What is a concealed cistern?

What is a concealed cistern?

A concealed cistern is a cistern (flushing system) hidden behind the wall or furniture of your bathroom, which enables the toilet pan to sit flush against the wall. In the world of modern bathroom decor, minimalism appears to be king, and so hidden cistern toilets reigns in popularity. 

In this article, we will delve into the differences between a concealed and exposed cistern, outline pros and cons and give you tips on how to plan your next WC.

Concealed cistern in comparison to an exposed, ceramic cistern - concealed cisterns

In the picture above, you'll see a close coupled, exposed cistern on the left hand side and a concealed cistern set up on the right hand side. You may think the main differences are aesthetically, but there are practical and design advantages to both.

A concealed cistern set up means that the chunky, technical part of the toilet is hidden away, whilst the pan and seat is left on show. This immediately gives a more minimalistic look, which also allows for easier cleaning and more space in the bathroom (most installations will mean the toilet has a lower projection). 

An exposed cistern is the classic look, which is what you may be most familar with. This is the typical installation that everyone is used to, but we're hoping to change that and convince you to add in a concealed cistern into your next bathroom design!


Pros of concealed cisterns

Reduced Flush Noise

Dual Flush and Water Saving

Slimline Design and Space Saving

Easier Cleaning


The Aesthetic Appeal Of Concealed Cistern Toilets


Reduced Flush Noise 

Concealed cisterns are well, concealed. This means that they are behind either furniture or a tiled/boarded/painted wall. Dependant on the thickness of the wall and covering, you'll get a far less noisey flush when compared to the ceramic cisterns of the past. You'll rarely hear a concealed cistern filling back up which is handy for those trips in the middle of the night.


Dual flush and water saving

Concealed cistern dual flush capability is becoming of ever-greater environmental importance as we look to preserve the precious planet on which we live. In fact, dual flush capability is now actually becoming a legal requirement in countries around the world!

A dual flush means that you don't have to use the cistern's flushing capacity, every time. You can instead opt for a small flush for smaller toilet uses.

Cistern technology is rapidly developing as companies such as Geberit, Wirquin and many more work on ways to fight wastage and save you money. 

The manufacturing of plastic concealed cisterns, compared to ceramic is also better for the environment, you can read more in this article here on Plastic vs Ceramic in manufacturing 


Slimline Design and Space Saving

Slimline concealed cisterns can be just 80mm! This means that this can fit into pretty much any type of wall. If you're able to conceal your cistern, your total toilet depth could be approximately 550mm with a standard back to wall WC or less than 500mm with short projection toilets. The majority of close coupled toilets are around 650mm deep but you can find some slimline around 600mm.

The 100-150mm doesn't sound like much but in cloakrooms and other tight spaces, this can make or break the room! 


Easier Cleaning

As concealed cisterns aren't on show, instanly there is less cleaning. You don't have to clean on or underneath the cistern. 

Concealed cistern set ups always require a "back to wall" toilet, meaning there is no gap between the back of the pan and the wall. This means that no matter the installation, there is no gap that will gather dust.

Cleaning the actual flush controls can be easier in a concealed set up as you have a variety of materials and finishes to choose from for your flush plates and buttons. Traditional ceramic cisterns only have a chrome, plastic button which may require more attention than an anti fingerprint, stainless steel flush plate.


Concealed cisterns are customisable and adjustable

Whether its changing the flush plate years down the line or adjusting the height of your wall hung toilet, concealed bathroom set ups are much more customisable than standard toilets.

Upon installation, you can decide the height of the flush plate and maybe the height of the toilet (only if wall hung) to suit your needs. This can be beneficial in less-abled bathrooms or if you just don't want your toilet seat to hit the flush plate!

After installation, you can change your flush plate or button to match in with new renovations or just to spice things up. These come in a variety of different colours, such as Brushed Brass, Chrome, Matt Black or even Slate! 


The Aesthetic Appeal Of Concealed Cistern Toilets

While costs, comfort and functionality are all important, style is still the top consideration for architects and clients alike. With concealed cisterns, once completely installed, all you see is the flush plate, offering a cleaner, sleeker look, very much the essence of modern bathroom design. The simplicity and versatility of concealed cistern design allows for a flush plate and toilet pan combination that can perfectly compliment any bathroom’s particular style and design.

Any theme or style in the bathroom can be complimented with a concealed cistern. Brands like Vitra and Hudson Reed do a range of more traditional style flushing systems whereas others like Geberit, Grohe, Ideal Standard many more solely do Modern looks. 


Cons of concealed cisterns

Can be more costly

Cannot manually refill 

Difficult to replace


Concealed cisterns can be more costly

When you compare the costs between concealing your tank and installing an exposed tank, you've also got to put into account the costs of materials involved and any labour. The actual products can vary dependant on quality/brand but typically, a concealed cistern set up may cost £50-£200 more dependant on the installation and issues involved.


Cannot manually refill concealed cisterns

You can’t manually re-fill the toilet cistern if the water is turned off to your property and you need to flush the toilet. Alternatively, you can use a bucket of water to flush down the toilet pan if the situation is dire. 

The majority of maintenance can be done through the flush plate cut out, but sadly you can not refill the cistern from here.


Difficult to replace

Concealed cisterns can be difficult to replace. When in furniture or behind a unit, this can often be simple as you can get above and potentially around it. However, when this is installed behind a wall and you need to replace the cistern, you can face challenges.

Typical close coupled toilet installations, you can often unfix the cistern and replace it or the toilet as whole, simple. With replacing a concealed cistern, it would mean finding a way to get behind the wall (which you can imagine can be a tricky job to do, unless you have superpowers). Often, the wall needs to be cut out and therefore retiled/plastered. 

Most concealed cisterns come with a minimum of a 10 year guarantee, some up to 30 years. This means that the manufacturers are confident that in 30 years time, you will not experience any issues.



In conclusion, a concealed cistern set up has tons more advantages than disadvantages and we're seeing more and more installations everyday. Concealed cisterns and frames are often the best selling products for brands such as Grohe, Geberit and Vitra. The technology is rapidly improving for concealed set ups to give you that much needed peace of mind and also, to help save the environment.

Now that we have weighed out the pros and cons of installing a concealed toilet cistern, take into account the price, space and installation aspects and make an informed decision about buying a concealed toilet. We'd always recommend consulting a plumber or expert when looking to buy your concealed cistern.

If you require any more information or just want help convincing to take the plunge, please don't hesitate to get in touch.