Nothing spoils a bathroom user's experience like a toilet paper dispenser that's out of reach. Industry associations publish bathroom design standards, including heights of fixtures, to make sure that dispensers are easily accessible in typical bathrooms, and government standards are meant to ensure that dispensers are convenient for users with special needs.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends that toilet paper dispensers be 26 inches above the finished floor of a bathroom's toilet area, measuring from the floor to the vertical center of the dispenser. This height provides easy access from either a standard-height toilet, which is 14 1/2 inches tall at the seat level, or a comfort-height toilet, which is 16 1/2 inches tall.
The Americans with Disabilities Act lays out requirements for toilet paper dispenser location that differ from those recommended by the NKBA. In bathrooms intended for disabled users, the dispenser should be at an appropriate height that's easily reachable from the model of toilet installed, but, according to the ADA, it should be no lower than 15 inches from the floor and no higher than 48 inches.
Both the NKBA and the ADA offer specifications for the horizontal placement of the toilet paper dispenser as well as for its height. The NKBA recommends that the dispenser be 8 to 12 inches from the front of the toilet, measuring from the front edge of the toilet bowl to the horizontal center of the dispenser. The ADA says that the dispenser should be 7 to 9 inches in front of the toilet.
When a dispenser can't be installed in the recommended location, alternative solutions for homeowners include storing rolls of toilet paper in a basket beside the toilet, on a floor-mounted dispenser or in a cabinet above and behind the toilet. These locations aren't ideal, though, because they usually require more bending, reaching and twisting on the part of the user than an appropriately mounted wall dispenser does. They're also likely to fall outside the maximum reach ranges specified by the ADA, making these solutions noncompliant with the act's requirements.
Evan Gillespie grew up working in his family's hardware and home-improvement business and is an experienced gardener. He has been writing on home, garden and design topics since 1996. His work has appeared in the South Bend Tribune, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Arts Everywhere magazine and many other publications.