American Bathroom Stalls vs. European

Bathroom stalls are a representation of your business. A welcoming bathroom says you care about your employees and the people visiting your establishment. You may have noticed there are considerable differences between American bathroom stalls vs. European.

American bathroom stalls are growing in popularity worldwide, with the American market given a projected 4.8% annual growth rate from 2020 to 2030. Understanding the differences in privacy, sanitation, toilet style, and flush will help you make the right decision for your public bathroom.

Here’s what you need to know.

At a Glance: American vs. European Bathroom Stalls

European toilets vs. American, what’s the difference?

Believe it or not, a toilet stall is not just a toilet stall. Bathroom stalls on both continents have substantial differences in their partitions, toilet flush strength, stall gap, and more. There are even some differences in terms of toilet style.

These differences may make you consider the experience you offer within your business. However, regardless of your decision, public bathrooms have several legal requirements they need to meet.

For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all bathrooms open to the public must have a stall that meets the standards of those with disabilities, including extra space and features like grab bars.

Each style of toilet stall has its pros and cons. While the European toilet was long considered the gold standard in bathroom technology, the American market has caught up in recent years.

The Main Difference Between American and European Bathroom Stalls Explained

Culture and history explain many of the differences between American bathroom stalls vs. European. Toilet partitions are a big deal and can impact how someone views your brand.

Let’s run through the primary differences between American and European bathroom stalls.

bathroom stall sizes

Toilet Partitions

The issue over toilet partitions is strange because the primary difference is privacy. In terms of the materials used, there’s no difference. Americans and Europeans have many materials for their bathrooms, including PVC and stainless steel. Materials have been standardized across the western world.

Regarding toilet partitions, expect American toilet stalls to have more space. Due to how buildings are constructed and the fact that the American continent is much larger, bathrooms are larger, meaning partitions can allow more space to move around.

The extra space created by American toilet partitions reduces the feeling of claustrophobia when sitting in a bathroom stall.

Interestingly, American bathrooms are the only type that adds partitions to urinals. Within Europe, partitions don’t exist, creating a sense of awkwardness.

Stalls Gap

Those unaware of all the differences between American bathroom stalls vs. European stalls will quickly see a significant difference in the stalls gap.

American stalls have always had a gap at the bottom and the top, meaning you can see someone’s feet when a stall is occupied. This is a big issue for Europeans because they’re used to enclosed stalls.

At first glance, this may appear like a complete win for the European stall, but there’s a reason why American stalls have this gap installed.

Firstly, these gaps are primarily designed for emergency service workers to access cubicles when someone is in distress. A European toilet stall would require breaking down the door, potentially injuring the person inside.

From a safety perspective, the relative lack of privacy within an American stall encourages people to do their business and avoid hanging around, which can benefit employers looking to enhance workers’ productivity.

If your bathroom is open to the public, gaps prevent both illegal activities from taking place in cubicles and loitering. These aspects can improve public safety and prevent your bathroom from becoming a hotspot for trouble.

Toilet Flush

Water Usage per Toilet Flush

American and European plumbing systems have their differences. The American flushing system is the simplest of all. Once you are finished, pull the handle, and the waste disappears into the sewers. Europeans may still use the pull chain mounted above the toilet or a dual flush system, depending on whether you’re going number one or two.

American flush systems are more adept at reducing the risk of blockages. A powerful flush is required because of our narrower plumbing systems. While it may not be the most eco-friendly option, you are less likely to experience blockages with an American-style toilet flush.

Toilet Style

Differences in toilet styles exist. The toilet is usually an identical model, but you may notice a difference in the water level. American toilets are designed to catch waste within the water to prevent it from smearing across the bowl and leaving an unpleasant odor in the bathroom.

Another difference is the potential alternatives to the modern toilet you may find within a European bathroom. Some older European bathrooms may still have squat toilets. The squat toilet can still be found in areas of Southern and Eastern Europe.

You may also notice a second device in a European bathroom. The bidet is a second toilet and squirts water, which can be used to clean yourself. However, the bidet is found only in older homes and luxury bathrooms.

