A public toilet (also called a bathroom, restroom, comfort room, powder room, toilet room, washroom, water closet, W.C., public lavatory, or the bog and the John for slang) is a public toilet facility — in contrast to a private usually residential toilet room, which may be a standalone water closet, or part of a bathroom. At a minimum, a public toilet can be a single unit featuring a toilet and hand basin for hand washing. Public toilets can also be larger facilities, which may include bathing facilities or showers, changing rooms and baby facilities.
Public toilets may be stand alone buildings or installations, or be contained within buildings such as railway stations, schools, bars, restaurants, nightclubs or filling stations. Public toilets can also be found on some public transport vehicles, for use by passengers. Public toilets are usually fixed facilities, but can also refer to smaller public portable toilets, or larger public portable toilets constructed as portable buildings.
Public toilets are commonly separated by gender into male and female facilities, although some can be unisex, particularly the smaller or single occupancy types. Both male and female toilets may incorporate toilet cubicles, while many male toilets also feature urinals. Increasingly, public toilets incorporate accessible toilets and features to cater for people with disabilities.
Single entrance/exit plans work satisfactorily provided the path of the users do not cross each other and the entrance is wide enough. Dispensing with the entrance door to the public toilet not only helps to improve the ventilation within the toilet but also minimizes hand contact for hygiene reasons. Public toilets should be designed to minimise hand contact as far as possible for hygienic reasons. Electronic products for toilets such as flush valves and faucets require minimum maintenance but offer enhanced operations that promote sanitation and perceived cleanliness because of hands-free operation.
The ratio of fittings in male and female toilets should be 1 W.C & 1 Urinal for male: 2 W.C.s for female. As far as possible, fixtures such as urinals and W.C.s should be fitted back-to-back with common pipe ducts in between.
Further to this, signages used should be sufficient and prominently displayed in all main traffic passageways, so that the user does not need to ask for directions. Signages used should show contrast of dark solid figure against a white background and significant to be seen by the visually handicapped and the aged.
All public toilets should be mechanically ventilated. Small public toilets should be fitted with an exhaust fan as minimum
A well-designed lighting system will save electrical energy and improve the appearance of the toilet. Poorly designed fixtures with discoloured diffusers go a long way to make a toilet dingy. Dark and shadowy, off-coloured lighting can create the impression that a toilet isn’t clean. Natural lighting can be used to help create a softer, friendlier environment. Harsh lighting can create a cold and unwelcoming air while being inappropriate for the tasks being performed. It can also highlight hard-to-clean areas. Thoughtful selection of fixtures and lamps coupled with careful placement is essential.
Materials used should be durable and resistant to vandalism and neglect. Applied finishes such as paint should be avoided. Carefully selected, durable materials minimise maintenance and prevent misuse. It is highly desirable that painted finishes are avoided, together with any materials, which are affected by moisture or corrosion Examples of good materials: -
- Floor - Non-slip ceramic tiles, natural stone, homogeneous tiles, terrazzo.
- Wall - Ceramic tiles, natural stone, homogeneous tiles, stainless steel, enameled steel panels, glass block, aluminium panels, phenolic cladding
Floor finishes are available in a wide variety of materials. When selecting a finish, it is important to note that the material support the image being presented. The finishes must be sufficiently durable to withstand the anticipated traffic levels and the toilet-cleaning frequency should also be sufficient to keep the floor looking well maintained and clean. Non-slip homogeneous tiles are often selected because they are durable and are relatively easy to clean. The walls should be tiled, allowing the cleaners to sponge down the walls and floors thoroughly with little difficulty. Another alternative is to use ceramic tiles or wall cladding.
Wall and floor tiles of large surface areas are encouraged for easy maintenance.
The tile size should be at least 100mm by 200mm. Alternatively, any of the panels listed above could also be installed at the walls.
The most common type of ceiling finishes includes calcium silicate board and suspended ceiling tiles. If there is piping above the ceiling, for example, suspended tiles will permit easy access for maintenance and are more easily repaired in the event of spot damage. Calcium silicate board may be better suited for applications where access above the ceiling is not required. When the time comes for renewal of ceiling finishes, it is far less expensive to repaint calcium silicate board than to replace ceiling tile.
Use colours to brighten the toilet, create interest, and produce a conducive environment. Colour, achieved with materials and lighting, is one of the vital ingredients in creating ambience. It can be part of the tile or stone finishes, or added to the applied finishes such as the enamelling on steel or aluminium. If paint is to be used, it should be restricted to areas that are out of reach, e.g. ceilings.