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Right Materials Important When Retrofitting Restroom


When it comes to materials for a restroom design, the right choice varies depending on the setting. At a corporate headquarters, for instance, "it's expected that employees will care about their toilet rooms," Bill McCarthy of RTKL says, so they are built with a higher level of finish. By contrast, in a school or a stadium, even though it is still important to provide attractive surroundings, durability and resistance to vandalism are paramount. A stadium architect usually uses masonry, which can be made attractive even as it's durable. A setting such as an airport can have a "different level of finish," with ceramic tile, the architect says, because "you don't have people getting totally rambunctious."

The architect says that the minimum is sealed concrete, but psychologically, "when it's a low-cost finish, people treat it that way." The in-between choice is epoxy resin, and tile is the higher end.

Materials in a school restroom must be tough, able to resist carving, and easily cleaned of graffiti. But, as one consultant says, "You can do cool things with tile pattern and colors, so it doesn't feel like a highway restroom."

Sometimes the budget conflicts with the need to have materials that are durable enough. Districts that try to cut corners by using drywall instead of tile, for instance, will often regret it a few years later. But in a smaller restroom, durability is less paramount, and "you can lay it out more as you would for office space."

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