Toilets are far from unidimensional, boring fixtures; A world of variation manifests itself among them in terms of color, shape, size and flushing style. As far as the bowl is concerned, you can choose between a conventional round one and an elongated one -- some manufacturers even offer a mid-range compact elongated bowl. People go for elongated toilet bowls because they are more comfortable and easier to keep clean.
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Elongated Bowl Size
The front edge of a standard round toilet bowl extends 16 1/2 inches from the front of the toilet tank. Although an elongated bowl has the same width as a standard one, it extends a full 2 inches farther, giving it an oblong instead of a round shape. A compact elongated bowl -- available from some manufacturers -- is 1 inch longer than a round one. It provides some of the convenience of an elongated bowl without claiming as much valuable bathroom space. Because compact elongated bowls aren't offered by all manufacturers, though, you could have trouble finding a seat for it.
Advantages of Elongated Bowls
Many people find elongated toilet bowls more comfortable to use because of the extra space they provide in front. This prevents accidents and makes it easier for women to throw paper into the bowl. Because of these conveniences, elongated bowls are also easier to keep clean, which is why they are the types of bowls you find most often in public restrooms. Although it may seem that an elongated bowl holds more water than a round one and thus requires more for flushing, the truth is that both types of bowls hold the same amount of water.
Elongated Bowls Take Space
The extra space that makes an elongated bowl more comfortable claims real estate from the bathroom. Before choosing a toilet with an elongated bowl, take careful measurements of the available space, keeping in mind that there must be 21 inches clearance between the front of the bowl and the opposite wall -- although 30 inches is recommended. Check the swing radius of each cabinet door near the toilet as well as that of the main entry door to ensure that an elongated bowl won't interfere with any of them -- or with any drawers.
Seats and Rough-Ins
Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing an elongated toilet is the availability of seats in the style that you want. Many decorator seats, especially wooden ones, are available only for round bowls, and the electric bidet seat -- or washlet -- you were using on your existing round toilet will no longer fit. Fortunately, it's easy to find washlets that fit elongated bowls. If you're remodeling your bathroom and can move the toilet rough-in, you can save the 2 inches an elongated bowls costs you by choosing a toilet with a compact 10-inch rough-in distance as opposed to a standard 12-inch model.