The act of using a public restroom, once a quick and mindless stop, is now an activity that highlights the importance of design and a clean environment. The novel coronavirus has touched every aspect of our lives, including our time in the restroom.
In a pre-COVID era, convenience and durability were the two most important considerations to commercial restroom design. Now, the ability to touch as few surfaces as possible while “going about your business” is priority number one. Priority number two will be ability to deep clean every surface in the restroom.
Whether we are working with a client on a new design or office renovation, restrooms are always a focus. A restroom is one of the most expensive spaces (per square foot) to construct and furnish; and typically show wear faster than other commercial spaces. A restroom environment that is convenient to use, easy to clean, and durable is an asset to your entire commercial interior.
Placement of the facilities within an office interior is always a consideration, but through the lens of coronavirus, how visitors move through a commercial interior before reaching the restroom will now be considered. To minimize the number of touch points, commercial spaces that have the square footage may consider a door less entryway, like those seen in airports or stadiums. Now more than ever, thoughtful design can help your washroom facilities elevate the client experience.
What does a socially distant restroom look like? All restroom visitors value privacy, and with the mandate for personal space now part of our everyday life, the trend towards increased privacy in the restroom will be accelerated. From longer bathroom stall doors that fall just 4” from the floor (rather than the typical 12”) to gapless doors and increased usage of urinal partitions, we anticipate more privacy in design.
For both new construction as well as remodeling projects, ensuring a commercial restroom is built to the proper specifications is critical. Building codes do not change overnight, but post-pandemic changes are likely. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see new specs relating to distance between sinks, touchless fixture requirements, air purification and filtration systems,” says Tom Johnstone (Director of Key Interiors). Every restroom has at least one “wet wall”, housing the plumbing for toilets, urinals, or sinks. “I think you’re going to see more wall space with tile or industrial sheeting material that can be sanitized. Maybe we’ll see a COVID-compliant standard” says Johnstone. Other considerations like ventilation fans promote airflow and move infected air out of the room as well as reducing mold growth. Key Interiors’ build process minimizes miscommunication opportunities. Professional project management ensures total management of the permitting and inspection process.
“Touchless faucets have been around for years but going forward they will be a necessity” explains Johnstone. Any fixture that can be touchless, will be.” The market is coming out with new fixture options almost every day and the number of touchless commercial faucet options is only going to increase. Styles, finishes, different types of sensors, sensor placement, and wiring for the sensors must all be considered. We recommend hard wiring all touchless fixtures. While the initial cost is higher, your maintenance crew will thank you. No one likes crawling around fixtures to change batteries.
Toilets are typically the area of biggest concern, as it relates to cleanliness, but soap dispensers, hand towel dispensers or dryers and waste receptacles are all high-touch surfaces. Beyond the faucet, there is no shortage of motion activated fixtures on the market. Other options for more sanitary restrooms are: touch pad door openers, motion sensor lights, easy to clean, anti-rust plastic washroom stalls, and integral hand dryers built into sinks avoiding water being blown onto the floor and eliminating paper towels.
Depending on the restroom layout, it is important to consider handicap accessibility, code requirements, and traffic flow when making fixture selection. The all-in-one fixture that allows restroom visitors to wet, soap, and dry their hands without moving to separate fixtures minimizes touch points and congestion. Motion activated flushing for toilets and urinals is not new, but commercial restrooms without such fixtures will be truly dated and unsanitary in the post-COVID era.
Durability for a commercial restroom has always been important, but with the increased focus on sanitization and cleaning frequency, these chemicals will take their toll of surfaces and fixtures. We are experts in commercial interiors, including fixture selection and understand the value of installing the best fixtures for your unique design.
One thing COVID-19 has not affected – Key Interiors three-part process: Design, Build, Furnish. Our approach to creating functional and beautiful spaces for our clients remains unchanged. For decades Key Interiors has worked closely and collaboratively to deliver unique commercial interiors. With the increased focus on microbes and healthy environments, we are here to help you incorporate privacy, durability, convenience, and touch-free amenities in your next commercial restroom design.
Key Interiors is your full-service commercial interior renovation and design, build, project management team. Contact us today. 877.288.9919