Important Architectural Considerations When Designing a Gender-Neutral Bathroom

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Potty politics have made their way into the national spotlight once again, and this time, they’re focusing on gender neutrality. As the debate heats up on both sides, architects and contractors are starting to weigh in on how gender-neutral bathrooms might affect the overall design of a facility. Two primary concerns when it comes to any bathroom, gender neutral or otherwise, are security and safety.

Below, we review some of the important architectural considerations suggested for designing a gender-neutral bathroom.

[NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of private architects and contractors and don’t necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Scranton Products, its employees, or its partners.]

A Focus on Bathroom Privacy

The more privacy a bathroom offers, the better in terms of promoting a welcoming environment. Well-designed partitions between urinals in a men’s restroom, for example, are one traditional privacy solution. But with gender-neutral bathrooms on the rise, it might be time for architects to take a fresh look at how their designs are helping users feel safe.

One solution is to simply add more stalls and do away with urinals. Handicap-accessible bathrooms and toilets, after all, can accommodate any user, including those with disabilities. Plus, having bathroom stalls with a lockable door gives users an extra level of privacy and security.

Added Security for Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

For optimal security, some designers have suggested only installing single-user restrooms. These gender-neutral bathrooms would have room for only one user at a time and provide a lockable door for additional security.

While this solution may be sound in theory, actual implementation may provide a few complications. For one, allowing only one user at a time means that a queue would form outside the door if more than one user needed to use the restroom.

In an effort to solve this problem and to meet local building requirements, it may be necessary to install multiple single-user restrooms to accommodate your guests.

Additionally, experts agree that a lockable door leading into the restroom can both provide and be a threat to the safety of the user. For example, the door could be used to trap someone inside or to hide the noise of a fight or bullying.

An alternative to the bathroom door is something commonly referred to as a labyrinth entrance. This entrance type features a winding hallway to provide privacy without the need for a physical door. This method also makes the bathroom more hygienic.

While some architects have embraced the removal of urinals and the installation of multiple stalls, others have criticized the solution, citing that adding more bathroom partitions could be costly, given their need to be resilient to threats commonly found in restrooms (e.g., rust, mildew, bacteria).

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) offers cost-conscious builders a possible solution thanks to its resistance to all these factors, including dents and graffiti. HDPE, a heavy-duty plastic, can be used for bathroom partitions, vanities, and lockers.

While it’s still too soon to say what legislation may require for gender-neutral bathrooms, many businesses and architects have taken the initiative to add a single-user bathroom in addition to the men’s and women’s restrooms. This single-user restroom doubles as a family restroom and can easily accommodate any user.

For more information on bathroom design, download our free eBook Restroom Design for Commercial Facilities.

What Is Sustainable Design in Architecture?

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Sustainable design, also known as sustainable architecture or ecological design, is a school of thought that focuses on creating buildings that feature social and ecological sustainability. The main goal of this design philosophy is to promote the health of the building’s occupants as well as reduce the building’s negative effects on the environment.

By minimizing waste, limiting the consumption of non-renewable resources, and using environmentally friendly materials, building designers can create greener, more energy-efficient facilities.

Understanding Sustainable Architecture

One of the key principles behind sustainable architecture is optimizing the potential of the site. For example, if the facility is located in a windy area, windmills could be constructed to help generate power. This example would also help with another principle: minimizing the consumption of non-renewable energy.

A third goal of the design practice is to enhance indoor environmental quality. This could include using materials that have a low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions rating. This also includes using environmentally friendly products in other areas of the design process.

All of these principles are designed to inform every stage of the facility’s life cycle, from planning to operation, to limit the negative impact it has on the surrounding environment.

Is Sustainable Design Cost-Effective?

Every building designer or architect knows that staying within budget is a primary concern during the construction stage. So it’s no surprise to learn that many worry if trying to design an eco-friendly building will exhaust the budget. The simple answer is no. In fact, there’s evidence that sustainable buildings actually provide many financial rewards to the owners and operators.

For starters, annual operating costs are typically lower in sustainable buildings because of the principle of energy efficiency during the design process. This means that electricity, water, and even maintenance expenses are considered and optimized.

Additionally, these reduced long-term costs don’t necessarily mean higher initial costs. When planned strategically with the right materials, the initial costs of a sustainable design can mirror or beat the costs of a traditional building. Although, some sustainable features may have a higher initial cost, these additions typically pay for themselves quickly through lower maintenance and operational costs.

