I have almost always seen toilet paper rolls presented on a telescoping plastic piece when available for use. A few times I have seen them presented on a much simpler solution: a simple rod with an upward curve on one end to keep it from falling off. Typically this is presented as a "rustic"-looking design choice, but it actually seems preferable in every way to the telescoping plastic piece:

  • Faster to replace the roll
  • Sturdier (no moving parts)
  • Does not require touching a plastic piece that has probably been touched by dirty hands.

Why is the telescoping plastic piece ever preferred?

Option 1 Option 1 By Kevin Payravi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Option 2, except normally it isn't hinged, so the roll is held slightly from the wall Option 2 Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 1
    Possibly because the tighter 'holder to roll' design stops the roll self unrolling.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 8:03
  • Search for any combination of: recessed toilet roll holder
    – Confused
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 22:37
  • What about the type that features a non-telescoping removable middle piece? And what about the type that has nothing in the middle at all, but is rather a box that encloses the roll and allows pulling out the next pieces of paper at its only opening? Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 20:54

3 Answers 3


Mostly it's a question of style and consumer habit, so there won't be a tight correlation between preference and technical advantage.

That J-hook has a lot of stress on it, mainly because it lends itself much more to being manhandled. If you make it out of plastic, it won't last and will generally be perceived as a slumlord-grade piece of junk. It's a lot easier to make the telescoping roll look respectable in plastic. Given the cost of plastic is freakishly close to zero in million quantity, that's a big factor.

As far as cleaning, the hinge on the J-hook is devilishly hard to clean, whereas the spring type can definitely be cleaned well enough to satisfy a white gloved boss/client.

  • I always forget how expensive metal is, even a raw unmachined piece, whereas plastic is essentially free.
    – cxrodgers
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 21:52
  • "If you make it out of plastic, it won't last" - J-hooks similar to this seem to be pretty common, and I have never come across a broken one. I don't think they can be quite that fragile. "the hinge on the J-hook" - J-hook-like designs also often come without any hinges, just holding the roll at a fixed distance from the wall. Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 21:04

The plastic (or metal) telescoping device allows insertion into a closed space. The ultimate result is both more aesthetically pleasing and "out of the way" if the insertion is inset into the wall, as it often is.

Toilet roll holders that extend out or otherwise are attached and outwards from a wall tend to have the hook and flap system you're talking about, because functionality has been determined to trump aesthetics and space concerns.

  • 1
    I added pictures to clarify. I guess Option 1 is very slightly inset, but it seems Option 2 could be cleverly designed to be inset just as much.
    – cxrodgers
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 20:16

Cost, for one thing. Consider the cost of machining and finishing that 2nd device, as compared to blow-molding a 2-pc roll holder and sticking a spring into it.

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