The Past, Present and Future of Toilet Pans

What is a Toilet Pan?

Lots of words with different meanings are often used synonymously when discussing toilets. Toilet, bowl, pan, cistern. But what does any of it actually mean?

Dear reader, you may be asking yourself, what is a toilet pan? Well wonder no more, as this article is just what you need to crack the code of your ceramic seat. A toilet pan is the base of the toilet and the part you sit on. It typically attaches to the floor or the wall and contains the bowl which refuse enters and water flushes into. They are attached to your water system via special pipes known as pan connectors.

If you’ve ever wondered if you need one, the answer is a resounding yes. They are a crucial element to a sanitary home life and have been important fixtures of homesteads throughout a considerable amount of civilized history.


The History of Toilet Pans

Old Toilet

There is much debate over when the modern flushable toilet was invented. Was it a Neolithic Scottish settlement, or was it the Greeks? The answer unfortunately is lost to time, but that mystery is only the preamble. It only concerns itself with the modern toilet, but who invented the classic?

The humble, modern toilet comes in two parts. The cistern and the pan. The cistern is where water is stored and flushed down from. The pan is where the user sits, relieves themselves and has the water flushed into to carry the refuse away. However, this is not a classic ‘chicken or the egg’ situation. We know which part came first; it was the pan.

The pan has persisted throughout history in many different shapes and forms. Before the installation of flushable toilets with cisterns, Victorians and Edwardians would make use of privies. A privy was an outhouse with a single pan that drained into the ground. They were typically joined with ash pits and collections would be made, similar to the modern weekly bin collection, to ensure the sewage didn’t build up too heavily.

However, before this, in medieval times the pan still existed. Garderobes, the bathrooms and WCs of the time, were rooms that would be built protruding out of castle walls, dangling over the moat or a cesspit. There would be a pan with a hole straight through the stone floor so the user could relieve themselves and have the contents of their visit drop into the water or wastes below. 

If you’re a history buff, we also briefly touched on the history of sanitary products in a wider article about wall hung sinks.


The Modern Toilet Pan

But what of modern pans? We have invented and innovated so much in just recent history, let alone since the dawn of the first pan. Now, Durovin pans are made from acrylic, which is a material with no pores, so it doesn’t absorb any germs or excess water. Our pans are also coated with a special three layer glazing to ensure they shine, are easy to clean and are most importantly, anti-bacterial. This is a great contrast to the pan of olde and highlights how innovation can always improve a concept.


Rimmed Toilets Vs Rimless Toilets

Rimless Toilet

Nowadays, there is a great variety of toilet pans to choose from. For example, you can install either a rimmed or rimless toilet pan. A rimmed toilet is the more classic design and features a boxed off area around the edge of the bowl, much like a hooded shelf. This area is where the water flushes down from, encompassing the whole bowl in water.

A rimless pan features a much smaller area at the back of the bowl that shoots out a vortex of water, achieving the same full bowl flush without the boxed area. This can be advantageous for a number of reasons, the primary one being there are less areas for you to clean.

With a rimmed toilet, more effort will have to be put into maintaining cleanliness. This is because the boxed area around the edge of the bowl can become dirty and is more difficult to notice and clean than a rimless pan, as that space is open and visible. As there is no rim to have grime build up on or go unnoticed and potentially uncleaned for a period of time, the rimless pan shows how one change can considerably cut down on maintenance time and effort.

This is why Durovin stocks a great selection of rimless toilets that ensure you spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your home space.


Floor Based Toilets Vs Wall Hung Toilets

Floor Mounted Toilet VS Wall Hung Toilet

As well as the rim, the relationship between the pan and the cistern has evolved. Modern times have introduced us to the wall hung toilet which features a prominent pan but a disguised cistern that is stored within the wall. Comparatively, the classic freestanding pan features an exposed cistern that is attached to it in either a close coupled formation or at more of a distance.

There are lots of advantages in embracing the wall hung toilet. The aesthetics of a hovering pan are undeniably a chicer development for the modern bathroom. Plus, the toilet not being attached to the floor, means that the noise of flushing does not spread through the home as easily.

Contrasting this, the classic freestanding toilet is easier to install and access the inner workings of. Meaning if you ever needed to repair your toilet, you would have an easier job repairing a freestanding toilet as the cistern is exposed and attached to the pan.