Aside from monetary benefits, green building design can also benefit building owners and occupants in other ways. For one, occupants of eco-friendly buildings typically experience better overall health, which often translates to better attendance and less absenteeism due to illness. Building owners can benefit from longer building life spans and increased support from the local community.

Using Sustainable Materials

Using sustainable materials is a great way to reduce your building’s carbon footprint. Materials like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) can be used for a variety of applications throughout the facility. HDPE, for example, can be used for bathroom partitions, vanities, and lockers. It’s 100% recyclable, is naturally resistant to bacteria and rust, and produces no VOC emissions.

Using HDPE products can also help your facility to earn points toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This rating system helps to evaluate the environmental performance of a building.

How to Choose Commercial Bathroom Partitions for Virtually Any Facility

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As a professional contractor or building administrator, you’re faced with a number of important decisions. When it comes to sourcing materials for bathrooms, you want to be sure the that materials you choose are durable, require little routine maintenance, and fit within your budget, which can be easier said than done.

So in this post, we’ll teach you how to choose commercial bathroom partitions for just about any facility, from schools to stadiums to office buildings and more.

bathroom materials

 

Selecting Cost-Efficient Materials

One of the most important factors when choosing bathroom partitions is cost. There are many different materials available, with varying initial and long-term costs to consider. The five materials we’ll look at are enamel painted steel over paper, phenolic core, stainless steel, reinforced composite, and high-density polyethylene.

Baked Enamel Painted Steel Over a Paper Honeycomb Core

The most inexpensive of these is definitely baked enamel painted steel over a paper honeycomb core. This type of partition is frequently found in schools and office buildings because of its low initial cost. However, the life expectancy of enamel painted steel is extremely low given its propensity to rust when exposed to moisture.

Solid Phenolic (Black Core)

Solid phenolic core, sometimes referred to as black core because of its color, features a resin-impregnated kraft paper core. This material is very dense and composed of many compressed layers, similar to how fiberglass is created. However, this material is easily damaged by scratches.

Stainless Steel

Many designers for high-end establishments and sports clubs favor stainless steel because of its clean and modern look. However, stainless still is also prone to rust and high costs, both initially and in terms of routine maintenance. Stainless steel partitions are also known to show smudges and fingerprints easily, making them harder to keep looking clean.

[READ MORE: Commercial Bathroom Trends]

Solid Color Reinforced Composite (SCRC)

You’ll commonly spot SCRC in high-traffic areas such as sporting arenas, schools, and train stations. This material is durable like black core partitions. The two biggest downsides to SCRC are the high cost, as it’s much more expensive than solid plastic or stainless steel, and its limited color options.

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE is a type of solid plastic that’s perfect for use as commercial bathroom partitions. About 1 inch thick and solid color throughout, HDPE is highly resistant to graffiti, scratches, mold, mildew, and even bacteria. Given that this material is environmentally friendly and doesn’t negatively impact the indoor air quality, it’s a favorite for schools, medical facilities, and restaurants. It also requires little long-term maintenance.

Installation Types for Your Commercial Bathroom Partitions

Depending on the design of your commercial bathroom, there are four different methods for installing your bathroom partitions. The fastest and most economical option is to have the partitions floor mounted and overhead braced. This type of installation process works well with either wood or concrete floors and works by mounting the pilasters to the floor and the panels to the wall. An anti-grip aluminum headrail is positioned along the top of the partitions to offer additional support and stability.

If your bathroom has a low ceiling, you can choose to have them floor mounted only. This method requires at least 2 inches of concrete flooring in order for the pilasters to be mounted firmly. The panels are then mounted to the wall. The top of the partitions will be flush.

For a modern and unique look, or if the floors of your bathroom aren’t adequate for mounting, ceiling-hung partitions are a great option. You’ll need steel ceiling supports to withstand the weight and installation process. The pilasters are mounted to these supports, and the panels are mounted to the walls. One benefit of this installation method is that it makes the floor of the bathroom easy to clean.

[READ MORE: 9 Things to Consider Before Designing Your Commercial Bathroom]

The final installation method is floor-to-ceiling. In this scenario, pilasters are mounted to both the floor and the ceiling for maximum strength. It’s suggested that the facility have concrete floors and steel ceiling supports.

