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Bathroom Jargon Buster

In this jargon buster we cover the common jargon and phrases used during the refitting or updating of a house bathroom. If you’re in the process of planning a bathroom refit, updating the bathroom or simply making some changes, we recommend you take a look at, or even print this list, before getting started to help you avoid common pitfalls. Don’t forget to check out our other jargon busters in the series.

Asymmetrical basins

Bathroom basins can be asymmetrical or offset, when looking at them from above they are not symmetrical and the bowl of the basin is offset to one side and there is a tap seating or small shelf on the opposite side.


A potentially hazardous scenario where water is flowing back into the main water system (e.g. from a toilet, shower).

Back-to-Wall Toilet

This is when the pan or base of the toilet fits flush against the wall and the cistern is not visible and is usually hidden behind a false wall or cabinet to hide the toilet cistern.

Ball cock or Float valve

This is a valve that controls the flow of water into a cistern or toilet. The valve is operated by a small ball that floats to the top of the surface of the water, and then when the water reaches a certain level, the flow will shut off.

Ball valve

This value is quarter-turn type valve, which will use a pivoting, hollow ball to open or close flow through a pipe.


Is a unit of measurement for water pressure. 1 bar is equivalent of the force required to push water upwards to a height of 10 metres (E.g. to push water 1 metre would require 0.1 bar of pressure)

Base coat

An initial coat of paint over which a layer of glaze is then applied.

Bath Filler Tap

This is a tap that mixes hot and cold water through one tap spout into the bath. This allows you to fill the bath to an adequate temperature from one tap fitting.

Bath Tub

Baths are usually made of acrylic, ceramic, enamelled steel, the bath tub can vary in size main relating to  the design but the bath tub standard lengths are approx 170cm 160cm and 150cm.


A bidet looks a toilet pan and is designed for washing intimate parts of the body.

Bi-folding shower door

A screen or door that can be folded in half to open and usually slides to one side.

Bottle Trap

A Waste trap for the basin which is designed to be seen and is then used where there is no pedestal.

BTU (British Thermal Unit)

Is the heating output required to heat room of a particular size. It can be calculated by using the following equation: Room height x room width x room length (in feet & inches) = Total x 5 = BTU

Cistern (Toilet Cistern)

A cistern is a tank for holding water, usually toilet cistern sits on or near of the toilet pan and has a connection / handle to allow it to flush the toilet.

Close Coupled Toilet
This is when the cistern is sitting directly onto the toilet pan and forms a very compact unit which sits low on the wall and designed to appear be one single unit.

Combination boilers

A Combination boiler can also known as a Combi-Boiler, it’s basically a combination of a central heating boiler and water heater in one smaller compact unit allowing a space saving within your property.

Comfort Height Toilet Pan

This is a toilet that has a slightly higher pan making it easier for those with mobility issues.

Corner Bath

Corner baths & offset baths are bath tubs which are available to fit into a usually difficult sized or shaped room often used to give a full sized bath tub while taking up less wall length.


A tapered recess that allows the head of a screw or bolt to lie below a surface.

Counter top Basins

This basin sits on top of a counter, which could be the top of a storage unit or even a shelf, the basin has a single / central waste outlet (aka plug hole).
Taps may be fitted to the basin, wall or the counter, depending on the style of the basin..

Damp-proof course (DPC)

A layer of impervious material which will prevent moisture rising through walls and floors.

Digital Shower

This type of shower allows you to select the temperature of water that suits you at the touch of the button; the shower will automatically mix the correct amounts of hot and cold water to supply water at a temperature you require.

Double ended bath

A bath where the taps are situated on the one side.

Dual Flush

Toilet flush system which offers a short flush allowing you to save water, the average short flush will typically use 3 to 4 litres of water with a full flush being less than 6 litres of water.

Electric Shower

Electric showers will take water from the cold supply and heat it on demand when the shower is turned on, the better flow of hot water can be expected from a greater wattage shower.


Shower screens and shower cubicles normally encapsulate the shower; this normally sits on top of a shower tray allowing you to keep any and all water within the enclosure.

Gravity-fed Systems

This is where the mains water is fed into a tank situated at a high level – usually in the loft, or in an upstairs airing cupboard.
This delivers a low pressure of water but if you want to increase the pressure you can usually install a pump for a shower and increase water pressure to the taps.

High Pressure Showers

Showers marked as high pressure are then suitable for high pressure systems (such as a combination boiler, or unvented system).

Low Pressure Showers

Showers marked as low pressure are then suitable for use on a low pressure system (such as a gravity-fed system).

Mixer Shower

A mixer shower draws your hot & cold water supply and mixes them within the shower unit to a temperature that you have controlled via the shower mixer controls, most common controls are the manual mixer controls where you adjust the amount of hot and cold water to meet your needs, thermostatic and digital showers are also available.

Monoblock Mixer Tap

A single tap fitting which only requires one inlet hole and it takes the water from the hot and cold supplies and mixes them at an equal pressure, the temperature and flow are easily adjusted using the lever on top of the fitting.

Multi-Outlet Toilet

This is a toilet pan that can be connected to any of the three toilet outlet systems (S-trap, P-trap or bottom outlet) waste outlet system.

Toilet Pan

A term used for the base of the toilet, located directly below the toilet seat.


A pivot shower door is able to swing open on an upright supporting bar or brackets.

Power Shower

The power within the power shower comes from a pump within the shower system. This type of shower takes hot and cold water and mixes them to the desired temperature before pumping the water to the shower head.

Quadrant Shower

The quadrant shower cubicles usually have two flat sides with a curved front edge which means they are suited to being installed in the corner of a bathroom.

Sealed System/Unvented system

These are quite uncommon water systems, but are becoming increasingly used within houses and flats where space is limited as they do not require a cold water tank / cistern. They will have a hot water tank which is under pressure and usually delivers water at about 3 bar.

Semi-recessed Basin

This is a fitted basin that is set partly into a bathroom furniture unit. The front of the basin extends out beyond the front of the unit.

Short Projection

A term used for bathroom sanitary ware which can be placed in small / limited spaces, a short projection basin will be small in size from front to back, a short projection toilet will be narrower from the wall to the end of the rim.

Shower Bath

A shower bath combines a bath and a shower enclosure for an ideal combination of the both.

Shower Tray

A waterproof base for a shower enclosure fitted onto the floor, sizes vary between manufacturers so shop around to find one that best suits your needs.

Sliding Door

A shower door consists of two or more panels which will slide to one side to allow access.

Thermostatic Shower

A shower with a thermostatic valve can make changes in the water pressure and will then adjust the hot or cold water intake to compensate.

Walk-in Shower

This type of shower enclosure has a screen or screens but does not have a sliding door or shower curtain that needs to be closed in order to use the shower.

Wall-hung Basin

These basins are hung on brackets and have no pedestal.

Wall-hung Toilet

These types of toilets have a toilet pan that is hung on brackets from the wall rather than standing on the floor.

Wet Room

This is a shower that does not have a shower tray and the water drains into a drain located in the floor.