Restroom Requirements - Seko Construction (3)

There are many things to factor in when planning out a building, and one of them that may not be the first to pop into your head is that of the building’s restrooms! There are different rules that apply to residential, commercial, or industrial structures, but for the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on commercial and industrial structures– which typically have stricter rules under the building code.

Take a look below to learn the many different building code restroom requirements that are out there.

Requirements for Commercial Building Restrooms

The safety and comfort of the occupants of the structure you are designing or building are, of course, of the utmost importance. There are standards according to architectural planning and health code that need to be kept in mind as well. These are typically specified under OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which makes it easy to ensure that you are adhering to the requirements properly in order to have a restroom that is not only safe, but sanitary, too.

Below, we will go over some of the different requirements for the restrooms in a commercial building or other structure. 

General Planning and Logistics

Of course, you need to plan out the restrooms before the building is actually built. One of the things that you should do is take the time to map out how many occupants– such as employees– will be in the building every day. This will help you to figure out how many toilet facilities and plumbing fixtures are needed for the building. From there, you can begin to calculate stall sizes and choose where in the building your restrooms will be located. When determining the minimum number of lavatories required a general rule of thumb is that a building with 1 to 15 occupants should have the required number of one toilet for each gender designated restroom. This is usually required by law. Once occupancy is bumped up to 36 to 55 people, the required number is three toilets per restroom.

Single occupant restrooms should also be considered. While they are more private and many people may prefer them to multiple people restrooms, they are not often practical in commercial buildings where there are a large number of occupants. This can cause frustration if people are having to wait to use the bathroom! Multi person bathrooms with urinals and handicap stalls– as well as regular stalls– are usually the best choice for commercial buildings. However, you can also add in some single occupant restrooms, too, if you have the extra space. 

Occupant Privacy

Of course, in a shared space such as a public, multi person restroom, privacy is a chief concern. You do not want building occupants to be uncomfortable using the restroom every day. Stalls and partitions should be built so that there is the proper amount of privacy– for instance, no wide cracks between the door, and no large spaces between the door and floor or door and ceiling. Single toilet bathrooms– as well as the stalls in a shared bathroom– should be able to lock from the inside.

Sanitation Standards

It is also required that you have hand washing stations inside of a restroom. You should also have signs that relay the requirement of hand washing for employees. If this is a multi person restroom, there should be more than one sink or hand washing station, including soap dispensers and paper towel holders or hand dryers. 

When it comes to cleaning the bathrooms, there are certain sanitation requirements here, too. Cleanings should be done daily, as this will help to combat germs as well as mold growth. Mold can affect the air quality and increase respiratory issues for building occupants. Since the restroom is a very moist place, it can become a breeding ground for mold. Certain building materials can also be implemented to make the space more mold resistant. For instance, high density polyethylene materials are a solid plastic material that is resistant to mold growth.

In addition to that, these materials are very durable because they are dent, impact, and graffiti resistant, too. This makes bathroom stalls that are made from these materials very low maintenance and easy to take care of. 

Handicap Restroom Requirements

When it comes to handicapped restrooms, or handicapped stalls in a multi person restroom, there are several important requirements that need to be considered. After all, a handicapped restroom must be equipped so that a person in a wheelchair is able to use it. 

Restroom Requirements - Seko Construction (1)

Grab Bars

A grab bar is a common requirement in handicapped restroom stalls– or even in single use handicapped restrooms. There should be two bars running horizontally. One grab bar should be 36 inches long, and then mounted on the wall behind the toilet. The second grab bar should run horizontal and be mounted adjacent to the toilet, and will be 42 inches long. There should also be a third bar, but this one runs vertically– it is 18 inches long and is required to be mounted above the 42 inch bar.

Turn Around Radius

For handicapped stalls, you need to consider whether or not the wheelchair user is able to get their chair in and out, as well as maneuver it properly inside the space. There are two options here for turnaround radius that you may see as a requirement. The first is that there should be a 5 foot circle of clear floor space where the wheelchair user can turn around in the stall. The other rule of thumb is a T shaped turning radius, where there is a 60 by 60 inch square. This allows the wheelchair user to back up and then turn to the left or right to move around.

Toilet Seat Height

If you are purchasing your fixtures, such as your toilet, for the handicapped stall, you will need to make sure that they are ADA compliant. Handicapped plumbing fixtures are not necessarily the same as the ones you would use for the other stalls in your multi use bathroom. Ensure that the toilet you choose has an ADA compliant height of 17 to 19 inches. The centre of your chosen toilet should also be 16 to 18 inches from the adjacent wall.