Choose a Color That Compliments

The last step in choosing commercial bathroom partitions is selecting the color. Materials like HDPE come in a wide variety of colors and textures so you have plenty of options to choose from. You can either go with a shade that matches the interior of the bathroom or pick a different color that compliments the theme. Either way, you’re sure to be left with one terrific-looking bathroom.

Want more information about building a cost-effective bathroom? Download our eBook The Professional’s Guide to Commercial Bathroom Renovations and Remodels. This FREE resource is full of useful information that will teach you pro tips for choosing materials, how advances in materials are leading to more fluid designs, and which must-have amenities your commercial bathroom needs.

Bathroom Privacy Ideas: Planning the Privacy in Your Bathroom

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Privacy is one of the most crucial components to your bathroom. Using the restroom is something that everyone experiences, and more often than not, they want to experience it privately. So, you need to figure out ways to ensure that your bathroom and the toilet partitions offer enough privacy and security for occupants to use comfortably. Keeping reading to check out some great bathroom privacy ideas!

Determining Any Weaknesses in Privacy & SecurityAria Partitions in Sandcastle Color

While you may think that your bathroom is confidential enough for you, you may want to take a closer look to notice some of the weak spots that hinder one’s privacy. This may include visible vantage points above or below the stall. However, it can also include the separation in the stall’s pieces, which may provide a clear view in between the door and the frame. If you notice these imperfections and issues, you should start thinking of ways to correct them so occupants can go to the bathroom worry-free.

Bathroom Privacy Ideas to Get Started

Here are some bathroom privacy ideas to get your gears turning and a full bathroom plan if you’re starting from scratch:

  • Add peel-and-stick frosted privacy glass over windows.
  • Separate your space with folding restroom privacy screens.
  • Find the right stall that offers ample privacy.
  • Sightlines can be removed through shiplap cut edges.
  • Angled doors and hidden hardware offer extra privacy to guests.

Bathroom Stalls with Ample Privacy

Some bathroom stalls on the market can offer your guests ample privacy. Their sightlines can easily be removed through a shiplap cut edge. Once closed, these partitions provide zero visibility due to the cut edges perfecting shutting out the seam.

Other HDPE toilet stalls, like Aria Partitions®, are specifically designed to provide each occupant with the ultimate privacy. Aria Partitions will provide you with innovative designs like overlapping edges, continuous edge mounted hinges and floor mounted side panels to keep these partitions as secure and private as possible.

Using HDPE for Private Partitions

HDPE plastic can be tailored to fit any design for your facility’s restroom. Whether you’re going for free-standing stalls, between-walls, open-ends, or alcove-style partitions, you’ll be happy to know that HDPE can be a versatile material to utilize in your restroom for your custom partitions. HDPE can be produced in a variety of different sizes, so you can figure out the best options to provide a secure toilet stall for your occupants who hold privacy very high.

It’s no secret that people want privacy when they’re using a public restroom. If you’re looking for ways to make your facility’s restroom more private for the occupants, check out the eBook Restroom Design for Commercial Facilities from your friends at Scranton Products.

 

How to Fully Embrace LEED Standards in Your Building Concepts and Designs

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When designing and building a new facility or upgrading one, taking advantage of new concepts and designs will lead to more comfort for your patrons and a facility that doesn’t negatively impact the world around you.

Certain products and materials that you use to build your facility can have a significantly negative or a significantly positive impact on the world you live in, and you want to be sure that you know which way your building concepts and designs will lead. However, you can be certain of this when you get LEED certification for your facility, and we’re here to show you how.

What Is LEED Certification?

LEED certification for your facility’s restroom or locker room ensures that the products and building concepts you choose live up to beneficial environmental standards. For example, LEED certification makes note of using sustainable building materials that reduce waste because they’re created with recycled materials and can be recycled as well. LEED certification also promotes water efficiency, good air quality, construction approaches, and sites that are sustainable and don’t negatively impact the ecosystem.

Why Do I Need LEED Certification for My Buildings?

When you embrace the requirements of LEED certification, you work to promote a more environmentally friendly facility. Each step you take toward a more sustainable facility, the more points you’ll receive towards LEED certification. And if you receive said certification, your facility will be recognized as clean, environmentally friendly, and sanitary.

