Achieve Privacy and Elegance with the Addition of a Water Closet

bathroomSeparating the toilet’s space
A water closet is a room that contains a flush toilet, usually accompanied by a washbowl or sink, and the term may also be used to refer specifically to a flush toilet. Speakers of British English may refer to such a room as a “W.C.,” referencing the initials for this term. The development of the flush toilet revolutionized human sanitation and contributed a number of interesting developments to plumbing and architecture as structures began to be built to accommodate such toilets. “Water closet” is also a term that clearly separates a room with a flush toilet from a room with a tub or shower that has been designed for bathing and may be known as a “bathroom.”

The modern water closet, commonly known as a powder room, consists of a toilet and a sink. In U.S. home design, elements of old-world thinking regarding the placement of the water closet still exist — a discrete placement in a hallway on the first floor near the home’s entrance. But some full bathrooms feature water-closet elements within them, such as a partition separating the toilet from the sink and the bathtub area, or a door separating the toilet and sink from the larger bathroom area. Water closet compartments shall not be less than 30 inches wide and 60 inches deep. The standard side clearance for a toilet is 15″ as measured from the center of the floor flange to the side wall and or cabinet.

Toilet planning design errors can be divided into five categories, according to the Pleasanton plumbing experts: plumbing, noise, odor, code/clearance and placement. All five are addressed below:

Plumbing Pro Tip of the Week

Tip #1   Sounds originating from the toilet compartment can be a problem if the toilet is located near the living area of the home. One solution is to soundproof the walls of bathroom. If the flushing action is the objection, select a toilet that has a low acoustic reading. If the ventilation fan is an issue, look for one with a low sone rating.

FYI: The phon is a non-standard noise unit that is designed to reflect perceived loudness, whereas, the sone is another non-standard, psychoacoustic unit of loudness. By definition, 1 sone = 40 phons, and from there upward, the sone measurement doubles for every increase of 10 phons: Noise levels of household fans are often measured in sones.


Tip #2 Designers need to address odor in one of two ways; cover it up or remove it. The most common method of removal is to place a vent fan in the ceiling, centered in the bath space or the toilet compartment. Consider placing the fan low on the wall between the toilet and the wall in a half-bath or toilet compartment. It will be out of sight and close to the origin of the odor. Also consider connecting the ventilation unit to a timed switch to save energy.

FYI: Some add-on toilet seats contain an air purifier that will also help eliminate odors. This will require a 120-volt connection near the toilet. The 2009 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show featured a new concept, the Odorless Toilet; removes odor while the toilet is in use. Before sitting, the user pulls up on the flush handle to activate a fan inside the tank which redirects the odors into the sewer system. When finished, the toilet tank lever is pushed down to flush and deactivate the fan. The system can operate by battery power if an electrical connection is not available.

Tip #3 The National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends the center of the toilet be at least 18 in. from a vertical surface such as a cabinet, additional fixture or a wall. However, code requires no less than 15 in. Since this is a code issue, the side clearances generally are not the problem. It is the distance between the wall and the back of the toilet tank that can create expensive plumbing changes. The rough-in dimension is the space from the center of the hold-down bolts to the back of the tank.

FYI: If the house plan indicates half-inch drywall behind the toilet but you convince the client to add a 3/4-in. beaded board wainscoting in the toilet compartment, the toilet will not fit. Always communicate any deviation to the original plan to all trades.

Tip #4 The toilet should always be out of view from people sitting in dining areas, kitchens, living rooms and other related spaces. If the bath space is small the designer might consider the door hinge location as a way to hide the toilet. Many clients even prefer toilets in their own compartments, the “water closet”.

FYI: The single exception to hiding the toilet may be a small hall bath with more than one entrance.

Tip #5 A common mistake is replacing a standard rim toilet with an elongated bowl toilet. After the toilet is replaced the door that opens at a right angle to the toilet will not close. Always measure the space in front of the toilet to avoid any obstructions. Another issue is replacing a standard close-couple toilet with a low-profile one-piece toilet.

FYI: Be aware that the shut-off valve most likely will need to be lowered. This could require access to the wall behind or beside the toilet. Consider the wall material and difficulty of access.

PLUMBING TRADE SECRETS: Finally, as our clients age, it will be important to consider blocking for grab bars in the toilet area. Toilet compartments will need to be enlarged for wheelchairs, walkers and caregivers aiding their patients. Plus, 36-in. wide doors will become commonplace as well.

Image compliments of Better Homes and Gardens –

Leave a Comment