From back to wall, wall hung to close coupled and high level, toilets are available in a wide range of designs to suit any bathroom, but choosing the right type can be tricky if you‘re not sure where to start. In this buyer’s guide we explain the differences between each style.
Toilets – a basic overview
How does a toilet work?
Cisterns are either lever or push button operated. They release water into the pan, usually between 6-8 litres, even though some use a water saving 4/2.6 litres. By releasing this much water into the pan it creates an overflow into the siphon at such a rate that all waste is sucked from the pan.
How are toilets made?
Toilets are made with a blend of clay, fillers and fluxes that are fused together. It is then modeled, dried and fired with a finish or glaze in order to create a vessel. A white or coloured glaze is then applied and fused chemically and physically to the clay body. The finished product (vitreous china) has an extremely durable surface that’s resistant to fading, staining and scratching.
Types of toilets
There are five main types of toilets:
- Close coupled – where the cistern sits directly on the back of the toilet pan.
- Back to wall – where the toilet pan fits against the wall or a piece of furniture and a concealed cistern provides the water for flushing.
- Wall hung – hangs on a sturdy metal frame and suspended above the floor, the water for flushing is supplied by a concealed cistern.
- Low level and high level – where the cistern is fitted to the wall and connected to the toilet pan by a length of chrome pipe
Things to consider before buying a new toilet
Before buying a new toilet there are a few things that you need to take into consideration first. Take a look at the style of your bathroom, is it modern or traditional? Determining this will help you choose a toilet that enhances the design of the space. High level toilets are great for creating an authentic traditional look, while wall hung toilets add a smart, contemporary look.
The available space is another important factor too. If you have a small bathroom, there are many space-saving toilets available, but if you have a large bathroom, then you have a wider range to choose from.
Another question to ask yourself is, do you plan to keep the toilet in the same place as the existing one, or are you creating a new layout and want to install the loo in a new position? Keeping the toilet in the same place will keep installation costs low, but if you do want to install it in a new position, just bear in mind that extra plumbing work will be required, so make sure to budget for this.
What type of toilet is best for a small bathroom?
In a small bathroom every inch of space counts, so it’s important to choose space-saving fittings to maximise the available room. When choosing a toilet for a small bathroom, it’s a good idea to opt for a short projection style. This is where the pan has a shorter depth than standard, which creates more floor space.
Other toilet options for small bathrooms include corner and wall hung styles. A corner toilet features a triangular shaped cistern, which fits snugly into the corner of the room. A wall hung toilet is also ideal, as the wall mounted design helps to create the illusion of more space.
Toilet Jargon Buster
Buying a good quality toilet that meets your requirements is an important part of your new bathroom, and we understand that it can be difficult trying to choose the right one when you’re confronted with a load of jargon that doesn’t make much sense. So, to make things clearer, here’s some words and phrases you may come across when shopping for a new toilet.
Back to wall toilet
Available in various styles, a back to wall toilet has been designed to be positioned against the wall with the cistern and pipework hidden from view so that only the toilet pan is visible. The cistern can be fitted into a WC unit or into the wall.
Close coupled toilet
The most popular style, a close coupled toilet is where the cistern is attached directly to the pan. Close coupled toilets are available in modern and traditional designs.
Ideal for small spaces, a corner toilet features a triangular shaped cistern, which means that the toilet can fit snugly into the corner of the bathroom.
Water saving toilet
An eco-friendly option, water saving toilets feature a dual flush cistern, which gives you the option of using a full or reduced flush. A full flush uses approximately 6 litres of water, whereas a reduced flush uses around 3 litres.
Wall hung toilet
A great option for creating a contemporary look, a wall hung toilet is mounted onto the wall instead of the floor. The cistern is fitted into the wall and is accessible via a flush panel. As the toilet pan floats a few inches above the floor, it creates the illusion of a larger bathroom and makes cleaning easier too. The toilet pan is mounted onto a wall frame, which you will need to purchase separately.
A wall frame has been designed to be used with a wall hung toilet so that you can securely fit it to the wall.
For use with back to wall and wall hung toilets, a concealed cistern is built into the wall or a WC unit, meaning it’s hidden from view. The cistern is accessible via a flush panel if fitted into the wall, or by removing a section of a countertop if part of a WC unit. A concealed cistern ensures a neater, more streamlined finish to your bathroom.
A toilet with a dual flush gives you the option of using a reduced flush, which uses up to 50% less water than a standard flush. A dual flush button has two halves, so you can select a full or a half flush to save water.
A reduced or a short projection toilet means that it has a shorter depth than standard, and therefore does not protrude as far, taking up less floor space. A short projection toilet is ideal for a small bathroom or cloakroom suite.
Soft closing seat
A soft closing toilet seat features slow closing hinges to prevent those accidental bangs and slams. A soft close seat slows down a couple of inches from the bowl so it closes gradually and quietly.
A WC unit has been designed for use with a back to wall toilet and a concealed cistern. The unit conceals the cistern and pipework ensuring a neater finish. The cistern can be accessed via a panel.
What is a close coupled toilet?
A close coupled toilet is where the water cistern sits directly on the pan, which is fitted to the floor, with the cistern to the wall. Close coupled toilets are the most popular option as they are easy to install and available in a wide range of styles including modern and traditional. Some close coupled toilets feature a fully flush to wall design, which conceals unsightly pipework and makes cleaning easier too. A flush to wall toilet also creates a more contemporary look. There are different types of flush mechanisms including the traditional lever and chrome dual flush buttons, where you can choose to use a full or half flush.
