When choosing a new toilet, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to get an elongated or round bowl style. These two options have distinct pros and cons in terms of comfort, space, accessibility, and more.
This in-depth guide examines the key differences between elongated and round toilets. We’ll compare the two styles across a range of factors to help you determine which is best for your bathroom.
Overview of Elongated vs Round Toilets
Elongated and round (also called compact) toilets refer to the shape and dimensions of the toilet bowl. Here’s an overview:
- Elongated bowls are oval-shaped and extend several inches longer than round bowls. The seat is also elongated to fit the longer bowl profile.
- Round bowls are more circular in shape and have a shorter profile from front to back. The seat is rounded to match the compact bowl.
|28-30 inches long x 18-19 inches wide
|18-19 inches long x 14 inches wide
|24-26 inches long x 14-16 inches wide
|16-17 inches long x 13 inches wide
As you can see, elongated bowls provide significantly more front-to-back space than round bowls. The extended seat is also several inches longer.
But which style ultimately provides the best experience and works best for your bathroom? Let’s dig into the details.
Comfort and Ergonomics
One of the biggest factors that impacts the daily experience of using your toilet is comfort. The shape and dimensions of elongated vs round bowls each provide their own pros and cons in this category.
Many people find elongated toilets more comfortable to sit on. The extended bowl and seat provide extra room for your thighs and buttocks while seated. This can help you feel less cramped.
Sitting on a round toilet often requires you to straddle the bowl with your legs closer together. The compact seat may feel narrow and less accommodating.
For larger framed individuals or those with wider hips or thighs, the extra sitting space of an elongated toilet is often preferred. The extended seat also makes it easier to position yourself toward the back or front of the bowl as needed.
Getting On and Off
The elongated bowl’s extended profile requires you to sit down and stand up from several inches farther back than a round bowl. This can feel slightly less stable for some people.
However, the extra room to maneuver makes sitting and standing easier if you have knee, hip, back, or mobility issues. There’s more clearance and you don’t have to lower yourself as far down toward a compact round bowl.
For accessibility reasons, elongated toilets are recommended. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines state that toilets must have a minimum 17-19 inches seat height and 16-18 inches seat width.
Elongated bowl toilets are designed to meet these dimensions, while some round toilets fall shy of the recommendations.
Making your bathroom ADA compliant is easier with an elongated toilet. The extended space also makes transfers from wheelchairs more comfortable.
Young children may find a compact round toilet easier to sit on at first. The shorter bowl brings their feet closer to the ground and can provide a sense of stability. But they’ll soon grow into the elongated size.
Opting for adult-sized elongated bowls that meet ADA height requirements can make it easier to teach proper toilet posture and technique. Add a sturdy step stool so kids can climb up and down independently.
Overall, elongated toilets provide noticeably more sitting comfort and ergonomic advantages for most users. The extra space helps proper positioning and is preferred for those with larger frames or mobility needs.
Toilet Space and Dimensions
Bathroom dimensions and layout often factor heavily into choosing elongated vs round toilets. Here’s how the two styles compare:
Placement Next to Wall
A round bowl can be positioned closer to the wall behind it, leaving a bit more floor space in front. Elongated bowls need to be mounted at least 1.5 inches from the wall to accommodate the longer back profile.
This can make round bowls better for small bathrooms where every inch matters. It allows more walking space between the front of the toilet and vanity or door.
Overall Bathroom Space
In larger bathrooms, the extra inches elongated bowls require may not impact the layout significantly. The amble room allows flexibility in where you place the toilet.
But for half baths or spaces under 5 feet wide, round bowls can be the better fit. Measure carefully and map out your options before deciding.
Pay attention to the clearance space needed around doors that open toward a toilet. The extended foot print of an elongated bowl may intersect with the door swing path more than a round bowl.
Again, in wider bathrooms this isn’t an issue. But in tight spaces it’s something to double check so doors don’t hit the toilet.
Toilet Tank Space
Some elongated toilet tanks are a few inches longer than round toilet tanks. This further adds to the overall space needs. But it’s only an inch or two in most cases.
If bathroom space is extremely tight, opt for an elongated bowl with a more compact, rounded tank profile. This helps minimize the overall depth.
Round bowls often work better when positioned diagonally in a bathroom corner. Their compact shape can fit nicely into angled spaces.
Elongated bowls may be too long to fit diagonally into some corners. But the extended size can also better occupy wide open corners, providing ample shoulder room.
