Restaurants, schools, offices, and businesses all have one thing in common: public restrooms. The restrooms in these buildings are used by hundreds if not thousands of people every day. Perhaps not noticed by the average person, public restrooms have different fixtures than your restroom at home. The reasons behind this are various, but the lack of familiarity with products for public restrooms, known as commercial bath products, can result in confusion for business owners trying to outfit their restrooms.
This guide aims to help business owners, commercial builders, contractors, and interior designers learn more about the various products available for public bathrooms, and what each is used for. We hope it answers any questions you may have and inspires your next bathroom remodel.
As mentioned previously, products specifically designed for public, or common bathrooms are called commercial bath products. Unlike those products made for a home bathroom, which place greater emphasis on design, commercial bath products must accomplish two main tasks. First, they must be able to withstand constant use. Also, they must be easy to sanitize and clean. Aesthetics and advanced features are a bonus, not a given, when it comes to commercial bath products.
A toilet is a toilet, right? Not so in a commercial bathroom. Think of your toilet at home. Does it meet the two main requirements of a commercial product? While your toilet may be easy to sanitize, would your lid hold up to the use of hundreds of people per day? How about your flush lever? Probably not. TOTO, American Standard, and other brands make toilets specially designed for public bathrooms that do not have lids on their seats and have flushing systems meant to be used hundreds of times a day.
Water usage is also an important factor to consider in a commercial setting. Living by yourself with toilet that uses 1.6 gallons per flush may not affect your water bill, but 20 toilets being flushed 100 times each and every day can do significant financial damage. TOTO now has a water-efficient commercial toilet that use only 1.28 gallons of water per flush. Switching from 1.6 gpf toilets to 1.28 gpf toilets save over .3 gallons of water per flush, or 600 gallons of water per day (if 20 toilets are flushed 100 times)! Increase that to 1 gpf, or a .6 gpf savings, and you’ve saved 1200 gallons! New toilets will easily pay for themselves with that amount of savings.
After using the toilet, you wash your hands. Faucets are another fixture that has commercial models. Why?
For starters, many commercial faucets are designed to hold up to constant use. Your bathroom faucet at home can last for life, but even the simple act of turning the faucet handle wears down the faucet when it occurs hundreds of time per day, as it can in a public bathroom.
Cleanliness is another factor. Using the bathroom and then grabbing a faucet handle may not hurt in your own home, but when it happens often, germs and bacteria can form, leading to illness. Because of this, many business owners opt to use hands-free faucets that use sensors to turn on and off, rather than the turn of a handle. No touch faucets also leave more room on countertops and are easy to clean due to the lack of handle on either side of the faucet spout. Sloan, Delta, and TOTO all make hands-free faucets for a more sanitary bathroom.
Paper Towel Dispensers and Hand Dryers
After washing their hands, customers and employees must dry them. There are a few options available to keep hands clean.
Paper towel dispensers are commonly found in public restrooms. Usually made of metal or plastic, these dispensers have a solid front surface that can easily be wiped down with a sponge. Paper towel dispensers are hung on the wall (ideally on a stud) and need to be refilled with new paper towels often.
Hand dryers eliminate the need for paper towels by blowing warm air onto wet hands. Hand dryers require a power source in order to operate. Most hand dryers are hard-wired, meaning they must be connected to the bathroom’s electrical wiring (they do not plug in). Installing a hand dryer is much easier to do when the bathroom is being built (during the construction phase). They can be installed after the bathroom is built, of course, but will require an electrician’s help.
Business owners on a budget that do not want to invest heavily in their bathrooms are best off using wall-mount paper towel dispensers, while new construction and extensive remodels are the ideal time to choose hand dryers.
Combination Paper Dispensers
Combination paper dispensers are tall metal units that merge paper towel holders and trash cans into one. The trash cans are placed behind a metal door that is held in place with a latch or lock. Some combination paper dispensers sit flush in the wall, leaving floor space for foot traffic. Because many of these fixtures sit flush in the wall, demo is required during install. A space must be made in the wall for the paper dispenser to sit. Other combination paper dispensers are hung on the wall, on top of the drywall, and do not require demo.
Toilet paper also has its own paper dispensers. These combination paper dispensers combine toilet paper roll holders, paper toilet seat covers, and feminine product trash. These dispensers hang on the walls of the toilet stall and keep the bathroom floors clear of toilet paper roll stands and trash cans, making mopping and sweep much more convenient.
Baby Changing Stations
Businesses where your customers (and not just your employees) will have access to the restroom are typically required by law to have a baby changing station hanging on the wall, either in a stall or across from the sinks, in both the women’s and men’s bathrooms. Baby changing stations are convenient for parents of children in diapers and are a much more sanitary way to change diapers than laying the child on the countertop or floor.
Bobrick makes two distinctly different baby changing stations. Plastic, cream colored Koala Kare stations are affordable yet high-quality. They are available in horizontal and vertical varieties. Koala Kare stations are not particularly beautiful, but they get the job done. Bobrick’s stainless steel baby changing station is much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye and can blend in with high-end, contemporary designs. Because of the design and material used, the stainless steel baby changing station has a higher price tag than the basic Koala Kare station.