Typical cost: from £60
- Easy to install
- Does not require any external or hidden plumbing
- Suits the majority of bathrooms
- Wide range of styles to choose from
Corner toilets are specifically designed to fit into the corner of your bathroom to help maximise the available space. They are a fantastic option for smaller bathrooms, en-suites and cloakroom suites. With a corner toilet it may be awkward to install the waste pipe into the corner.
- Stylish and space saving
- Great for small bathrooms
Comfort height toilets
Available in a range of designs, comfort height toilets measure 4-5cm higher than a standard toilet, this makes them more comfortable for the user. A comfort height toilet may be the best option for you if you’re taller, elderly or less mobile as there’s less pressure on the knees and other lower body joints. Sitting down and getting up is made easier by the extra height.
- Reduced pressure on the knees and lower body joints
- The extra height makes sitting down and getting up easier
- Ideal for those who are taller, less mobile and elderly
Wall hung toilets
A great option for adding contemporary style to your bathroom, a wall hung toilet appears to float above the floor with no visible cistern or fittings. The wall hung design enhances a sense of space and makes cleaning the floor easier. Wall hung toilets are designed to be fitted with a cistern concealed in the wall behind or a base cabinet. If the cistern is in the wall, you’ll need to ensure there’s access during and after installation. You will also need to purchase a concealed cistern and wall frame separately.
Typical cost: from £175
- Maximises floor space
- Creates a contemporary look
- Great for smaller bathrooms
Back to wall toilets
Back to wall toilets are a modern option, and are similar to close coupled toilets, except that the cistern is hidden in a unit or the wall. Designed to make minimal use of floor space, back to wall toilets create a fitted look as the pipework and cistern are concealed from view ensuring a neater finish and easier cleaning. When purchasing a back to wall toilet you’ll need to buy a concealed cistern and WC furniture unit separately. Care should be taken to ensure that cistern access is available during and after installation.
Typical cost: from £48
- Provides a modern and fitted look
- Makes minimal use of floor space
Want to know more about this type of toilet? Check out our back to wall toilet buyer’s guide for more information.
Low level toilets
Low level toilets are ideal for adding traditional style to your bathroom. A low level toilet is where the cistern is fitted at a low level on the wall and connected to the pan by a chrome flush pipe. The toilet is operated by a lever flush. When installing a low level toilet it must be fitted to either a solid wall or a wall that has been reinforced.
Typical cost: from £236
- Ideal for creating a traditional look
High level toilets
Just like low level toilets, high level toilets are ideal for creating an authentic traditional look. A high level toilet is where the cistern is fitted at a high level on the wall and is connected to the pan by a long chrome flush pipe. The cistern is operated by a long chain pull. When fitting a high level toilet, the cistern must be fitted to either a solid wall or a wall that’s been reinforced.
Typical cost: from £269
- Provides an authentic traditional look
What is a water saving toilet?
Water saving toilets use less water per flush to help keep water bills low and to help protect the environment.
Toilet flushing accounts for a third of water used in the home, and old toilets could use a staggering 14 litres of water per flush! Today’s toilets feature a dual flush cistern, with some models using just 2.6/4 litres of water in each flush.
Dual flush or water saving toilets save water by offering two different flush volumes. It’s a good idea to replace an old toilet with a new dual flush one so you can do your bit to save water.
All our toilets include a seat, but it’s always worth noting a few things if you ever need to replace it. Toilet seats are available in a range of shapes and sizes to fit a particular toilet, as well as colours and finishes too such as oak, walnut, black and classic white.
There’s also soft close toilet seats, which means an end to those accidental bangs and slams! A soft close seat slowly closes without any sudden bangs, this helps to reduce wear and tear also. Material-wise there’s Thermoplastic, which has a durable finish that’s easy to clean, and Thermoset, a polymer material that’s UV and scratch resistant.
Need some help choosing a new seat? Our toilet seat buying guide will point you in the right direction.
Find out how to replace toilet seat in our easy to follow step-by-step guide.
How to fit a toilet
Not only do you need to consider the style of the toilet, but you’ll also need to think about how and where it will fit. Make sure to measure the space where you would like the toilet to go so you know what the maximum dimensions are. Take into account how far it projects from the wall and allow enough space in front of the loo. It’s a good idea to draw up a scaled plan of your bathroom and decide on a layout before purchasing.
You’ll need to consider the type of plumbing connection that’s required to fit your new toilet – this depends on the type of toilet you’ve chosen. Back to wall toilets, for example, require a concealed cistern, and wall hung toilets need a mounting frame. Back to wall and wall hung designs also need flush plates and you need to ensure there’s access to the cistern just in case any plumbing issues arise.
The type of toilet will dictate how the soil pipe connection is made too. What’s a soil pipe? A soil pipe is connected to the soil stack, and it’s where all the waste from your toilet flows through when flushed. Close coupled toilets can be connected horizontally, vertically and to the left or right. A back to wall loo can only be connected to the soil stack horizontally or vertically. It’s important to check the position of the soil stack in relation to where you want your toilet to be fitted.
Find out how to fit a toilet with the help of our expert guide.
Hi, I’m Liz, an interiors blogger. My main focus area is the bathroom, where I aim to inspire anyone who’s planning and designing a new bathroom – you’ll find plenty of tips, how-to guides and a wealth of ideas!