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What Are Toilet Seats Made Of?

Sep 15, 2021 | Plumbing Guides

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Toilet seats. We all use them, but we rarely spare them more than a few moment’s thought in any week, month, or even year. Only at the point when the time comes to get a new one to replace your toilet seat might we stop and wonder about the options available to us.

Unless you’re a highly accomplished artist or a very particular President, it’s unlikely you’d have the resources to go the golden route – unless you know different. There are a lot of toilet seats to choose from colored toilet seats, heated toilet seats and slow close toilet seats respectively. But for most people, the option comes down to two groups of seat-type – the wooden, and the plastic.

Within those groups though, things are more complicated than you might at first imagine.

Let’s take plastic

The pleasure of plastic of course is that it’s easily moldable, and reasonably flexible. Once you’ve committed to a plastic toilet seat, you can get a little creative along the way, in color, design, thickness, and novelty options like singing seats, heated seats, etc.

Plastic seats can be made by machine, usually with a mold, and can give you a whole range of effects, depending on the type of seat you want.

In plastic toilet seats, you have three main types:

  •         Thermoset
  •         Thermoplastic, and
  •         Resin

Thermoset plastic is made by adding resin powder and a hardener, and then compressing the two in a mold. The hotter your thermoset plastic gets, the stronger it gets, but it’s a process that can lead to some wastage, because once you’ve heated it once, that’s it. Try and heat it again and what you have is a melted, useless toilet seat. If you see a toilet seat described as Duroplast, what you have is a thermoset seat.

The bonus with a thermoset toilet seat is that once it’s cast, it’s unscratchable, so it won’t harbor germs in any cracks or scratches.

Thermoplastic toilet seats are made from resin which is fully injected into a mold. This type of seat is known as unbreakable – which can be a particular relief for the more generously padded booties out there because the last thing you want to hear is an impressive crack when you sit down.

Thermoplastic toilet seats, also known as either ABS plastic injection molded, PP, or polypropylene seats, don’t claim to be unscratchable though, so watch out with long fingernails and your seat-cleaning routine.

And finally, resin toilet seats are the seat you can find which look see-through, or have some embedded design or objects within it. This is the toilet seat of the wild and crazy people, or those who want to make a statement about just how much fun they are.

Then there are the wooden options

The attractive things about wooden toilet seats are that they have a more traditional look and a native warmth even in winter.

But they’re also likely to weather fast after butt after butt after butt, absorbing some moisture as they go.

That can be unattractive (after all, there’s a chance the seat will absorb some of your cousin Ronald’s thigh-sweat when he comes round for a visit, and you don’t want to think about where those thighs have been) and can lead to quicker deterioration than plastic seats.

Wooden toilet seats can warp and chip, and become a roulette wheel of splinters to sit on.

You might be surprised to learn that even with wooden toilet seats, there are three subtypes to choose from. All wood is by no means the same, even if you sit on it with an exposed butt.

Molded wood toilet seats are made out of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), a combination of recycled wood and resin, which is then poured into a compression mold and given a design. This will give you your heaviest toilet seat, but it’s not likely to set your world particularly on fire.

In the event that you need a toilet seat to set your world (but not your butt) on fire, you could go with a solid wood option. The name is sliiiightly misleading, in that it’s not made of a single plank of solid wood. It is, however, made from individual pieces of wooden board, glued together. That can give you a more traditional wood look than your MDF option.

And then, if you want to go green with your butt-holster, there’s always the option of going for a bamboo toilet seat. The great thing about bamboo is that, unlike the other woods used in toilet seat construction, bamboo has a short life cycle, and so it’s harvested quickly, without adding negatively to the planet’s carbon balance.

And before you think it, no, you’re not sitting on something that feels like wicker. Bamboo toilet seats are made of powdered bamboo, molded into the design of your ideal toilet seat.

Let’ talk cleaning

If you have any variety of plastic toilet seat, you’re going to want to step away from your abrasive or acidic cleaners and your steel wire scrubbing brush right now. Now good can come of any of that.

Mild soap, a soft cloth or a paper towel. That’s all you need, and it’s also the option that’s kindest to your plastic surface. You crack or groove your plastic toilet seat, what you have is a bacteria farm that’s in contact with a part of your body where you really don’t want any extra bacteria. Keep it mild, keep it gentle, keep it simple and soft and you’ll be fine.

You went with wood?

OK, when cleaning your toilet seat, you’re going to be looking at antibacterial soap or dishwashing soap as a first option – and again, don’t get super-vicious in your choice of cleaning implement – a paper towel and a washcloth can get the job done.

At a pinch, you can get away with cleaning a wooden seat with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol – but again, remember which parts of your body are going to be in closest proximity to the toilet seat and ask yourself: do you feel lucky?

On that same thread of logic – no bleach, thanks. rubbing alcohol if that’s all you have. They warn not to use chemicals like bleach or detergent. Using those on your wooden toilet seat can risk weakening the seat’s design, leaving your fairly delicate skin open to splinters, bacteria and chemical burning.

Choosing the best toilet seat material is ideally something you won’t have to do too often. Make sure you choose the material (and the design) that looks and feels right to you. After all, you’re going to spend at least a fair amount of your lifetime for the next few years communing with.

It’s not a life-or-death decision, but it’s one your butt will thank you for getting right.



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