Handicap Toilets: ADA Rules,Dimensions and Buyer’s Guide
What is a Handicap Toilet?
A handicap toilet which is also known as an accessible toilet is a special toilet which is designed to make it easier for people with disabilities and those with limited mobility to safely use bathrooms. They came to be as a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which became law in 1990.
According to ADA, handicap toilets should have a seat height of 17 to 19 inches which is at least 2 inches higher than standard toilets. This makes it easy for the users to sit and stand from them.
Installation of handicap toilets in public restrooms is designed to protect people with disabilities from being discriminated against. In case of non-compliance, or a user suffers injuries while using a non ADA-compliant toilet, the owner of the establishment maybe sued.
Handicap toilets should however not be confused with comfort height toilets. Comfort height toilets which are also called universal/right/chair height toilets are said to be ADA-compliant but only in height. There are other ADA requirements governing handicap toilets installation other than just toilet seat height.
Most handicap toilets requirements apply to public bathrooms/restrooms. Although they are also installed in private bathrooms, the adherence to the requirement is not as strict, and comes down to the preferences and comfort of the owner/end-user.
Handicap Toilet Standards/Requirements
As you know, a toilet cannot be installed on a bathroom all on its own. There are other bathroom fixtures and accessories that are installed to make the bathroom usable. The placement, dimensions and design of those other fixtures is also controlled by the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
Let us have a look at the most important guidelines:
- The toilet centerline must be between 16 and 18 inches from the sidewall.
- A toilet seat height of 17 to 19 inches from the floor. Seats should not sprung to return to a lifted position.
- A clear space with a minimum of 60 inches in diameter around the toilet’s sidewall, 59 inches from the rear wall for floor mounted toilet and 56 inches for wall-mounted toilets. This space is to give people using wheelchairs enough room to maneuver. The bathroom door shouldn’t swing into that minimum area. The clear space may be on the right or left of the toilet.
- Flush controls can be automatic or hand-operated but shall be installed on the wide side of the toilet not more 44 inch from the floor.
- Toilet paper dispensers shall be installed between a minimum of 14 inches and a maximum of 19 inches from the finished floor measured to the dispenser’s centerline.
- Handicap toilets for children shall have a seat height of between 11 to 17 inches, flush controls shall not be more than 36 inches high while the toilet paper dispenser shall mounted 14 to 19 inches from the finished floor.
- Sinks should be mounted with the rim not higher than 34 inches from the finished floor.
- A knee clearance underneath the sink that should not be used to store anything. The space should at least be 27 inches high, 30 inches wide and 19 inches wide.
- Sinks should not be more than 6.5 inches deep.
- A clear floor space measuring 30 by 48 inches shall be provided in front of the sink to allow forward approach. The door should not swing into this space.
- Water pipes underneath the sink should be insulated. This is to prevent users from coming into contact with hot pipes. There should also be no sharp edges under the sink.
- Grab bars shall be mounted on the sidewall next to the toilet and also on the rear wall.
- Sidewall grab bars must be at least 42 inches long and not more than 12 inches from the rear wall.
- The grab bars shall have a diameter of 1.25 to 1.5 inches.
- This grab bars must also be 1.5 inches from the wall.
- Grab bars shall be installed horizontally 33-36 inches from the floor measured to the top of the bar.
- The grab bars should be able to support 250 pounds of force.
The above requirements and guidelines are mostly followed in pubic bathrooms/restrooms. When installing a handicap toilet at home in a private bathroom, you may choose to style it as you wish.
The best thing to do is to buy an ADA/comfort height toilet with a seat height that is comfortable for the end user. We are therefore going to look at some of the best ADA-compliant toilets to buy.
Apart from just being handicap toilets, they should be able to flush powerfully, be water-efficient, affordable among other important factors.
The limitation with comfort height toilets is that apart from being 17-19 inches in height they don’t provide any hand support to the user. You may therefore need to install grab bars on the bathroom wall as well.
Another way of going it is by using toilet safety rails which are also called toilet safety frames. For those with a standard height toilet but are not ready to install a comfort height toilet, raised toilet seats are the best option.
The best toilet seat risers are those with arms/handles. These raised toilet seats which are also called toilet seats risers add a few inches to your standard toilet and also offer support mechanism.
Another great option is to buy a portable handicap toilet commonly known as a bed-side commode. These toilets are lightweight and easily portable and can therefore be kept inside the user’s bedroom and only emptied in the morning.
