Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, toilet height?
February 20, 2021 9:29 AM   Subscribe

I am planning to replace two toilets in my house, and I want to know the pros and cons of "comfort height" toilets.

Pertinent facts: I am female, I live alone, and am approaching 73, but with few age-related problems. (So far.)

I have never gotten up from the toilet and thought, "I wish this were taller." I probably will be having a hip replacement within the next six months, though, so that could be a factor.

I'm not planning to sell my house any time soon.

The difference in price is not a huge factor in the decision; I'm more interested in knowing the practical aspects. You don't know what you don't know, you know? But you may know.

So, please help me decide whether to replace the toilets with standard height or comfort height.

posted by Dolley to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Part of it depends on how tall you are too. I am 5’6” and we moved into a house that has comfort height and I cannnnot reach the floor!!!! We have little ikea stools in all the bathrooms due to this annoyance. So if you want the comfort height but are concerned abt the foot on floor aspect, there’s always accessories...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 9:31 AM on February 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

Anecdatum: I hate them.
posted by slkinsey at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am a 6'4" male, and I like them -- BUT also note that certain toilet accessories (such as an in-seat retrofitted bidet) will take up extra vertical space, which is still fine for me, but which may tilt the "comfort height" variety into being Too Tall for people who may have previously found them acceptable.

On a bit of a tangent, have you considered installing a grab bar or the like nearby? With upcoming surgery that may be something to install sooner rather than later.
posted by aramaic at 9:40 AM on February 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As a short person, I *hate* so-called ‘comfort height’ toilets! That said, I went through a recent period of rehab and found that a taller toilet is easier to mount/dismount, especially if there are grab bars to help. I used a small stool when need to, um, facilitate things. With your upcoming hip replacement, you may want to look into one comfort height, and one non - so you’ll have a choice. And *do* put in grab bars before you need them - they are hugely helpful, and don’t have to be ugly (but they do need to be properly installed).
posted by dbmcd at 9:41 AM on February 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I read Giulia Enders Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ; [Darm mit Charme. Alles über ein unterschätztes Organ] From which I abstract this advice. As we get older all the subtle, intricate, multiply-redundant systems of human physiology start to become more erratic: blood-pressure more variable; blood-sugar less reliable; brain function sketchy; bowels sluggish. In Ireland we have adopted a standard toilet [420mm above floor] which makes it much less easy to have a good crap; compared to all them foreign johnnies who squat to defecate. Squatting puts all the poo-ducks in a row: making evacuation of the rectum a bit easier. You can do it sitting on a throne that is 420mm higher than your heels but you are making it more difficult for the poor old bowel. Ironically, as having a good shit become more difficult with age, some dogoodnik carers will actually raise the height of the seat to make it easier for dear old dad to get up and down to it with his enfeebled leg muscles and degenerate sense of balance.

[over-sharing alert] I have taken this Giulia Enders analysis on board and am experimenting with a little step (330 x 330 x 80 mm & made from an available square of polystyrene: previously the lid of a biological-sample cool box) to raise my feet and make the experience more squatty.[/over-sharing]. There are probably 1,000s of elderly folk who are forking out for Movicol or Senokot.; when a foot-shelf 10 or 15cm high in front of the jacks might do the trick.
posted by BobTheScientist at 9:52 AM on February 20, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Another short person here. We have one and I despise it because my feet don't comfortably touch the floor. (I'm 5'2".)
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:57 AM on February 20, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I hate comfort height toilets because my feet don’t quite touch the floor. My parents, slightly taller (5’7”+), thought I was being dramatic when I complained about theirs and quite like them.
posted by A Blue Moon at 10:00 AM on February 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm 6'2", have had a hip replacement, and I find it increasingly difficult to get up from a standard toilet unless there is a grab bar nearby. The ADA-height toilet and bidet attachment in "my" bathroom are the best investments I've ever made.
posted by peakcomm at 10:04 AM on February 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know much about hip replacement recovery, but if the need for a higher toilet is likely to be temporary, you can get big chunky raised seats that just clip on the top of your toilet to make it higher, which saves you from replacing the whole thing. I used to work in old folks' homes and we had them on every toilet, pretty much. Even if you think you might want a higher toilet permanently after the hip replacement, this would be a cheap and easy way of trying it out for size before you change the whole thing.

