Preventing Mold and Mildew in Humid Weather

Humidity can cause a number of problems as well as serious health concerns. For building and facility managers, humidity also brings about the threat of mold or mildew.

To keep the indoor air quality of your facility high and to prevent potentially dangerous conditions for personnel and visitors, it’s important to take the proper precautions to prevent mold and mildew in humid weather.

To limit the instance of mold or mildew in your facility, follow these helpful tips.

How Does Humidity Cause Mold and Mildew?

Water is a vital ingredient for mold or mildew to grow. A high relative humidity indicates a high level of moisture in the air. That’s why on hot, humid days the air feels thick or heavy.

When warm, humid air comes in contact with a surface that’s cooler than the surrounding air, condensation can occur. When moisture accumulates on porous surfaces, it can cause mold to form.

That’s why keeping the relative humidity inside your building low is important for preventing mold and mildew.

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew from Forming

Keep Air Cool

Keeping the air inside your building cool is a great way to reduce airborne water vapor. It also makes the building more comfortable for you, your staff, and your visitors. The most common way to fill your building with fresh, cool air is by using an HVAC system or an air conditioning unit.

Increase Airflow

Another benefit of an HVAC system or air conditioner is that, in addition to providing cool air, it helps increase airflow. However, you can also increase the flow of air inside your building by using fans and keeping internal doors open. While this helps to keep fresh air coming into the building and prevents a room from filling with air that’s gone stale, it also makes it more difficult for moisture to accumulate and cause mold or mildew.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you frequently experience a humidity problem in only one area of your building, then it might be more cost-effective to install a dehumidifier in that area than to adjust the entire HVAC system or install multiple fans.

A dehumidifier is a powerful tool that allows you to easily regulate the relative humidity in a room. However, keep in mind that the larger the room, the more air that will need to be processed by the system.

Heat the Floor

While adding heat might seem counterintuitive, it’s actually an effective way to prevent condensation from forming on the floors or walls in below-ground areas or close to the foundation where temperatures are usually much cooler than the outside air.

As you read above, warmer air that comes in contact with cooler surfaces can result in condensation which can lead to mold.

Remove Porous Materials

One of the easiest ways to prevent mold and mildew in humid weather is to remove porous materials. While this might not be practical to execute for your entire building, it may be useful to think about targeting areas that are likely to be exposed to water vapor. One area you might want to target could be by the exterior doorways where humid outside air can enter the building.

Another area that should be free of porous materials is the restroom. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a mold- and mildew-resistant material that’s perfect for bathroom partitions and vanities. It can also be used for lockers in lockers rooms, especially if your traditional lockers are growing mold.

To learn more about HDPE solutions and how they can help to prevent mold and mildew in your facility, contact us at Scranton Products today.

Why Should I Use HDPE Plastic Materials?

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When choosing materials for your next project, you certainly have plenty of options. Since the 1950s, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) has soared in popularity in the US, although it first started in the UK about two decades earlier. Now it’s one of the most widely used types of plastic available.

But what exactly is it and why should you consider using HDPE in your next project? Read below to find out.

What Is HDPE?

HDPE is made by stringing together ethylene molecules, hence the name polyethylene. The ethylene molecules come primarily from US natural gas resources, and the resulting plastic is as versatile as it is durable, being used in a variety of applications.

One reason contractors, builders, and facility supervisors prefer HDPE over other materials is because it’s lightweight while also managing to be extremely strong. It’s also resistant to impact and damage. Bump into a locker made from HDPE and it won’t dent. Nor will it rot or grow mold as wood or other materials might, making HDPE plastics perfect for use where moisture is common, such as a commercial bathroom.

HDPE Is Environmentally Conscious

HDPE offers a relatively low environmental impact and substantial improvements to the indoor air quality both initially and in the long run.

In addition, HDPE materials from Scranton Products are GREENGUARD Gold Certified. This exclusive certification features extremely strict criteria and takes into account certain safety factors for sensitive individuals, making Scranton Products’ HDPE brands perfectly suitable for use in healthcare facilities and schools.

Scranton Products brands are made from recycled materials and are 100% recyclable themselves. Plus the plastic is solid colored throughout. That means no volatile organic compound emissions inside your facility, no chipping, and no need to repaint.

Lower Long-Term Costs

One of the biggest problems facing building officials is the cost to maintain their facilities. In this respect, HDPE holds a significant advantage over other common building materials, such as metal.

Take a locker, for example. Metal lockers may have a lower initial cost than lockers made from HDPE, but the cost of maintaining metal can surpass that of HDPE over time. When you factor in the cost of painting, cleaning, and other maintenance, HDPE lockers are less expensive than their metal counterparts.

