What Is A Back To Wall Toilet? | Pros, Cons & Advice

Back to wall toilets are a popular option for those looking to update their bathroom. With a sleek, modern design, back to wall toilets provide a number of benefits for homeowners, including increased bathroom space, improved hygiene, and more. But what exactly is a back to wall toilet, and what are the pros and cons?

In this post, I’ll explain what a back-to-wall toilet is and how it’s installed as well as some of its pros and cons.

Let’s dive in!

What Is A Back To Wall Toilet?

A back to wall toilet is a type of toilet that is installed with the back of the unit against the wall, rather than the traditional setup of a toilet with the tank and bowl being separate units. The pan sits on the floor with the back of the seat flush with the wall.

The cistern is hidden inside the wall or in a built-in cabinet to conceal the pipes and other unsightly plumbing. Creating a clean and streamlined look.

It works the same way as the more traditional close-coupled toilet. Press a button on the wall or the seat and water from the cistern flows into the toilet to force any waste down the drain. It requires no electrical connections and provides a sleek modern look.

The design of back to wall toilets allows for more floor space in the bathroom, making it a popular choice for those looking to create a minimalist and modern look. Additionally, back to wall toilets are often easier to clean, as there are fewer crevices and gaps for dirt and bacteria to accumulate.

Back to wall toilet in a bathroom

How Much Does a Back To Wall Toilet Cost?

With the increasing popularity of the modern back-to-wall design, prices for this toilet have substantially dropped over the past few years. You can now buy one for close to the same price as a close-coupled model.

They start at about £150 but can rapidly rise up into the thousands. That is if you want a bidet, heated seat, power flush, motion-activated seat and other luxuries.

The added expense comes with the installation. For a new-build home, there is no difference. But if you are retrofitting a traditional bathroom, expect to spend £1,000 to £2,000 for the plumber and carpenter.

The toilet itself takes just a few hours to go in, but you will be patching the plasterboard, drilling new holes in the floor, patching others, and possibly fixing up wall tile.

For a seamless appearance, you may want to look at doing a total bathroom renovation which averages around £7,000.

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How Is A Back To Wall Toilet Installed?

A back-to-wall toilet requires the same type of connection to the water supply and waste. A flexible pipe runs from the cold water supply and hooks into the cistern. The waste is directly connected to the main waste pipe under the bowl and is directed toward the wall where it makes a turn downward through the floor.

In order to flush, there might be a button behind the toilet seat on the unit or one mounted on the wall.

Any qualified plumber is familiar with back-to-wall toilets. The actual hook-up will only take an hour or two. The cosmetic changes to your wall and floor may need a few more hours of repair for a complete installation. Your plumber may offer to install trim pieces or suggest that you hire a contractor for the additional work.

In order to have a flush mount for your back-to-wall toilet, you will need to open the wall. The cistern is typically mounted between studs and then concealed by a plasterboard access panel or a built-in cupboard. The waste pipe also comes up inside the wall and then turns to enter the back of the toilet bowl unit.

The connections between the toilet and the waste pipes are hidden inside the toilet and covered by a trim piece that gives the unit that sleek back-to-wall appearance.

Renovating An Existing WC

If you are switching from a traditional close-coupled toilet to a back-to-wall piece, the main waste will need to be relocated from the floor directly under the bowl to inside the wall. This means you will need to patch or put down a new floor in the bathroom.

If you are replacing an existing back-to-wall unit, you shouldn’t need to do any work to the floor or the wall as access to the cistern and waste connections are in the proper place.

Pros Of Back To Wall Toilets

  • Aesthetics: Back to wall toilets have a sleek and modern design that can help to improve the overall look of your bathroom. With the pipes and other plumbing concealed behind the wall or cabinet, the toilet creates a clean and streamlined appearance. You may have spied these toilets in your favourite spa or resort hotel!

  • Space Saver: With the tank hidden in the wall, the pan is pushed back a few extra centimetres. Nice option for a small cloakroom.

  • Improved Hygiene: Back to wall toilets are often easier to clean than traditional toilets, as there are fewer crevices and gaps for dirt and bacteria to accumulate. This makes them a great option for those looking to improve the hygiene in their bathroom.

