Single Use Toilet Rooms

by Jennifer Perry

Single Use Toilet Rooms – sometimes referred to as Unisex Toilet Rooms – are scoped in the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines in Section 213.2 and also in the International Building Code (2006 IBC – Section 1109.2.1).

The IBC requires the installation of a unisex toilet room in assembly and mercantile occupancies where an aggregate of six or more male and female water closets is required. The unisex toilet room is provided in addition to the other accessible toilet rooms provided. The Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and ADAAG will permit the use of a unisex toilet room in alterations where it is technically infeasible to alter existing toilet rooms to be accessible. Keep in mind that ADAAG, the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and the IBC require access to toilet/bathing facilities (and fixtures) where they are provided. Access is required to all toilet rooms and bathrooms provided for public or common use. “Common use” includes those serving a defined or restricted group of occupants (e.g., employees, students). Where toilet or bathrooms individually serve multiple public or common use spaces of the same type required to be accessible (e.g., patient exam rooms), then access is required to each toilet or bathroom. The plumbing code typically determines how many fixtures must be provided within toilet rooms.

Single-use toilet rooms benefit people who use attendants and are a good consideration in occupancies with high traffic, such as shopping centers and airport terminals, hence the requirement in the IBC for the installation of unisex toilet rooms in Assembly and Mercantile occupancies when an aggregate of six or more male and female water closets is required. Accessible unisex restrooms cannot be used as a substitute for accessible multi-user restrooms (except in alterations where making existing restrooms fully accessible is not technically feasible).

There is an Exception in ADAAG, the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and the IBC for Toilet rooms designed for use by a single occupant of a specific space, which allows the toilet room to be designed to be “adaptable” so that accessible elements can be installed when needed after construction. This allows structural reinforcement or blocking for later installation of grab bars and removable base cabinetry below lavatories. It is not intended to include moving walls, relocating plumbing, replacing fixtures, widening door frames, or other work more appropriately addressed in design and construction. Rooms need to be designed to provide required clear floor space at fixtures, turning space, and door clearance.

Where portable single-user toilet or bathing units are provided at exterior sites, at least 5%, but no less than one, must be accessible at each location. (This does not apply to units used only by construction personnel at construction sites). Portable units are subject to the same technical criteria applicable to permanent facilities.

While none of the federal guidelines or model codes specify room dimensions for single-use toilet rooms, key considerations include the configuration of water closets and lavatories, clear floor spaces required at fixtures, turning space, the location and swing of doors, and maneuvering space at doors. An important consideration is whether or not space for side transfers is provided. Doors can swing into the turning space but not the clear floor space required at fixtures. A key difference between ADAAG and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and ANSI A117.1 is the clearance required at the water closet. While ADAAG will allow a lavatory to encroach on the clear floor space required at the water closet, the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and ANSI A117.1 – 2003 require that a minimum of 56 inches X 60 inches of clearance is provided at the water closet and no other fixtures can encroach on this clear floor space. Another key difference between ADAAG and ANSI A117.1 is the requirement for a vertical grab bar at the water closet – explained in more detail below.

Below are some of the key design features for unisex/single use toilet rooms:

Maneuvering Clearance at Toilet Room Door

The door leading into a single use toilet room must comply with the maneuvering clearance requirements found in ADAAG 4.13.6. The maneuvering clearance requirements applicable in ADAAG are the same in ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines.

Turning Space & Door Swing

All 3 standards (ADAAG, the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and ANSI A117.1) require that a turning space is provided within the room (either a 60 inch turning diameter or a T-Shaped wheelchair turning space). The clear floor spaces, clearance at fixtures and turning spaces are permitted to overlap. Per ANSI A117.1 603.2.3 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines Exception 2, when the toilet room is for individual use and a clear floor space of 30 inches X 48 inches minimum is provided within the room beyond the arc of the door swing, the door can swing into the clear floor space for a fixture.

