Tricks of the Trade

5 easy tips for choosing ADA compliant toilets

Heather Mahr, a Ferguson author

by Heather Mahr


No bathroom is complete without the right toilet. The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, regulates almost every specification in a bathroom, including toilet dimensions and installation, to ensure accessibility to all people. Use these tips to help you find the right ADA toilet to transform a regular commercial or residential bathroom into an ADA bathroom.

1. Check the height

Bring your measuring tape with you. Measure the toilet from the base of floor to the top of the seat. The top of the toilet bowl, with the toilet seat attached, must be between 17” – 19” after installation to comply with ADA regulations.

2. Give it space

Toilets with an undercut bowl are recommended by the ADA because of the requirement for toe clearance. The ADA specifies that there should be a gap of at least 9" beneath an element, such as a toilet, and the floor. The gap should extend at least 25" in depth. An undercut bowl is a bowl that has a gap between its bottom and the base of the toilet. This allows for more foot space and a clear path to increase accessibility.

Pro tip: Opting for a wall-mounted toilet is an easy way of ensuring that there is more than enough room for toe clearance since the plumbing components are concealed behind the wall.

3. Read the label

Toilets labeled “comfortable height” or “chair height” are distinguished by having a higher seat measurement. This does not always mean the seat height is tall enough to meet ADA regulations. Some “comfortable height” toilet seat heights only measure to 16.5,” which doesn’t meet the minimum 17” height.

Pro tip: Check the label to see if the toilet seat is included in the measurement of the toilet. Toilet bowls often come without the seat because they are an interchangeable element. If it’s not included, then adding the seat could bring the height to the ADA height requirement because most seats add at least 1" of height to the toilet bowl.

4. Flush it out

The flush control of a toilet needs to meet the standards for operating parts set by the ADA. This means that the flush controls need to stand no higher than 44” from the mounting surface and must be activated with less than 5 lbs of force and without twisting or straining your wrists. Most toilets that have a flush valve activated by a lever will meet less than 5 lbs of force, but some toilets that are activated by a flush button will not.

5. Location is key

Consider the placement of the toilet in relation to walls and barriers in the bathroom. With limited room, flush levers must function in a way where the user can easily flush the toilet based on the access point for the stall or room. If the right side of the toilet is against the bathroom wall or partition, then the toilet will have to have the flush control on the left side and vice versa. The flush control is required to be on the open side of the toilet.

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Heather Mahr, a Ferguson author

Heather Mahr

As Ferguson’s in-house copywriter, Heather is dedicated to providing readers with valuable information. She is passionate about helping people find the answers they need to make their life easier with her words.