What Is The Difference Between A Raised Toilet Seat And A Safety Frame ?


The world of raised toilet seats is perhaps not the most fascinating one, but it certainly can be a bit confusing. There are enough different types, names and ways of locking onto the toilet, that for my mom we had to try a number of different types until we were happy. Mixed in with raised, or elevated, toilet seats there is also the safety frame, and the safety frame with a raised, or elevated, seat. So, I am hoping to shed a little light on the subject.

What is the difference between a raised toilet seat and a safety frame ? A safety frame is a support which is placed over, or attached to, a toilet to help with sitting and standing. A safety frame with a raised toilet seat is a frame with an integrated seat which is placed over a toilet and not attached to it. All other types of raised toilet seat are attached to the toilet bowl itself.

The main differences between raised toilet seats and safety frames ?


  •  All the risers and raised toilet seats, without legs, are fixed to the toilet seat, or to the toilet bowl.
  • Two-legged safety frames bolt to the toilet, and are there just as a support rail to hold onto when sitting and standing.
  • Four-legged safety frames which act just as a support frame, to help with sitting and standing, are not attached to the toilet at all, and are simply stood over it – the safety frame without seat, just to confuse things even further, is often referred to as a toilet rail.
  • Safety frames with an integrated raised seat have four legs and do not attach to the toilet at all. The frame is stood over the toilet in such a way that the seat is suspended above the bowl in the best possible position.
  • The frames with seats are normally called safety frames with raised, or elevated seats.
  • All types of safety frame, with or without a seat, have adjustable height – usually 18 – 23 inches. The raised seats which attach to the seat, or bowl, almost exclusively come in ranges of different models with fixed heights, from 2 to 6 inches.
  • What sets the frames with seats apart, is their stability and the support they give to people who may be elderly, and lacking in strength and coordination. The large armrests make it very easy to reach back to them, and the fact that they don’t wobble is very much a confidence booster to someone who is already having a terrible time trying to go backwards and sit down with pain or other discomfort.
  • Risers with armrests are the only raised seat attaching to the toilet which can compete for stability, as it is bolted to the toilet, but the size of the armrests doesn’t really match that of the safety frames.
  • It is of course possible to use a safety frame in combination with a raised toilet seat, to give greater support with sitting down and standing up.

If you want to learn more about raised toilet seats, who will benefit from using them, and how they are installed, you can find all that in my post here, “How Do Raised Toilet Seats Work ?”

While you are looking for raised toilet seats, there is lots more that you can do to make your bathroom a safer place for seniors, or anyone else with mobility issues.

To find out all the different things you can do, to have an instant impact on bathroom safety, take a look here, 54 Bathroom Safety Tips For Seniors – A Helpful Guide”.

What are the differences between raised toilet seats and safety frames which have an integrated raised toilet seat ?


The raised toilet seats which attach to the toilet break down into two groups –


  • those which use the seat
  • those which use the bowl


Raised toilet seats which attach to the seat



The riser actually is sandwiched between the seat and the bowl, so I had to cheat a bit there.

Although you will see these being called raised toilet seats, they are actually an oval of plastic which fits under your existing toilet seat, and lifts that up higher.


  • strongest of the devices which attach to the toilet as they are bolted
  • the installation is not too difficult
  • can come with armrests
  • have different models for different toilet shapes
  • come in heights of 2 – 4 inches


    Risers with armrests are very solid, and if combined with a grab bar on the wall, I think they are reasonably safe for the elderly.

    Some examples –


    • Nova 3 1/2 inch toilet seat riser
    • Maddak 4 inch hinged seat riser


    Compared to a safety frame with an elevated seat –


    • longer to install
    • the frame can go over any size toilet
    • the frame has a range of at least 5 inches, of 1 inch increments, in height adjustments and some have 8 inches
    • the frames have larger armrests for the elderly to grab a hold of

      Riser installed on a toilet under the seat and lid

      Riser with armrests



      • clip onto the seat and hold on through tension
      • no fixings or bolts to fasten them on
      • no armrests on any models
      • come in a range of heights from 2 to 4 inches
      • the different seats vary in weight capacity


      Some examples of this are –


      • Ability Supertstore 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat
      • Performance Health 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat


