Last year, the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research published “The Hygienic Efficacy of Different Hand-Drying Methods: A Review of the Evidence.” The study notes effective hand drying is essential for removing bacteria from hands.
There are many ways in which to effectively dry hands in today’s public restrooms. Paper towels are still most popular, but there is a trend toward those jet-engine-speed hand dryers to eliminate paper altogether. Manufacturers have been improving upon these hand dryers the past few years, making dry times faster and the units more energy efficient.
When choosing a hand dryer for a public-restroom project, think about the space and the patrons. Will patrons want high-speed drying no matter the noise level? Do you want them to leave the restroom excited to talk about their hand-drying experience with their friends/colleagues? Is energy efficiency a concern?
No matter what form of drying you choose, it is important to be thoughtful in the placement of dry-to-wet areas. Do not design restrooms in which patrons have to walk away from the wet area, dripping as they go, to the towel dispenser or hand dryer. It’s unsanitary and creates a slippery surface for the next guest.
When it comes to surfacing, the options are enormous for floors and walls. When on a budget, paint is your best friend. Commercial codes generally require a 48-inch washable surface around all toilet/wet areas, but above this area, designers can be creative with color and paint patterning.
Tile remains very popular in public restrooms because it is easy to maintain. Materials typically not specified in wet areas, like wood and bamboo, now are being replicated by tile manufacturers, providing the wood look in a water-friendly and easily cleanable surface.
I am not a fan of grout unless the joints are tight—at least 1/16 inch or tighter. Epoxy grout, which cleans up nicely, is a better alternative. When using tile on floors, consider larger sizes to achieve less grout. Smaller, more grout-intensive tiles can be used for wall details.
In many public spaces, vandalism can be an issue in restrooms. There are products on the market designed to withstand impact and easily be cleaned of graffiti. For example, stalls can be made of high-density polyethylene, reinforced composites or powder-coated metal.