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 durable and long-lasting materials that will withstand the daily wear and tear of the facility’s 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, they are require little maintenance and have a low cost of ownership. 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.

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.

What Makes HDPE Sustainable?

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As a facility manager, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of choosing a sustainable material like HDPE for your next project. Utilizing sustainable building materials like HDPE not only pushes you closer to LEED certification, but having these types of materials can also lower your maintenance costs. But when it comes to HDPE products, facility managers tend to ask what makes HDPE sustainable?

We’ll gladly show you what makes HDPE sustainable and why you’d benefit greatly by using it in your next renovation or remodel project.

How HDPE Is Sustainable

A variety of factors make HDPE a sustainable material that you can use in your facility, the major ones being the following:

  • HDPE is made from recycled materials.
  • HPDE contains between 25% and 100% pre-consumer material.
  • Not only is HDPE sustainable by being made from recycled materials, but it’s also 100% recyclable.

Given that HDPE is made up of recycled material, it’s GREENGUARD Gold Certified, meaning that it’s an approved material to be used in schools and healthcare facilities. This certification requires stricter criteria, and HDPE makes the cut for its green construction.

Improving Air Quality

One of the biggest advantages that HDPE brings to your facility is through helping your air quality. HDPE is impervious to humidity and moisture, which can be abundant in areas like the restroom or locker rooms. Most plastic and metal partitions or storage compartments located in an environment with constant moisture will not only begin to wear, but they also run the risk of growing mold. Because of HDPE’s solid plastic construction, mold won’t find a way to grow, allowing HDPE to remain unaffected and helping to keep your air quality high.

Low-Cost Maintenance

Another major benefit of HDPE that you can add to the pros column is that it requires little maintenance. Not only does HDPE stand up to the elements, but it’s also a highly durable material. It can take a few hits and bumps and come out pretty much unscathed. Even graffiti doesn’t stand a chance against this solid plastic.

When it comes to maintaining your HDPE materials, you’ll be happy to know that it won’t cost you a lot of time or money. HDPE requires only a light cleaning now and then. The material doesn’t require repainting, which not only saves you more money, but it also won’t have a negative effect on your facility’s air quality due to the harmful VOC emissions.

On top of the lack of serious and involved maintenance, HDPE plastic can last for years, so you won’t be looking at a costly or involved replacement any time soon. HDPE pays for itself within two years due to the lack of costly maintenance and repairs that other materials would require.

Was this post informative for showing you what makes HDPE a sustainable building material? For more information, download Scranton Products’ eBook Sustainable Building Products: How to Make Your Facility Eco-Friendly from Top to Bottom.

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.

Things to Consider Before Your Athletic Locker Room Renovation Project

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An outdated locker room can be a dangerous eyesore. From lockers that constantly need repairs to the dated tiles in the shower area, a complete redesign can breathe new life into your facility as well as improve how your guests view and treat your locker room.

However, before you start tearing down walls and ripping up floorboards, there are a few things to consider when planning your renovation project.

Controlling the Flow of Air and Traffic

Anyone who’s been in a poorly ventilated locker room can tell you the importance of adequate air flow. Promoting a good flow of air through your locker room starts with design. You want to make sure that hot, humid air has a way to escape and new, fresh air can enter.

One way to create better airflow in your athletic locker room is to use a labyrinth entrance. Instead of a door, which would block air from entering or escaping the locker room, a labyrinth entrance uses hard turns to add privacy for guests.

Be sure to speak with your designer and architect to find the best ways to promote good airflow in your locker room.

In addition to airflow, you want to consider the flow of traffic coming in and out of the locker room. Will there be only one way for guests to enter and exit or will the locker room feature both an entrance and a designated exit? The latter option can improve the efficiency of your locker room and aid in your ventilation efforts.

Choosing Locker and Shower Materials

Thinking critically about materials before you buy can help you to save hundreds in maintenance costs. For example, traditional metal lockers have been a common choice for years, used in everything from schools to office buildings and, of course, locker rooms. However, metal is prone to denting and rust, which gives it a short life span.

The same can be said for materials used in the shower area, bathrooms, or any place where moisture may be present inside the locker room. For that reason, rust-resistant materials like HDPE provide a cost-effective solution.

school locker room

Cleaning and Maintenance

One of the most common problems that facility managers face is routine cleaning and maintenance. That’s why, while you’re in the planning stage of your locker room design, it’s important to consider how your design will affect the facilities cleaning and maintenance needs.

For example, if your locker room has a bathroom with partitions, you might consider using ceiling-mounted stalls instead of floor-mounted one. With ceiling-mounted stalls, the floor is much easier to clean.

In terms of maintenance, make sure to ask about life expectancy when sourcing materials. As we mentioned early, HDPE is resistant to rust and denting, giving it a much longer life expectancy than other materials, like metal. HDPE can also be power washed without damaging the color, which makes it extremely easy and inexpensive to clean.

Know What Your Guests Want

An easy way to guide your renovation efforts is to ask the people who use the locker room what they like, don’t like, or would improve. By reaching out to your guests, you’re sure to design an athletic locker room that has the features and accessibility they’re looking for.

Take a survey or create a suggestion box to generate feedback. Then review the responses with your team and decide which suggestions fit with your overall redesign plan. Also, be sure to download our free eBook on The 7 Mistakes That Architects Make When Choosing Bathroom Partitions and Locker Materials. These helpful tips could save you time and money during your locker room renovation project.