That’s because HDPE is resistant to dents, germs, rust, corrosion, and even graffiti. Therefore, it requires minimal care to stay in good working condition. Not only that, but in the case of lockers, HDPE is significantly more effective at noise reduction than traditional metal lockers. In fact, HDPE lockers have been proven to be three times quieter than metal, making them perfect for use in schools and other shared areas.

If you’d like to learn more about HDPE or any of the brands offered by Scranton Products, contact us today.

Improving Air Quality in the Workplace

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It goes without saying that air plays a big role in our daily lives, both at home and at work. So it’s no surprise that indoor air quality (IAQ) is a major concern for workers across the country. IAQ can significantly affect the health, comfort, and productivity of your workers, so it’s important to make sure that the air is clean and comfortable.

Although it’s rare for poor IAQ to cause serious health problems, it’s not uncommon for employees to perceive the air as dangerous or unhealthy when the quality is low. In this post, we’ll help you to further understand exactly what poor IAQ is and how to improve the quality of the air inside your facility.

What’s Good IAQ?

Since breathing is an automatic action we do without much thought, good IAQ goes relatively unnoticed. However, the moment that dust, pollen, foul odors, or other pollutants enter the air, it’s noticed almost immediately. However, contaminants aren’t the only things that can lower the air’s quality. Air temperature, humidity, and even stillness can attribute to its overall quality.

To achieve good IAQ in your building, you need to focus on the following criteria: ventilation, temperature, humidity, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, cleaning, and maintenance.

What Are the Most Common IAQ Complaints?

Since most employers concentrate on providing a safe working environment, it should come as no surprise that the most common complaints concerning IAQ don’t involve pollutants but rather employee comfort. For instance, most complaints have to do with the temperature of the air being too hot or too cold. Following that is complaints about drafts or still air. The third most common complaints have to do with dry or humid air.

Serious health-related complaints, such as eye or throat irritation, dizziness, or nausea, are much rarer and typically hard to blame on the IAQ of the workplace unless the issues are persistent and felt by numerous employees. Sometimes, these symptoms can be brought on by allergies to mold or dust that may be present in the air.

What’s Causing My IAQ Problems?

To identify the cause of poor IAQ, you need to listen to the complaints. Still air can easily be improved by adding more ventilation. However, mold or mildew will need to be handled thoroughly by a professional cleaning team to ensure that the problem is resolved and possibly the inclusion of a contractor if this is a reoccurring problem due to some structural design issue.

So where exactly can you look to find the cause of your IAQ problems?

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Cleaning products
  • Dust
  • Malfunctioning HVAC unit
  • Printers or copy machines
  • Fragrances and cosmetics
  • Pesticides

While most buildings will likely have a little bit of all these, they only really become a problem when levels accumulate faster than they can be ventilated.

How to Solve and Prevent Poor IAQ

Once you understand the source of your building’s poor IAQ, it’s fairly easy to correct the air quality problem. To prevent future instances, like in the case of mold or mildew, you can use materials around the office that are resistant to these factors. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), for example, is naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and bacteria. Plus, it has no VOC emissions, making it perfect for any workplace that wishes to improve the overall IAQ.

How Your Hospital Locker Rooms Could Be a Breeding Ground for Bacteria

Any medical official can tell you that MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), simply known as infections that are resistant to antibiotics, can be extremely serious. That’s why it’s important to protect your hospital’s locker rooms from essentially becoming a Petri dish for this and other harmful bacteria.

However, like most things in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to make sure that your staff and patients are protected.

Keeping Hospital Locker Rooms Bacteria-Free

For some, trying to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria is solved by treating every surface with vast amounts of heavy-duty cleaning products. However, this actually creates a number of additional concerns.

For one, the use of industrial cleaning products in large amounts can be harmful to the surfaces they’re being used to clean. Many cleaning products contain corrosive elements that can wear down certain materials like wood and metals. When these materials begin to corrode, it causes unnecessary maintenance and repair costs for building officials.

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More importantly, these cleaning products can be harmful to the cleaning staff, who may be accidently overexposing themselves to fumes and corrosive liquids. For these reasons, it’s important to use cleaning products only as directed or to consider alternative options.

One way to keep your hospital locker rooms free of bacteria is to use bacteria-resistant materials like HDPE, or high-density polyethylene.

Bacteria-Resistant Locker Rooms

HDPE is a heavy-duty plastic material that can be manufactured into lockers, shower stalls, bathroom partitions, and more. This durable material is naturally resistant to bacteria and incredibly easy to clean. Since they have color throughout and aren’t painted, cleaning staff can power wash HDPE surfaces without fear of causing damage.

