA Guidelines the toilet seat height for an accessible toilet is 17"-19".  In residential projects of course ADA is not necessary since it only applies to commercial buildings but is a good guideline in this case.

Comfort height toilet with comfort arms toilet armrests
Comfort height toilet with Comfort Arms toilet armrests
 There are three choices for toilet heights (does not include toilet seat in the height) that are readily available:

  • Standard height toilets: 14"-15" floor to the rim of the toilet bowl.
  • Comfort height (also ADA height or handicap height): 16"-16.5" floor to the rim of the toilet bowl.
  • Custom height: which means wall hung toilets.
All the above mentioned toilets are the height without the toilet seat.  The toilet seat will add approximately 1-1/2".

 Why a handicap/comfort height toilet is recommended:
  • Easier to stand up from a higher position, this has to do with the physics of transfers.
  • If someone utilizes a transfer board the handicap height toilet is closer to the height of the wheelchair seat making transfers easier and safer.
  • Mobility issues, bad knees, wheelchair transfers are usually easier with a higher height toilet.
I find that typically if someone has difficulty transferring therapists, builders, designers, pretty much everybody will recommend a handicap height toilet.   But there are times when a handicap height toilet is just not appropriate and will cause more difficulty in transfers as well as damage to the toilet.

Why a handicap/comfort  height toilet is not recommended:
  • The person is 5'2" or shorter or has short legs, handicap height toilet is too tall and the person is not safe because their feet don't touch the ground.  If someone is really heavy and their feet don't touch the ground not only is this a safety issue but the extra stress will break the toilet flange.
  • The person utilizes a commode.  For a standard commode the seat height can be adjusted to be above a handicap/comfort height toilet but then the commode seat is usually 3"-4" above the toilet seat which is way too high for safe transfers.  The other issues with commodes are with self-propelled commodes.  Self-propelled commodes like the RAZ, will not fit over a comfort height toilet.
Self-Propelled shower/commode chair

 Where do you get handicap/comfort height toilets?

Everywhere, if they sell toilets they sell comfort height toilets.  There are many different styles of handicap/comfort height toilets.

Alternatives to handicap/comfort height toilets to increase toilet seat height:

Elevated toilet seat:

Elevated toilet seat:  These usually attach via a latch that fits under the rim of the toilet bowl or sometimes where standard toilet seats attach at the back of the toilet bowl and retail for $40.00-$100.00.  If you are going to order an elevated toilet seat for someone keep these tips in mind:
  • Measure the rim of the toilet (the top of the rim to the ridge on the inside of the toilet) to make sure you order a toilet seat that will fit on the toilet.  
  • Make sure the toilet seat will work for type of toilet bowl you have, elongated or round.
I'm not a fan of elevated toilet seats and would only recommend them short-term because they are difficult to clean and they aren't always stable.  I would NEVER recommend an elevated toilet seat to someone who uses a sliding board to transfer.  The elevated toilet seats tend to shift and they are made of a slippery plastic which is a dangerous combination with a sliding board.

Over the toilet commode:


Commode that fits over the toilet:  The commodes are completely adjustable, some have arms that can be lowered or raised (drop-arm or flip-up arm commode) to assist with lateral transfers.  Commodes retail around $100.00-$200.00.


Toiletvator:  The toiletvator adds approximately 3-1/2" to the toilet and retails for around $100.00  I've also seen toilets built on a small platform but I don't have any photos.

Anyone else have any thoughts on how to make a toilet taller or insights on any of the suggestions in this post?  Please comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.


Scott Hardie said...

Great suggestions!! We have also created custom height toilet platforms with, pressure treated lumber, covered in plywood then Azek sheeting. We have had some really tall customers that needed the bowl WAY up. Mostly we use the Toilavator. Great product, easy install

Karen K Koch said...

Thanks Scott & thank you for the insight into building your own riser. Good to hear you liked the toiletvator, it's always worrisome to try out a new product without recommendations. Did you find there were any tricks to make install easier?