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Water Closets Vs. Lavatories: Things You Should Know


Water Closets Vs. Lavatories

Lavatories and water closets are both situated in the same room. In America, it’s called the restroom. It’s called a toilet in most English-speaking countries. But in the Philippines, it’s called a comfort room.

However, the most common name is a bathroom. Furthermore, most people find the difference between water closets and lavatories confusing. Some even classify water closets as toilets.

In this article, we’ll discuss the meaning of water closets and lavatories to put an end to any confusion you may have. So, continue reading for proper understanding!

What Is A Water Closet?

A water closet (WC) is also called a flush toilet. Its original meaning is a room that has a toilet. It’s a toilet unit, which comprises of the toilet bowl and its parts. Water closets are preferable because of their level of hygiene and sanitation that has evolved over the years.

A typical water closet consists of three parts. These include the toilet bowl, the toilet seat, and the tank.

The toilet bowl is usually about 16 inches from the floor. The toilet seat cover (commode seat cover) comes from various materials, but ceramic is the cheapest and most durable. Also, the tank holds the water for flushing out the waste.

Sometimes, these parts come as a single unit. You can also purchase them separately. When they’re separate, you only have to replace the damaged area. But you have to buy the whole water closet as one unit when installing it for the first time.

What Is A Lavatory?

The word “lavatory” originates from a Greek word, which means “I wash.” So, its original meaning is “a place to wash” or “a washroom.” But its use for this meaning has declined. It now refers to a restroom in planes and public places like schools.

Also, a lavatory is an area in a bathroom where people wash their hands, a bathroom sink, or a basin. The visible parts include a faucet and a bowl. The former controls the flow of water. It usually has levers that enable the control.

The bowl collects the water when you wash your hands or brush your teeth. It consists of materials like ceramic, wood, glass, and so on.

Again, the bowl contains the drain and the overflow trap. The drain is a hole below the bowl such that if you place a stopper on it, the water will fill the bowl. On the other hand, the overflow trap is a tiny hole that helps it escape from the bowl when the sink is about to overflow. So, it helps prevent flooding in the bathroom.

Types Of Water Closets

The one-piece water closet:

This is a type of water closet whose tank and bowl come attached before installation. It’s easy to install, boasts a sleek look, and super easy to clean. Also, it’s quite an experience but is durable.

However, it is heavy and difficult to ship. It doesn’t take much space because it’s close to the ground.

The two-piece water closet:

This is the most popular type of water closet in the United States of America. Unlike a one-piece water closet, the tank and the bowl are not attached. They come separately. So, during installation, they are joined together.

The installation process is more difficult compared to one piece. But this takes nothing away from the two-piece WC. It has a tall seat that is best for adults and is less expensive.

However, keep in mind that the two-piece WC is a bit harder to clean than one piece. But unlike a one-piece WC, you can easily replace its parts.

The wall-hung water closet:

This WC is mounted on the wall just as its name implies. However, the tank is not exposed. The visible parts are the bowl and flush plate. It does not occupy much space and super easy to clean. Its height is adjusted to allow the elderly and disabled to use it with ease.

This WC hangs from any part of the bathroom, closest to a water source. Only a professional can install this type of water closet.

The smart water closet:

This type of WC is also known as an intelligent water closet. It boasts tons of smart features. These include heated seats, hands-free flush, warm-air dryers, night light, and others. It has low water consumption and saves space.

The smart WC is also hygienic because of the hands-free flushing. However, it is expensive and uses electricity. It’s also costly to maintain and will require a professional to repair.

Types of Lavatories

The wall mount lavatory:

Just as the name implies, this lavatory comes fixed to the wall. It doesn’t use the floor space, so the wall carries the weight. It is best for small bathrooms since it doesn’t need much space. Also, you can install it at various heights, and you can have the pipes covered. You will need a professional to install this lavatory to avoid damaging your wall.

The vessel or bowl lavatory:

It’s also known as countertop sinks. It’s stylish and comes in different artistic materials like glass, marble, or stone. It boasts a round sink that sits on the top of the countertop. So, you won’t need to bend to wash your face.