When it comes to tight bathrooms, measuring carefully and visualizing traffic flow and door clearances are key. But in most cases, the few extra inches elongated bowls require won’t make a huge impact, especially in larger bathrooms.
Flushing Power and Performance
A toilet’s flushing performance is crucial to keeping your bowl clean and minimizing clogs. Here’s how elongated and round bowl toilets compare in this area:
Bowl Shape and Siphon Jet Location
Elongated and round bowls both use siphon jet technology located in the trapway to create a strong flush. The key difference is where the siphon jet is positioned.
Round bowl toilets have their siphon jet located 12-14 inches from the back of the bowl. This is optimized for the shorter compact shape.
Elongated bowls require the siphon jet to be positioned 14-16 inches from the back of the bowl to maximize cleaning power within the larger dimensions.
Manufacturers engineer both styles specifically based on the bowl length and shape. As long as you choose a reliable high-efficiency 1.28 gpf toilet, both bowls will provide strong siphon jet performance.
Water Coverage and Waste Removal
The width of the water surface area inside the bowl impacts flushing efficiency. Wider bowls allow more water coverage for pulling waste down the trapway.
Elongated bowls offer up to 2 inches more width than round bowls. Their spacious interior holds more water to help draw waste into the siphon with fewer streaks.
But round bowls are designed to provide the right amount of water coverage and power needed for the compact interior space. Opt forEfficiency wise, both styles are effective when matched with a capable flush valve system.
Power vs Clogging
No matter what bowl shape you have, a robust flush valve and proper trapway size are key to prevent clogs. Issues usually arise from underpowered flushing mechanisms rather than the bowl style.
One benefit of the elongated bowl’s added width and larger water mass is that it allows a little more leeway if you overload the bowl with extra waste. The deeper water column helps maintain the siphon effect.
But compact bowls aren’t necessarily more prone to clogs if the flush system specifications match the smaller bowl capacity. Choose a toilet with at least a 2-inch trapway and minimum 1.28 gpf flush to avoid clogs in either elongated or round bowls.
While some people insist elongated bowls offer superior flushing just due to the shape alone, test data shows both bowl types flush equally well when paired with capable valve systems. Focus more on overall toilet quality and power than the bowl style.
With environmental impact and utility bills in mind, water consumption may play into whether you choose an elongated or round toilet style. Here’s how the two compare:
Current federal regulations mandate that all new toilets sold in the US can use a maximum of 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf). Within this law, elongated and round bowls use the same water volume.
Some ultra-low-flow toilets with 0.8 or 1.0 gpf flush capacity are only available with round bowls. But most perform best with elongated bowls and the additional water mass they provide.
If water conservation is your goal, focus first on finding a high-efficiency 1.28 gpf or lower toilet rather than the bowl shape. Any flush volume differences between styles are negligible.
Water Surface Area
As mentioned earlier, elongated bowls do contain 1-2 more inches of water width than round bowls when filled. This translates to 10-20% more water volume sitting in an elongated bowl.
In theory, the extra surface area results in slightly more evaporation and water loss over time. But we’re talking just a few added ounces.
The impact of the additional exposed water in elongated bowls is minimal. The most significant water savings come from the toilet’s baseline flush performance, not the bowl shape.
Toilet Bowl Material Pros and Cons
Toilets come in two primary bowl materials:
- Vitreous china – Made from ceramic and glass materials fired into a smooth, glazed porcelain finish. Most common and affordable option.
- Stainless steel – Comprised of corrosion-resistant stainless steel alloys. More expensive but very durable and easy to clean.
Elongated and round bowls both come in these material options. Here’s how they compare:
|– Very smooth, long-lasting finish
|– Prone to chips and staining over time
|– Easy to clean
|– Not as durable as steel
|– Affordable pricing
|– Extremely durable
|– Higher cost
|– Resists staining, scratches, dents
|– Cold surface temperature
|– Easy cleaning
While steel bowls are more durable, china models offer the best value and provide a very sanitary, stain-resistant surface when cared for properly. The material doesn’t affect the elongated vs round decision much, but rather comes down to your budget and durability preferences.
