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Bathroom GlossaryAn online reference to untangle bathroom jargon


Acrylic – a strong type of plastic that is used to both provide strength to a unit and to gift it a glorious, smooth finish.

Airlock – A type of blockage caused not by anything solid, but by a trapped air bubble.


Backsplash – a section of tiling, glass, marble, stone or other impermeable material fitted to the backs of sinks so water splashing back does not damage the wall.

Back to wall toilets – one of the standard designs for a toilet, the other being close coupled. With a back to wall toilet the cistern isn’t exposed, making for a smoother, cleaner look.

Ballcock – an air-filled ball that sits within the cistern and allows the tank to fill without overflowing.

Banjo unit – Nothing to do with George Formby! This is a combined waste and overflow unit.

Bar – a measurement for water pressure, and what pressure is needed for optimum performance of a fitting. Factors include the mains company, the house’s location, the system and the boiler.

Bar mixer kits – This is a style of exposed shower kit that features a horizontal bar mixer tap with a shower attachment.

Bath filler bar mixer kits – much the same as the above, though in this case the mixer tap doesn’t just supply the shower head but also functions as a tap to fill the bath. This is all contained in the one unit.

Bath Wastes – bath wastes are the plughole and initial piping that helps speedily draw off water from your bath. They often feature special traps to collect dirt that could clog the pipes, or save you from losing your wedding ring!

Bathroom suites – full sets of complete bathroom furniture, including sinks, toilets and other items sold as a cheaper bundle not separately.

Bidet – from the French meaning ‘pony’, a bidet is a small ceramic unit much like a sink. It is installed in the bathroom for the purposes of cleaning one’s derriere more thoroughly.

Bore – Not just me at parties, but the measurement of the hollow section of a pipe.

Brass – what we use to form the cores of our taps, valves and other metallic items. Chosen for its strength and demonstrable high resilience against corrosive elements, including rust.

British Thermal Unit (BTU) – a measurement for the amount of power needed from radiators to heat a certain space. Many factors are involved in calculating this.


Cap-nut – A special type of bolt used to ensure the tightness of a fitting on to pipework.

Ceramic Discs – washers are rings used to keep the water flow sealed when the tap is turned off. Other stockists use inferior rubber washers, which soon perish and cause leaks. We have ceramic discs, which not only last infinitely longer but which also allow for a simple quarter-turn operation.

Chrome – sparkly metallic loveliness. We use an extremely thick triple coating of chrome on our units to ensure an unblemished and nigh-on unblemishable finish.

Cistern – Strictly speaking, a cistern is anything designed to hold liquid. In our terms, it is the small tank that contains and regulates the amount of water needed to flush your toilet.

Close coupled toilet – the other mainstay of toilet design, alongside back to wall toilets. These are formed of two units, the cistern and the pan, that are closely coupled with a connecting pipe.

Concealed shower kits – any type of shower kit where the majority of the operating parts are installed and thus hidden in a wall. Used to create an extremely contemporary, minimalist look.

Counter Basins – these are sinks designed to rest atop a vanity unit or counter, instead of on top of a pedestal. This decision can be stylistic, or simply to save room in a small bathroom.

Combined Vanity Furniture – This is an all-in-one unit that provides a sink, lots of storage and often a toilet. Keeps the style consistent and saves having to buy units separately.

Cloakroom Basins – ceramic sinks engineered to provide the ultimate in usability in the smallest space.


Diverter – this is a unit that directs water to different outlets, for example, a bath filler tap and a shower head.

Double vanity – a nice his and hers piece. A vanity unit featuring two sinks, not one.

Dual flush – all BathEmpire toilets feature a dual flush capability. This means you can choose between a small and large flush, saving water. This reflects not just on your bills but on the environment.


EasyClean Glass – These units activate in natural light and break down organic muck and grime, leaving you to simply wipe it away.

Electric showers – any type of shower that uses an electric element to directly heat the water as it transitions from the pipe to the head. This means you theoretically can never run out of hot water.

Element – an electrical item that is fitted to radiators to directly heat, using the mains power supply, the fluid within the radiator. Also comes in thermostatic models.

Exposed shower kits – any style of shower kit whose units are on display. As opposed to the concealed kits, the valve and pipework will be visible.


Faucet – not Farrah, but what our American cousins, and some others, call a tap.

Flat-pack – Any type of unit supplied in sections to be put together by the customer. This isn’t a problem with us, as our furniture comes pre-assembled. This is to save both your time and your patience!

Floor Standing Vanity Units – Sink and storage cupboard combination that is not fitted to the wall, but which supports its weight from the floor.

Freestanding – Any unit of furniture that is not built-in or otherwise affixed to a supporting surface.


Galvanized – Covered with a protective coating of zinc.


Hard water – water that contains a significant level of soluble minerals. This can cause problems in some area due to build-ups of these minerals on fittings and in the system.

Hot tub – a thing of luxury: a large Jacuzzi or other bath fitted out with jets with for your relaxation.


Isolating valve – A type of valve used to cut off the mains water supply to a particular room or appliance. Extremely convenient as you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of turning off the entire system.


