Types Of Raised Toilet Seats: What You Should Know Before You Buy
While looking after my mom and dad as their caregiver and researching my numerous articles, I have managed to wade my way through the world of different types of toilet seats, the secure and the not so secure.
Raised toilet seats come in a confusing variety a types – risers, clip-on seats, spacer seats, clipper seats, bubble seats, raised seats with side fixings, raised seats with front locking, raised seats with legs, safety frames with elevated seats and bedside commodes. Some types come with armrests and some don’t, the weight capacities vary, and some are more suited for the elderly than others.
In this article I will go through all the different types, their best uses, advantages and drawbacks, and which seats are best suited to the elderly.
As well as all the classic raised, or elevated, toilet seat types, there are also different models of multi-purpose bedside commodes which can be used as raised toilet seats. I will outline those with their different use scenarios as well.
Raised toilet seats can be divided into two distinct groups –
- those models which use your existing toilet seat
- those models which don’t use your existing toilet seat – some of which attach to your toilet and some which are above the toilet incorporated into frames
Systems that use your existing toilet seat –
Risers are the only type to go under the toilet seat, instead of going on top like all the other types.
Risers are basically an oval, or round, ring of dense plastic which is fitted under your toilet seat.
- the seat is removed
- and the riser is placed on the rim of the bowl
- the seat is placed on top of the riser
- the holes are all lined up and everything is bolted down again
- risers sometimes come with a hinge so that you can lift them and clean underneath
Risers depending on the model can come with, or without armrests, and those which do have armrests are often wider than other types of seat.
Risers are either for standard or elongated toilets, so always be sure to find out which shape your toilet is.
Risers are available in heights from 2 – 4 inches.
Due to how they are bolted to the toilet along with your seat, risers are very solid.
The models with armrests will help elderly loved ones who have problems with mobility, stability and sight impairments to sit down.
Some examples of these risers are (all of the risers have a maximum weight capacity of 300 lb) –
Carex 3.5″ toilet seat elevator, (riser – elongated), Prod. No – FGB30600 0000
Carex 3.5″ toilet seat elevator, (riser – standard), Prod. No – FGB30700 0000
Nova 3.5″ raised toilet seat riser (standard), Prod. No. 8342 – R
Nova 3.5″ raised toilet seat riser (elongated), Prod. No. 8341 – R
Nova 3.5″ raised toilet seat riser with arms (standard), Prod. No. 8344 – R
Nova 3.5″ raised toilet seat riser with arms (elongated), Prod. No. 8343 – R
Nova 3.5″ hinged toilet seat riser (standard), Prod. No. 8345 – R
Nova 3.5″ hinged toilet seat riser (elongated), Prod. No. 8346 – R
Clip-On raised toilet seats
- clip onto your toilet seat
- the raised seat is squeezed and slotted into the inside rim of your existing seat where it clips on as it is released
- held in position through tension
- there is no type of fixing, such as a lock or a bolt, holding them to the toilet seat
- these models don’t come with any form of armrests or handles
- clip-on seats are made in fixed heights of 2 – 4 inches
Some examples of this are –
Ability Superstore 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat, Prod. No. Unavailable
Performance Health Novelle 3 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat, Prod. No F25145
Clip-on seats are more of a temporary solution for someone who has good balance, and doesn’t need any kind of frame or armrests to help them up, or down from the seat.
I have seen them suggested as a portable solution that you take with you when you are staying in a hotel or someone else’s home where there is no raised toilet seat available.
Personally, I wouldn’t have my 90 yr old mom using one of these seats, as she needs thing to hold on to.
Models where your existing toilet seat is removed
Seats with spacers
Seats with spacers or “tall seats” are simply like your existing toilet seat, but they have little legs or spacers on the underside of the rim of the seat to hold it up higher.
To use one, you just unbolt your existing toilet seat and replace it with the raised seat using the same bolt holes and the new nuts and bolts which came with the raised seat.
