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By Conrad Kelso, P.E.
Plumbing & Restrooms Article Use Policy
One essential measure of efficiency for managers seeking savings in restrooms is ease of cleaning. The less time spent cleaning a restroom, the better. To minimize cleaning times, managers should give careful thought to restroom materials and fixture selection.
Tile is a tried-and-true restroom material that has a long life span, but managers should not view tile as low-maintenance material because cleaning grout lines between tiles can be laborious. Managers specifying tile for floors or walls should consider installing large-format tiles to minimize the amount of grout requiring periodic maintenance.
Vinyl floors and wall coverings also deserve a second look. The lack of seams in sheet vinyl makes it easier to maintain than other options, and it is easier to replace. Manufacturers produce vinyl in many attractive styles, and the cost of vinyl flooring makes it one of the cheapest options available.
Managers should be aware that the production of vinyl comes with an environmental cost: It is manufactured using chlorine gas and phthalate plasticizers.
For large expanses of walls, moisture-resistant gypsum board and paint suitable for the wet, humid conditions of a restroom might be the simplest solutions. Housekeepers can wipe painted walls, and repainting these surfaces generally is fast and cheap.
Managers also should consider installing a backsplash behind sinks, and tiles might be suitable when used in small amounts. Alternative materials to consider include glass, mirror, marble, and waterproof wall panels. These materials can come in large panels and, unlike tiles, have few joints, which can lead to leaks.
To ensure more efficient and effective restroom cleaning, managers should consider specifying wall-hung fixtures instead of floor- or surface-mounted fixtures. Also, replacing a floor-mounted water closet in a restroom retrofit can be an expensive and, therefore, impractical undertaking because it will involve rerouting drain lines.
Managers also can replace counter-mounted lavatory faucets by relocating water pipes to the wall. This eliminates faucets on the counter, which are obstructions to efficient counter cleaning.
Restrooms can Offer Money-Saving Opportunities
Easier Cleaning Key to Restroom Savings
Installing Water-Saving Fixtures Key in Restroom Renovation
Check Green-Building Plumbing Codes When Installing Restroom Faucets
Product Focus: Plumbing and Restrooms