Certification from LEED is globally viewed as the premier mark of achievement for a sustainable building, which goes a long way for your business with customers.

How Can Scranton Products Help My LEED Score?

Many times green opportunities can be missed when designing your facility. A majority of the facility managers working to create an environmentally friendly building only focus on reducing the amount of water, energy, or heat produced by the facility.

While this is a deserving focus, spending all of your efforts on those elements makes it easier to miss out on some green opportunities that you’ll need to increase your LEED score so it can be considered certifiable.

Scranton Products can help your facility or business become LEED certified by working with you to incorporate environmentally friendly materials into your restrooms or locker rooms. Whether it’s new lockers, bathroom partitions, or sink vanities, our HDPE plastic materials tend to fly under the radar as a green opportunity but support a healthier environment and help to reduce the total amount of industrial waste.

HDPE materials from Scranton Products are made from post-consumer recycled content and are 100% recyclable on their own. By using these materials in your building concepts and designs, you’ll be that much closer to receiving LEED certification and being recognized by a leading environmental company as having a green building.

You can find out where you can purchase Scranton Product materials near you.


Sustainable Building Products


Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: What Happens When Your Locker Rooms & Bathrooms Can’t Stand the Test of Time?

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What’s the one thing that you don’t look forward to each year in terms of your bathrooms and locker rooms? Maintenance costs.

If you’re a facility manager, you never want to have to repeatedly dip into your budget for pesky repairs and tweaks that only end up reoccurring each year. If you’re noticing this issue, the problem stems from the inability of your bathroom and locker room materials to stand up to the test of time, and we know why.

Scranton Products is familiar with this trend and is dedicated to making sure that your bathroom or locker room is durable and long-lasting so you won’t have to worry about any extra maintenance costs. Continue reading to learn why your bathrooms and locker rooms aren’t standing the test of time, what happens when they can’t, and how you can prevent this problem. Read more

Not All Bathroom Partitions Are Created Equally: The Differences Between Phenolic Core and Plastic (HDPE) Core Partition Materials

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All bathroom partition materials are the same, right? It’s just a door and a privacy separator between stalls, so why should you even bother looking into partition materials?

These misguided ideologies about bathroom partitions make for poorly constructed commercial bathrooms and public gyms that are susceptible to many types of damage. In fact, the materials for your bathroom partitions do matter, and Scranton Products is here to show you why.

Two common materials for bathroom partitions are phenolic core and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic core. While they may perform the same function, these materials are very different in their durability and longevity.

Let’s compare the two materials so you can see the differences between phenolic core and HDPE so you can make the right choice for your bathroom. Read more

The Top Ways to Save With Your Commercial Restroom

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Have you noticed that the expenses of the restrooms in your facility are leading to high costs? Whether it’s excessive maintenance and repairs or unnecessary waste, those dollars and cents can add up to an overwhelming total. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can cut back on costs and save money by changing some things in your commercial facility’s restrooms.

We’re going to help you cut the costs with some of the top ways to save with your commercial restroom!

 

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

You may not realize it, but your lightbulbs are costing you a fortune! You can easily combat this by swapping them out with LED lights, which not only last longer than incandescent bulbs, but they also use way less energy to light up the restroom. You can reduce the costs even further by installing motion sensors, which will turn out the lights when there’s a lengthy period of inactivity in your restroom.

 

Utilize Motion-Sensing Faucets and Hand Dryers

Sometimes, the unnecessary expenditure of water can show a spike in your water bill. Whether an occupant leaves the water running or there’s a drip occurring throughout the day, it can end up adding to your overall costs. Installing motion-sensing faucets can greatly reduce water waste. Occupants won’t forget to turn off the faucet or fail to tighten the valve enough, reducing the water that gets wasted throughout the day.

Another way you can save with occupants washing their hands is by getting hand dryers. This prevents you from having to reorder paper towels each month. Not only will you notice a drop in expenditures on toiletries, but you’ll be taking your restroom into a greener direction.

 

Install Cost-Efficient Toilet Partitions

You may not realize it yet, but your toilet partitions can be a big red flag when it comes to the high costs of maintaining your restroom. Traditional partitions with a paper core are left susceptible to the elements, namely humidity and moisture, which can sprout mold within the partition and call for an entire replacement. Since mold is nearly impossible to remove from the interior of a partition, the entire partition needs to be replaced, which leads to high costs.

