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.
Recommended Toilet Paper Holder Heights
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) 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 less than 17 inches tall at the seat level, or a chair-height toilet, which ranges from 17 inches to 19 inches tall. You may also see chair-height toilets referred to as "Comfort Height," which is the Kohler registered trademark for toilets of this size.
The taller chair-height toilet is designed to make it easier for elderly people or tall people to get on and off a toilet, which is made even easier when a grab bar is securely installed to the wall beside the toilet.
ADA Toilet Paper Holder Requirements
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lays out requirements for toilet paper dispenser locations that differ from those recommended by the NKBA. In bathrooms intended for users with disabilities, 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 18 inches from the floor and no higher than 48 inches.
Other Toilet Paper Holder Guidelines
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. Since a toilet paper dispenser is located underneath the grab bar, the ADA further specifies that the clearance between the top of a toilet paper dispenser and the bottom of the grab bar should be a minimum of 1.5 inches, which may not accommodate large rolls of toilet paper.
Alternative Locations for TP Holders
When a toilet paper 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 toilet paper 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.
Regardless of the type of toilet paper dispenser you install, you may want to keep at least one extra toilet paper roll within reach of the toilet instead of storing all extra rolls out of reach.
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.