Help & advice

What is the difference between the types of toilet and how you install each?

When replacing your toilet, look for highly efficient (HET) or ultra-low flush (ULF) toilets to minimise water use. Dual flush toilets do also reduce water usage however that depends how well you remember which button to press when! You can also buy cistern displacement / water saving devices.

Here we've summarised the practical differences of the four most common toilet types – close coupled, traditional, wall hung, and back to wall.

Close Coupled Toilets

Most modern toilets are close coupled, where the cistern (the part which holds the water for flushing, located above the toilet bowl) is attached to the toilet in one unit.

Close Coupled Toilet

Pros:

  • Easiest and most cost-effective to install
  • Cistern is easy to access for maintenance

Cons:

  • Can take up more floor space than wall hung toilets
  • Cleaning around the base can be more effort compared to wall hung designs

Traditional Toilets

The traditional toilet has a separate cistern that sits further up the wall.

Traditional Toilet

Pros:

  • Classic appearance

Cons:

  • More complicated to install than a close coupled toilet
  • Cistern can harder to access for maintenance and repairs than the close coupled toilet due to its height
  • Cleaning around the base can be more difficult

Wall hung Toilets

A wall hung toilet is attached to the wall where the cistern is concealed behind a wall or unit. The bowl looks like it 'floats' above the floor.

Wall hung Toilet

Pros:

  • Minimal in appearance with no visible pipes or cistern
  • Easy to clean beneath the toilet, as there's no base to work around
  • Height can be adjusted for installation where your soil pipe isn't at a standard height

Cons:

  • You need a wall or unit to conceal both the cistern and a sturdy frame (installed within the wall to bear the weight of the toilet and its user)
  • Installation is more complex so likely to cost more
  • Concealed cistern is harder to access for maintenance and repairs

Back to wall Toilets

Like wall hung toilets, back to wall toilets are also attached to the wall with the cistern concealed behind a wall or unit. Unlike wall hung toilets, back to wall toilets don't usually need the support of a frame as they rest on the floor.

Back to wall Toilet

Pros:

  • Minimal in appearance with no visible pipes or cistern

Cons:

  • You need a wall or unit to conceal the cistern
  • Installation is more complex so likely to cost more
  • Concealed cistern is harder to access for maintenance and repairs

Notes on concealed cisterns:

  • They come in different depths, so if space-saving is key, ensure you select a slimline cistern that fits within the available space
  • With different valve options - a choice of cable or pneumatics. Pneumatics are less likely to seize up over time and should not need to be replaced as often
  • Ease of access - access can be hidden under a removable shelf or behind a flush plate for easier maintenance and repairs
  • Flush button / handle or plate? The type of cistern (front access, top access) can affect the type of flush mechanism that you can have. If you have a set style of flush in mind, just double check that this is compatible with the cistern you have chosen!

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