My journey to toilet seat enlightenment

Your home is an important part of your life. It is the place where you sleep, the site of many of your most personal memories, your refuge of solace and privacy. Most of us think of our homes with a sense of affection. But, theoretically, there is only one part of your home that you touch with your naked butt. Yes, I’m talking about toilet seats: the most intimate point of contact between you and your home.

Five years ago, when I moved into a condo, one of the first things I did was replace all of the toilet seats. However, I went about it in a way that often gets me into trouble: I just went to store and bought something without doing any research.

I’d never given toilet seats much thought. But, in short order, I stated to notice some things. Even though they were still practically new, the toilet seats I had purchased seemed to be losing their finish. Also, whenever I stayed in a hotel, I noticed that their toilet seats weren’t like mine at home. Their toilet seats appeared to be much nicer and, even though they were presumably being subjected to many more abrasive butts than mine at home, they were not losing their finish.

Hotel bathrooms have always been my benchmark for durable luxury. For example, why do hotels have shower curtains instead of shower doors? Because they’re easier to clean and more economical. Durable luxury. Hotels aren’t even shy about this; they want their bathrooms to feel nicer than your bathroom at home to make you enjoy your stay, so they tend to use very high quality fixtures.

Eventually, it became apparent what my problem at home was: faulty toilet seat construction.

There are essentially two types of toilet seats. The toilets seats I had unthinkingly purchased were made out of “molded wood”—basically a particle board or chipboard with a paint coating on it. On the other hand, the toilet seats at hotels are typically made out of solid plastic, which means they can never lose their finish, even if they get scratched or worn. Also, the plastic is thick: it can take more abuse than residential toilet seats and you can sit on the lid without bending it. (Some companies also sell solid wood toilet seats, and those weird poofy plastic ones, but let’s not go there.)

Once my eyes were opened to the realities of what toilet seats are made out of, there was no turning back. Also, my toilet seats were becoming more and more difficult to clean due to their loss of finish. When my wife and I bought a house and started to remodel it, I was determined to get hotel quality toilet seats so every visit to the bathroom would feel like going on a lavish vacation.

Now, foolishly, I had thought that since we live in the internet age and you can buy basically anything on the web, magnificent hotel quality toilet seats would be just a click away. After quite a few clicks, I had a sinking realization: “I’m going to have to become a toilet seat expert to be able to figure this out.”

There are tons of options. Shapes. Colors. Features for ease of installation. Self-closing mechanisms. Whether or not they have an opening at the front of the seat. I dug into the research.

In the end, after many hours of browsing on (an actual website—nobody is cybersquatting on, I finally found it: the pinnacle of modern toilet seat engineering. Luxurious and dependable enough for the penthouse suite at a five star hotel, yet rugged and simple enough to last forever in your bathroom at home.

The Bemis 7800TDG.

(Note: the Bemis 7800TDG only fits elongated toilets. If you have a round toilet, you may need to get a different model.)

I immediately ordered one of these for each of our bathrooms. And I am happy to report that, after more than a year—including one time where we had a party with over 60 people in our house—they still look brand new.

Really, this is all the toilet seat that anyone needs. It’s not stuffed with features that aren’t important. Self-closing mechanisms wear out over time and almost every toilet seat is easy to install or remove. It’s just stuffed with commercial grade quality, bringing the durable luxury of a hotel bathroom into your everyday life. Plus, at around $35 or $40, they’re not that much more expensive than wasting a bunch of gas and money to drive to store and buy a horrible chipboard one. In fact, you could probably call it an investment in your bathroom’s future since it may well be the last toilet seat you ever need to buy.

Also, every visit to the bathroom really does feel like a sumptuous hotel stay now.

I think one challenge of life in a consumer society is that stores are full of items that look like actual products, but are actually hollow facsimiles. Toilet seats that don’t last. Foods that are just lumps of artificial flavorings. Art that is mass produced. Clothes that are the wrong shape. This one time at Harbor Freight, I bought some work gloves that I’m pretty sure cannot actually fit on human hands. Sometimes you have to learn from the painful experience of buying a product that doesn’t stand up to actual use before you can figure out what you really need. That happened to me with toilet seats, but it ultimately led me to a new plateau of toilet seat satisfaction.