Designing Bathrooms for School Colleges and Universities
Best Bathroom Stalls for Schools
School bathrooms have to be able to accommodate anywhere from tens to hundreds to thousands of students each day — needless to say; they are a challenge to keep clean. The “Bathroom Man,” Tom Keating, started as a concerned parent and ended up traveling across the country talking about bathroom cleanliness. He estimates that one-third of more than 900,000 public school bathrooms in our country are dirty, unhealthy or unsafe. In addition to spreading germs, these school bathroom environments can discourage students from using them altogether.
In most cases, school bathroom design is an afterthought. Until bathroom use for transgender individuals recently became a news headline, school bathrooms were getting little attention. When a school facility was designed, too often the bathroom was left for last and design wasn’t given much thought.
How can you improve this disheartening view of school bathrooms? It starts with the stalls. While schools share many of the same concerns when it comes to their restrooms, some have a higher concern in certain areas. We’ve gathered a list of a few of the most common concerns schools have for their restrooms, along with the best bathroom stalls for that school. In addition to bathroom stalls, we’ve also included some information for other things to take into consideration as you’re preparing to make improvements to your school restroom.
Improving Hygiene —Phenolic Core
According to research, 200 million bacteria can populate a single hand after using a public restroom. While the easiest way to improve hygiene is to complete more frequent, thorough cleanings, there are certain types of bathroom stalls for schools that can help. Phenolic core partitions are our favorite because they’re so strong that they don’t support the growth of bacteria. They’re extremely durable and contemporary-looking. If you have good drainage in your school bathroom, you can even hose them down to keep them clean — it doesn’t get much easier than that.
In addition to the bathroom stalls, there are several things you can do to improve the hygiene in your school restrooms. First of all, make sure students have what they need to wash their hands and keep up their hygiene. This may seem like a no-brainer, but school bathrooms have occasionally been found to have empty soap dispensers —sometimes due to them not being filled frequently enough and other times because students vandalize the dispensers or dump the soap out. Increase how often your staff checks for empty soap dispensers and if you have concerns over vandalism, consider investing in new dispensers, which we’ll talk more about later.
When it comes to the restroom facilities — increase the number of times they’re cleaned throughout the day. To ease cleaning, consider having your partitions attached to the wall. You might also do the same for your toilets, making it easy for your cleaning staff to clean the floors without having the navigate around toilets.
Consider sinks without counter tops, so there’s less room for water, soap and bacteria to accumulate. Perhaps you might also install automatic dispensers, eliminating the need for students to touch the soap or paper towel dispensers.
Finally, improve the lighting. While the lighting doesn’t have a direct connection to hygiene, a dimly lit restroom can appear to be dirty. Improving the lighting in your restroom can ensure all the hard work your cleaning staff is doing doesn’t go unnoticed. Students will also feel more comfortable using a restroom that looks clean.
Preventing Vandalism— Solid Plastic or Stainless Steel
Unfortunately, school restrooms that serve students of all ages are highly susceptible to vandalism. Whether students are creating graffiti, breaking soap dispensers or clogging toilets, it costs money and takes time to clean up the mess and fix what’s broken.
This irritates school officials, but the usual response is just to clean it up or fix it when it’s broken. While there is no way to prevent all school restroom vandalism, there are steps that can be taken in the design and products to minimize vandalism in school restrooms.
The best bathroom stalls for schools experience heavy amounts of vandalism are solid plastic stalls. These partitions are highly resistant to graffiti and are extremely durable. Solid plastic doesn’t easily dent and is also easy to clean. It can even be heated and remodeled to remove damage.
Stainless steel bathroom stalls are another great option for schools that are concerned about vandalism, as any scratches can be buffed away. Both satin and textured finishes are available. However, stainless steel partitions come with a higher price tag, so if you’re concerned about budget, stick to solid plastic.
In addition to considering solid plastic stalls, schools that are concerned about vandalism should also consider toilets with a stronger flush to reduce intentional clogging and soap dispensers that are built into the wall to reduce damage and contamination. Fixtures like faucets, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and dryers with automatic shut offs are also appealing to prevent the messes that can result from any of these fixtures being left on. There are even vandalism resistant fixtures that you can purchase with a warranty, so you can be confident that if a student can vandalize the fixtures, they will be replaced by the manufacturer.
In addition to these vandalism-resistant fixtures, consider making some of your cleaning times randomly scheduled throughout the day. Hopefully, your students will realize that at any time the staff may be coming in to clean and they’ll be less likely to engage in acts of vandalism.
Improving Privacy and Safety —Solid Plastic, Phenolic Core or Stainless Steel
Believe it or not, many students don’t use school restrooms due to a lack of privacy and safety. 43% of students fear harassment in the bathroom at school, according to STOMP Out Bullying. Bullying in the bathroom can come in many different forms, but it often involved the large gaps around a stall. The gaps on either side of stall doors and the significant space between the floor and the bottom of the stalls are just examples of the ways school restrooms aren’t cutting it for students.
The key here is in the dimensions of your partitions. Any material will work, although the options for schools are made of solid plastic, phenolic core or stainless steel. Whichever you choose, however, make sure you have the flexibility to make the gaps on either side of the stall doors smaller, the bottoms of the partitions closer to the floor taller and the stalls tall enough that no one can reach over them. You might also consider adding overlapping doors and pilasters.