The aforementioned hovering aspect of the wall hung pan cannot be understated. It is one of the most visually discernable differences between the two pans. You may find yourself asking, are they safe? Yes. Wall hung toilets use multi-point fixing, meaning the weight of them and the user is spread across numerous areas. They also generally have a weight limit of 500 pounds, meaning if they are installed correctly then the average user should never experience any safety concerns while using one.


Back To Wall Toilets VS Close Coupled Toilets

Typically speaking, there are two kinds of toilet pan, back to wall toilet pans and close coupled toilet pans.

Close coupled pans leave room at the back of their pan for the cistern to attach to, whereas back to wall pans do not leave a space between the end of the bowl and the start of the wall.

Back to wall toilet pans save you space and are made to used in conjunction with hidden cisterns, whereas close coupled toilet pans need to be used with an external cistern.


Comfort Height Toilets

A modern variation of the toilet pan is the comfort height toilet pan. Comfort height toilet pans are taller than the average toilet pan, making them more akin to the height of a chair rather than a typical toilet. This makes comfort pans easier to sit on for lots of people, such as tall people, the elderly and people with mobility issues.


Short Projection Toilet Pan

A short projection toilet is a toilet pan that stretches out from the wall less far than the average toilet. For example, whereas a regular toilet may extend something like 800mm out from the toilet, a short projection toilet could extend 600mm from the wall.

As a general rule of thumb, anything under 650mm is considered short projection.

Short projection toilets can be very useful when you’re trying to save space in a small bathroom or cloakroom. However, if you go too short, you may find yourself with a toilet uncomfortable for some people.


Different Types of Traps in Toilet Pans

Toilet Pan Traps

Traps. They’re an important element of all toilet pans. Every modern toilet features a trap of some sort. Durovin fits enlarged P-Traps to ensure you can flush without problematic residue or blockages. They comprise of bent piping forming a ‘P’ shape that allows water to store in its base. This ‘trapped’ water acts as a barrier between the pan and the sewers. Once refuse is flushed away through the pan, the odor cannot return through the trapped water because most odor molecules will not be able to journey through water without being diffused. This is why when you flush your toilet, you also flush the smell.

Your home is your base of operations, your safe space and your sanctum. It is extremely important you don’t let it be invaded by toxic smells and that has been true for centuries. The original S Bend Trap was invented by Scottish watchmaker Alexander Cumming in 1775. Later, in 1880, Thomas Crapper iterated on this design and created the U Bend Trap which was not prone to jamming and clogging like the S Bend.

Unfortunately, despite evidence of it working, the S Bend did not receive acclaim until The Great Stink of London in 1858. The old sewer system had emptied sewage into the Thames for years and a considerable build up had formed on the banks which began to bake and stink in the sun. Ever since this dreadful event, traps have been recognized as a necessary part of sewers and toilets, becoming a necessary part of the pan.


How To Install A Toilet Pan

Making sure you install your toilet correctly is crucial. Incorrect installation can lead to leaks which in turn can lead to water damage, foul smells and the spreading of germs.

We touched on how to install a pan in our article on How To Install A Toilet With Integrated Sink but in this article we will dive further into the nitty gritty of specific pan installations for both the grounded close coupled toilet and the high flying wall hung toilet.

With both types of toilet installation, you will first need to make sure you have turned your water supply off, or else a flood of problems will greet you. Do this by turning the internal stop tap clockwise.


How To Install A Close Coupled Pan

If you have a freestanding toilet, you will need to know how to fit a toilet pan to the floor. This will involve either bolting or screwing it into position. But first, you must lay down brackets for your pan to be bolted into. Measure up where the appropriate gaps on your toilet are and preposition the brackets on the floor.

Now you need to attach the cistern. For the average close coupled cistern, you will need to attach the supply hose into the tank and then lower the cistern over the pan, while threading the pipe through the back of the pan.

How To Install A Toilet Cistern

You will then need to bolt the cistern and the pan together. This can be done by using the bolt holes within the cistern.

Put the toilet into position based on where your brackets are, making sure to attach the pan connector to the pipes as you do so. Now, bolt it into the ground. Connect the supply hose that you threaded through your pan earlier to your water supply.

How To Connect A Toilet To The Water Supply

Now get your silicon gun and seal the pan to the ground. You need to make sure there are no gaps, no matter how minor between the toilet and the floor. Once that is done, turn your water supply back on and flush the toilet to check for leaks. If there are any, turn the water back off, mop up the leak and apply more silicon.

Hey presto!

Your pan has been installed, but what if you had a wall hung toilet?