The vessel lavatory is super easy to install. However, the levers usually get stuck because they’re fragile. Furthermore, it occupies far too much space since it’s on a bathroom countertop.

The drop-in or self-rimming lavatory:

This type of lavatory is also known as top-mount sinks. It consists of a rim that covers the bowl to support the weight. It’s easy to install and easily fits most counters. Its installation is from above the bathroom countertop. So, it sits within the counter.

The only drawback the drop-in or self-rimming lavatory has is that it takes up too much floor space since it requires a countertop.

The under-mount lavatory:

This lavatory’s installation is from under the bathroom countertop. It is easy to clean compared to the drop-in type. Additionally, it saves countertop space. But you can’t install it as a stand-alone sink because it needs a countertop.

The pedestal lavatory:

This consists of a large basin that is on a narrow base. It is best for small bathrooms since it doesn’t take much space. Also, it has a pillar that holds the weight of the lavatory. However, it’s a stand-alone sink. Thus, it doesn’t have room for storage space.

The console lavatory:

This is also known as a semi-pedestal sink. It looks like a wall-mounted lavatory as it mounts on the wall. It usually boasts metal or ceramic legs for support. One advantage the console lavatory has is that it helps to conserve floor space. It doesn’t have a countertop but sometimes has a towel rack or small shelves.

The trough lavatory:

Here is another lavatory considered deeper and longer than the drop-in type. It usually has two faucets because of its width. The trough lavatory is best for a bathroom that two people can use at a time. You can customize it to your style since it can be like other types of lavatories. It can be wall-mount, vessel, drop-in, and even under-mount.

The corner lavatory:

This suits a small bathroom space. It can be wall-mounted or pedestal. As the name suggests, you get to install this lavatory at the corner of the bathroom. But keep in mind that it doesn’t stay on flat walls. It is usually small-sized and saves floor space.

How To Maintain Water Closets

Most times, cleaning your toilet can be a dreadful chore, but you can’t avoid it. The best practice is to have it cleaned at least twice a week or more often, depending on the usage. Do the following to maintain a clean water closet:

  • Ensure you and other users flush it after each use.
  • Please don’t use bleach to clean your water closet because it is chlorinated, corrosive, and acidic. It can affect your health and the finishing of your toilet.
  • Don’t flush hard paper or solid objects down the toilet. It can block the toilet. So, monitor your children to be sure they don’t do this either.
  • Put a trash can beside your water closet to drop in materials that can block the toilet.

How To Maintain Lavatories

Sometimes, shaving cream, toothpaste, and even hair can slow down or block your sink. Avoiding things that can clog your lavatory makes the lavatories stay clear and save you from hiring a plumber. So, keep your lavatories clean and free from blockage. Some ways to maintain it includes:

  • Once you discover that your lavatory is blocked, try using salt and vinegar to unblock it. Pour one tablespoon of salt into the drain. Add a quarter cup of plain vinegar and leave it for an hour. Then, pour in hot water to clear out the substances from the drain.
  • Add bleach to your lavatory from time to time and let it sit all through the night to prevent blockage.
  • You can pour some hot water down the drain to prevent blockage.

Differences Between Water Closets And Lavatories

Water closets use water stored in the tank to flush the toilet bowl. But in the case of lavatories, water passes directly through the faucet into the bowl.

Although both of them are parts of a bathroom, they dispose of waste differently. Water closets mainly dispose of your excreted wastes. But lavatories dispose of dirty water from brushing your teeth or washing your hands.


No bathroom is complete without a water closet and lavatory, as well as a shower or bathtub. Even though both have different purposes, they both make the bathroom complete.

If you’re thinking of a style for your new bathroom or planning to remodel your bathroom, understanding the difference between a lavatory and a water closet is essential. The type of lavatory or water closet you choose should also suit your bathroom space and your style.

Jacob Lindsey

Jacob is a home remodeling guru having worked over 15 years in construction in Reno, NV, mainly focused on home renovations. He likes taking ideas from his clients and making them a reality.

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