Restroom privacy and sensible construction

Drywall toilet compartments and single-user restrooms

A toilet compartment fully enclosed with drywall involves the use of framing and drywall to create floor-to-ceiling partitions on both the fronts and sides of each toilet compartment. The cost of a fully enclosed system can run high. Depending on design, special tile to cover interior walls could drive up costs. Fully enclosed systems also require more expensive door hardware, different trades like framing, drywall, paint, and tile, and need separate lighting, HVAC, and fire suppression systems. These systems take up a large amount of space, more room than a traditional partition is required for the depth and width of each compartment due to the framing needed for drywall and the framed doors.

Fully enclosed with drywall wheelchair accessible toilet compartment dimensions must be greater than 1676 mm wide and 1575 mm deep with a wall-hung toilet (or 1651 mm deep with a floor-mounted toilet), as there is no toe clearance with the full, room-height walls.

A single-user restroom involves creating individual restrooms with all necessary fixtures self-contained in a room. The cost of a single-user system will always be on the highest end for several reasons. Special tile to cover interior walls could drive up costs. Single-user systems also require the most expensive door hardware, many different trades like framing, drywall, paint, tile and others, separate lighting, HVAC, and fire suppression systems to meet local codes, and, most expensively, separate restroom fixtures for each individual room. When constructing individual toilet rooms with lavatories, the wall material must be fire code-compliant, just like a traditional toilet partition system’s doors, panels and stiles.

Indirect costs may also include the extra space they can take up. Additional space is required for the depth and width of each room due to the framing needed for drywall and framed doors. More space will be required for individual restroom fixtures in each room as well as ensuring the appropriate number of single-user restrooms that are ADA compliant, including clear floor space at the toilet and lavatory, as well as wheelchair turning space.

Optimizing privacy with cubicles and partitions

European-style cubicles and traditional partitions can feature a number of options that can further optimize privacy.

Integrated no-sightline privacy doors and stiles have routed edges, resulting in an interlocking design with no sightlines. This typically produces flush styling across a series of doors and stiles. Since precision is critical when it comes to features like no-sightline doors, it is important each panel is manufactured to strict tolerances. With stock door sizes, builders tend to compensate for discrepancies between plans and what is available by increasing gaps at all stiles and doors. Companies that provide made-to-order partition materials can make doors and panels to nearly exact dimensions, resulting in little to no gaps.

At the front of compartments, additional features can enhance privacy. Full-height or continuous hardware includes brackets running from the bottom of the door and panel to the top. Occupancy indicator latches provide users with peace of mind by eliminating the need to look under the door to check for occupancy.

Cost-benefit analyses

While it may seem appealing to specify a solution providing the greatest level of privacy, there are many considerations to keep in mind. It is critical to consider the amount of space allotted for the restroom, the cost of the privacy solution compared to the project budget, the construction implications, and the number of trades required to achieve privacy and ensure the restroom is up to code.

Possible trades may include:

  • plumbing, which is required for all privacy solutions;
  • construction of framing and drywall, required for single-user restrooms and fully enclosed toilet compartments;
  • electrical, which may include individual lighting systems for extended height compartments, fully enclosed compartments, and single-user restrooms; and
  • HVAC and fire suppression systems, which add mechanical detail to fully enclosed walls and single-user restrooms.

All solutions typically involve tiling and paint.

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