Just how resistant to germs are HDPE materials? According to independent tests, 98.4% of MRSA bacteria on HDPE surfaces died within just 24 hours without the use of any cleaning products.

In addition to limiting the growth of bacteria, HDPE is resistant to dents, scratches, rust, and graffiti. These qualities make it ideal for use in medical facilities as well as schools, government buildings, and more.

HDPE in the Real World

Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, IL, is familiar with the benefits of HDPE materials, having chosen them for use in the clinical area and nurse’s lounge. To maintain a healthy and safe environment, 500 HDPE lockers was installed to replace the previous metal ones.

“The new lockers are much more hygienic than metal because bacteria cannot live on the surface for very long,” said Mary Grimm, RN, nurse manager for maternal child services at the hospital.

Read the full Little Company of Mary Hospital Case Study for more information about their experience with HDPE materials. If you’d like to know how you can use HDPE lockers, shower stalls, and partitions in your hospital locker room, contact us at Scranton Products today.

The Right Questions to Ask When Shopping for New Restroom Partitions

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Whether you’re conducting a thorough renovation of your facility’s restrooms or the partitions have succumbed to wear and damage, it’s important to choose the right restroom partitions. There are plenty of options out there, but you don’t want to make the same mistake twice. That’s why you should come prepared with questions so you can make the right decision towards the new stalls in your facility’s bathrooms.

Here’s the right questions to ask when shopping for new restroom partitions.

What Do These Partitions Offer in Terms of Durability?

Regardless of what type of facility you oversee, you’ll want to be sure that you’re choosing reliable materials for your restroom. Durability is important because you want the doors and frames to be strong and not endure any unnecessary damage due to an occupant closing the door a little rough. While there are plenty of strong and reliable materials out there, HDPE rises to the top due to its scratch- and dent-resistant surface. This material can take quite a few hits and not show any surface damage or cosmetic issues.

Is There a Paper Core Interior?

Most run-of-the-mill toilet partitions feature a paper core interior. However, you’ll want to avoid this for a variety of reasons, but mainly to avoid any costly replacements down the road. Paper core interiors may seem cost-effective at first, but due to the constant exposure to humidity and moisture, they can end up absorbing the moisture. Soon after they absorb the moisture, they can begin to sprout mold, resulting in foul odors and bacteria. Eventually, a replacement of the entire affected partition will be needed. For the best results, you’ll want to seek out a solid non-absorbent material like HDPE.

Do These Partitions Require Considerable Maintenance?

There’s no way to avoid routine maintenance; however, choosing the right material can greatly reduce the costs and the time spent on repairs and adjustments. What you want to look for is a material that can withstand the elements, provide a strong structure, and have a great screw retention. Another factor to consider is finding a material that doesn’t have to be repainted, so you don’t have to take the time to not only paint, but close off your restroom until the harmful toxins and emissions have dissipated.

How Long Will These Partitions Last?

When you’re investing in new toilet partitions, you’ll want to be sure that it’s money well-spent. That means choosing a material that not only meets your criteria, but a material that will last you the years without needing frequent replacements. HDPE solid plastic is warranted for 25 years, meaning that it can last, and is covered should an unforeseen event occur that requires a replacement of your partition.

It’s good to ask these questions when you’re browsing different materials that can be used as your next toilet partitions. You’ll want to make the right decision by choosing a durable and low-cost maintenance material that will last. Want to learn more about finding the right materials? Check out this free eBook, Choosing Bathroom Materials, from your friends at Scranton Products.

Why You Should Consider Maintenance Costs When Designing a New Building

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It’s easy to overlook maintenance costs when designing a new building, but it could end up hurting you. That’s because administrators, contractors, architects, and other building officials are under constant pressure to keep costs down and stay within budget. However, choosing the cheapest materials or building methods can have expensive maintenance requirements.

In this post, we take a closer look at why it’s important to consider maintenance costs when designing a new building as well as the difference between initial cost and life cycle cost.

Understanding Initial Cost and Life Cycle Cost

When you create a budget for a new building design, you’re looking at the initial cost. The budget specifies how much of the allocated funds will be used for each component, including supplies and labor. Although it’s true that every project relies on this number for approval, shooting for the lowest initial cost isn’t always the best decision.

For example, when purchasing building materials, the least expensive option might be of the poorest quality. In most circumstances, you pay more for higher quality and longer material life span.