Due to the many options available, I will give you the best options in each category. Your choice will be determine by the level of need of the intended users.
Best ADA-Compliant/Handicap Toilets.
ADA-compliant toilets are comfort height toilets (17-19 inches seat height) which are the most common handicap toilets. Apart from being handicap toilets, ADA toilets are a great option also for the seniors, tall people and those recovering from hip/knee surgery.
These are some of the best ADA-compliant toilets:
1. Convenient Height Extra Tall Toilet
Although handicap toilets are required to have a seat height of 17 to 19 inches, this toilet has a whopping 21 inches toilet seat height. Without the seat, the bowl rim is at a height of 20 inches from the floor.
This is a two-piece dual flush elongated toilet that is only available in white. It is a gravity flush toilet with a standard 12-inch rough-in.
Being a dual flush toilet, the Convenient Height toilet gives you the option of using less water to flush liquids or a little bit more water to flush solids. It has a fully glazed body and trapway, therefore it’s easy to clean and the flushing power is great too.
For every flush, this toilet uses 0.9 or 1.28 gallons of water and is therefore WaterSense certified. It can therefore be sold in states with tough water conservation laws like California.
For your convenience, the toilet comes with a soft close toilet seat. A soft/slow close toilet seat prevents the annoying slamming sound that is caused by a seat hitting hard on the bowl.
It has a depth of 27 inches, 14.75 inches width and a height of of 36 inches. This toilet is made in Massachusetts.
2. Toto CST744SL#01 Drake
The Toto Drake series toilets are one of the most popular toilet models in the industry, and they are not popular for nothing. They are among the best flushing toilets and are also very competitively priced.
The Toto CST744SL#01 Drake is my favorite one. It is a single flush two-piece elongated and comfort height toilet.
It uses Toto’s G-Max flushing technology. In this flushing system, Toto uses a 3-inch wide flush valve instead of the ordinary 2-inch wide one. What this does is that it allows water to enter the bowl from the tank faster, and with more force therefore resulting in a powerful flush.
The toilet bowl height is 16.5 inches. When you add the extra height from a toilet seat you will get 17.5 inches toilet seat height. That’s the height you will be sitting at.
Unfortunately, this toilet does not come with a toilet seat. You will therefore need to buy one separately. You may buy and ordinary seat or a handicap toilet seat.
Another thing to know is that this particular Drake Model uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush. It is therefore not WaterSense certified. As a result, it cannot be used in some states like California and Texas.
If you would like a little bit high-end Toto toilet, check out the Toto Ultramax II. It is a beautifully designed one-piece toilet that is one of the best toilets ever.
Toto CST744SL#01 Drake has a depth of 28.125 inches, a width of 19.875 inches and a height of 30.5 inches. It is available in cotton white, bone, colonial white, Sedona beige and ebony.
3. Kohler K-3999-0 Highline
The Kohler Highline is a single flush two-piece elongated and comfort height toilet. It is available in white, biscuit, almond and black.
Kohler makes most of their toilets with a comfort height but I chose to go with the Kohler Highline because it is cheaper than most of the others but still flushes well. Its water consumption is only 1.28 gallons per flush and is therefore WaterSense certified.
The Kohler Highline uses Kohler’s Class Five flushing technology. This involves the use of a canister flush valve instead of the ordinary flapper-type flush valve.
With a canister flush valve, the canister flapper lifts up wholly during flushing, allowing water to enter the flush valve from a 360 degrees angle. This is unlike the flapper which is hinged to one side. Water therefore enters the bowl faster and with more force for an even stronger flush.
This toilet’s bowl rim height is 16.5 inches from the floor. Although the toilet does not come with a toilet seat, once you add the seat you will be sitting at a height of 17.5 inches from the floor.
If you would fancy a pressure-assisted toilet, Kohler Highline Pressure Lite is an excellent choice. It flushes powerfully but is louder than the gravity flush model.
Kohler K-3999-0 Highline has a depth of 29.75 inches, a width of 18 inches and a height of 31.25 inches. It has a standard 12-inch rough-in.
4. American Standard Cadet 3 FloWise
There are many versions of the American Cadet 3 but American Standard 2403128.020 Compact Cadet 3-FloWise is in my opinion the best. It is available in white, line and bone.
This is a single flush one-piece elongated right/comfort height toilet. It is designed to be compact in such a way that although it has an elongated bowl, it can easily fit in the same space as a toilet with a round bowl.