Water Closets

*Note that ADAAG and ANSI A117.1 have allowances for different fixture heights when used primarily by children*

Clear Floor Space: ADAAG 4.16.2 requires that the clear floor space for water closets not in stalls must comply with Figure 28 (below). As stated above however, ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines require that a minimum of 56 inches X 60 inches of clear floor space must be provided at the water closet. This difference is illustrated in the two figures below.

Click for here for larger image.

The first two layouts above do not comply with clearance requirements at water closets in jurisdictions that reference ANSI A117.1. These layouts do not comply with the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines either. See below.

Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines/ANSI A117.1 2003 604.3

The additional clearance at the water closet provides the space necessary for someone to perform a side transfer to the water closet as illustrated below:

Centerline of the Water Closet: While water closets are required to be 16 to 18 inches from the adjacent/parallel wall in ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines (Sections 604.2) ADAAG stipulates that the centerline shall be 18 inches from the side wall (ADAAG 4.16.2 and Figure 28)

Seat Height: The height of water closets shall be 17 inches to 19 inches measured to the top of the toilet seat (ADAAG 4.16.3, ANSI A117.1 & Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines Section 604.4.

Grab Bars

Grab bar requirements are found in Section 604.5 in both 2003 ICC/ANSI A117.1 and The Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and 4.16.4 in ADAAG. There are two areas in which grab bars will need to be provided; the rear wall (behind the water closet) and the side wall (closest to the water closet). While we will discuss each location’s specific requirements we must make certain that under both circumstances the distance between the grab bars and the wall is 1 ½ inches and the diameter for circular grab bars is between 1 ¼ inches to 2 inches. This is required to ensure that the arm of a wheelchair user does not slip into a larger gap during the transfer. Also, keep in mind that non circular grab bars are permitted. They have to have a 2 inch cross section dimension and 4.8 inch maximum perimeter. Note that there is an exception in the IBC, ADAAG and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines for grab bars not to be installed in a toilet room for a single occupant accessed only through a private office and not for common use or public use, provided that reinforcement has been installed in walls and located so as to permit the installation of grab bars.

Rear wall grab bars: Grab bars behind the water closet must be 36 inches in length. There must be a minimum of 12 inches between the wall and the centerline of water closet and an additional 24 inches minimum between centerline and transfer side of water closet. In instances where the lavatory or other fixtures are required to be recessed so that the necessary clear floor space for the water closet can be achieved, the rear grab bar is permitted to be 24 inches in length. (ANSI A117.1 & Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines Section 604.5.2, ADAAG 4.16.4)

Fixed side wall grab bars: ADAAG 4.16.4, Section 604.5.1 of ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines require that a 42 inch long parallel grab bar must be located 12 inches maximum from the rear wall and extend 54 inches minimum from rear wall. ANSI A117.1 Section 604.5.1 requires a vertical grab bar as well (this requirement is not found in ADAAG or 2004 ADAAG).This vertical grab bar 18 inches minimum in length must be provided with the leading bottom edge between 39 inches and 41 inches above the floor and with the center line located between 39 inches and 41 inches from the rear wall.

Flush Controls: ADAAG 4.16.5, ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines all require that flush controls shall be hand operated or automatic and shall be mounted on the wide side of toilet areas. ADAAG states that flush controls shall be no more than 44 in (1120 mm) above the floor. ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines require that flush controls are mounted within accessible reach ranges outlined in Section 308 of ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines.

Toilet Paper Dispensers: The requirements for a toilet paper dispenser can easily be overlooked and are often a last minute add-in when designing a unisex toilet room. However, special care should be taken to ensure that toilet paper dispensers are located properly to prevent the need for relocation after an incorrect installation has occurred. This can be costly and time consuming especially on projects of large magnitude.
Per ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines (Sections 604.7) toilet paper dispensers are required to be centered 7 to 9 inches in front of the water closet and 15 to 48 inches above the floor. Also, they must not be located closer to 1 ½ inches below the parallel grab bar or 12 inches above. If this requirement is not met the toilet paper dispenser will interfere with the functionality and will require relocation. ADAAG 4.16.6 states that toilet paper dispensers shall be installed within reach, as shown in Fig. 29(b). Dispensers that control delivery, or that do not permit continuous paper flow, shall not be used.

