Feature Article - September 2009
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Designed For Use-and Abuse

Selecting Restroom Structures to Suit Your Site

By Emily Tipping

Clean-Up Time

The number-one fear in public restrooms is touching the door to exit. According to Kimberly-Clark, over 55 percent of people surveyed feared door handles in public restrooms. Fortunately, manufacturers of prefab restrooms have heard this clarion call, and have developed restroom materials that can help reduce germs.

Premanufactured restrooms rely on hard materials like precast concrete. This ensures durability and resistance to vandalism—key criteria that must be considered when constructing restrooms for public use.

Many of these materials, though, are absorbent, which means the organic solids and liquids that soil them stick around, making the facility a less-than-pleasant experience. Smelly facilities give the impression that they are unclean, and in fact, contaminants left behind can have an impact on public health.

One manufacturer treats these hardened materials with anti-microbial chemicals. From the toilet seat to the stainless-steel flush valves, door handles, sink faucets and so on, these facilities feature surfaces that are safe to touch, as the chemicals will last for 50 years and kill bacteria on contact.

In addition, chemicals are added to concrete in these facilities to make them completely non-absorbent for life. Interpretation: no absorption means no odors. And a healthier environment for your patrons.

And getting back to those door handles? According to Chuck Kaufman, of a restroom manufacturer based in Reno, Nev., automatic doors may be the next step forward to preventing this concern. "We put in antimicrobial door handles, flush valves, faucets and grab bars already," he said, "but the public doesn't know it. We know it's there. Parks knows it's there. But the public doesn't so they still take out the tissue to open the door."

So in the future, look for doors that patrons won't even have to touch.