      Compared to a safety frame with an elevated seat –


      • very quick to install as well
      • can’t take anything like the weight that a safety frame can
      • are not a long term solution like a safety frame with an elevated seat
      • can’t give the support that armrests on a frame do
      • don’t have the advantage of adjustable height
      • they fit with most toilet seats, as do the safety frames

      Clip-on raised toilet seat - topside

      Clip-on raised toilet seat - underside

      Raised toilet seats which attach to the bowl


      Tall seats, or seats with spacers


      • replace your existing seat
      • bolt to the toilet
      • seats with small wedges or legs on the underside – 3 2n 3 inches tall
      • come in fixed height only
      • can be bought with or without lids
      • do not come with armrests or handles
      • can be bought with an opening at the front to help with wiping
      • one model of each for elongated, and one of each for standard toilet
      • the different brands have different weight capacities


      An example of these seats is –


      • Centoco 3L440STS-001 raised toilet seat with lid


      Compared to a safety frame with an elevated seat –


      • the seats are only in fixed heights, so not adjustable – 2 and 3 inches only
      • tall seats are lower than safety frames with elevated seats
      • tall seats require bolting etc. so take longer to install
      • because they are bolted down, tall seats are solid
      • none of the models have armrests as do the safety frames
      • like a safety frame seat, they don’t wobble
      • you can get them with a lid for the seat, which safety frame seats don’t have
      • tall seats won’t fit on all toilets – you must buy an elongated or a standard model


      As these seats are solid but without armrests, I think they would be fine for an elderly adult, either combined with a safety frame around the toilet, or with some grab bars on either side.


      Spacer raised toilet seat with lid

      Spacer raised toilet seat without lid

      Spacer raised toilet seat installed on a toilet

      Bubble seats


      • slots over the rim of the bowl – most have what are called grip pads
      • there are no actual clamps, or bolts, to attach it with
      • have an inside lip which extends down several inches into the bowl for stability
      • have plastic rims which catch under the inside rim of the toilet bowl and reduce wobbling of the seat
      • these are either for elongated, or standard toilets
      • there are no models with handles, or armrests
      • the seats come in 2, 3, 3 1/2, 4, 4 1/2, 5 and 6 inch sizes – not adjustable
      • all the seats have different weight capacities


      Examples of this type of seat is –


      • The NRS Comfort Raised Toilet Seat
      • AquaSense Portable 4 inch Raised Toilet Seat – standard toilets
      • HealthSmart  Portable 4 3/4 inch Raised Toilet Seat – universal


      Compared to a safety frame with an elevated seat –


      • very quick and easy to install like the safety frames
      • not at all as stable as a frame with a seat
      • with no armrests or handles, they are hard to hold on to as you sit down
      • you cannot adjust the height of the seat – only come in fixed heights
      • only a few models fit most seats, and the rest are for either standard, or elongated toilets
      • these cannot take as much weight as the elevated seat on a safety frame


      The lack of fixings doesn’t really inspire me at all, and combined with the lack of any form of armrest, I personally would not want my elderly parent using a seat of this type.

      I think you need to be stronger and more agile in at least your arms and one leg to use these seats.

      Bubble seat raised toilet seat

      Bubble seat raised toilet seat - underside

      Seats with side fixings and a front bracket


      • usually have two plastic clamps on each side of the seat towards the rear, and a central front “bracket”
      • comes in models of 2, 3, 4, 4 1/2, 5 and 6 inches in height
      • you can get models with lids
      • these do not have armrests or handles
      • there are some universal seats, some just for standard toilets sizes and some for elongated
      • different models have different weight capacities


      Examples of raised seats using this system are –


      • Aquasense 4 inch Raised Toilet Seat with lid
      • Vaunn Medical Clamp-on 4inch Raised Toilet Seat
      • Carex Universal 4 1/2 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Safe Lock
      • PCP 4″ Raised Toilet Seat
      • Drive Medical 6 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Lock


      Compared with safety frames with an elevated seat –


      • almost as fast as the safety frames with seats to install
      • cannot take nearly as much weight as safety frames
      • lack of armrests and handles
      • not that many universal toilet models – safety frames go over all toilets
      • they do not have adjustable heights like the safety frames
      • they have lids which safety frame seats do not


      This was the first type of toilet seat that my mom had and rejected.