Lavatories
An accessible lavatory shall be provided within a single use toilet room. ADAAG 4.19 provides the scoping for accessible lavatories and The Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and ANSI A117.1 scope lavatories in Section 606. ADAAG requires knee clearance of at least 29 inches to the bottom of the apron, while the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and ANSI A117.1 require that the knee/toe clearance complies with Section 306 of the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and ANSI A117.1. See knee clearance figure below detailing compliance with Section 306.

As you can see, ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines require minimum of 27 inches of knee clearance with a maximum lavatory height of 34”.

Under all 3 standards, lavatories shall be mounted with the rim or counter surface no higher than 34 in above the finish floor.

*Note that there are exceptions for lavatory heights used primarily by children in all 3 standards*

All three standards will also require that a clear floor space 30 inches minimum X 48 inches minimum shall be provided in front of a lavatory to allow forward approach. Such clear floor space shall adjoin or overlap an accessible route. Additionally, hot water and drain pipes under lavatories shall be insulated or otherwise configured to protect against contact. There shall be no sharp or abrasive surfaces under lavatories.

Faucets

Faucets are scoped in ADAAG 4.19.5 and shall not require any tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist to operate. Hand-operated metering faucets are required to remain open for a minimum of 10 seconds per ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines (Section 606.4).

Mirrors

In all 3 aforementioned standards, mirrors are required to be installed with the bottom edge of the reflecting surface to be no mounted no higher than 40 inches maximum above the finished floor or ground. ANSI A117.1 and The Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines (Section 603.3) states that mirrors that are not located above lavatories or countertops shall be installed with the bottom edge of the reflecting surface to be to be mounted no higher than 35 inches above the finished floor or ground surface.

Coat Hooks & Shelves

Per ANSI A117.1 and the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines Section 603.4, if coat hooks or shelves are provided within a toilet room, coat hooks shall be located within accessible reaches (15 inches minimum and 48 inches maximum above finish floor). Shelves shall be 40 inches minimum and 48 inches maximum above the floor.

Toilet Room Signage

ADAAG 4.30.6 requires that signs be centered at 60” above the finished floor or ground surface. The Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines Section 703.4.1 and ANSI A117.1 703.3.10 require that tactile characters on signs shall be located 48 inches minimum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the lowest tactile character and 60 inches maximum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the highest tactile character.

All 3 standards require that signage is placed on the wall adjacent to the latch side of the door, where wall space permits this installation. See the figure below from the Revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines 703.4.1 for clarification:

 

CONSULTING SERVICES

Using current standards, our team evaluates existing building sites or design documents and provides recommendations to ensure that your project is in compliance with applicable codes.
View Details

PROJECTS

Accessibility Services has teamed on the greatest diversity of projects in the industry. From schools and entertainment venues to corporate and residential facilities. We have done it all!
View project list

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design Training Program

Are you familiar with these changes to the new design standards? If not, you should contact us to arrange for an in-firm training either in person or via webinar. AIA members will receive AIA/CES Learning Units applicable towards HSW credit.

TRAINING SERVICES

Accessibility Service's experienced staff provides customized online webinars and in-firm accredited training and technical assistance on the latest city, state and federal accessibility requirements throughout the country.
View Details

We receive grant money from the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center to provide free or low-cost training programs to help architects, building code officials, and design professions located in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia understand and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Standards. A training or presentation can be tailored to the interests of the audience, and can be a simple overview or an in-depth review of a particular area of the law and the Accessibility Standards. Contact us at afitzsimmons@unitedspinal.org for more information.
We are an AIA/CES Approved Provider of Continuing Education for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as well as a registered provider for the International Code Council (ICC) and other professional organizations.

E-Newsletter
Sign up for our free quarterly e-newsletter.
Subscribe

Code Source: Accessibility
With this ICC resource readers can learn to translate key accessibility requirements into clear, understandable and easily applicable explanations.
Click Here