Joy – what our beautiful designs will bring to your bathroom life.


Kitchen taps – at the risk of insulting your intelligence: taps for the kitchen. These will tend to have handy extras like pullout spouts and whatnot for rinsing off worktops and dishes.


Laminate – A slightly tricky one, this. It can be two or more sheets of material fixed together. However, it can also mean just the water-resistant sheet of the bonded sheets. Lastly, as a verb, it also can mean to fix such sheets together.

LED Showers – a term for the dazzling array of lighted shower heads we supply. Requiring no wiring, the water pressure activates dynamos that turn the LEDs through a trio of shades dictated by the water temperature. Red: Hot Green: Warm Blue: Cold.

Lucite – a special type of acrylic we use to top off the finish of our top-class baths. Resilient, it also stays warm to the touch.


MDF – This stands for Medium Density Fibreboard, the best friend of home makeover shows since time immemorial. It is a man-made material that can be used and worked like natural wood. It is strong and light.

Mist-Free Mirrors – mirrors with special sensors that keep the surface of the glass at just the right temperature to prevent annoying steam build-up. Makes shaving far safer!


Niagra – simply because the ‘N’ section was looking a little sparse: one of our stunning ranges of kitchen and bathroom taps.


Orange – a type of sweet, edible citrus fruit and a warm, summery colour. Here because the ‘O’ section was extremely bare.


Pedestal Basins – sinks that are held up in place by a pedestal, or ceramic column, beneath it. The classic setup for basins in the bathroom.

Profile – The silhouette or outline of an object.

PTFE – Also known as ‘plumber’s tape’ and the helpfully explanatory ‘thread seal tape’, PTFE is made from polytetrafluorethylene. As one of the names suggest, it is used to properly seal and waterproof threaded plumbing fittings.

Pump – fitted to your water system to raise the pressure – this allows for proper thermostatic or power shower operation, for instance.


Quadrant enclosures – a type of shower enclosure shaped like a quadrant, i.e. one quarter of a circle. Helpful as their design helps you use otherwise neglected corner spaces.


Radiator valves – These act as taps for your radiators, in that you control the ingress of water into the radiator.

Rainfall shower head – nope, not using the clouds as a hygiene tool, but a large shower head engineered to replicate the invigorating, fat delivery of a rainstorm.

Riser rail – a pole fitted to the wall in your shower enclosure to allow for positioning and adjustment of the shower head.

Rising main – An important pipe that supplies water under mains pressure. They more than usually run to a storage tank, often in the roof.


Safety glass – panes specially engineered to not just be stronger but to shatter safely if they are broken. As the sheet crazes into tiny pieces, not shards, it is much less likely to injure anyone close by.

Semi Pedestal Basins – a type of sink that combines the best from both options. Essentially, it is fitted to a wall, but instead of a clean base, it has a half pedestal which looks very regal.

Shower tray – a solid, watertight piece that you stand on. It is fitted inside and at the bottom of your shower enclosure.

Silicone mastic – Also known as ‘caulk’, mastic is a flexible compound used to seal joints. Used when fitting showers, sinks and baths, among others, to prevent leaks.

Sliding door enclosures – any type of shower enclosure whose entrance features a piece of glass mounted on runners that slide aside to allow access.

Slotted basin waste – a type of waste you will need if you have an overflow fitted to your sink, and vice versa.

Steel – the material we use to form our radiators. With its low carbon content, in tests it proved to be seriously resistant to rust and other damaging elements.


Thermostatic radiator valves – radiator valves that automatically regulate the power to your radiator to maintain your set temperature. Larger than standard valves, but energy-saving, as the thermostat detects ambient heat.

Thermostatic shower valves – shower valves that feature a thermostat. Serious advantages accrue to having a thermostatic shower valve, not least safety features and your temperature being automatically set for you – this prevents fiddling to balance the taps yourself.

Toilet – self-explanatory, surely?!

Trap – A curved or bent piece of pipe that ‘traps’ water, creating a seal against gases.


U-bend – A section of waste pipe, turned up in a U shape, for the purposes of acting as a trap.


Vanity – a combination of storage cupboard and sink, to fit into one space. Sometimes also features a toilet, too.

Veneer – a thin piece of wood or other material fitted over another material to create a different finish to what is underneath.


Wall hung toilets – as opposed to being fixed to the floor, wall hung toilets are screwed directly into the wall. This gives a nice elevated look, clearing the space normally taken by the base.

Wall Mounted Basins – as opposed to having sinks sat on a vanity or a pedestal, these basins are fixed directly to the wall.

Wall Hung Vanity Units – Ideal for clearing floor space or utilising large walls, these vanity units do not rest on their base but are fitted to the wall.

Waste – a piece of piping that intercedes between the sink and the outdoor piping. Can both allow water to escape and hold it in a basin.

Waterfall tap – taking its cue from nature, a waterfall tap has one large open spout to give a unique method of water delivery and look.

White Vitreous China – the only material we use on our ceramic units. Tested for strength and gives a gorgeously clean white finish.