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Toilet seat materials – Overview



  1.         Plastic toilet seats

    1.1    Thermoset seats 

    1.2    Thermoplastic seats

    1.3    Resin toilet seats


  1.         Wooden toilet seats

    2.1    MDF wood or compressed wood

    2.2    Natural or solid wood


Principally plastic seats can offer far more comfort as they often are designed ergonomically and are easier to clean than wooden toilet seats. Wooden seats are often very heavy, whereas “heavy” does not automatically mean “better quality” as the color can come off more easily and liquids are absorbed quicker, especially when the seat has already got some cracks. Wood is the more natural material and can be painted easily and cheaply – especially in China where they are all made now – therefore wooden seats often are cheaper, too. Also, plastic seats might be a bit colder to sit on in winter than a wooden seat.

Wood toilet seats can withstand the same amount of weight and use initially as plastic seats can but over time the enamel protecting the wood chips or becomes scratched. A well-made wood toilet seat can last several years, but if the lid is slammed frequently, scratches, dents, and chips are more likely to occur and the heavy bidet toilet is preferred. When that happens, the wood is vulnerable to moisture, which causes the layers of wood to expand and eventually crack or rot. Plastic seats, although they can scratch on the surface, will not usually chip or crack under normal use. If they do, the material is not vulnerable to rot as wood is, so a chipped plastic seat can still be used for a long period. Because they tend to wear faster, wood toilet seats might not be as affordable in the long run as plastic if you factor in the cost of replacement.

1.1: Plastic seats: Thermoset 

Synthetic resin + catalyzer transformed by compression which, by a chemical reaction, manufactures a product that is made out of homogeneous material. 

Distinctive features:

The thermoset material is unscratchable.

It is very easy to clean and even after years looks like on the first day

 It is a high-quality material and aesthetically looks like ceramic – this is why it is the material used by almost all manufacturers of toilet seat ceramics/bowls 

It is proof of cigarette burns. The most common color is white, whereas different colors are available on the market (especially in France). Also, the seats can be printed, in this case, the print is “burnt” into the seat material which makes it very resistant, too.

By knocking against the seat, you can easily differ a thermoset seat from a thermoplastic seat. It sounds deeper and less “plastic”.

What you can find sometimes within the thermoset/duroplast family of seats are so-called “antibacterial” materials. Principally, this is more a marketing instrument of the manufacturers of such seats to sell more toilet seats and to differ the offer from other toilet seat manufacturers. The manufacturers add silver ions to the material (which nobody can prove…) and silver is supposed to “kill” the germs quicker than if there weren’t any of those ions. 

As said, as long as you clean your seat on a regular basis, you do not need to pay any extra for “antibacterial” seats. Rather spend more money on the hinges and go for a quick release hinge which makes it far easier to clean the seat. You find more about this in the hinge section of this webpage.

Thermoset seats are traditionally in white, but you can also find a lot of color options. Depending on the manufacturing process used, the color can be added to the master batch of the thermoset material, or the seats can be coated with special foils – also available in wood or picture design – once they come out of the pressing machine.


 1.2 Plastic seats: Thermoplastic (polypropylene)

Synthetic resin (grains) softened and transformed by injection. 

The advantages:

– Shiny look 

– Unbreakable

– Interesting prices


– Static effects, not scratch resistant

– “plastic” look

– Often very lightweight (but therefore also cheap)


 1.3 Plastic seats: Resine

Resin toilet seats are more of a novelty than the norm in most bathrooms these days. Seats made from resin allow the manufacturer to make them any color, to make them see-through or even to embed other objects or patterns in the seat to create an interesting design object. Resin seats are also sometimes made with bright patterns, or with pictures or scenes built into the surface of the seat.


2.1 Wooden toilet seats: MDF wood (molded; compressed wood)

MDF (medium density fiberboard) seat manufacturers are using classical carpentry techniques of wooden sheets made up of wood flour coated in Synthetic resin transformed by compression and lacquering.

The seats consist of pressed wood fibers that are why they are also called compressed wood seats. Due to a multiple-layer coating, comfortable, easy-to-clean surface. The priming, the edge grinding and partially also the painting are normally handmade, most commonly in China.

MDF toilet seats are available in many colors and design options, the white seat still being the most popular seat to be sold. There are also differences in the way of manufacturing the seats, but principally it is always a mixture of synthetic resins with wood floors.


2.2 Wooden toilet seats: Natural or solid wood seats

The seats are often made of wood or bamboo. Wood and bamboo are natural products which can deviate from color and texture. Due to a multiple-layer coating, it’s the easy-to-clean surface is ensured but one that also keeps its natural look. Depending on the wood quality and the quality of the coating process, the durability of the seats can differ a lot. Oak, pine, and mahogany are materials very often used for wooden seats. Especially in the UK, real wood seats still play a major role in the market. By the way, also plastic seats are available in wood design, but this has nothing to do with wooden toilet seats.