- you can get the different models in 2 inch or 3 inch heights
- these are available with or without toilet lids
- the seats as well as coming standard or elongated models, the seats can come with or without an opening at the front to facilitate wiping
- the seats don’t have any armrests or handles
The fact these seats are bolted to the toilet in exactly way as a normal toilet seat, means that they are stable, and they are not so high that they would be wobbly in any way.
I do think though, that if I were getting this for an elderly person, such as my mom, I would still want something on the sides of the seat and on the wall for them to hold onto.
Example of these seats are –
Centoco 2 inch raised toilet seat with lid, Prod. No. HL440STS-001
Centoco 3 inch raised toilet seat with lid, Prod. No. 3L440STS-001
Raised seats which don’t require the removal of the existing toilet seat
The seats which don’t require the removal of your toilet seat generally come in a range of heights -2 inch, 3 inch, 3 1/2 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch and 6 inch
The seats attach in different ways –
- some seats you just push them down hard onto the rim of the toilet bowl
- certain seats side clamps or fixings on either side towards the rear of the seat to grip the toilet bowl
- certain seats have what is called “front locking” which is a type of clamp which grips the bowl at the front of the seat
- to help reduce wobbling, and to stop the raised seat from popping out, if a person were to put all their weight on the front edge, seats often have a lip, or flange, which slots in under the rim of the toilet bowl at the back of the seat
If you want to check any weight capacities of raised toilet seats of virtually any type, I have an article of over 180 raised toilet seats, where I list the seat name, manufacturer, model number and the weight capacity – “Raised Toilet Seat Weight Capacities: over 180 examples”.
Let’ take a look at the different types starting with the simplest.
Bubble seats (this is not an official name for these seats) –
These are the most basic of seats which attach to the toilet bowl, and look like big white donuts. They are attached by simply placing them on the rim, and giving a good hard push.
Bubble seats –
- slot over the rim of the toilet bowl and have an inside edge or rim which typically goes a small distance into the bowl to give some grip and to stabilize it
- quite a few models have “sticky grip pads” to help the seat from slipping
- this type of seat has no fastenings on the side or clamps
- a few of these seats have a lip or flange at the back of the seat slotting under the bowl’s inside rim to reduce movement and to stop it from tipping forwards off the toilet, if the user leans to heavily on the front edge
- there is usually one model for elongated toilets, and one for standard toilets
- most of these seats do not have a lid
I would really think twice about using a seat like this for a very elderly person, and without any kid of grab bar or rail, I think it is really for the not so elderly adult who has good balance and mobility.
Examples of this type of seat are –
The NRS Comfort Raised Toilet Seat, Prod. No. F21565
AquaSense Portable 4 inch Raised Toilet Seat – standard toilets, , Prod. No. 770610
HealthSmart Portable 4 3/4 inch Raised Toilet Seat – universal, Prod. No. 522-1508-1900HS
Herdegen Contact Plus 5 inch Raised Toilet Seat- universal, Prod. No. Unavailable
There is actually only one brand that makes these seats, but they are markedly different from the other types.
The clipper seat
- installs very quickly once the toilet seat is in the upright position
- the raised toilet seat sits on top of the toilet bowl rim
- has an inside edge which drops several inches into the bowl
- has four plastic clips which grip the outside of the toilet bowl when pushed in
- on the models I, II, III they do not have armrests
- the models IV and V come with armrest
- VI and VII come with armrests and legs
The examples of theses seats are –
Herdegen Clipper I 4.3 inch raised toilet seat, Prod. No. 500400
Herdegen Clipper II 4.3 inch raised toilet seat, Prod. No. 500410
Herdegen Clipper III 4.3 inch raised toilet seat w/ lid, Prod. No. 500411
Herdegen Clipper IV 4.3 inch raised toilet seat w/ swing-up armrests, Prod. No. 500420
Herdegen Clipper V 4.3 inch raised toilet seat w/ swing-up armrests and a lid, Prod. No. 500421
Herdegen Clipper VI 4.3 inch raised toilet seat w/ adjustable frame and armrests, Prod. No. 500430
Herdegen Clipper VII 4.3 inch raised toilet seat w/lid and adjustable frame and armrests, Prod. No. 500431
Seats with side fixings and a front “bracket” –
- has two plastic bolts or clamps, one on each side of the seat, towards the rear for securing the seat
- a lip at the front called a “front bracket” by some brands
- are not adjustable in height, and come in heights of 2, 3, 4, 41/2, 5 and 6 inches
- can be bought with, or without, lids
- don’t come with armrests or handles
- some are for all toilets sizes
- some are for elongated toilets
- some are for standard toilets
- all have their own different weight capacities
I bought a seat of this type for my mom before her hip replacement surgery at 88 yrs old, but when we tried it we found that it still moved all over the place.
