Wall-Hung Toilets: A Look at Behind-the-Scenes
If you love the sleek lines of the “floating toilet” style, be sure to check off these boxes before you shop
(Above) Plumbing did not move for Ylia + André’s bathroom renovation but the wall-hung floating toilet added a clean new look.
Once prevalent in European commercial spaces, the sleek and smart design of wall-hung toilets are making their way into residential homes in the U.S. Consider the benefits: the ease of cleaning with no more hard-to-reach spots, the gaining of valuable floor space, and more water-efficient options. (For the latter, look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label and aim for a “low-flow” model that uses around 1.0 gallons per flush, or gpf). Its minimalistic flair won’t only transform your master bath; it’s also a solution for awkward, tight spaces or that dream powder room with limited square footage. Before choosing your model, consider these prerequisites:
Do you have room behind your walls?
The most distinctive feature of a wall-hung toilet is that the water tank and plumbing hardware are concealed behind the wall, making the style ultra sleek. If you plan to switch from a conventional toilet to a wall-hung one, you will need to:
- Take down your wall
- Confirm there is enough room inside of it to accommodate the in-wall system and additional bracing
- Have your contractor modify the plumbing/waste system
This upgrade can work well with a full bathroom renovation but may fall into the more-trouble-than-it’s-worth category if the toilet is the only feature you’d like to change. In a full gut renovation, your contractor will have a better idea of what the depth and/or the contents of your wall are after taking it down to the studs and can then determine what special accommodations may be necessary, including:
- Build out the wall an extra inch?
- Work with your apartment building to adjust the plumbing?
- Change the spacing between the studs?
- Adjust the location of the toilet?
Be aware that there are other points to factor in when considering a wall-hung toilet. Be flexible in your design to navigate unforeseen challenges. Sweeten contractor Claud recently installed a wall-hung toilet in a Brooklyn project and points out, “You won’t be able to install this type of toilet in many NYC condos and high-rises because of buildings with concrete slab subfloors which most boards won’t allow you to break through. The toilet sits on a floor flange embedded in the concrete. High-rises frequently have concreted subfloors.”
However, owning a house allows you to alter the plumbing system. Claud says of his Brooklyn client’s own house, “We had the luxury of breaking a hole through the bathroom floor and through to the basement ceiling.”
Maintenance and repair of wall-hung or “floating” toilets
Licensed professionals should be installing wall-hung toilets—and with great care. Since all hardware and plumbing are located behind the walls, future maintenance will require going back into the walls if any issues arise. Most wall-hung models include an easily removable flush plate that doubles as a maintenance entry point into the wall.
(Tip: Keep a few extra wall tiles or a pint of your wall paint in storage just in case a necessary repair arises.)
Sold separately or together?
A complete wall-hung toilet system includes the bowl, in-wall tank, carrier, and seat and can purchased together. Pieces can also be sold separately.
Work closely with your general contractor to determine what you need to order. As Claud explains, “I ask homeowners for the specs of their dream toilet. This means they download a specification sheet from the manufacturer’s website which explains all the details in order to install the toilet. The spec sheet shows me the plumbing connections and dimensions I need to know.”
While you will guide your contractor on your aesthetic and comfort priorities, he or she will help you choose and order a toilet model and all of the component pieces that will work best for your space.
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