Durability, Sustainability Important Factors in Restroom Retrofits
Managers must consider a number of factors when specifying restroom products for a retrofit. In school districts or facilities such as prisons, where vandalism is a concern, durability is a top priority. Managers of commercial office buildings might consider comfort a higher priority than durability when specifying product because the regular users who visit the facility every day are a less destructive group that demands clean, comfortable restrooms as part of an overall pleasant work experience.
"Factors such as durability and sustainability are important with regards to dispensers," says Mark Stanland of Wausau Paper Towel and Tissue. "Durability is vitally important in restrooms where traffic flow is heavy. Ensuring dispensers are able to service the needs of employees, patrons, or visitors without breaking down or running out helps to alleviate end user and maintenance staff frustration. If maintenance and users are displeased with the towel- or tissue-dispensing systems due to functionality or capacity, this can create a negative image for the facility."
The debate over durability and comfort is important for managers to consider when specifying products such as toilet partitions, toilet seats and dispensers.
"Durability is critical to a commercial toilet seat," says Bob Davis with Bemis Manufacturing Co. "Our commercial toilet seats are manufactured using polypropylene, which does not scratch and is resistant to chemicals typically used for cleaning in a commercial restroom setting.
"Comfort is very subjective. In our experience, we have found that most individuals find a flatter surface to be more comfortable than a surface that is contoured towards the inside of the ring, hence less surface area to sit on."
Toilet partitions are often subjected to extreme vandalism, mostly at middle schools and high schools or restrooms in public parks and waysides.
"Managers need to be honest about the operating environment, about how much abuse and vandalism they can reasonably expect," says Dan Depta with Special-Lite. "Kids, if they can carve it or scratch it, they will. If they can spray it or stain it with a marker, they will. If they can take it apart with a tool or anything else they have on them, they will."
Given the common commotion in restrooms, where traffic flow is often heavy, careful consideration must be given during a retrofit so the restroom operates in an efficient manner.
"Make sure the restroom is designed with a proper user flow, so that it's easy to get to the toilet or urinal, to the faucet, and then the hand dryer in an orderly fashion," says Gagnon. "You want all your fixtures to be high-efficiency and no touch. The proper traffic flow makes it easier for the user to get to where they need to go in the restroom."
A manager's job is not finished once the retrofit process is complete.
"We like to let the property manager know that if they really want to make an impact that, periodically, every 10-12 years, restrooms should be looked at and remodeled," Gettelman says. "One of the things that happens is that a building is built, and restrooms are a core of that building. When a building is sold, new owners will look at the restrooms just like the lobby of a public building and see if they should be renovated. A sale of a building will trigger a retrofit."
Managers also need to specify with a lean toward environmentally friendly products as more facilities push toward such options.
"Now more than ever, facilities are incorporating environmental factors into their decision-making process," Stanland says. "Facilities are seeking quality products that meet functional needs but that are also made with methods less harmful
to the environment."