Life cycle cost, on the other hand, is a way of budgeting that considers the entire cost of a material over the course of its life span. This includes any anticipated repairs, replacements, or maintenance. For example, let’s say one lamp cost $100 and another cost $200. The first lamp is cheaper, but the life expectancy of the second lamp is three times as long.

Thus, you’d spend more money in the long run by purchasing the $100 lamp since you’d have to replace it twice before you’d need to replace the more expensive lamp.

Calculating Maintenance Costs

Now that you’ve learned the difference between initial and life cycle costs, it’s easy to see why buying for life cycle costs is the smarter choice. But how exactly do you know if a material or building method will help to lower maintenance costs? Here are a few ways to help you make the right decision.

Is It Easy to Clean?

Clean materials tend to outlast those that aren’t, so opting for materials and products that are easy to clean and care for is a great idea. But not only might the material last long, it could also save you money on cleaning costs since less cleaning materials will need to be used.

Maintenance Costs

Does It Resist Damage?

Being durable is a good sign that the product or material is going to help cut your long-term maintenance costs. The good news is, products that are resistant to damage like dents, scratches, or graffiti will usually showcase that aspect as one of the primary features of the product. If you’re not sure, talk with your architect or contractor.

What Kind of Regular Care Does It Need?

Lights will need to have their bulbs replaced, HVAC systems will require routine maintenance, but it’s important to know these things before you make a purchase and factor that into the life cycle cost. For example, HDPE bathroom partitions are colored throughout and don’t require painting or repainting, whereas metal partitions do.

As you can see, it’s vital for you to consider maintenance costs when designing a new building. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to building a cost-effective facility.

How You Can Prevent Bacteria Growth on Bathroom Partitions

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When you’re in charge of a public or commercial bathroom, you want to be sure that it remains clean and free of any harmful bacteria. It’s especially important to keep your bathroom partitions clear of any bacteria in order to create a sanitary space for its users.

But with all of the moisture and humidity in bathrooms, how can you prevent harmful bacteria growth, such as mold and mildew, on bathroom partitions?

You can have a clean, presentable, and sanitary bathroom thanks to the help of Scranton Products. Read on to learn how you can prevent bacteria growth on your bathroom partitions. Read more

Locker Room Design Tips: How to Choose the Right Locker Material

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When you select new lockers for your school hallway or gym locker room, you need to choose the most durable and long-lasting materials that will withstand the daily wear and tear of a school environment. But with so many different options to choose from, how can you be sure that you’ll choose the right one for your school or facility?

To help you learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of the various locker material choices available to you, we’re here to give you some locker room design tips. Read on to learn how to choose the right locker material for your needs.

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Wood Lockers

Lockers made out of wood are used in a number of higher end settings. They share many of the same durability issues as painted metal but don’t perform as well since wood is typically more susceptible to damage from direct impacts than metal. If laminated plywood is used, that material may experience delamination if water or other liquids are able to seep between the layers.

The biggest issue with wood as a locker material is the fact that it is porous, meaning it will absorb odors as well. The odors can compound and create an unwelcome situation not only within a locker, but within a room or corridor where they are located. The porosity of the wood speaks of its organic nature and its ability to contribute as a food source for the growth of mold. Wood lockers will similarly require repainting or refinishing over time for a variety of reasons related to use, fading, and wear and tear.

Metal Lockers

Metal lockers are frequently found in school hallways and gym locker rooms because of their low cost and the view that they’re the standard product in the industry

Lockers made out of painted metal have been a common and long standing choice among many school districts and architects. They are typically viewed as a low cost option and a standardized product. However the cost benefit is limited to the initial purchase cost of the lockers only. Over time, they have been shown to require significant maintenance and attention which translates to more costs for several reasons.

While metal is seen to be fairly durable it certainly bends and is susceptible to dents and other damages. When the paint is compromised, then the metal is unprotected and that can lead to further damage such as corrosion or rust. This creates issues of both security and appearance if the damage occurs on the outside of the locker. It can also be a significant issue on the inside of the locker, particularly if wet items are placed on the bottom, scraping paint off and causing rust. That rust could eventually require the bottom or the whole locker unit to be replaced. In addition to the durability limitations of painted metal lockers, there are issues with keeping them clean and attractive. Painted metal has very low resistance to graffiti, scuffs and stains. Removal of any of these is typically not an easy task and may require the use of solvents that can damage the painted surfaces. In certain cases, removal may not be readily possible and the only option is to repaint.

Phenolic Lockers

Phenolic is a hard, dense material made by applying heat and pressure to layers of paper impregnated with synthetic resin.  Phenolic lockers are the most commonly thought of as durable lockers but are extremely heavy. Phenolic lockers are also not color throughout and most known for their black core exposed edges.

