There is a saying that “there is no such thing as bad weather – just bad selection of clothing!” This goes a long way to understanding how the decisions made when specifying a cubicle system need to be closely linked to a series of practical issues. Whilst at Petal there are no ‘bad’ choices when it comes to cubicles, we can help you avoid the ‘wrong’ choice for the environment in which they are placed.
In this article we explore the key factors which should be considered when specifying cubicles to ensure a positive end result.
Every designer wants to ensure the appearance of interior features is working in harmony with the overall standard of a scheme regardless of how functional the element is. This applies within the washroom also and there are a vast range of options available to choose from to arrive at the desired aesthetic.
Like most things, cost and appearance are linked, however the latest cubicle designs have introduced vast improvements in styling at a range of price points. Petal’s Line range is a great example where stylish flush fronted inline design can be accessed at different costs dependent on issues such as scale and materials.
Regardless of the price point, a good system will still be well designed and through the absence of things like through panel fixings and cleats, will still offer pleasing aesthetics.
Traffic volumes in a washroom environment vary greatly depending on the location, use of building etc. Smaller office buildings may see very infrequent use of cubicles whilst busy bar environments and sports complexes will see continuous use for longer periods.
Budget cubicle systems are available from some manufacturers and may serve a purpose in some light use environments. However, with their wall cleats and through fixings which are visible on the exterior of the cubicle doors, these systems are not designed to cope with the volume of traffic associated with busy public buildings and bars or the rough and tumble which comes with a sporting or school application. The result will lead quickly to unstable cubicles with rattling panels and ill-fitting doors
Frequent all day (or night!) use and repeated opening and closing of doors brings wear and tear which is why the specification of a cubicle door with 3 hinges instead of 2 is a sound choice. At Petal, these are specified as standard meaning no big decisions to be made at this stage. Watch out for inferior products though which could deem your project to failure at this early juncture.
In short – this means wet or dry.
In a largely dry environment no restrictions in material choice are at play so decisions can be made because of design or financial factors. However in areas where large volumes of moisture are present, certain materials are to be avoided in order to ensure an application which will withstand the pressures associated with excessive moisture.
In a leisure centre, spa facility or school sports environment this will take the form of steam from saunas and steam rooms, water from swimming pools, wet feet from trainers and football boots etc. In such environments, moisture is perhaps an obvious consideration and thus the selection of hard wearing and water resistant materials becomes second nature – primarily compact grade laminate as a more cost efficient option but also glass for applications seeking an additional element of sophistication.
However, perhaps less obvious is that these materials should also be chosen for locations where cleaning is a repeated feature, for example mopping of floors and cleaning down of the cubicle panels themselves. A healthcare setting is the perfect example – where cleanliness is so pertinent and therefore cubicles will be the subject of numerous cleaning events throughout the day. Again in these scenarios CGL and glass will be the only sensible options to avoid material failures, making standard core boards a non-starter for use in this environment.
As in every sphere of construction, choice of materials is influenced heavily by both design needs and budgetary constraints.
At the perceived ‘lower’ end of the financial scale are CGL and HPL options, but the variety of finishes available for these products means design considerations need not be compromised. Core boards with High Pressure Laminates (HPL) offer a huge range of colours and finishes but are not suitable for wet environments. CGL, on the other hand, is a vastly versatile choice suitable for most applications including wet and dry environments.
Glass represents a high performance option adding an additional layer of style and sophistication, particularly in Petal’s Elan Plus and Elan Ultra ranges, where the material is laminated and toughened and is available back painted to any RAL colour. These more premium products come with an additional cost which may preclude the use of glass in some applications, making them the ideal choice for venues wanting to achieve an exclusive look and feel.
Veneers are a top of the range option and are a popular choice in many premium locations such a high end office accommodation and lower footfall public buildings. However they are the most delicate of options in terms of impact or scratch resistance, therefore not ideal for higher trafficked areas such as airport lounges where users will drag baggage, impacting surfaces repeatedly
Petal’s range of finishes include a vast array of choice of colours, woodgrain and veneer options which facilitate LRV variations where required. To view and download our Surface Choice colour collections, click here.
Privacy is such an important consideration we’ve written a whole blog on it – see here for more details. To summarise, there are certain applications in which maximum privacy will be highly desirable – in executive washroom settings for example, or in gender neutral sports changing villages and/or school settings.
Privacy comes with three questions:
Petal’s cubicle doors come in a variety of heights including bespoke, with floor to ceiling options available across many of the ranges. This option need not incur a premium price tag, with CGL options such as Thor Plus and Duo Plus providing executive grade privacy without huge expense. The three standard heights for doors are best illustrated by the Line range – with Line Ultra representing full height maximum privacy with heights up to 3m achievable, Line Plus with heights of up to 2.4 and Line providing a standard privacy option with a 2m height.
Privacy could be said to have a top down approach so not only do we look at the height from the ceiling but also the distance up from the floor. Full height panels will have a nominal 10mm floor clearance to allow for any tolerances with different floor falls. Mid-range options will have a 50mm floor clearance and standard cubicle ranges have a full 150mm for the least private option.
Sometimes a forgotten factor in assessing privacy options is the door thickness. For a full executive feel, Petal’s Esteem is equipped with 44mm rebated doors which ensure maximum privacy and sound insulation in the most luxurious manner.
Across the construction industry, architects and designers are prevented from a free reign in design terms by the constraints of building regulations. Always be mindful of the demands of building regs pertaining to the specific geographical location of the project. In the UK and Ireland, for example, lead must be taken from Document M which governs access to public buildings. However specific rules can be enforced at local council level, so it is always important to keep clued into these demands. In some areas, for example, this will mean a stipulation for outward opening doors and will govern the minimum number of cubicles that should be wide enough for wheelchair access etc.
Indeed this is something which should be kept under constant review because of the fluidity of changing decisions, for example the UK’s recent move towards the provision of more gender specific toilet facilities because of the fact that gender neutral washrooms are putting many old people off going out and therefore increasing social isolation.
As the saying goes, any object is only as strong as its weakest link. Even the most sophisticated of cubicles can be let down by hardware not designed for the demands of its specific environment. Petal’s ‘standard’ range of hardware is far from standard performance terms, with handles, hinges, locks, pilaster feet all designed to provide the stability required to withstand the pressures of repeated use.
For larger scale projects requiring an additional sophistication, enhanced door furniture is available, such as the chrome finish of this office location or the black hardware in this stunning project. However it should be noted that the cubicle manufacturer’s standard ranges will be a tried and tested solution so the selection of alternative hardware should be approached with caution.
8. It’s good to talk
Finally, remember that the manufacturer has years of experience which can be tapped into. At Petal we stress the importance of engaging in a project as early as possible in the interior design process. This way the maximum options can be brought to the table in terms of product and material choices along with advise on value engineering and efficient use of floor space.