It was when I tried this type of seat, that I became aware of how difficult an elderly person might find it to use a seat without handles or armrests.
Examples of raised seats using this system are –
AquaSense 4″ raised toilet seat w/ lid, Prod. No – 770 -626
Vaunn Medical 4.5″ Clamp-On raised toilet seat, (standard), Prod. No. M701 – A3
Carex 4.25″ Safe-Lock raised toilet seat, Prod. No. B31300 0000
PCP 4″ raised standard toilet seat, Prod. No. 7024
Drive Medical 6″ raised toilet seat w/out lid, Prod. No. 12066
Front Locking raised toilet seats –
- lock to the toilet bowl at the front of the seat
- at the back of the seat there is a small lip which slots under the rim of the bowl of your toilet
- the seats come in heights of 4 or 5 inches
- a lot of the models come with armrests or handles, which can be adjustable and removable
- in general, these seats are for all toilet shapes and sizes, as they only clamp to the front of the bowl
- the weight capacities vary according to the different models, but they are amongst the stronger seats which attach to the toilet bowl
- are not accompanied by a lid
The fact that all of these seats come with armrests or handle, in my opinion, makes them a better option than the bubble seats, the clip on seats or the side fixing seats.
I think they are almost as secure as risers with armrests.
I would though suggest that they would be easier to use, for an elderly person, if you have a grab bar on the wall right next to the toilet.
Some examples of this type –
Carex 5″ E-Z Lock raised toilet seat w/ arms, Prod. No – FGB311C0 0000
Medokare 4.5″ raised toilet seat w/ handles, Prod. No – 001
Vive 5″ raised toilet seat w/ padded handles, Prod. No – LVA1011
Raised toilet seats with legs
This is a raised toilet seat which is wider than the toilet bowl, and has 4 legs.
The seat is resting on both the toilet bowl and on the legs.
The design stops any wobbliness, gives a wider distance between the armrests for a larger person, and makes the seat more sturdy in general.
The main points –
- the legs have to be adjusted to the height of the toilet bowl
- the seat itself adds about 4 1/2 inches in height to the toilet on most models
- depending on the brand the raised seats may attach differently to the bowl, but with four legs there is no real risk of it coming off
- these raised seats can take greater weight than those without legs and are more stable
Definitely more solid than the seats without legs, and armrests are a lot easier for an elderly person to use, and as I have seen with my own mom, when a seat has legs it gives the person more confidence when using it, as there is no problem with the seat moving around.
Some examples of raised toilet seats with legs –
Maddak Extra wide Tall-Ette elevated toilet seat w/ aluminum legs, Prod. No. T725881000
Maddak Extra wide Tall-Ette elevated toilet seat with steel legs, Prod. No. T725882000
Mobb 4.5 inchRaised Toilet Seat With Legs Prod. No. MHRTSL
Herdegen Clipper VII 4.3 inch raised toilet seat w/lid and adjustable frame and armrests, Prod. No. 500431
Safety frames with elevated seats
Safety frames with a raised toilet seat are four legged frames with armrests, a back rest and a raised seat incorporated into the frame.
There is no risk of these coming off the toilet, as they are not on the toilet.
The frame is placed over the toilet and the seat is above the toilet bowl.
The toilet seat and lid are placed in the upright position, and the safety frame and seat are then placed over the toilet, with the legs being on either side of the toilet.
