Meeting the demand for privacy in bathrooms

Stadium restrooms are challenging. Privacy at public venues is becoming increasingly more valuable as previous societal barriers are being broken.

The move toward high-privacy partitions
As a result, the quest for safe and accessible restroom facilities is unending among conscientious business owners and facility managers. This prompts constant reevaluation of commercial bathrooms and the continual redesign of these areas to ensure privacy without sacrificing aesthetics. In some cases, this has included building individual washrooms, which are not only prohibitively expensive for most companies and consumer operations, but also decidedly inefficient for handling the needs of multiple visitors or customers at one time.

The American standard for most public restrooms has been the implementation of multiple stalls aligned in a row, each featuring a 9.5-mm (3/8-in.) gap between the door and pilaster, a 356-mm (14-in.) space between the stall door and floor, and 356 mm of space between the headrail and door. The traditional door height for such stalls is 1524 mm (60 in.).

The industry has evolved in recent years with the introduction of high-privacy toilet partitions combining innovative design, aesthetics, and long-term durability. These partitions typically include a choice of hinges, ranging from 1372 to 1803 mm (54 to 71 in.), in either continuous aluminum, steel helix, or stainless steel spring-loaded hinges, or single- or double-ear brackets. The benefit is not only blocked sightlines, but also hidden hinges with better aesthetics.

Sleek high-privacy restroom partitions combine floor-to-ceiling compartments with innovative design and durability to reduce sight lines.

In recent years, the industry has moved away from wood, plastic laminate, and powder-coated steel (metal) materials due to their low resistance to graffiti, corrosion, scuffs, stains, mold, and mildew. Subsequently, materials such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) have become increasingly popular due to their ability to withstand the rigors of everyday use, while providing surfaces that are both easy and cost-effective to clean. Stainless steel, phenolic, and solid surface materials are also options for partitions.

As a solid plastic material, HDPE is impermeable to water and moisture, making these partitions resistant to rust and suitable for power-washing and hose-down cleaning. They offer superior resistance to dents, scratches, and corrosion, and can blend into new, modern designs.

Another advantage of HDPE components is the potential for improved air quality; this material does not release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and does not require painting. Some manufacturers offer a variety of fire rating options to meet state codes.

If cleaned and maintained properly, HDPE partitions may reduce maintenance costs in the long run because they do not rust like metal or chip and peel like layered materials. Mild stains and general soiling are often removed with a mild cleaner and water. Tougher stains are normally counteracted with solutions consisting of trisodium phosphate, household detergent, and water. If those solutions are not effective, a non-abrasive industrial-strength cleaner will do the job without damaging the surface of the bathroom partition. Partitions may also be texturized to resist graffiti.

Traditional American restroom partitions, like these in St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif., are 1524 mm (60 in.) tall, 300 to 356 mm (12 to 14 in.) from the floor, and have 356 mm of spacing between the headrail and the door.

Total privacy and superior aesthetics
A variety of available partitions can be installed to provide total privacy without having to build separate, individual rooms. The latest products come in 2184-mm (86-in.) and 2845-mm (112-in.) heights to enable fully closed, floor-to-ceiling compartments with no possibility of someone peeking under or over the door to see whether a stall is occupied or for other unscrupulous reasons. High levels of privacy are achieved through the use of overlapping ship lap edges, floor-mounted side panels, and a transom panel serving as a solid section across the top of the door. An indicator latch is also common, to reduce awkward vacancy queries.

By removing all of the gaps and sightlines, the newest floor-to-ceiling partitions are designed to enhance the user’s level of comfort and privacy. They can also add elegance, warmth, and charm to virtually any enclosed space or private room. For the facility owner, however, they do offer less visibility to the stall for security purposes.

Bathroom stall systems are available with numerous door and panel designs, plus rich colors and textures, to provide design options. The result can be bold design statements elevating standard restrooms to captivating or sophisticated interiors.

When installing floor-to-ceiling partitions and doors, additional lighting in each stall is recommended. Some clients request the accessible stall be mounted off the floor to offer visibility into the stall in case of a problem.

High-density polyethylene components are suitable for most commercial and institutional environments. They are easy to customize in the field, especially for restroom remodels requiring additional safety and privacy standards—unlike metal partition systems, which do not lend themselves to speedy onsite changes. The HDPE partitions are lightweight, use the same screws throughout the system, and can be modified with woodworking tools.

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