Why a Wall-Hung Toilet?

Wall-mounted toilets are becoming more popular in the U.S. We look at their advantages, installation considerations, and some new models on the market

February 27, 2015
An example of a wall-hung toilet in a bathroom, providing a clean, simple aesthetic

Photo: archiexpo.com

Flush toilets have been around for more than two centuries, so one might think there isn’t much that can be improved. Recently, however, a newer type of unit has found its way into residential bathrooms across the U.S.—the wall-mounted toilet.

Originating in Europe, wall-hung toilets function the same way as their floor-mounted counterparts, but the tank is hidden behind the drywall inside the framing.

The wall-hung toilet offers three practical advantages:

  • Space savings: Wall-mounted toilets are a great choice for smaller bathrooms because the bowl and actuator plate are the only parts in the room. The outer tip of the bowl is up to 12 inches closer to the wall, which can make a huge difference in a small bathroom.
  • Easy cleaning: Because the toilet bowl doesn’t touch the floor, cleaning the area around the fixture is much easier.
  • Adjustable height: When installing a wall-mounted toilet, the remodeler can customize the height for the homeowner. This is especially helpful for people with mobility issues who might need a higher toilet.

From a design perspective, a wall-mounted toilet instantly brings a modern, sleek aesthetic to any bathroom. That, more than anything, appears to be driving the model’s increased popularity. Plus, the “floating” toilet gives the remodeler greater design flexibility because it allows for fewer pattern breaks on the floor and walls.

Slow the Flow

For all of these advantages, remodelers say the concept has yet to really catch on in the U.S. Those interviewed report completing 10 or fewer bathroom projects with wall-hung toilets in the last four years.

In this bathroom by Normandy Remodeling, in Hinsdale, Ill., the wall-hung toilet is in keeping wth the floating, minimalist vanity and contributes to the clean, uncluttered look of the space.

One possible reason for this is the level of commitment involved with making the switch. In addition to knocking out a wall, the pipes must be moved from their usual spot in the floor.

“It becomes a question of can you physically get the drain pipe up the wall from the basement?” says Mike Mackin, owner of Mackin & Sons Plumbing, in Toledo, Ohio.

For this reason alone many professionals don’t install a wall-hung unit unless the project is a new home or a major remodel.

Cost also becomes a factor because wall-hung toilets are significantly more expensive than traditional units. “They’re buying all of the components, so it’s well over the price of your standard toilet,” says Robert Kramer, AKBD, remodeling consultant for Cipriani Remodeling Solutions, in Woodbury, N.J. The four main components are the wall tank, flush actuator, toilet bowl, and seat. Altogether, the cost of the toilet can run up to $1,000. Plumbing and installation can be as much as twice that number.

Though they can be expensive and are more complicated to install, wall-hung toilets’ sleek, space-saving design and customizable height have made them an increasingly popular option. This example is from Kohler.

If a homeowner wants a wall-hung toilet, however, a high price tag usually isn’t going to deter them. “They’re going for the look and the style,” Kramer says.

Switching It Up

For those remodelers embarking on an installation, there are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Framing: The project won’t get far at all if you’re not working with a suitable wall. Most wall-tank models can accommodate 2x4 or 2x6 framing. To keep the tank from falling out of the wall, Kramer recommends bolting the steel frame of the carrier to the studs to hold the toilet up. Mackin adds, “There’s quite a bit of framing involved, so there needs to be a lot of collaboration between the carpenter and the plumber.”
  • Drainage: When planning out the water and waste lines, make sure you have room for at least a ½-inch water supply line above the tank and a 3-inch waste line below the unit.
  • Repairs: Once the toilet is in the wall, plumbers need access to it in the event that repairs are needed. “Ideally, you want to have access from the bathroom or the room behind it,” Mackin says.

Overall, many agree that the actual installation process isn’t especially difficult. But remodelers should be wary, Mackin says, of “underestimating the time that it takes and the design challenges involved in switching the drains.”

In the end, homeowners who have weighed the consequences and made the switch to a wall-hung toilet have nothing but good things to report. “It’s a little bit more expensive,” Kramer acknowledges, “but they’ll enjoy it for many years.” PR

Looking for a wall-hung toilet? Here are five options on the market now

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