Random internet example.
posted by penguin pie at 10:05 AM on February 20, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: (Ah, just noticed that you're replacing the toilets anyway - in any case, maybe you can try out one of these for a couple of weeks first, to help decide whether your replacements should be regular or raised toilets.)
posted by penguin pie at 10:06 AM on February 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One of the great benefits of a breakup I went through was knowing I’d never have to use the too-tall toilet at my ex’s house again. I’m 5’5”ish with shorter legs and dangling over the rim is definitely a suboptimal ergonomic situation for what I need to accomplish on there.
posted by circle at 10:59 AM on February 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You seem to want the standard height. Get that, but plan on getting a raised commode for when you are recovering from your hip replacement. Be sure to get a "drop arm" commode, which has arm rests on each side that will allow you to safely push yourself into a standing position. They can make a world of difference and they're MUCH safer to use while you're still healing.
posted by Amy93 at 11:09 AM on February 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: After your hip replacement, you will be told not to flex your hip past 90 degrees for around 12 weeks or so. It will also be more painful and more difficult to get up from a lower throne while you're recovering. However, you can get a raised commode to put over the toilet fairly cheaply (and sometimes insurance will pay for it), so I wouldn't base all of your decisions on the surgery. Grab bars are a great investment though!
posted by autolykos at 11:42 AM on February 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm short, have difficulty with back, knees, and balance.

The ADA-height toilet was life changing. The shorter one required knee strength I didn't have, so I avoided the toilet.

Having also read Guilia Enders great GUT book, I got a Squatty Potty -- a 7-inch high stool which tucks underneath the bowl when not in use. Highly recommend.
posted by Jesse the K at 12:19 PM on February 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have one and I prefer it. FYI I am 59 and 6 feet tall. My wife is 5' 4" and prefers it as well.
posted by paralax at 12:37 PM on February 20, 2021

You might consider getting the raised seat and grab-handles for now, use them through your recovery, and then decide after that what you want to replace them with.

If you have a multi-bathroom house with a master bath, you could also consider starting in there with an ADA-height toilet and leave a shorter one in the additional bathrooms, assuming you might one day have guests again of all ages/heights , or for resale purposes.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:15 PM on February 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

The apartment I moved into last year was previously occupied by a wheelchair user, and so it has some features that were different from what I’m used to. The tall toilet was a bit awkward at first, even for my 5 foot 10 frame. But after getting used to it I feel awkward getting up from anything else! It was a little weird at first to have my heels not touch the floor when I’m sitting, but keeping a footstool in the bathroom fixed that. If I had a choice I wouldn’t go back to the regular height.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:18 PM on February 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am 5'2" and hate tall toilets! Personally, I find it ridiculous that these are branded as "comfort toilets" when the majority of women will be left with their feet dangling like a little kid. It reminds me of Invisible Women, as another example of how women's bodies are ignored as a matter of course.

The best type of toilet, especially as we age, is actually one where you can squat more effectively. This relaxes the pelvic floor and prevents constipation. Post-surgery you will almost certainly be on painkillers that will cause constipation, so that's one factor to consider. The stool (pun not intended) is a good idea regardless of what height toilet you decide to go with.
posted by basalganglia at 3:55 PM on February 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: As a counterpoint: I'm 5'5" and have no problem with and actually prefer our comfort height toilet. We replaced a standard height with a comfort height and my feet aren't swinging at all. I notice a difference between the two (less effort to come to standing with the comfort height) but couldn't describe it as being anything particularly meaningful.

Honestly, when we were looking at toilets the biggest factor was whether it was a round or elongated bowl.
posted by sm1tten at 5:38 PM on February 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Counter-counter point: I'm 5'7" and HATE the comfort height toilets in my new house. Leads to some weird balancing requirements that inhibit proper functioning of ... things.
posted by bluesky78987 at 8:41 PM on February 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

This is essentially repeating other comments. I'm a 68-year-old male, average height (6 ft) but when I had Charcot Ankle Collapse and one ankle was surgically fixed to the leg bone, I found the higher toilet much more convenient to sit and rise. The john off my bedroom has a standard toilet and if I need to go even in the middle of the night I cross the condo to use the slightly higher toilet.
posted by tmdonahue at 5:42 AM on February 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

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