The distance from the floor to the top of the bowl rim is 16.5 inches. Installing the toilet seat will therefore add you an extra inch taking it to 17.5 inches. The good thing is that this toilet comes with a soft close toilet seat which also has a sanitary lift tab. This tab prevents you from touching the seat while lifting it.
With a water consumption of only 1.28 gallons per flush the Cadet 3 Flo Wise is really water-efficient and hence WaterSense certified. It can therefore be sold in any corner in the United States.
The Cadet 3 flushing system that is used by this toilet involves the use of a 3-inch wide flush valve and a fully glazed trapway. It has a powerful flush and is also very good in cleaning and rinsing the bowl.
America Standard Cadet 3 Flo Wise Compact has a depth of 28.5 inches, a width of 15 inches and a height of 28.5 inches. The one toilet I could put above this one from American Standard is the American Standard Champion 4. Check it out here.
5. Woodbridge T-0001
The Woodbridge T-0001 is a dual flush one-piece elongated and comfort height toilet. It is a sleek and beautifully designed toilet with a concealed trapway.
Woodbridge is not as famous as Toto or Kohler but this toilet is competing with this big brands. It just goes out to show how well it’s made as well as its performance.
Its dual flush mechanism gives you the option of using only 1 gallon of water to flush liquids or 1.6 gallons to flush solids. Woodbridge’s flushing system works almost like Toto’s Tornado flush system so you can be sure that it will comfortably clear all of your mess.
The toilet bowl height is 16.5 inches without the seat. Fortunately, the toilet comes with a soft closing toilet seat. It is therefore a great option if you want to avoid constant toilet seat slamming.
The Skirted design makes the outside of this toilet so smooth and without nooks and crannies, which also makes cleaning it so easy. The design however means that it will take longer to install this toilet than other toilet designs.
The Woodbridge T-0001 has a depth of 28.5 inches, width of 14.5 inches and a height of 27.5 inches. It has a standard 12-inch rough-in.
Portable Handicap Toilets/Commodes.
It can be very challenging for someone with limited mobility to wake up in the middle of the night to go use the toilet in the bathroom. Having a bedside commode is therefore a really good idea. This portable commodes are lightweight and generally inexpensive.
Here are the best bedside commodes to buy:
1. Drive Medical Steel Folding Bedside Commode
This is a foldable and therefore portable handicap toilet that you can use as a standalone commode by the bed or over the toilet. It is made of steel which makes it really firm and sturdy. Its maximum weight capacity is 250 pounds.
It comes with a bucket with a snap on lid and seat. The bucket has a handle which makes it easy to empty its contents. When using it over the flush toilet, it has a splash guard which prevents urine from splashing all over you. The flush guard goes inside the toilet bowl.
This commode is designed to accommodate people with different body heights. You can adjust the height of the toilet seat from 15.5 to 21.75 inches. The seat has a depth of 16.5 inches and width of 13.25 inches.
In case you are wondering if you can fit, the space between the two handles is 18 inches. It is therefore not very wide but it will fit most people. It is also a good choice if you have a small bathroom.
The Drive Medical commode comes with a lifetime warranty.
2. Medline Heavy Duty Padded Drop-Arm Commode
This is a really well designed and comfortable commode. The frame is made from stainless steel and will therefore never rust/corrode. It is also solid on the ground and therefore very sturdy.
I like the fact that the designers really thought about the comfort of the user. It comes with a padded seat and padded back rest too.
Another thing I like about this product is the ease of transfer when being used as a bedside commode. While positioning it next to the toilet, the arm will swing out of the way allowing for a seamless lateral transfer. It is also easy to hop on to for wheelchair users. All this by simply pushing a button.
It comes with bucket, lid and splashguard. The splashguard is especially useful while the commode is being used over the ordinary flush toilet. Its backrest is removable and can be used as on over-the-toilet safety frame.
The seat height can be adjusted from 18.25 to 23.25 inches and seat depth from 18-20 inches. Its overall width is 22 inches while the width between the arms is 18.5 inches. The commode’s overall weight capacity is 300 pounds.
3. Medline Elements Bedside Commode
The Medline Elements bedside commode is a heavy-duty commode that is also beautifully designed to fit most bathroom and bedroom décors.
To start with, I really like the elongated toilet seat which is as comfortable as the one on a normal toilet. It therefore gives you more surface area to sit on. The commode also features a contoured backrest for extra comfort.