- some safety frames have the seats as high as 26 inches from the floor for taller people
- the frame legs take all the weight of the user’s body
- the legs of the frames are height adjustable and will typically have spring-loaded push buttons like crutches, which you push in to adjust the height until the button pops out of the hole corresponding to the chosen height
- safety frames have large armrests as well as backrests
- these are designed to fit over all normal toilets
- the weight capacity does vary between models
- for larger individuals there are bariatric frames with raised toilet seats, usually made in steel
- the frames come in aluminum and steel
- most do not come with a toilet lid
The safety frame with a raised toilet seat is, in my opinion, a very good choice for the more elderly adults with mobility and balance issues –
- the armrests are large and easy to use
- it’s virtually impossible to fall off
- it won’t come off the toilet
- for heavier individuals there are stronger steel framed models
Some examples of frames are –
Aidapt President Bariatric raised toilet seat and frame, adjustable height, Prod. No. VR219AL
Aidapt Cosby bariatric toilet seat and frame, Prod. No. VR224
Aidapt Solo Skandia raised toilet seat and frame, floor fixed, Prod. No. VR158
Ashby Lux toilet seat and frame, adjustable height, Prod. No. VR213
Homecraft Deluxe Sterling toilet frame, Prod. No. 081124585
NRS Healthcare Mowbray lite toilet frame and seat, Prod. No. NRS M66625
NRS Healthcare Mowbray toilet seat and frame, Extra wide, Prod. No. NRS M48805
PCP raised toilet seat and safety frame 2-in-1, Prod. No. 7007
Bedside commodes as raised toilet seats
This is my mom’s personal choice of raised toilet seat, and we have had it in our bathroom now for over 20 months.
The commodes have large armrests, back rests and the height can be adjusted.
You just have to remove the bucket, or pale, and place the commode over the toilet, once you have the toilet seat in the upright position and the legs at the correct height to clear the toilet bowl.
As, the legs are adjustable you can change the height to fit different circumstances.
For larger individuals there are tall, bariatric or heavy duty, and also extra wide bedside commodes.
Typically the commode will include one or all of these terms in its title.
If you wish to find out more about the weight capacities, you can just refer to my article where I list over 180 different raised seats, safety frames and bedside commodes with their weight capacities amongst other things.
The types of bedside commodes you can use as raised toilet seats
3-in-1, or All-in-1, or portable bedside commodes –
which are static portable bedside commodes which have a number of uses, other than just as a bedside commode.
These can be used –
- a bedside commode
- over the toilet as a raised toilet seat
- as a toilet safety frame or rail
The 3-in-1 commodes shouldn’t be confused with a simple foldable bedside commode, they have more functions, are built to be more sturdy, and can hold a greater weight.
.Drop arm bedside commodes
These are bedside commodes which are very similar to a 3-in-1 commode, with the addition of armrests which are not in a fixed position.
These bedside commodes are really designed for wheel chair users and for individuals who are bed bound.
The drop arm rests can be moved out of the way if the user has to slide over to the side, on and off the commode, into a wheel chair for instance, or off and on a bed.
This type of armrest can also be very handy if a caregiver needs access to the side of the person they are assisting, without an armrest being in the way, as they can remove it or move it out of the way.
If an elderly loved one needs help with cleaning themselves, a drop arm can be moved out of the way.
The static drop arm bedside commodes have the same uses as a 3-in 1 commode –
- bedside or portable commode
- toilet safety frame or rail
- over the toilet as an elevated seat
Transport or rolling bedside commodes
These are bedside commodes on wheels.
These commodes have the following uses –
- as a transport chair, which simply means a chair in which you can wheel someone around the home
- as a bedside commode
- placed over the toilet as an elevated toilet seat
For caregivers who are looking after an elderly loved one who has difficulty with walking, these can be very practical as you can remove the commode bucket and then wheel them in over the toilet, once you have put the seat and lid of the toilet in the upright position.
Be careful to pick the correct height commode for your toilet, as some models are not height adjustable.
Always lock the wheels in position when a transport commode is being used as a commode.
Shower chair transport commodes
The extra advantage here is that you can wheel the user into the shower, as long as the shower has no step or rim.
