Cisterns: To Hide or Not To Hide (that is the question)

Modern toilets give us a huge range of options to choose from. You may have trouble deciding between duel flush and single flush, straight backed or curved and most importantly, whether to have a hidden cistern or one which is on display.

Making that decision is not an easy one as you will have to take a number of things into account and there are benefits and negatives associated with each type of installation.


You may end up paying slightly more for a back to wall toilet and a separate cistern. It is possible to get a combined traditional toilet for around £100 or even less. However if you are buying your toilet and cistern separately you can pay around £50 for the cistern and upwards of £50 for the toilet, depending on the style you want.

You may also need to buy a surrounding vanity unit to house the cistern, all of which adds to the cost.


Installing a back to wall toilet and a hidden cistern is slightly more complicated than fitting a simple close coupled toilet. You will need to create a space for the cistern, which involves building a wall or box to house it if you do not have a suitable boxed in area already. In many cases, a vanity unit can be purchased to put the cistern into. Of course this needs to be built and installed as well.

The plumbing for a separate cistern can be a bit more complicated than a simple toilet. Essentially an extra connection is required between the cistern and the toilet, making it a slightly more difficult job.

Hidden cisterns also require a flush button which is mounted somewhere other than on top of the cistern as normal. This will require extra work to fix it to the wall or the top of the vanity unit. Most cisterns will come with the flush switch, or it can be bought as a separate item.


It is important to ensure that there is easy access to a hidden cistern in case anything goes wrong with the plumbing. If it is housed in a vanity unit, it is usually a simple case of lifting the top of the unit to take a look. However if it has been boxed into the wall, it is important to have an access door or hatch put in place.

Hidden cisterns may also cause more problems if they happen to leak because you won’t notice the leak straight away. For this reason, you should check it on a regular basis.


From a design point of view a hidden cistern can do wonders for the look of the bathroom. Small bathrooms will benefit because the toilet can be lifted off the floor if a wall hung toilet is chosen and the space underneath can create a feeling of more surface area. The bathroom also looks neater, especially if a wall mounted sink is used to compliment the simple design of the toilet.

If a vanity unit is used, the bathroom can achieve a very unified look, with wall to wall cupboards and storage areas. This can also be a way of injecting colour into a bathroom , if the unit chosen has a coloured finish to it.

More choice

Those deciding to use a hidden cistern have the option of many different designs of toilet. It can be any shape or size because it is not hampered by the attached cistern. The toilet can be wall hung or back to wall or it can be free standing.

Designing a bathroom can involve a difficult set of choices, but hopefully these few points have made it easier for you to choose between the traditional cistern and toilet combination or the more modern hidden cistern.

back to wall toilet

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more bathroom advice…

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