      The model we had wobbled badly, and there was just no way an elderly woman like my mom, with leg problems, could sit down on a seat without armrests to hold on to.

      The wobbling also did not make my mom at all confident about using the seat.

      You need to be warned that if a seat has no armrests, the user will tend to put their hand on the seat in front of them in between their legs and push up to stand. This can cause some seats to tip forwards, especially if the user is heavy.


      Side locking raised toilet seat with lid

      Side locking toilet seat installed on a toilet

      Front locking seats


      • have a front locking clamp which grips the toilet bowl
      • there is also a rear lip which wedges under the inside rim of the toilet bowl
      • models come in 4 and 5 inch sizes
      • these do not come with lids
      • most of these seats fit most toilet sizes
      • there are many models which come with armrests, or handles
      • different models have different weight capacities


      Compared to safety frames with an elevated seat –


      •  relatively fast to install
      • can wobble depending on how it fits to the toilet – unlike safety frames and seats
      • not as strong a safety frame and seat
      • like the safety frames a lot of these seats come with armrests, although they are smaller
      • the seats come in fixed heights and can’t be adjusted like a safety frame
      • front locking seats are supposed to be compatible with most toilets, safety frames can go over all toilets
      • neither type of seat comes with a lid


      Front locking seats are definitely more solid than the clip-on, bubble and side fastening seats, and come with armrests, or handles, in most cases, but they can wobble if they don’t fit the toilet bowl snugly.

      Front locking raised toilet seat

      Front locking raised toilet seat on a toilet

      A few examples of safety frames with and without seats


      Two-legged Toilet Frames


      Here are some examples of two-legged models –


      Lumex Versaframe Safety Rail

      Heathcare Direct 101BSA Toilet safety Rails

      Pivit Bathroom Safety Frame

      Homecraft Toilet Safety Frame


      Four-legged Safety Frames


      Some examples of four-legged models –


      Stand Alone Toilet Safety Rail

      RMS Toilet Safety Frame

      Carex Toilet Safety Rails

      OasisSpace Stand Alone Toilet Safety Rail

      Vaunn Deluxe bathroom Safety Rail

      Healthex Portable Healthcare Foldeasy Safe Support


      Examples of a second four leg design but wit horizontal bars on the floor –


      Kinbelle Bathroom Toilet Safety Rail

      Drive Medical Stand Alone Toilet Safety Rail

      Elderly Assis Toilet Safety Frame


      Safety Frames with a raised or elevated toilet seat


      If you are interested in a safety frame with a raised toilet seat, you will need to check a few things –



      Some examples of safety frames with elevated seats –


      PCP raised toilet seat and safety frame 2-in-1

      MOBB elevated toilet seat and frame

      Aidapt President raised toilet seat and frame 

      Lattice commode toilet seat and frame 

      Maddak Tall-Ette elevated toilet seat with legs

      Toilet safety frame with elevated seat

      Toilet safety frame with elevated seat placed over a toilet

      Safety Frames with raised toilet seats with lift mechanisms


      There are also safety frames with raised toilet seats which incorporate a lift mechanism, but they can really be compared with the toilet seats which attach to the bowl as they are for people who are very weak in the legs and who have very debilitating mobility issues.

      The lift mechanisms vary in terms of the technology used. They can be pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric.

      Examples of safety frame toilet lifts –


      The Uplift Commode

      Easy Access Tilt Toilet lift (this model is secured to the toilet without legs)

      The Liftseat Powered Toilet Lift

      The Drive Solo Lift with Arms

      How to choose a raised toilet seat ?


      To find a raised toilet seat which sits your, or a loved one’s needs, you need to ask yourself quite a number of questions about your situation –


      • what height seat ?
      • how solid of a seat ?
      • what weight capacity you need ?
      • specific features you need, such as armrests ?
      • the size of the space it is going in
      • what is the height of your toilet ?
      • is your toilet elongated or round ?
      • is the user in good shape ?
      • is the user elderly ?
      • how strong is the user ?
      • are there specific medical conditions ?
      • is the seat for post surgical recovery ?


      You will also want to know about brands, where to buy one, and if you can possibly get it covered by medical insurance.

      I have a very in-depth article which covers the above, and outlines the questions you should be asking yourself, along with a PDF that you can download and print out for free – “How To Choose A Raised Toilet Seat ?”