You can forgo replacing your partitions by choosing a material that can stand up to the moisture and humidity. HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic is one of the best materials for commercial restrooms due to its solid construction, non-absorbent exterior, and the fact that they’re built to last and are warranted for 25 years. These partitions are also low-maintenance, which saves you money over time by spending less man hours and money in the restroom. These partitions pay for themselves in just a few years due to the money you saved on maintenance.

 

Learning More About Saving Costs with Your Restroom

In this guide, you learned that when it comes to cutting costs in your facility’s restroom, you’ll need to utilize the right materials to truly see the money you’ve saved. Want to learn more about HDPE and how it can benefit your restroom? Check out this blog post, How HDPE Partitions Can Save You Money, from your friends at Scranton Products!

 

Take your HDPE research even further by seeing how it would look in your facility with our 3D Partition Visualizer!

A Business Owner’s Primer on Commercial Restroom Renovations

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Renovations to your commercial restroom can be time consuming and stressful, and they can require a lot of planning to make sure that your new project is perfect. One of the last things that business owners want to find out after completing a commercial restroom renovation is that the materials selected won’t hold up over time and will require maintenance, thorough cleaning, and even additional renovations.

Whether your bathroom renovations require new stall partitions, vanities, or shower stalls, don’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong products that won’t satisfy your needs. No matter what kind of renovations you’re make, read on for Scranton Products’ primer on commercial restroom renovations to learn how you can avoid some costly mistakes. Read more

Summer School Cleaning & Maintenance Plan

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During the typical school year, your building experiences a lot of use. However, performing the maintenance and large-scale cleaning that’s needed isn’t always an option when school is in session. That’s why many educational facilities wait until the summer recess to complete large-scale projects. However, this still leaves two possible conflicts.

The first conflict occurs when a school is still used during the summer months. Some schools, for instance, run summer camp programs, while others serve as pseudo community centers for public meetings or for clubs and organizations. Although it’s terrific that the school is being used by the community throughout the year, it makes it even harder for building officials to perform the needed cleaning and maintenance.

The second conflict arises from the mere effort of trying to complete multiple major projects in such a short span of time. This puts additional pressure on administrators to plan and coordinate with project leaders thoroughly ahead of time to make sure that the maintenance and cleaning can be completed within the time frame before students and faculty return to class.

Cleaning and Maintenance Plan

1.      Clearly define the objective.

The first step to designing a successful cleaning and maintenance plan is to clearly define the object. For instance, “Clean the entire building, top to bottom” isn’t a clear object.

Ambiguity is the enemy of effective planning, so be specific. Do the floors and carpeting on all levels need to be cleaned? Do the lockers need to have graffiti removed or need repairs?

Making a clear plan will also help when determining cost and balancing the school’s budget.

2.      Consider the stages and order of maintenance and cleaning.

You should also consider the order in which the maintenance and cleaning is performed. It’s highly recommended that, in most cases, cleaning is performed after maintenance. This is because some maintenance can leave behind dust and debris.

locker checklist

If the cleaning team came before the maintenance was completed, they would have to come back and perform a second cleaning. This redundancy can result in an inefficient use of the school’s budget and unnecessarily extend project timelines.

3.      Prioritize cleaning and maintenance projects.

Planning major cleaning and maintenance over the summer gives your teams only a few months to complete these projects. As a result, you may need to prioritize which projects are done at the beginning of the summer and which are done later. You may also need to determine which projects should be done right away and which ones, if any, can wait until next summer if time constraints require them to be postponed.

Most experts agree that your primary focus when thinking of cleaning and maintenance should be on areas of safety or health concerns. Many times this involves restrooms, locker rooms, and cafeterias. For example, bathroom partitions or lockers that have been damaged by rust can pose a serious safety risk, as corrosion can weaken the structure and leave sharp edges exposed.

4.      Identify materials that need to be replaced and the timeline needed to replace materials.

When choosing replacement products, be sure to select cost-effective materials that provide adequate durability and low maintenance costs and don’t negatively impact the indoor air quality of the school.

One material that features all of these characteristics and more is HDPE. Used in the making of bathroom vanities, partitions, and lockers, HDPE is a highly versatile and dependable material.