How To Install A Wall Hung Pan

It is generally advised you seek out a professional to install the majority of your wall hung toilet as it is a more complex process than installing a freestanding one.

First you would need to assemble a metal frame around the cistern and bolt it into the floor, against the wall. This WC frame is the backbone of your toilet and allows it to hang off the wall. It is extremely important this frame is assembled correctly and installed securely and safely.

You would then have to connect the cistern pipes to the water supply. This is not much different than attaching the cistern pipes for the close coupled toilet.

Next, assemble and attach a covering for the frame that matches your desired wall, ensuring you leave appropriate gaps to attach the pan connector pipes and the flush panel. This covering will act as the fake wall that the toilet will hang off. It is important you thoroughly plan out the aesthetics of your bathroom and fake wall, as you would not want it looking out of place. Whether you want to blend it in with the existing look or sculpt it into a feature wall, it is best to have the look planned out beforehand.

How To Install A Wall Hung Toilet Pan

Once the fake wall is in place, screw threaded rods into that wall and the frame behind. These will be what holds your toilet to your frame, so make sure they’re tight! Attach the pan connector pipes to the gaps you left in the wall and prepare yourself.

Gather your strength and lift your pan up and place it onto the threaded rods, making sure to connect your pan to the wall via the pan connector as you do so. You can then tighten a washer and nut over the threaded rods using a wrench to secure the toilet to them.

Similar to the close coupled toilet, you will want to silicon the edges of the pan, but this time instead of the base, you need to seal where the back of the pan touches the wall.

Don’t forget to turn the water on and do a flush test with either installation to try and spy any leaks or faults! Like with the close coupled toilet, if you spot a leak then you must turn the water off, clean it up and apply more silicon. If you feel that you’re a skilled DIY aficionado, give installing your own wall hung toilet a try. However, do remember that you can always seek the help of a professional.

Overall, whether a close coupled toilet or a wall hung toilet is right for you is a personal choice. There are a lot more steps to installing a wall hung toilet, but the aesthetic and ergonomic benefits are undeniable. However, it is easier to repair the exposed cistern of the close coupled toilet. There are many benefits to both toilet types, weigh up which elements are more beneficial to you before making a decision.


How To Attach A Toilet Seat

How To Attach A Toilet Seat

For something a touch easier, try equipping your pan with a seat. Your toilet seat will come with two fittings that can be bolted into the back of the pan once they are assembled. Gently rotate them to the position you want and then tighten them by hand. Place the gaps at the back of the seat onto the prongs sticking up from the fittings. These gaps are within a cylindrical element that allows the seat to open and close. Once you are happy with the positioning of the seat, tighten the fittings further and your seat will be safely attached!

As an accessory to the pan, the toilet seat has also evolved over time. Instead of settling for just a seat, you can now have a toilet seat with Soft Close and Quick Release technology. Meaning it will gently and quietly shut itself with minimal prompting and has a button to instantly open for when the trip is urgent. These practical additions to the toilet seat allow it to be the crown jewel of the modern toilet.


How To Clean Your Toilet

It’s time. Be brave. You need to clean your toilet. You want to clean your toilet once a week, at the very least. This is to ensure the maintenance of the toilet and yourself. If the toilet were to become compromised, it could cause the spread of germs or water damage to other aspects of the home.

Here’s how to best clean and maintain your pan.

First of all, use a specialized toilet cleaner to coat the inside of the bowl. This kills any lingering germs that may have persisted in the bowl and when flushed it will do the same for the inner piping. It is crucial to always combat the buildup of germs and residue as allowing these elements to go unchecked could cause health issues for you and your loved ones.

As a side note, you always want to use a toilet brush to ensure your bowl is clean if any visible residue is ever left after use. Treat it like a king would a throne, a point of pride!

The brush and the special cleaner should take care of the inside of the pan, but what about the outside?

Use anti-bacterial wipes to clean the outside of the pan. Be sure to clean any hard to reach places. This includes lifting both the seat elements and cleaning all aspects thoroughly. Leave no stone unturned!

This should get your pan back to tip top condition. Remember, you want to do this at least once a week to keep your toilet in optimum condition.


To Conclude

So, you now know the history of pans, the different varieties of pans and how to install and maintain pans. Now all you need to know is where to get pans! Luckily for you, you’re already there. Durovin has a broad selection of excellent pans designed to be comfortable, space saving and highly effective. Check out our great selection of high quality toilets and become part of pan history.