      As you can put certain bedside commodes over the toilet, in exactly the same way as you use a safety frame with a raised toilet seat, you may want to read more about how you do that, in my post here, “Can A Bedside Commode Be Used Over A Toilet ?”.

      Frequently asked questions

      Are raised toilet seats safe ?


      There are a number of different types of raised toilet seat.

      Some models which either clip on to the toilet seat or are pushed down over the toilet rim are really only intended as a temporary, and or travelling solution – the seats have no fixings or clamps to secure them to the toilet.

      Risers with armrests are far more secure, and bolt to your toilet under your existing toilet seat, and are very solid.

      The most sturdy and secure are the models which have armrests and four legs.

      In my opinion, for an elderly adult, the best and safest options, are 3-in-1 bedside commodes which can be place over the toilet, or a safety frame with raised toilet seat.

      My 93-year-old mom uses a 3-in1 commode, and has done so for a number of years, and finds it to be really solid.

      Do raised toilet seats fit any toilet ?


      A freestanding elevated toilet seat should be able to be place over most toilets, as they typically have a maximum seat height of at least 21 inches from the floor.

      Raised toilet seats which attach to the toilet, depending on the particular model, can be for –

      • elongated toilets only
      • round toilets only
      • universal, fitting both types of toilet type

      Can a raised toilet seat be too high ?


      If a toilet seat is too high and the user’s feet are hanging in the air, and not flat to the floor, the blood circulation in the legs can be affected, causing the user’s feet to go to sleep, and lead to falls when standing.

      Secondly, for those with issues with constipation, a lower seat is more conducive to passing a bowel movement.

      How to measure for a raised toilet seat ?


      To find the correct height of raised toilet seat that you need –

      • measure the height of the toilet bowl rim from the floor
      • measure the from the floor to the back of your knee where it bends
      • subtract the first measurement from the second, and the difference is the height of raised toilet seat that you need

      The position you are looking to achieve is one where, when seated, your hip is not lower than your knee.

      How do I raise my toilet ?


      You can use a “toilet plinth” or “toilet riser” to raise your toilet up from the floor.

      The most popular models are –

      Medway Easy Toilet Riser


      Thetford toilet riser

      Easy Toilet Riser

      The risers come in a range of sizes, 2 to 4 inches, and are inserted under your toilet.

      To raise just your toilet seat, you can use a raised toilet seat, either attaches to your toilet bowl to give a higher seat.

      Or you can place a freestanding raised toilet seat over your toilet – these come with adjustable height legs, allowing the seat level to be raised anywhere from 17 to 21 inches from the floor. There are models which go higher.

      3-in-1 bedside commodes can also be used as raised toilet seats in the exact same way as the freestanding raised toilet seats.

      What sizes do raised toilet seats come ?


      Raised toilet seats which attach to the toilet come in a range of heights from 1 inch up to 6 inches.

      With regard to the size of the toilet bowel shape, you can get raised toilet seats which fit only elongated toilets, only round/standard toilets, and seats which are universal.

      You can also buy raised toilet seats in safety frames with standard models, or 3-in-1 commodes, which range in seat height from 17 to 21 inches – which have adjustable legs and are placed over your toilet.

      The tallest model is the OasisSpace Safety frame with elevated toilet seats, which have a top seat level of 27 1/2 inches.

      How high are raised toilet seats ?


      Raised toilet seats which attach to the toilet come in a range of heights from 1 to 6 inches.

      Freestanding raised toilet seats, known as safety frames with raised toilet seats, or 3-in-1 commodes (these can also be used), typically have an adjustable seat height of 17 to 21 inches, with taller models available, up to 27 1/2 inches.

      What do I do if my toilet is too low ?


      To raise a toilet seat, you can –

      1. raise the toilet itself with a “toilet base riser”, or “toilet plinth”, don’t confuse this with a toilet seat riser
      2. use a form of raised toilet seat which attaches to the bowl
      3. use a freestanding raised toilet seat
      4. buy a tall toilet

      How much does a raised toilet seat cost ?


      Raised toilet seats cost between $15.00 and $259.00.

      This does not include heavy-duty 3-in-1 commodes, as specialist models for individuals weighing a 1000 lb cost a lot more.

      I’m Gareth, the author and owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com

      I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.

      Gareth Williams

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