December 10, 2020

Ask the Expert

What is a close coupled toilet?

The toilet is the single most important artefact in the bathroom, whether it be an en-suite, family bathroom, or courtesy toilet.

The hygienic collection and disposal of human waste is key to our wellbeing and overall health. Yet rarely does the toilet get the attention it deserves when we are redecorating or designing the bathroom. Broadly speaking there are two types of toilet, the dry and the flush variety, we are concerned with the flush type.

While the Japanese have elevated its design to a standard that has still not gained widespread adoption in the UK nevertheless there have been great advances in toilet technology and design which are both functional and elegant.

The close coupled toilet represents such an advance in bathroom design, one that streamlines the various parts which are expressed as a single form with all the constituent mechanisms contained within a unified volume.



The close coupled toilet, a timeless and classic industrial design artefact

As a piece of industrial design the close coupled toilet bears closer examination, it is a marvel of sculpted ceramic craft that encloses sophisticated engineering and mechanical workings. Here below we explore and contrast the close coupled toilet with other standard types of toilet, explaining its advantages suitability for the home. We include tips regarding the installation and maintenance of the close coupled toilet in the bathroom.

The three most popular types of toilet in the UK

Broadly speaking there are three popular types of toilets that are most commonly found in UK bathrooms. The back-to-wall toilet, the wall-hung toilet, and the close coupled toilet.

All of these models are based on the S-trap invented by Alexander Cummings a Scottish mechanic in 1775, consisting of an air-lock to prevent smells polluting the air and gravity to generate a flush. The differentiating factor between the various models of toilets nowadays is how the cistern is treated.

Traditionally toilet bowls were separated from the cistern with an overhead tank of water that used gravity to generate a powerful flush of water to eliminate waste. The back-to-wall toilet accommodates the cistern within a wall cavity or a built-in piece of cabinetry.

With this model, the bowl sits on the bathroom floor and the flush mechanism consists of a panel mounted on the wall or cabinet. The wall-hung toilet cantilevers the bowl off the bathroom while the cistern is kept out of sight behind a partition (but must still be accessible for maintenance). These models are more suited to larger bathrooms because of the space requirements to build a false wall.


Back-to-wall toilet
Wall-hung toilet
Close coupled toilet


Advantages of the close coupled toilet

  • The close-coupled toilet is designed to be seen in its entirety as a single piece of ceramic that is however composed of two parts. The fluid lines and functional design are expressed as a compact volume that saves space and can be easily cleaned.
  • The close-coupled toilet is also simple to install and can be done by the DIY enthusiast. When planning the bathroom layout position the toilet adjacent to the waste connections and cold water feed for the cistern. This means an external wall in most cases.
  • The compact design means that water use is minimised, especially with the dual flush feature.
  • Generally, the close coupled toilet works best for smaller bathrooms where space is at a premium.
  • This compact approach also translates into greater comfort for older users and as Design for Life is now an important consideration for householders the close coupled toilet represents another way to future proof the home.

The close coupled toilet: the sum of two parts

From an aesthetical point of view, the close coupled toilet can be traditional, contemporary, or cutting edge in terms of its design. The two distinct elements however must each be considered for their different functions: the bowl for its hard-wearing design and cleanliness. And the cistern which ideally should minimise water waste.


Close coupled toilet bowl

A good quality sanitary ware fitting represents an investment over time and one that should be hard-wearing. The close coupled toilet bowl should be robust and easily cleaned with no fussy detailing. Contemporary close coupled toilets include rimless models for even greater hygiene.


Close coupled toilet cistern

The close coupled toilet generally incorporates the flush mechanism on top of the cistern, generally a pair of press down buttons. Nowadays, in order to save water, toilets are provided with a dual flush, on that release 3 Lt and the other more substantial flush of 6 Lt. The cistern is connected to a cold water feed and a floating valve mechanism automatically controls the water feed when the tank is filled to the requisite level.

FAQs regarding the installation and maintenance of the close-coupled toilet

A qualified plumber is recommended for installing any sanitary ware in the bathroom. The following summarises the basic steps involved however; after ensuring that the toilet position corresponds with the waste connections and the water feed assemble the parts. The two components of the close-coupled toilet are affixed to the floor (bowl) and wall (cistern). Depending on the wall and floor finishes a diamond drill bit or other will be required to fit the hooks and brackets. The weight of the cistern is partially supported by the bowl but nonetheless ensure that the wall fixings are drilled into the wall studs (in the case of a partition). As well as a drill you’ll need a spirit level, adjustable spanner, a tape measure, pencil and masking tape together with the proprietary screws and fixings. Once the bowl and cistern are installed fit the toilet seat and cover separately. It is recommended to use silicone to make a seal around the toilet bowl and the flooring.

Sanitary ware comes in all styles, rustic, modern, industrial etc. It is generally advisable to consider the Wash Hand Basin, the toilet and the bidet (if there is one) as a suite of sanitary fittings. In other words that their design is complimentary with one anther, this helps ensure a more harmonious décor for the bathroom. The bath can also be included depending on space.

The kit of parts accommodated within the cistern includes the float-valve and the dual flush mechanism. Use silicone to reinforce the water-proof connection between the cistern and the bowl, as all precautions to avoid leakage should be put into practice.

Before the close-coupled toilet is fitted ensure that all the pipes have been washed out thoroughly. Once in place and connected the toilet should be cleaned on a regular basis, daily for general hygiene and weekly for a deep clean. The reason ceramic is still used to manufacture toilet bowls is because it’s unbeatable in terms of its performance and resitance. Harsh and abrasive cleaning products should nevertheless be avoided. Cleaning the toilet bowl should be part of the general approach to how to clean the bathroom efficiently.

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