Restroom privacy and sensible construction

Evaluating all-gender restrooms

These construction implications should be considered when deciding between gendered restrooms and all-gender restrooms. Generally, an all-gender restroom will be somewhat more expensive than a gendered restroom with the same square footage and intended capacity, due to increased costs for both the toilet compartments and associated infrastructure costs.

In gendered restrooms, increased-height toilet compartments are often the best choice, as they are an extremely cost-effective method of achieving an increased level of privacy compared to standard toilet compartments. Extended-height toilet compartments can also be a good choice, although they may offer increased construction costs due to the number of trades involved.

For all-gender restrooms, the combination of cost effectiveness and very high level of privacy often make extended-height toilet compartments the best choice. Fully enclosed with drywall compartments may also be a good option due to the extremely high level of privacy, but they may result in increased construction costs.

In both gendered and all-gender restrooms, individual toilet rooms with lavatories are an inefficient use of space, resources, time, and money, while providing limited user capacity compared to all other privacy solutions.

Comparing the implications of privacy solutions

The panels of increased-height toilet compartments are usually 1829 mm (72 in.) tall.

Standard toilet compartments with 1473-mm tall doors and panels with 2159-mm (85-in.) tall stiles will cost between $650 and $1500 per compartment, for a total of $3750 to $7500 for a five-compartment layout. There are typically no infrastructure implications. Only plumbing and tiling services are required.

Increased height toilet partitions with 1829-mm tall doors and panels with 2159-mm tall stiles will cost between $1500 and $2200 per compartment, for a total for $7500 to $11,000. There are no infrastructure implications. Only plumbing and tiling are required.

Extended height toilet partitions feature doors, stiles, and panels to fit the room’s height. They cost between $2200 and $2600 per compartment for a total cost of $11,000 to $18,000, plus about $900 per compartment for separate HVAC, fire suppression systems, and alarms, as well as lighting. Plumbing, tiling, electrical, and mechanical services are required.

A fully enclosed compartment with drywall to fit the room’s height will cost from $2700 to $4000 per room, totaling $13,500 to $20,000 or more. The client will also pay around $900 for infrastructure and must coordinate six trades: plumbing, framing and drywall, painting, tiling, electrical, and mechanical.

A single-user individual toilet room with lavatory will require all necessary fixtures to be self-contained. This will cost approximately $20,000 to $25,000 per room and will require trades like framing, drywall, paint, tile and others, separate lighting, HVAC and fire suppression systems, and, most expensively, separate restroom fixtures for each individual room. More space will be required for individual restroom fixtures in each room as well as making sure there is the appropriate number of single-user restrooms that are ADA compliant.

ADA/ICC compliance considerations

While toilet cubicles and partitions should be designed with the privacy needs of occupants in mind, applicable accessibility requirements still apply.

When choosing a privacy solution, it is critical to consider and account for the space required to satisfy ADA and/or the International Code Council (ICC) A117.1-2017, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, requirements. Some of these considerations include the width of entrances, exits, and aisles, as well as wheelchair turning space. Wheelchair accessible toilet compartments present challenges with horizontal and vertical toe clearance requirements, which can often be alleviated by deeper and/or wider compartments. Ambulatory accessible toilet compartments must meet ADA and ICC A117.1-2017 requirements for width dimensions, door pull hardware, door swing direction, and horizontal grab bars.


As more patrons come to expect privacy in commercial and institutional restrooms, so do building owners and developers. Restroom privacy has transcended trend status and is now a design convention. A range of options are available to design professionals today to satisfy their project requirements while staying sensible, on time, and within budget.

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