These also have multiple uses as –
- a shower chair
- a transport chair in which you can wheel the user around
- a portable or bedside commode
- some can be used over the toilet as a raised seat, but you must check this as not all can, either due to being too low, or to having a horizontal bar which obstructs the passage of the chair over the toilet
Some commode bucket holders also drop a little low, and this can obstruct the passage of the commode over the toilet.
You will always need to check the weight capacities, the heights of the seat and if they are adjustable, or not.
For safety, don’t forget you should always lock the wheels in position when a shower chair transport commode is being used as a commode.
Here are some examples of bedside commodes you can use as raised toilet seats –
Drive Medical shower padded commode w/ wheels, Prod. No. 11114KD-1
Drive Medical drop arm commode with wheels with padded armrests, Prod. No. 11101W-2
Drive Medical 3-in-1 Competitive Edge folding commode, Prod. No. 11148CE-4
Drive Medical aluminum rehab commode shower chair w/ 5″ casters, Prod. No. NRS185007
Homecraft deluxe bariatric drop arm commode, Prod. No. 081706381
Lifestyle Mobility Aids folding 3-in-1 steel commode, Prod. No. B3400F
Lumex 6438A imperial collection 3-in-1 steel drop arm, Prod. No. 6438A
MedPro Homecare commode chair, Prod. No. 770-315
Mor Medical New Era PVC rolling commode chair, Prod. No. DNE-118-3TWL
Nova padded commode shower chair w/wheels, Prod. No. 8801
Probasics drop arm 3-in-1 commode, Prod. No. BSDAC
Probasics heavy duty Wide Commode, Prod. No. BSB31C
TFI Healthcare wide 3-in-1 commode w/ elongated seat, Prod. No. 3224
What type of raised toilet seat is necessary after a hip replacement or knee replacement ?
For a question like this is would really ask your doctor or surgeon.
In my mom’s case, she had her surgery at 88 yrs old and we decided to get her the bedside commode, as we felt she would need all the support that came with that.
We also received instruction, at the hospital, in how to sit down and stand up, after the surgery, and which helps to avoid any injuries.
My mom was also advised to use a walker to help her back up to the seat before sitting down so that she could transfer her weight from the walker to the bedside commode armrests, and from the commode to the walker when standing up.
You should be getting all of the guidance from your surgeon’s team.
There are specific raised toilet seats made by Maddak which are designed for individuals who have to keep their legs extended post-surgery, or post injury, but again, if you may need something like that, I would suggest you check with your doctor or surgeon. You can see those seats on their website here.
What type of raised toilet seat is best for an elderly parent ?
To choose the appropriate raised toilet seat for an elderly person, you need to be asking yourself, and the person in involved a number of questions –
- how much room is there for maneuvering ?
- is the person using a walker to back up and sit down on the seat ?
- what is the reason for using raised toilet seat ?
- is the user very elderly ?
- what is the person’s mental condition – are they confident or nervous about using a raised toilet seat ?
- how confident is the user about moving backwards ?
- does the person need to have extra safety equipment to make them feel confident about using a raised toilet seat ?
- is the seat for long term or short term use ?
- if it is for the long term, do you want to have to buy another raised seat later as the person gets weaker, or do you want to get a more solid seat with safety rails from the start ?
- what physical shape is the person in ?
- are there mobility issues ?
- what is the person’s balance like ?
- how good is their eyesight ?
- how strong, or frail is the person ?
- how strong is the person’s grip ?
- how good is their coordination ?
- are they okay cleaning themselves afterwards ?
- will the user have the strength to sit back without giving the seat a jolt ?
- will the person be needing armrests to push themselves back up with ?
- is the user overweight – will you need a bariatric seat ?
- does the user need an extra wide seat ?
Medical reasons for needing a raised toilet seat
- if there are medical issues, what are the specific problems ?
- do you need to check with the person’s doctor or nurse ?
- if they have eye conditions do they need extra grab bars or bigger armrests ?
- is the seat just for after an operation ?
- is it for a long term medical condition and what does that condition require ?
Asking questions such as these should help you to decide what type of seat is appropriate for your personal scenario.
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I’m Gareth and I’m the owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com
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