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Fire Standards for Toilet Partitions

Fire Standards for Toilet Partitions
Safety considerations are one of the most important aspects of any business, and ensuring the materials you use in your establishment abide by regulation is crucial.

The fire standards for toilet partitions are sometimes an overlooked part of safety considerations, but they’re necessary for the well-being of both your customers and your business. Generally, bathroom partitions must be compliant with ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials) standards as well as National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standards.

ASTM Compliance

To be ASTM-compliant means adhering to the worldwide standards the organization created. There are more than 12,000 documented standards, but the ones that apply to toilet partitions are the ASTM-E84, colloquially known as just E84. This particular set of guidelines emphasizes how to test both the way surface materials burn as well as the extent of the emissions it can cause after burning.

ASTM establishes how various materials should be tested and how to rate the results. The outcome of these tests coincides with a ranking from Class A to Class C. The number rating the amount of smoke that is developed must be 450 or less for all three classes, but the number of the flame spread — essentially the distance to which a fire will extend — varies for each class:

  • Class A: The flame-spread number is less than 25
  • Class B: The flame spread is between 26 and 75
  • Class C: The flame-spread is between 76 and 200

It’s important to note that having a Class C rating doesn’t mean the bathroom partition is flammable. Instead, it just means that a partition material ranked Class A will be more resistant to fire than Class B or Class C. Toilet partition fire ratings between Class A and Class C are ASTM-compliant, but any with a flame spread number higher than 200 or a smoke-development number greater than 450 will not be ASTM-compliant.

NFPA Compliance

Unlike ASTM testing, NFPA tests don’t result in ranked classifications. Instead, it’s a pass-or-fail test for the flammability of finishing materials. NFPA 286 is the specific standard for interiors, including bathrooms. Controlled tests expose different finishing materials to various levels of fire to see both the flames’ effects on the material itself as well as its reach and contact with walls and ceilings.

Basically, to pass this test, the flames should not come in contact with structures like walls and ceilings. There is also a restriction on how much smoke can be emitted from the finishing material.

Unlike ASTM ratings, bathroom partitions are only in NFPA compliance if they pass the test.

Powder-Coated Steel Partitions

Powder-Coated Steel Partitions

One of the best and most cost-effective options for bathroom partitions, powder-coated steel partitions are the lightweight, customizable option that’s also long-lasting. Powder-coated steel partitions are made using two thin sheets of steel glued to a piece of cardboard, allowing it to be lighter without sacrificing strength. Color powder is then glued to the steel sheets, making it one of the most customizable options as well.

This partition material is generally ranked Class A, which means it has low flame spread and smoke development.

Laminate Partitions

Laminate partitions are made of a lightweight particleboard core that is covered with plastic laminate. Like powder-coated steel, these partitions are lower in cost than other material types, but they are still durable. They’re also available in an array of colors, making them easy to customize.

A potential drawback to these may be their Class C rating, which means the flame spread and smoke development is on the higher end of the scale. But remember, these bathroom partitions follow ASTM compliance standards anyway — they simply rank a little lower than others.

Solid Plastic Partitions

Made using one-inch thick plastic, these bathrooms partitions are a comfortable Class B. However, they are the only types of partitions that cannot be tested by E84 standards alone. The NFPA deemed E84 testing insufficient for plastic. NFPA 286 is now considered the acceptable standard because it better demonstrates the extent of flame spread and the amount of smoke developed than E84.

Unlike powder-coated steel partitions and laminate partitions, solid plastic partitions do not have a lightweight core. This means they can be a little more costly, but they excel when it comes to strength and damage resistance. They are incredibly tough and long-lasting, but all plastic materials are required to pass NFPA 286 testing to be permissible.

Phenolic Partitions

You may be surprised to know that phenolic partitions are some of the sturdiest around — but they’re made of paper. Multiple layers of craft paper are glued together to create the shape of the bathroom partition, and that paper creation is then covered in a resin, which makes the partition hard and resistant to dirt, mold and rust.

These partitions are lightweight, thanks to being made from nothing but paper, but they still provide strength and durability that matches some of the steel options. Phenolic partitions generally fall within Class B but can also be Class A, making them both efficient and safe.

Stainless Steel Partitions

Stainless Steel Partitions

It’s rare to find bathroom partitions that are more versatile and worth their cost than stainless steel bathroom partitions. True to their name, these partitions are created using panels of steel, making them the strongest and most durable option when it comes to bathroom partitions.

Stainless steel partitions are resistant to dust, mold and corrosion. They are also great against vandalism and graffiti. It’s hard to ruin them since they’re very easy to clean and do not scratch or dent easily. They’re also always in Class A when it comes to their ASTM compliance, making them the most fire-resistant bathroom partitions.

Their one potential drawback may be the price, which can be high. However, the return on investment with stainless steel partitions can be far greater since these partitions will survive for many years with minimal maintenance. Plus, they’re timeless in their beauty and can make any bathroom look stylish.

Contact One Point Partitions for Your Next Bathroom Project

Whether your existing bathroom is looking a little run down and in need of a makeover or you’re planning out a brand new restroom, One Point Partitions is ready to help you bring your ideas to life. Take advantage of our team of experts to help you design your bathroom layout. We’ll help you with every stage, from establishing how many stalls to which partition material will work best for your space, and we will provide you with a cost estimate for your project. If you’ve already got your bathroom layout ready, simply use our online design tool to get a free quote.

We work with you to help you design the bathroom that works best for your business, providing high-quality, American-made products and expert advice. We want to ensure you are confident in your design choices, which is why we even offer free samples as well as free quotes.

Contact us to start your bathroom project today.

Brandon Graham

Brandon has been in the toilet and bathroom partitions business since 2006 and has been with the company since 2007. He is a graduate of Middle Tennessee University where he was a standout football player. He spends much of his free time with his family who all are active in sports.

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