Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Taking care of a solid wood toilet seat.

One of the frequently asked questions we get is "How do I take care of my new solid wood toilet seat?" I find this question rather surprising since we have had ours over 4 years and have had very no issues cleaning and maintaining it. When asked about specifics, People wondered if the finish would somehow get damaged with routine cleaning. I decided to look up the experts to see their advice. From Kohler :
Avoid using aerosol products.
Do not allow abrasive chemicals and cosmetics (such as fingernail polish and aftershave) to come in contact with the toilet seat, as they can damage the finish.
Painted wood seats require special care and cleaning. Use only mild detergent (such as dish washing soap).

Our seats have two coats of polyurethane on the lid, protecting the paint and sealing the wood from moisture. This should be more than enough protection.

Another issue we face is that "cracking" issue. Solid wood is different from plastic and molded wood in that it will expand and contract over time. Heat, cold, moisture, use and time all play a role in this. Although solid wood is more durable than molded wood, molded wood ( veneer covered) are more stable and can resist wood movement. ( They are, however, more susceptible to moisture damage if not finished properly, Think "sponge")

Even with the wood movement, a solid wood seat should resist cracking with a proper finish that seals and protects the end grain of the wood. Also, proper glue up and construction are important. A properly glued seat should be strong enough and remain assembled even with minor wood movement.

Now as for the durability of solid wood. Think of the seat as you would a chair or other piece of furniture. Even the best constructed chair will fail and break if it is misused. The same goes for the toilet seat. Excessive slapping, shifting and improperly installed bolts will cause stresses on the joints and hinged of the seat. Over time, this may result in stripped screws, crushed plastic bumpers, damaged hinges, and , of coarse, broken or cracked seats. There are small simple things that can be done to minimize this damage.

1. Don't slam or drop the lid or seat!
2. Tighten or replace loose, wobbly bolts. ( remember the nuts are plastic! Don't overtighten!)
3. Occasionally inspect the screws on the hinges to make sure they have not become loose or stripped out over time and use.
4. Inspect and replace the plastic bumpers on the underside of the seat. ( you can find replacements at local home improvement, plumbing, and hardware stores.)
Aside from the first two, you need only inspect you seat occasionally or if you notice a wobble when you use it. Proper installation and common sense use will prevent most problems.
There will come a time when the seat will just need to be replaced. I have found a few places that believe wood seats last approximately 2-3 years. My own personal research is longer than that .( 4 years and going strong!) Your results may vary, of coarse. We have replaced the hinge ( purely cosmetic reasons) and the front two bumpers have gotten damaged over time and should be replaced. ( I still have to do that.) CRACKED SEAT SHOULD ALWAYS BE REPLACED IMMEDIATELY! With a little care and luck, your seat will out last your decor, and you might end up replacing it before it needs to be. If not, you can always replace the broken or damaged part and keep you seat lid. As stated before, all parts can be found at your local hardware, plumbing, or home improvement stores.
I hope this helps. A wooden seat is a wonderful addition to most bathrooms and will last a long time with proper cleaning and care.

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