What’s The Difference Between A Lavatory And A Water Closet? (Find Out)

You can often find a lavatory and a water closet in the same room. In America, you call it the bathroom. However, in most English-speaking countries, it’s called the toilet.

Most people don’t get the difference between lavatories and water closets. Some even think toilets are water closets.

The main differences between a water closet and a lavatory are the water supply system and type of waste disposal.

In the lavatory, the water goes straight from the faucet into the bowl, and it disposes of wastewater used for brushing and washing hands. On the other hand, the water closet uses the water stored in a flush tank and disposes of excreted waste.

Let’s discuss both of these things in detail.

What Is A Water Closet?

Water closets are flush toilets in a room. It’s a wholly built toilet.

An image of a water closet.
A simple water closet.

A water closet has three main parts: a bowl, a tank, and a seat. In addition, the toilet bowl is usually 16 inches from the floor. The tank includes water for flushing, too. Toilet seats come in various materials, but ceramic is the most affordable and durable.

Water closets are great because they’ve evolved to be cleaner and hygienic. People prefer them over combined bathrooms.

What Is A Lavatory?

The lavatory is a sink or basin where you can wash your hands. The public restrooms( like in-plane or school) are probably known as a lavatory.

An image of a lavatory's bowl and a faucet.
A lavatory with a basin and a faucet.

In a bathroom, lavatories are sinks and basins for people to wash their hands. It includes parts like a bowl and a faucet. The lever in the basin controls water flow.

Water gets into the bowl when you wash your hands and teeth. You can get bowls made of ceramic, glass, and wood. The bowls include an overflow hole and drain.

There’s a hole under the bowl for the drain. You can fill it up with water with a stopper. The overflow trap lets water escape when it spills over, preventing flooding.

What’s the Difference Between A Water Closet And A Lavatory?

A water closet and a lavatory are both a part of the bathroom. However, they are pretty different. Have a look at this table to understand these differences.

Water ClosetLavatory
The water closet is a wholly built toilet.Lavatory only consists of sinks and basins.
Its main parts are the bowl, tank, and seat.Its main parts consist of a bowl and faucet.
It’s used to respond to the call of nature and to ease yourself.It’s used to wash hands and brush teeth.
It gets rid of excreted waste.It gets rid of water used for washing purposes.
It uses stored water in a flush tank.It utilizes water straight from the faucet.
Water Closet vs. lavatory

Does Water Closet Include A Sink?

In the past, water closets only had a toilet, but nowadays, some come with a sink.  

It depends on the style of your home and your culture. In some cultures, building a sink and a toilet in the same room is considered unclean.

In others, all the plumbing equipment, like a sink and shower, is made in a single place and a compact flush toilet.

What’s The Difference Between A Lavatory And A Sink?

A lavatory refers to a place where you can wash your hands or body, while a sink refers to any basin where you can wash anything.

Both these terms, lavatory and sink, are often used interchangeably. However, you can only refer to the basin in the washroom or bathroom as a lavatory; all other washbasins, including your kitchen, are known as sinks.

Why Is It Called A Lavatory?

A lavatory comes from the Greek word meaning “to wash.” So, a lavatory is where you can wash your hands and body. That’s why it’s named so.

Here is a short clip telling you something about the lavatory.

Lavatory Explained!

Are Water Closets Popular?

The water closet is the most popular feature, individually installed or in a full bathroom.

Some people prefer water closets to be a part of their homes. However, many others don’t want to build separate water closets as they like to build a single room with all the features of a toilet and bathroom.

Do Water Closets Add Value To Home?

It all depends on your view of the aesthetic features of your home. Some consider it a necessary feature as it’s more hygienic and adds privacy to the bathroom.

Many architects recommend adding it, especially to the master bathrooms of your house.

What Type Of Water Closet Is Most Preferred?

A fully closed western-style plumbing system is the best type of water closet system.

This system is sealed with automated flush tanks. They flush out your waste excrement with a single push of a button. Moreover, they are more hygienic, and insects have fewer chances to crawl through them into your home.

Final Takeaway

  • A water closet and a lavatory are commonly found in the same room, often called the bathroom.
  • In most English-speaking countries, “toilet” is used instead of “bathroom.”
  • The main differences between a water closet and a lavatory are the water supply system and waste disposal.
  • A water closet is a complete toilet with a bowl, tank, and seat. It is primarily used for responding to nature’s call and waste disposal.
  • A lavatory is a sink or basin for washing hands and brushing teeth. It has a bowl and faucet as its main components.
  • Water closets use stored water in a flush tank for waste disposal. While lavatories use water directly from the tap for washing.
  • Choosing between a water closet and a lavatory can vary depending on cultural preferences and home design.
  • Knowing the difference can help create better bathrooms. It can also help create spaces that are more efficient for everyday use.

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