  • Dependable: The insides of the toilet work the same way as your old toilet. You can expect it to work for the next few decades.

  • Cost-effective: Back to wall toilets are often more affordable than other types of toilets, such as wall-mounted toilets or toilets with bidets. This makes them a great option for those on a budget who still want a stylish and functional toilet for their bathroom.

Cons Of Back To Wall Toilets

  • Expensive to Retrofit: When replacing a close-coupled toilet with a back-to-wall piece, you can spend a few thousand on labour and materials.

  • Trickier to Maintain: Once the wall is closed up, the only access to the tank is through a small hole. An experienced plumber is likely needed for what was once a DIY fix.

  • Higher Cost: While back to wall toilets are often more affordable than other types of toilets, they can still be more expensive than traditional toilets. If you’re on a tight budget, a back to wall toilet may not be the best choice for you.

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where is the cistern on a back to wall toilet?

In a back to wall toilet, the cistern is usually concealed behind a wall or in a cabinet. The toilet is mounted directly to the wall, with the cistern and pipes hidden from view. This gives the toilet a clean and modern look, as well as freeing up valuable floor space in the bathroom.

The location of the concealed cistern will depend on the specific design of the back to wall toilet. In some cases, the cistern may be installed within a cabinet or behind a wall. In other cases, the cistern may be located within a separate unit or boxing in that is mounted to the wall near the toilet.

What Is A Close-Coupled Back To Wall Toilet?

These toilets are also called fully-shrouded toilets. Like a back-to-wall unit, the toilet pan or seat sits flush against the wall. The tank is visible, but not as a separate unit. The cistern will be thinner, so it does not project as far into the room.

However, it may also be taller. A close-coupled back-to-wall toilet will have a more contemporary look but does not require opening the wall for installation. It will have a flush button or lever on the cistern rather than a flush plate and a flush mechanism installed in a wall or bathroom cabinet behind it.

Close-Coupled Back To Wall Toilet
Close-Coupled Back To Wall Toilet

What Is The Difference Between A Wall-Hung And A Back To Wall Toilet?

A wall-hung toilet and a back to wall toilet are both types of toilets that are designed to save space and create a clean, modern look in the bathroom. In many plumbing supply catalogues, both types of toilets may be listed under the same design section.

However, there are some key differences between these two types of toilets:

  • Wall-mounted vs. mounted against the wall: The main difference between a wall-hung toilet and a back to wall toilet is how they are mounted. A wall-hung toilet is mounted directly onto the wall and is suspended above the floor. A back to wall toilet is mounted with the back of the unit against the wall. The pipes and other plumbing are concealed behind a cabinet or a wall-mounted unit.

  • Cost: The cost of wall-hung toilets and back to wall toilets can vary depending on the manufacturer and the materials used, but wall-hung toilets are typically more expensive than back to wall toilets.

  • Installation: The installation process for wall-hung toilets and back to wall toilets can also differ. Wall-hung toilets require a more complex installation process, as they must be mounted directly onto the wall and securely anchored onto a frame. Back to wall toilets are typically easier to install, as they don’t require the same level of support or anchoring as wall-hung toilets.

  • Maintenance: The maintenance required for wall-hung toilets and back to wall toilets can also be different. Wall-hung toilets are more accessible and easier to clean, as there is no cabinet or wall to obstruct your view. However, they can also be more difficult to repair or replace if there are any issues with the plumbing or electrical connections.

Are Back To Wall Toilets A Good Idea?

This is a great option if you want a modern twist on traditional bathroom design. Back-to-wall toilets do not project as far into the bathroom, giving back precious square cm of floor space. Perfect for small bathrooms.

They are just as dependable as the traditional floor-mounted toilets and there is no bulky cistern ruining the view.  The only drawback is that they are pricier to install.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Everything you need to know about back to wall toilets.

With its sleek, modern design and numerous benefits, it’s easy to see why back to wall toilets have become so popular.

However, as with any type of toilet, there are pros and cons to consider before making your decision. When shopping for a back to wall toilet, it’s important to consider factors like your bathroom layout, budget, and personal preferences.

By taking the time to do your research and make an informed decision, you can be confident that you’re choosing the right toilet for your home.


Michael R

Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.