Building Bathrooms with Greater Privacy

Buliding Bathrooms with Greater Privacy LaForce IncForeigners traveling to the United States often ask: Why is there a little (or, large!) gap between public bathroom stalls and the wall? We’ve even seen news segments and satire on this topic.

Buildings with communal restrooms (such as hospitals, schools, office buildings, and retail stores) are responsible for providing clean, private, and well-maintained facilities for users. Here are some simple product suggestions for building and remodeling commercial bathroom stalls to fix the “gap” and provide more privacy. Click each title for a visual example.

Continuous Hinges

This product minimizes the strip of space on the hinge side between the door panel and the stall pilaster (column). The advantage to updating a restroom with continuous hinges is that the product usually covers up the holes from the previous hardware and is a fairly simple and cost-effective fix.

Continuous Brackets

Similar to the continuous hinge, this product partially blocks the line of sight between the stall pilaster / panel and the wall, and can usually cover existing hardware holes. It is also a cost-effective aid for improving privacy.

Sight Strips for Doors

These are placed on the strike side of the restroom stall door and are made of aluminum. These can be another quick upgrade that enhances stall privacy and minimizes the door gap.

Overlapping Door Panels

Door panels and partitions can be built to overlap, which completely eliminates the line of sight. This upgrade is a little more expensive as the entire toilet compartment layout needs to be replaced, but it can provide a sleek, unobtrusive look.

Extra Tall Door Panels and/or Divider Panels

For added seclusion, restroom stalls can be built with extra tall door panels and divider panels that reach higher and/or lower to the ground. This upgrade is only feasible on ADA stalls if the ADA regulations for length and width are maintained (see below notations on ADA).

Specialty Product Lines

Some manufacturers provide “Ultimate Privacy” product lines that combine all of these features. These products come at the greatest cost but can provide the design and privacy reassurance desired by the owner.

European Style Stalls

These products require a long lead time and are expensive to import and install, but provide maximum privacy for users.


Keep in mind that ADA regulations restrict restroom stall dimensions. These diagrams – ADA Toe Clearance Under Partitions and ADA Wheelchair Accessible Toilet Compartment –  illustrate the minimum stall measurements to meet accessibility requirements. A wheelchair user must still have “toe clearance,” which is why many bathroom stalls have a standard amount of space between the bottom of the door and the floor. Stalls that feature floor-length doors must be larger to accommodate this need.

LaForce can provide many of these products for building updates or new construction projects. Special thanks to Ron Osero of Laforce’s Specialty Division for providing product knowledge! Ron can be reached for building specialty questions and recommendations through this link.

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