Door Accessibility

If there is not a lot of door clearance in your restroom, this can affect the accessibility of the space, especially for those who are handicapped. After all, a wheelchair typically takes up more room, so it will need more clearance. There are many different ways that you can work with even a door in a small space to ensure that there is enough accessibility and clearance. It is something important that you must take into account when deciding on the placement of your bathroom and designing the space itself. For example, you could have a door with a front approach that pulls to the side, or a latch approach that pushes to the side. What is the best choice for your restroom will depend upon the size and placement of the bathroom.

Sink Clearance 

Not only do you need to consider the bathroom stalls for a handicapped user, but you need to design sinks with proper clearance for wheelchair users, too. There are consistent sink height solutions, which are 34 inches high, at most. If you have a sink that is under mounted and built into the countertop, your countertop should be 34 inches as well. Besides height, you should also make sure there is enough clearance under the sink for the wheelchair and the user’s legs. From the front of the sink, you should have 8 inches of space for the wheelchair user to pull up and under the sink when hand washing. 

In Wall Fixtures

In wall fixtures such as soap, hand dryers, or paper towel dispensers should have openings that are no more than 48 inches from the floor. The specific mounting height of the fixture will depend on the type of fixture. But this 48 inch rule for the openings remains the same across the board. Vanity mirrors should be 40 inches from the floor to the bottom of the mirror when installed over a countertop. 

Building Code Restroom Requirements - seko construction

Men’s Vs Women’s Restrooms

There are also different requirements when it comes to setting up men’s and women’s restrooms. Both genders have some slightly different needs when using the restroom that should be accounted for and factored into your bathroom design– whether this is a single or multi person bathroom.

Restroom Requirements - Seko Construction

Separate Restrooms

Depending upon the size of your commercial building and the amount of occupants you expect in the space daily, you may be able to install a unisex, single use restroom. However, it is more common that you will need to design multi use bathrooms, and these require you to have separate restrooms for each gender. This ensures that each gender has proper privacy, and that each space is set up according to the needs of that gender. These restrooms should be clearly marked and labeled accordingly. If the restroom is not labeled as one gender or the other, then it can be used as a unisex bathroom– such as in the case of a single person bathroom.

Stalls Vs Urinals

Of course, one of the most important things is that each restroom has the proper plumbing fixtures– a women’s bathroom will need stalls, but a men’s bathroom will need some stalls and urinals as well. These urinals will need to be properly and safely mounted. In many bathrooms– such as those in retail spaces like the mall– you should also consider putting in changing tables for customers who come in with their children. Many places only have these in the women’s restrooms, but it is something that should be placed in men’s bathrooms, too. 

Building Code Restroom Requirements - seko construction (1)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the smallest bathroom allowed by building code?

Of course, when you are planning out a commercial space, you will need to think of things such as the size of your bathroom. There are many different rules according to the building code act surrounding this, depending on factors such as the purpose of the building or the number of employees in the space. When it comes to smaller bathrooms, the smallest that is allowed by code is a space that is 5 ft by 2.5 ft. This is about the same size as a half bathroom. Of course, you should also be sure to research the specific laws and code requirements for small bathrooms in your location and type of building, too. However if you have the space to build bigger, it’s always nice to have more elbow room than less.

What is code for space around the toilet?

When planning out a bathroom, there are certain things you will need to consider in relation to the placement of different structures and fixtures– such as your toilet. You will need to have enough clearance around the toilet, which is what we call the space around the toilet. It is measured from the centre of the toilet, rather than from the edges or slides of the toilet. The amount of space required may vary. Most codes require at least 15 inches of space from any sort of obstruction, such as a side wall. In front of the toilet, there should be at least 24 inches of space. If there are any other sanitary fixtures around, there should be 30 inches, at minimum, from centre to centre of the fixtures and the toilet.

What is the minimum size for a commercial bathroom stall?

Commercial bathroom stalls are also under certain rules and regulations, just like the bathroom space itself! There are certain occupant load sizes that are required by building code and other bylaws or rules such as accessibility acts. A standard bathroom stall is typically measured between 36 inches and 60 inches long. However, there are other stalls that are specifically for handicapped persons, which must be larger. Handicapped stalls must be at least 60 inches wide, so that they are able to be used comfortably by a person in a wheelchair. In order to be ADA compliant, there must be at least one handicapped stall in the restroom along with grab bars. Of course, having more than one is even better, if you have the space for it in your bathroom!