Toilet-to-Cabinet Allowable Clearance Tolerances

Cabinet makers and installers discuss the allowable distance between a toilet and a bathroom vanity, and consider how to make adjustments when the space gets tight. November 19, 2005

I have just installed a vanity cabinet for a contractor and noticed that I only have 14" from the edge of my cabinet to the centerline of the toilet. I know that 15" is standard. Will I be able to get away with 14", or will I need to rebuild the cabinet?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor A:
It depends on what toilet is used. Some have narrower tanks than others. Either way, that's awfully close.

From contributor B:
If you installed a cabinet for a contractor and it wasnít designed or laid out properly, why is it your problem? If something isnít right with dimensions or layout, it is the contractorís problem and he can pay me again to go back when he has it figured out.

From contributor C:
If the contractor has not installed the toilet yet, he can use an off-set closet flange to pull the bowl to either side. This type of flange will give you additional elbow room.

From contributor D:
I wouldnít tell anybody. If the contractor gave you the dimensions for the vanity then itís his deal. If you calculated the size, then it is your deal, however I assume you did disclose what you were proposing to do, and at that time it was up to him to let you know if it was a problem. If no one has noticed, let it go until someone does. In todayís construction world everyone makes mistakes. I have seen plumbers lay out toilets 12" from the flanking wall and still set the fixture and get paid for it.

From contributor E:
Code calls for 18" from the centerline of the toilet to the adjacent cabinet, wall or other.
The same goes for sinks. The 18" dimension comes from the distance from the center of your chest to your elbow when you arms are 90 degrees to your torso. This requirement is often ignored but that does not make it right.

From contributor F:
I'm a builder of custom homes since 1989. The code requires a 30" area for the toilet and 24" in front of the toilet (finished dimensions). This code can be verified in UBC section 2705.1 or IRC section 408.6. The code that contributor E refers to is a commercial code or unless he is in a more restrictive residential code area. The majority of the USA is under the two codes above. With that being said, it is up to you to decide how the inspector may interpret the code. My experience is that they very seldom try to determine the center line of the toilet after it is already set. More important is the measure of the overall compartment. I have had a few that were off but were not an issue unless they were way off.

From contributor G:
The rule of thumb is 15-18" off center. I've had customers want it closer and they always got away with it. I believe you'll have no problem.