Another factor to consider when privacy and safety are a priority is the entrance and exit to the restroom facilities, specifically whether you have a door, or what’s called a labyrinth. There isn’t a consensus on which is best, but we recommend giving some thought to what might work best for your facility. Those in favor of a door say that it’s ideal for confirming the bathroom is empty and locking it for the night — ensuring students won’t be loitering and that the facilities will be off limits overnight and when the school is closed. On the flip side, some people say the openness of the labyrinths makes students think twice before bullying or vandalizing the facilities.
Which bathroom stalls Are best for Your school?
After reviewing these qualities of each of the bathroom stall materials above, you may still not be sure which is best for your school. After all, privacy, hygiene and resistance to vandalism are all desirable qualities we’d like to see in all our school restrooms. To help you decide, we’ve gathered a list of recommendations for the best bathroom stalls for each type of school below.
Best Bathroom Stalls for Elementary Schools— Solid Plastic
Many students are introduced to public restrooms for the first time in elementary schools. These bathrooms will host students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. This means you’re dealing with a significant gap in maturity levels. While some may be just learning to navigate public restrooms, others may be looking for ways to create chaos.
For this reason, we recommend solid plastic bathrooms stalls for elementary schools. Solid plastic stalls are durable and low maintenance — making them a great solution for both your students and your staff. If your school is particularly vulnerable to student graffiti, solid plastic provides resistance to graffiti that is tough to beat. They’re also affordable, which is important given the tight budgets that many schools have to operate within.
Young students are often avoiding school restrooms altogether. The Opinion Research Corporation found the main reasons students are avoiding school restrooms are foul odors, clogged toilets, lack of doors on the stalls and being scared. These are all issues that can be addressed by putting some extra time, energy and money into your school restrooms. If you create a welcoming environment in your elementary school restrooms, your school can set the stage for less bathroom avoidance as students get older.
Overall, elementary school bathrooms should be a place that is well lit, clean and monitored frequently. In addition to these basics, choosing a color scheme that matches school colors can help to instill a sense of school pride and continue your school branding into bathrooms. We know customization in bathroom stalls is important, which is why we offer dozens of colors for each of our partitions.
Best Bathroom Stalls for High Schools— Phenolic Core
Our selection for the best bathroom stalls for high schools is phenolic core partitions. This recommendation comes as a result of the locker room and gymnasium facilities, which have an extreme amount of moisture and need bathroom stalls and dividers that can handle it. For these areas, phenolic core partitions are the best.
Phenolic core partitions are extremely durable and have stainless steel brackets and fasteners, giving them the ability to take on the highest amounts of humidity and moisture. They’re also water and corrosion resistant and do not support the growth of bacteria.This extensive list of benefits comes with a higher price tag, so while phenolic core partitions are what we consider to be the best bathroom stall for high schools overall; there are other options — solid plastic partitions.
While solid plastic can’t boast the same level of benefits, these partitions are also very durable and highly resistant to moisture, mold, mildew and graffiti. They won’t rust or dent easily, either. We sell both options in a variety of colors so that they can be customized to your school colors.
To complement your phenolic core or solid plastic bathroom stalls, you may also want to consider a seamless, poured epoxy flooring. Not only is it easier to clean, but it also makes it tough for dirt and germs to hide. Tile is another option for durable, easy-to-clean flooring, and you can also use it on your walls. Bases for lockers and benches in a locker room should all be sealed concrete, since wood rots and metal rusts in such a humid environment.
Best Bathroom Stalls for College Bathrooms— Solid Plastic
Bathroom stalls for college bathrooms have to be able to stand up to a significant amount of traffic. There will likely be hundreds, if not thousands of students using these facilities every day, so having a material that is durable and easy to clean is a must. For these reasons, we recommend solid plastic bathroom stalls.
Solid plastic bathroom stalls are highly resistant to most cleaners, moisture, mildew and graffiti. They’re also low maintenance and easy to clean, making it easier for colleges and universities to keep up with cleaning their facilities in the midst of all of the traffic they receive.
In addition to choosing bathroom stalls for college bathrooms, you should also consider the layout of your bathroom stalls for college bathrooms. Privacy is a concern in all restrooms and shower facilities, but especially on college and university campuses. There are simple design solutions that can make a big difference.
For example, by making individual shower rooms that are large enough to not only shower but also dry off and get dressed, you’ll eliminate the need for students to have to walk to the dressing area in a towel. Adding locks to those shower areas creates an even greater sense of privacy and safety. Another option to increase privacy is to alter your restroom layout to include individual toilet rooms with a shared sink area.
One Part Partitions
At One Part Partitions, we understand that the challenges your school faces are unique, and we want to help you instill a sense of pride in your students and staff. This starts by having a clean, safe bathroom environment.
We know you have a budget to work within and we’re interested in helping you create a better environment for your students — whether that means starting from scratch in a full renovation, or making a plan to redesign your restroom facilities one step at a time. Our designers work with a variety of schools to create bathroom solutions that meet all of the code requirements, maximize space and address areas of concern up front. If you’re considering a bathroom redesign, we have an online tool that can help you begin your design and several templates to get you started. Contact us today to find the best bathroom stalls for your school and get a free quote.