Phenolic material is not recyclable and not made in the US due to its harsh chemicals.

HDPE Plastic Lockers

HDPE plastic lockers are inherently moisture impermeable and non-porous, therefore lockers made of this material will never rust, corrode, or delaminate. For this reason, there aren’t any related maintenance issues or costs. From the standpoint of general durability, an impact test conducted following ASTM standards showed that HDPE plastic lockers had 59 times greater resistance to impacts when compared to metal lockers.

The nature of this material is to absorb and disperse any impact, meaning that dents are not likely and it is more resistant to abuse. Further, since the material is manufactured with solid coloring throughout, it makes scratches difficult to see, helping to retain its appearance under normal wear and tear conditions.

From a general maintenance standpoint, the qualities of HDPE that make it impermeable and nonporous mean that dirt, marker, paint and other items don’t stick to it. Worry-free maintenance is a real possibility when HDPE lockers are installed.

Even though there are many material options to choose from for lockers, it is important to understand the characteristics and what material will best fit your facility’s needs.

Scranton Products’ Duralife and Tufftec lockers are made with HDPE plastic material and have a wide range of design options. Learn where you can find HDPE plastic lockers near you.


Sustainable Building Products

4 Ways to Be More Environmentally Conscious without Remodeling

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It’s important to attempt to be environmentally friendly as much as possible, and that includes commercial restrooms and public locker rooms. Even a few minor tweaks and changes can go a long way in terms of supporting the environment.

You don’t have to completely remodel your restroom or locker room to boost your eco-friendly aspects. Scranton Products is here with four ways that you can be environmentally conscious without remodeling, so read on to learn how.

Read more

HDPE vs Phenolic Toilet Partitions

When it comes to bathroom partitions, your options are limited. There’s metal and then there’s plastic. So how do you know which material is the best fit?

In this article, we compare HDPE (high-density polyethylene) vs. phenolic toilet partitions, two of the most popular materials on the market, so you can see how they stack up. We’ll also help you decide which material is right for your next remodel or construction project.

HDPE vs Phenolic Material Comparison

HDPE features solid plastic with color throughout. When the 1-inch-thick panels are configured into a standard toilet partition, it weighs about 165 lbs. Phenolic, on the other hand, is resin-impregnated kraft paper, featuring ¾- and ½-inch panels and pilasters.

Many people have the misconception that HDPE and phenolic toilet partitions are made from the same material. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

HDPE vs Phenolic

HDPE is made of high-density polyethylene resin and pigments. Phenolic partitions, on the other hand, are made of a melamine sheet and many layers of resin-impregnated kraft paper. When it comes to the harsh conditions that can be found in commercial restrooms, HDPE offers additional performance in microbial resistance, surface durability, sustainability, and cost of ownership.

Let’s take a closer look at those categories now.

Microbial Resistance of HDPE and Phenolic Partitions

Resistance to mold and mildew is an important quality when talking about commercial bathroom partitions. Moisture is certainly abundant, and porous surfaces are most at risk.

In a controlled scientific test, we found that HDPE was 100% resistant to mold and mildew. Meanwhile, phenolic took only 21 days to begin showing signs of mold and mildew growth. By day 28, that number continued to rise.

Comparing Surface Durability

Public restrooms can undergo heavy use, and their ability to stand up to normal wear and tear is essential for keeping operating costs down. When it comes to abrasion resistance, HDPE comes out on top compared to phenolic toilet partitions. Phenolic experiences higher surface wear, which indicates a lower resistance to abrasion. This wear could come from normal handling, cleaning, or polishing.

What’s more is that once the surface of the phenolic toilet partition has been worn or scratched, it may be more difficult to remove stains or a ghosting effect could occur.

Sustainability

It’s no secret that HDPE is 100% recyclable, but did you now that it’s also available in 100% post-consumer content? Phenolic, on the other hand, isn’t recyclable and it’s not available in any amount of post-consumer content.

HDPE partitions are also low-emitting materials and free of added urea-formaldehyde resins. Phenolic partitions can’t say the same.

Cost of Ownership

One of the most important factors that designers consider when sourcing materials is the cost of ownership. HDPE partitions have a relatively low initial cost and even fewer long-term costs when you consider its impeccable durability. Meanwhile, phenolic partitions may cost you more upfront and require additional long-term costs compared to HDPE.

About Scranton Products

Scranton Products is the leading manufacturer of HDPE bathroom partitions in North America. Our HDPE partitions are distributed through one of the largest distribution networks in the industry.

Click here to learn more about Scranton’s toilet partitions.