Regarding the actual toilet style, there are a few differences between American bathroom stalls and European stalls.


Sanitation within American toilets is straightforward enough. You will have a toilet paper dispenser to clean yourself after doing your business.

European toilets may have the bidet, but most public bathroom stalls will opt for the American style of a toilet paper dispenser.

One of the big cultural differences that can offend American consumers is the idea that you cannot flush toilet paper. Western European countries have the same sanitation style as the U.S., with toilet paper flushed away.

However, Eastern Europe and Southern Europe typically come with a trash receptacle next to the toilet, where dirty paper is deposited. It’s highly unhygienic and results from poorly designed plumbing systems that have not been updated in decades.


The cost of installing toilet partitions and a standard toilet will rarely differ between America and Europe. However, other features that define American and European bathrooms, such as bidets, squat toilets, and urinal partitions, will influence the cost.

The big difference in cost will come with the level of privacy offered by the cubicles themselves. American bathroom stalls use fewer materials because there’s no need to create a wholly enclosed cubicle, thus keeping the costs down.

So Which is Better? American or European Bathroom Partitions?

Overall, American stalls offer a better bathroom experience because of their powerful flushes, extra space, and added privacy on urinals. Sanitation standards are higher, and business owners will prefer the health and safety advantages of the American bathroom stall.

Another reason American stalls are considerably more advantageous is the lower installation cost. Work with a premier partitions provider like One Point Partitions to ensure your patrons enjoy an excellent quality bathroom. We can provide partitions ranging from small, simple bathrooms within small businesses to large-scale remodels in city buildings and Federal government departments.

To learn more about adding superior American-style bathroom partitions to your restroom, contact One Point Partitions today for a free quote.

Commonly Asked Questions

It’s not uncommon for people to be confused about the differences between American bathroom stalls vs. European stalls. Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions people have.

Why are American toilets so full of water?

American toilets contain more water to improve hygiene levels and reduce the cleaning required to keep the toilet clean. More water also means powerful flushes, which prevent blockages from occurring.

While this may not be the best way of saving water, the trade-offs make American toilets among the most hygienic in the world.

Why do some European toilets not have seats?

Some areas of Europe may have public toilets without seats. France, Italy, and Greece are three countries known for this. It has nothing to do with the operation of the toilet itself. Instead, some toilets have had their seats removed due to maintenance issues.

Leaving the seats on in a public bathroom would expose the toilet to damage and vandalism. Some governments have eliminated the problem by opting for seatless toilets.

It’s one reason why many European public bathrooms are so inconvenient because if you’re doing your business in one of these toilets, you’ll need to opt for an uncomfortable half-squat. People with disabilities and mobility issues can struggle to utilize these stalls.

Why are American bathroom stalls so high?

American bathroom stalls may be higher in some cases because of how buildings are constructed in this part of the world. With higher ceilings and more space, American bathrooms are generally larger, accommodating taller bathroom stalls.

Truthfully, there’s no extra functionality to the actual height of the stall itself. It’s just one of those cultural quirks that have developed over time.

Why are there two toilet bowls in Europe?

The first toilet bowl is the standard toilet that resembles the American toilet. However, the second toilet bowl is a bidet.

To use a bidet, you finish wiping, squat down over the bidet, and press the button. The bidet releases a stream of water that can thoroughly clean your behind. Bidets are gradually disappearing from public bathrooms in favor of adding more stalls to increase capacity.

Today, bidets are more likely to be found within private homes than in public bathroom facilities.

Can I flush toilet paper in European toilets?

It depends. Northern and Western European countries work the same way as the U.S. Toilet paper is flushed down the toilet. Within Southern and Eastern Europe, the story is different. You must deposit your toilet paper in a trash can next to the toilet.

The concept is not a cultural one but a design one. Older plumbing systems may have been designed over 100 years ago, and many cities haven’t radically updated them since. The narrower pipes are prone to blockages, meaning flushing toilet paper will quickly gum up the pipes.

Thankfully, the practice of not flushing toilet paper is gradually being phased out. However, poorer cities and rural areas will unlikely alter this unhygienic practice in the near future.