A toilet seat can be a good and faithful servant right up until the moment it unexpectedly snaps in two or the hinges fail to keep anything hinged. Replacing one is not necessarily a difficult operation, but selecting the proper type of replacement may prove to be a little more challenging. There are a number of things to consider when buying a new seat, from the construction materials to the shape of the seat to the amenities for the users.
One of the first things to consider is the type of material used to create the toilet seat. In general, this comes down to wood or plastic, but other materials may be used in higher-end models. Some people prefer plastic for its durability, lack of splinters, and its relatively low cost. Others find wood to be more comfortable than plastic and easier to paint or match colors with the existing bathroom decor. Wooden seats are often made from a compressed wood product, however, which means they do not have a true grain for added strength. A toilet seat made from wood may be more likely to crack under continued stress than its plastic counterpart.
Another factor to consider is the quality of the hinges. Less expensive models often use plastic hinges with only two points of contact, which means they may flex from side to side during use. This flexing can lead to the hinge snapping in two unexpectedly. The lid section of a cheaper seat can also slam down onto the seat with force, because the hinges are not designed to slowly lower the lid between uses. More expensive toilet seats have pneumatically-controlled hinges that allow the two sections to meet without damage.
Higher quality seats have solid metal hinges and at least four points of contact to prevent the seat from flexing from side to side too often. If the seat portion of an inferior seat does not fail, the cheaper plastic or pot metal hinges probably will. A pneumatic hinge will help to prevent any cold, wet surprises if a male user fails to lower the seat after use.
The shape of a replacement toilet seat is also a factor to consider. Some toilet bowls are designed in a round shape, while others have a more elongated oval design. While a round seat can technically fit on a oval toilet, it won't have a very aesthetic appearance. When shopping for a new one, match round with round and oval with oval. Some oval seats may even be more elongated than others, so you may want to take some measurements or look for a similar toilet while in the store.
Some homeowners really want to pursue an upgrade when it comes to replacement toilet seats, so price and amenities can become a factor. Heated seats that use a electrical heating element can be a nice upgrade, as long as there is a properly grounded electrical outlet located near the toilet itself. Padded seats may make the experience more pleasant, but make sure the materials used for the padding are durable and easily sanitized. Some may even opt for decorative toilet seats which match the surrounding bathroom decor.