Its toilet seat lid is flat which looks fancy and also snaps on tightly ensuring that the bedroom is free of any odor. The bucket might look shallow but it works just fine without splashing which was one of my concerns when I first saw this commode.
You can also use it over the normal flush toilet since a splashguard is also included. This commode is infused with Microban Antimicrobial Technology which inhibits staining and odor as a result of growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.
The toilet seat height is adjustable from 19 to 22.5 inches in increments of 0.5 inches. Its overall width is 23 inches while the width between the 2 arms is 19 inches. This commode’s maximum weight capacity is 400 pounds.
Handicap Toilet Seats
Handicap toilet seats which are also known as a raised toilet seats or toilet seat risers are a fantastic way of converting standard height toilets into comfort height toilets. The toilet seat raisers normally range from 2 to 6 inches in height.
Toilet seat risers with arms/handles are the most popular and best option of converting a standard toilet into a handicap toilet. You can also go a notch higher and buy a toilet seat riser with a safety frame, depending on who is intended to use it.
Let us have a look at the best handicap toilet seats/raised toilet seats.
1. Vive Raised Toilet Seat
The Vive raised toilet seat is in my opinion the best among all those that I have seen. It will add five inches to your toilet and will fit both elongated and round toilet bowls.
The handles are padded with a soft spongy material that makes it easy for you to sit and stand without bending your back. The spaces on the handles that are not padded will not rust/corrode as it is made of stainless steel.
Mounting this seat on the bowl is a cinch. Just slide it gently around the bowl rim and use the knob at the front to tighten it in place. This seat grips tightly on the bowl and will not rock/wiggle at all which is one of the most important thing in a handicap toilet seat.
The seat itself is nicely contoured for your comfort. The best thing is that you don’t have to remove the existing toilet seat while installing this one. Due to its simplicity it can therefore be installed and removed at will and used in different bathrooms as it is easily portable.
The width between the 2 toilet seat handles is 18 inches while the diameter of the seat hole is 9 inches. Weighing only 7 pounds, this seat can comfortably take up to 250 pounds.
2. The Ultimate™ Raised Toilet Seat
This is very comfortable raised toilet seat with a safety frame for extra support. It fits on both elongated and round toilet bowls.
I like the fact that this toilet seat riser does not have a specific height but can be adjusted so as to be used by people of different heights. The user can adjust this seat from a minimum of 19.5 inches to a maximum of 24.5 inches, tool-free.
The one thing you will easily notice with this toilet seat riser is the bright blue padded handles and seat. According to Platinum Health who are the manufacturers, the color makes the seat easier to distinguish from its surroundings, which prevents falls and slips from the elderly, visually and cognitive impaired users.
Apart from being used as a raised toilet seat, this product can also be used as a bedside commode or shower chair. For use as a bedside commode, a pail with a lid will be provided.
The overall width of the frame is 22 inches while the width between the 2 handles is 20 inches. The size of the seat hole at the widest part is 6 inches which is unfortunately not the widest.
3. PCP Raised Toilet Seat and Safety Frame
I love this toilet seat riser because of its simplicity. The seat has a riser (splash guard) which goes inside the toilet bowl hence no fastening required. It is therefore very easy and fast to install and remove it from the toilet.
The stainless steel frame which is wider at the base than at the top makes this product very sturdy and therefore safe. The handles are padded to make them easy on your hands as you sit and stand from the toilet.
You can adjust the height of the seat from 18 to 23 inches. The overall width of the arms is 21 inches while the width between the arms is 18 inches.
The seat will fit in any toilet bowl regardless of the shape. Its hole measures 9.75 inches in depth and 8.7 inches in width.
If you would like a wider frame, there is one available which has a width of 23 inches between the arms. This is a good option for those who have bigger bodies and also those whom bathroom space is not a problem.
The regular-sized seat riser has a recommended weight capacity of 275 pounds while the wide one has a capacity of 300 pounds.
Handicap toilets and the laws regulating them are very important in protecting those among us that are impaired in one way or another. I took quite a long time writing this post because I understand that handicapped people’s needs are different and therefore tried as much as possible to recommend products which I believe are the very best.
I always ask my readers to share with me and other readers products they have used before are still using on the comments section to further enrich this resource. There is always a chance I have left out a worthwhile product out there which would be very helpful to other readers.
Other than that I genuinely hope that you find a decent product that will make your life or that of your loved one easier.