Filling the Gap: Considerations for specifying privacy partitions

Overhead-braced (top left), floor-to-ceiling (top right), floor-achored (bottom left), and ceiling-hung (bottom right) mounting configurations each offer distinct advantages in terms of enhancing privacy, aesthetics, maintenance, and durability.

In a wheelchair-accessible toilet compartment, the depth must be at least 1420 mm (56 in.) for wall-hung toilets, or at least 1500 mm (59 in.) for floor-mounted toilets. The minimum width for all toilet partition mounting configurations is 1524 mm (60 in.). Additionally, the toilet must be offset on the back wall, with the toilet centerline 400 to 460 mm (16 to 18 in.) from the side wall or partition. Grab bars must be mounted on the rear wall and on the closest side wall or partition to the toilet.

The recommendation for a large wheelchair-accessible toilet compartment is a 1676 x 1676-mm (66 x 66-in.) interior, with 1422 x 1524-mm (56 x 60-in.) clear floor space at the toilet. Another choice is an alcove layout toilet compartment, 1.5 m (5 ft) deep and 2.4 m (8 ft) long, with an internal 1524-mm (60-in.) diameter wheelchair turning space. In-swing doors must not overlap required toilet clearance.

An ambulatory-accessible toilet compartment is used where six or more fixtures, including toilets and urinals, are provided. Depth should be at least 1524 mm (60 in.), with 2009 ICC/ANSI standards retaining the 914-mm (36-in.) absolute width dimension (the 2010 ADA standards allow a range of 890 to 940 mm [35 to 37 in.] maximum width). Doors must swing out and be self-closing, and the toilet must be located on the back wall with the toilet centerline 430 to 480 mm (17 to 19 in.) from the side wall or partition. Grab bars must be provided on both sides.

Particularly for privacy partitions extending close to the floor, toe clearance at least 230 mm (9 in.) above the finish floor is required under the front partition and one side partition of all accessible compartments. Toe clearance must extend at least 150 mm (6 in.) beyond the compartment-side face of the partition, but is not required at the front partition if the depth of the compartment is greater than 1575 mm (62 in.) with a wall-hung toilet, or 1650 mm (65 in.) with a floor-mounted toilet. Toe clearance at the side partition is not required in a compartment greater than 1675 mm (66 in.) wide.

Writing specifications
While there are many variables to consider for toilet partition systems, it is recommended each new specification reflect the requirements for the given project and not be duplicated from a previous one. Duplication frequently results in non-code-compliant systems, which cannot be manufactured or bid.

Specifications should include the material descriptions of the following:

  • cores, panels, doors, stiles, and screens;
  • surfaces;
  • finished thickness;
  • stile reinforcement;
  • fabrication; and
  • fire resistance.

Hardware features should be described as well, for categories including fastening, mounting, latching, hinges, compliance, and emergency access.

As building owners and facility managers reconsider restroom privacy and turn to architects and specifiers to formulate solutions, installing new toilet partitions remains the fastest, most cost-effective, and least labor-intensive method of meeting these demands. However, the process of specifying new partitions is wrought with complex design considerations and challenges.

Selecting an appropriate privacy option is the first of many critical decisions. The partition’s material, mounting configuration, and hardware are all key factors in the system’s longevity, aesthetics, cost, and ability to meet fire and building codes. When eliminating or adding partitions or remodeling large public restrooms, maintaining ADA compliance is non-negotiable. When dealing with toilet partition manufacturers, architects, interior designers, specifiers, and contractors should request applicable test reports from an independent, accredited laboratory. These reports must document the toilet partition materials comply with these interior finishes requirements.

Alan Gettelman is vice president of external affairs at Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc. Over several decades, Gettelman has played a key role in expanding Bobrick’s product offerings and services for architects, building owners, property managers, and facility managers. He is responsible for counseling on the preparation of architectural specifications and on fire codes, building codes, and accessibility standards compliance, as well as providing expertise in the areas of product development and marketing strategy. Gettelman can be reached via e-mail at

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