Common Pros and Cons
To recap the key benefits and potential drawbacks of both toilet types:
Elongated Bowl Pros and Cons
- Extra roomy seating area
- Preferred for comfort and ergonomics
- ADA compliant dimensions
- 1-2 inches wider water surface area
- Easy to keep clean
- Occupies more floor space
- Potential door clearance issues in tight bathrooms
- Not ideal for small diagonal corner spaces
- Slightly more water surface area means minor evaporation increase
Round Bowl Pros and Cons
- Compact footprint fits tight bathrooms
- Can be placed closer to walls and corners
- Good for small children initially
- Marginally less water surface area
- Less roomy seating area
- Can feel cramped for larger adults
- Does not meet ADA seat width specs
- Flush performance relies more heavily on valve power
As you can see, the elongated bowl’s comfort and accessibility advantages outweigh the round bowl’s minor space-saving benefits for most homeowners. But measure your bathroom carefully if space is extremely tight.
Choosing the Best Toilet Style for Your Bathroom
Here are some final tips for choosing between elongated and round toilets for your bathroom:
- Prioritize comfort – Don’t underestimate the value of a roomy, comfortable toilet, especially if you have joint pain or mobility issues.
- Focus on overall toilet quality – The flushing mechanism, valve system, and trapway size matter much more than bowl shape alone. Prioritize these performance factors.
- Measure carefully – If your bathroom is less than 5 feet across, a round bowl may save those needed inches. But confirm door clearances too.
- Check existing connections – If replacing an existing toilet, measure the rough-in distance between the wall and bowl outlet to match new toilet connections.
- Consider ergonomic add-ons – For accessibility, add a toilet safety frame or riser seat to either elongated or round bowl models.
- Buy the toilet first – Don’t fall in love with a toilet seat before choosing your actual toilet. The bowl style and dimensions must be matched properly.
- Test different toilet heights – Chair-height elongated bowls around 17 inches high are easier to sit on. But confirm bowl and tank combos to get the right seat height.
Prioritizing comfort, performance, accessibility, and proper bathroom clearances will lead you to the best elongated or round toilet choice for your space. Compact round bowls have their place, but elongated models work great for nearly all bathroom types and are preferred overall.
Frequently Asked Questions About Elongated vs Round Toilets
Q: Are elongated toilet bowls ADA compliant?
A: Yes, most elongated toilets meet the ADA guidelines requiring the seat to be at least 16-18 inches wide and 17-19 inches high. The elongated bowl shape provides the required dimensions. Some round toilets fall short of the ADA recommendations.
Q: Do round toilets clog more easily than elongated?
A: No, the flushing mechanism and trapway size determine clog resistance, not the bowl shape. Both elongated and round toilets clog when the flush valve or trapway is too narrow to handle solid waste. Choose a toilet with at least a 2-inch trapway and 1.28 gpf flush.
Q: Do elongated toilets use more water per flush?
A: No, all standard 1.28 gpf toilets use the same water volume per flush, regardless of having an elongated or round bowl. The extra 1-2 inches of bowl width in elongated models only translates to a couple more ounces of water. Any toilet meeting the 1.28 gpf federal standard will conserve water equivalently. Focus on the actual gpf rating rather than bowl style.
Q: Will an elongated toilet fit in a small bathroom?
A: In most cases, yes. Measure the space carefully and pay attention to clearances from walls and doors. But the few extra inches elongated bowls require shouldn’t make a big difference in most bathroom layouts. Opt for a toilet tank with rounded sides if space is extremely tight.
Q: Are elongated toilet seats universal or sized to specific models?
A: Toilet seats are designed to fit the corresponding bowl shape and dimensions. Elongated seats won’t properly fit round bowls and vice versa. Measure your toilet bowl shape and hole spacing to get the correctly matched elongated or round seat. Some brands offer universal elongated seats fitting most similar bowl sizes.
Key Takeaways When Comparing Elongated vs Round Toilets
- Elongated bowls offer more comfortable and ergonomic seating but require 1-2 more inches of floor space.
- Round bowls fit into tight bathrooms better but compromise comfort and accessibility.
- Focus more on the toilet’s flushing performance than the bowl shape. Both types flush efficiently when properly engineered.
- Elongated bowls hold 1-2 more inches of water width but have negligible impact on actual water consumption.
- Bowl material between vitreous china and stainless steel does not dictate elongated vs round shape preference.
- Measure your bathroom carefully, but elongated bowls fit most toilet spaces fine. Just watch for door and corner clearances.
- Prioritize comfort, ergonomics, flushing power, and accessibility when choosing between the two toilet styles.
In summary, elongated toilets provide the best overall user experience and are recommended for most bathrooms. But compact round bowls have their place in extremely small half baths and other tight layouts. Carefully compare the pros and cons outlined here before deciding which style is right for your toilet needs and bathroom dimensions.