What Is A Close Coupled Toilet? | Everything Explained

There are many different types of toilets on the market. Close coupled, wall-hung and short projection toilets to name just a few. It can all become a little confusing when researching and choosing between them.

In this post, I’ll explain all about the close coupled toilet. What it is and how it works as well as some of its advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s dive in!

What Is A Close Coupled Toilet?

A close coupled toilet has the toilet’s pan and cistern ‘coupled’ close together to make one unit. Rather than two separate components. They are one of the most common toilets seen in today’s bathrooms.

The toilet seat (toilet pan) and the water tank or cistern are part of a single unit. The cistern sits against the wall but is not mounted to the wall. The toilet pan is fixed to the floor with the waste pipe typically running down through the floor.

Why is it called a close-coupled toilet? Back in the day, early toilets had a cistern positioned high up on the wall. A long pipe connected the cistern to the toilet seat. This created enough water pressure to flush the waste down the pipes.

In the late 19th century, the first close-coupled toilet was introduced. The shape of the bowl and the waste pipes had been optimised to allow for greater water pressure without using a high-mount cistern. The cistern was “coupled” closer to the toilet bowl. But, the older style still appeared in homes through the 1920s.

Close coupled toilet example in bathroom


While most homes have the basic close-coupled toilet, this design supports the addition of many luxury modern features.

It uses just six litres per flush, making it an eco-friendly design. You can purchase one that will use just two litres to wash down liquids with a second button ready to bring the full force of water to flush solids.

Soft-closing lids eliminate the banging of the toilet that you remember from your childhood.

You can order them with a higher seat that is more comfortable for people that use wheelchairs or have mobility issues.

Add a built-in bidet and discover a really fresh feeling after using the loo.

Some even offer heated seats and lights to help with nighttime visits.

How much does a close-coupled toilet cost?

As the most popular style of toilet available in the UK, you can spend as little as £150 to purchase a close-coupled toilet. If you want a push-button flush, a heated seat, or motion-sense technology, you can pay up to £3,000. Most people will pay around £500 for a toilet that complements their bathroom renovation. 

If you are simply replacing a cracked toilet with a new one, your plumber will charge between £300 and £500 to install one. You can install it yourself with some DIY confidence and a friend to help lift it into place.

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How Does A Close Coupled WC Work?

A standard close-coupled toilet usually stores around six litres of water in its tank. When you press the flush button or lever, a valve opens that allows all the water to rush out of the cistern and into the toilet bowl.

The position of the valve and the shape of the bowl force the water to rush around the sides of the bowl, rinsing it clean.

The pressure of the added water in the bowl forces the waste in the toilet to push past the water trap in the waste pipe and down to the main waste of your home.

Once the extra water and waste evacuate the bowl, the water trap in the waste pipe is restored. This prevents sewer gas from backing up into the toilet and your home.

Up above, once the water leaves the tank, a float valve opens which lets cold water in to start refilling the tank. Once the float rises to a set level, the water shuts off and the toilet is ready for the next visitor.

The close-couple WC works without the need for any kind of electric power. It operates entirely on water pressure and mechanical devices. Better yet, the toilet should keep doing its job for 50 years or longer. It only needs some valves and levers replaced over the years to keep it operating.

Advantages Of Close-Coupled Toilets

  • Common Design: You can buy a close-coupled toilet at any plumbing or home improvement store.

  • Low Price: Add a toilet to your home for less than £200.

  • Durable: A new close-coupled toilet will last for decades.

  • Dependable: This toilet will handle waste with the need for very little maintenance or repair.

  • Works Even with Low-Pressure Water Supply: The storage tank provides enough pressure to wash down waste.

  • No Power Needed: Your toilet still works even if the lights go out.

Disadvantages Of Close Coupled Toilets

  • Dated Design: There are a wealth of more contemporary toilets available on the market.

  • Can Take Up More Space: The tank pushes the entire toilet seven to ten centimetres farther into the bathroom compared with wall-hung toilets. Which can be a challenge in small spaces.

What is the difference between a close-coupled toilet and a back-to-wall toilet?

In a close-coupled toilet, both the seat (pan) and the tank (cistern) are visible as one unit with the back of the tank positioned against the wall. The close-coupled toilet is mounted to the floor.

A back-to-wall toilet has the cistern hidden in the wall or in a cabinet. In some instances, the back-to-wall toilet may be hung on the wall with the waste pipe running into the wall before it turns down.

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Is a close-coupled toilet old-fashioned?

Your favourite home design sites do highlight the back-to-wall toilet design over the more traditional close-coupled design. However, most homes and flats still have the close-coupled toilet in their bathrooms.

It is extremely durable, performs as expected, and only costs a few hundred pounds for a new unit.

If you are designing a trendy contemporary bathroom, you may want to opt for a more modern toilet.

Can a close-coupled toilet Be Pressure-Assisted?

Yes, the close couple refers to the physical design of the toilet. The pressure-assisted components are mounted inside the cistern and behind the pedestal.

Pressure-assisted toilets use 3 to 6 litres of water to effectively flush, compared to 6 to 19 litres used in a regular toilet. Making them very water efficient.

They can look just like your traditional close-coupled toilet with a cistern on the back. But instead of using simple gravity to work, they increase their flushing power by utilising a pressure vessel and air pressure.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Everything you need to know about close coupled toilets.

Probably the most common type and one of the more cost-effective toilets on the market these days. It may not be the most stylish or compact in its design. However, with a huge choice available and a durable and dependable design, it’s easy to see why they are so popular.


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.