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Need Guide To Have Better Public Toilet Design?

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Definition of a Well-Designed Bathroom

A well-designed bathroom may not be at the top of your list when planning the layout of your site, but it should be. Anyone, how has ever been overcrowded on an uncomfortable public toilet, will value a hygienic and good toilet design. Thus, it can give a huge impact on visitor’s experience of the rest of the building.

A well-designed public toilet has to be:

  • Clean and dry

  • Well maintained

  • Easy to maintain

  • Carefully planned layout with maintenance in mind

  • Friendly to persons with disabilities and special needs

There are various types of toilets:

  • Public toilets which are used are generally open to any member of the public or restricted patrons of the owner of the facility.

  • Private toilets are where the use is restricted to patrons of the service provider or by the building management.

  • Private Residences


No unsupervised toilet installation can prevent vandalism. In most cases, facility engineers and cleaners play an important role in well-maintained toilets. However, all designs should allow for the individual item to be replaced for aesthetic and hygiene reasons. It is difficult and costly to insulate the toilets acoustically but this problem can be resolved by planning isolation as much as possible.

1) Layout

Single entrance/exit plans work satisfactorily provided the path of the users to not cross each other and the entrance is wide enough. This helps to improve the ventilation within the toilet and minimizes hand contact for hygiene reasons.

Public toilets should be designed to minimize hand contact as far as possible. Electronic products for toilets such as flush valves and faucets offer enhanced operations that promote sanitation and perceived cleanliness because of hand-free operation.

Furthermore, it is required for minimum maintenance. Avoid entrances opening onto a wall surface with the mirror reflecting the urinals. The positioning of the mirrors and the gaps created by the hinges should be considered as it is can show the visibility from outside in each case as well.

The location of the toilets should not be too far from the main traffic area. It should be easily accessible for those with urgency, better personal safety, and for the aged.

Further, signage should be used sufficiently and prominently displayed in all main traffic passageways. Avoid fancy signage as it could confusing especially for visually handicapped and the aged.

2) Lighting

A well-designed lighting system will improve the appearance of the toilet and could create impressions of the toilet cleanness. Electrical energy could be saved too.

A thoughtful selection of fixtures and lamps coupled with careful placement is essential. It’s best to use natural lighting to help create a softer and friendly environment. All public toilets should be provided with warm-color lighting for general lighting. Warm-color lighting aids in creating a better ambiance in the toilet. Could turns encourage more care and responsibility from the users.

3) Materials

Use durable materials and resistant to vandalism and neglect. Avoid apply finishes such as paint.

  • Floor - Non-slip ceramic tiles, natural stone, homogeneous tiles, and terrazzo.

  • Wall - Ceramic tiles, natural stone, homogeneous tiles, stainless steel, enameled steel panels, glass block, aluminum panels, and phenolic cladding.

  • Ceiling - Mineral fiberboard, fibrous plasterboard and, aluminum panels or strips.

Use colors to brighten the toilet, create interest and produce a conducive environment color. Colors should be achieved together with materials and lighting as it is one of the vital ingredients in creating ambiance.

4) Urinals

All urinals should be fitted with a flush valve and an automatic flushing device. If 2 or more urinals are installed, one should be installed at the child’s height. As a further enhancement to keep the urinal areas dry, stainless steel grating could be installed over the drainage and below the urinal bowls.

5) Water Closets

All water closet should preferably be wall hung and should be fitted with a flush valve and an automatic flushing device with a manual bypass. The fixture should be concealed for easy maintenance and to deter vandalism. All water closets cubicles should be fitted with drum roll toilet paper dispensers.

Coat hooks (double hooks) should be affixed behind cubicle doors. A platform or foldable shelf could be installed in the cubicles for putting personal items. Cubicle partition board should be of rigid design and wall or ceiling hung, where practical, without leg support for easy cleaning of the floor area.

An ablution tap coupled with a hose and a spring-loaded nozzle should be installed in at least one water closet compartment in male and female toilets. A floor trap should be provided within the water closet where it is fitted with the ablution tap. The flooring of water closet cubicles should be properly graded towards the floor trap to keep the floor as dry as possible. That particular cubicle should have signage displayed for easy identification.

6) Wash Basins

All washbasins should be installed with vanity tops and located beneath the vanity. As for vanity tops, they should have backsplash and apron edges. All wash basins should be provided with PUB-approved aerators. As an effort to conserve water, electronic taps can be considered. Sensor-controlled taps with their precise flow settings ad positive shutoff characteristics offer effective means for providing adequate water flow when it is required. Further to this, it will minimize hand contact.

The water pressure and tap/wash basin position should not cause water to splash onto the user’s body during activation. Where there are 2 or more basins, one should be installed at the child’s height. In order to keep the floor dry, the vanity top-cum-wash basin should be installed outside the toilets for common use by all users. Liquid soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers or hand dryers, and litter bins should be installed adjacent to the washbasins.

7) Provision of Facilities

All toilet public toilets should be fitted with:

  • Waste bins inside each male and female toilet and outside toilets

  • Either paper towel dispenser or handdryer

  • Sanitary disposal bins in female toilets

  • Suitable air fresheners to promote a fragrant, pleasing environment. It should spray away in non-traffic directions or upwards.

  • Sanitizers in each water closet bowl

  • A slop sink and should preferably be housed in a separate compartment

8) Special needs

  • Diaper changing station

  • Toilet for handicapped

9) Installation Standards

  • All pipeworks should be concealed, except for final connections to the fixtures. Pipe work exposed to view should be chrome-plated.

  • Avoid surface mounting of cables. They should be fully concealed.

  • Avoid sharp corners or edges. Coved tiles or PVC strips should be provided along these edges as far as possible.

  • Access panels to pipe ducts should be located as far as possible in inconspicuous areas.

  • Mirrors should be flush with the wall surface.

10) Ventilation System

Proper ventilation of a public toilet is one of the highest priorities. Ineffective ventilation can make a public toilet unbearable, even if it is well designed. Effective ventilation ensures that vitiated air is quickly extracted, and helps to avoid dampness and subsequent growth of mold on floors and walls.

11) Landscaping

The ambiance of public toilets can be enhanced further by:

  • Introducing easy maintenance plants inside the toilets as well as surrounding the public toilets

  • Placing of wall pictures and illuminated with delicate lighting

  • Placing of ornaments or sculptures at the end corners of the toilet

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