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  • Writer's pictureElla S

A Complete Guide to Toilet Seats

The look and feel of a bathroom can be broken by a badly fit toilet seat. This is why it is essential that you take the time in choosing the correct toilet seat for your toilet pan. In this guide we will help you in narrowing down your search for the perfect toilet seat. One of the most used elements within the bathroom, toilet seats undergo a lot of wear and tear which can mean you have to replace your toilet seat even when not redoing your bathroom.


First Stages in Choosing The Perfect Toilet Seat

To choose the perfect toilet seat you must first consider the toilet you have. If you know the manufacturer and model of your toilet pan, it is always advised that you select the recommended seat for the pan by the manufacturer to ensure a perfect fit. At James Hargreaves Bathrooms, we are happy to help in identifying your toilet pan and aiding in sourcing you the correct seat.

If you do not know your manufacturer you will have to take a closer look at your toilet. This can be done by taking a few simple measurements of your toilet pan. Firstly, you need to identify the basic shape of your toilet pan. Toilet pans can be round, square or d shaped. By identifying the shape, you will straight away be able to tell if a seat will fit onto your pan.

Next, it’s time to get out the measuring tape. You want to take the three following measurements:

  • The distance between the two fixing holes at the back of the pan; this is for the distance between the hinges

  • The widest width of the pan

  • The depth of the pan; this is from the wall or cistern depending on your toilet installation

It is best to take these measurements in millimetres as this is what most manufacturers show their diagrams in.

Toilet Seat Options

Once you’ve determined the size and shape of the toilet seat that you need, you can start thinking about the style of toilet seat you want. To help you, we’ve broken down the different elements of making this decision into basic elements.

Selecting Your Toilet Seat Material

The choice of material for your toilet seat is a choice between more traditional wood or contemporary plastic.

When looking for a more traditional seat the go-to is a wooden toilet seat. The wood brings both a classic and natural feel to the bathroom. Modern iterations of the wooden seat are available in various colour finishes. Traditional brands such as Heritage and Imperial, understand wanting to have a cohesive look across your whole bathroom and offer their wooden toilet seats in matching colour finishes to their bathroom furniture.

Plastic seats have become a firm favourite within the bathroom industry. The ability to easily mould plastic has allowed designers to create seats that contribute to the overall look they want for the toilet. The durability of plastic lends itself to the rigour that toilet seats undergo daily and the overall material properties of being easy to clean. Plastic is also easy to integrate different features within, such as anti-bacterial protection and UV protection (to prevent discolouration).

Toilet Seat Styles

The style of toilet seats can be categorized into either sandwich or wrap-over. These only apply to plastic models, with wooden seats coming in more of a classic style that can be compared to that of sandwich

Wrap-over seats have a contemporary design that makes them suited to minimalist modern bathrooms. With these seats, the lid completely covers the seat and thus lines up with the edge of the toilet pan for a smooth finish. They were conceptualised with the idea in mind that by placing the seat down before flushing little to no bacteria will be able to escape due to the lid enclosing the whole toilet.

Sandwich seats are sometimes seen as the more traditional design of seats. The lid of sandwich seats sits on top of the seat with no overlap and is often the same size or slightly smaller. Classically seen with wooden seats, modern design has meant that ultra-thin sandwich seats made from plastic have become increasing popular. Stripping back any bulkiness from the toilet's look, these slim seats are a minimalist's dream.

Types of Toilet Seat Hinges

Hinges operate the movement of the lid of the toilet seat up and down, while you may think the choice is decided by the shape and material of your seat, this is not true. The hinges are firstly decided by the type of toilet pan you have. Either being top or bottom fixing. Top fixing hinges are used when the bottom of the pan is inaccessible; usually in back-to-wall style pans. Bottom-fixing hinges are used in most other toilet styles.

The actual hinges themselves can have certain properties that aid in the overall design of the toilet seat. The main type you will come across is soft-close hinges. These are similar to hinges in kitchen cabinets, they prevent the cover from slamming shut and gently lower it down onto the seat, as well as lowering the seat slowly when it has been lifted. This makes them ideal for a family bathroom where you don’t want little fingers being trapped when the lid quickly shuts. Quick-release hinges can be combined with soft-close to create the ultimate toilet seat combination. These hinges have a mechanism that makes it easy to remove the seat, this is especially useful for cleaning all around the toilet pan.

The majority of hinges are in a chrome finish designed to universally match various bathroom designs. However, a handful of companies do offer hinges in match colours to their brassware to give you a uniform look across the whole bathroom.


It is imperative that you get the size and shape correct, this will ensure your seat fits perfectly onto your toilet pan; without any overhang or being too small. After that, the choice is entirely down to your preferences. If you are looking for a new toilet, check out our ultimate toilet buying guide

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