For many of us, a commercial bathroom partition is something we don’t often think about too much. We know they exist, and we all benefit from them as they grant us safety, privacy and security in public restroom facilities. Beyond these superficial thoughts, however, they probably never cross our minds.
If you’re in a position to build or redesign a restroom, you’ll soon need to start thinking much more about these partitions. Did you know bathroom dividers are available in a wide range of materials, colors and styles? Each of these toilet partition materials comes with separate pros and cons, meaning that as a conscientious bathroom designer, it’s up to you to do your research and decide which is best for you and your new facilities.
Of course, this can be hard to do without the concrete information you need to make an informed decision. To help you understand the basics of different toilet partition wall material types, we want to provide you with a crash course in bathroom partition materials and colors. Browse through these descriptions and decide which material is the smartest choice for you.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT BATHROOM STALL MATERIALS?
We’ll talk about each material in more depth later, but first, let’s take a quick look at each of the toilet partition material types in order, from the typically most inexpensive to the most expensive.
- Powder-coated steel: A widespread choice due to the attractive price range
- Plastic laminate: One of the most customizable options when it comes to color variety
- Solid plastic: Sturdy, heavy-duty and built to withstand anything
- Phenolic core: Reliable, durable and long-lasting
- Stainless steel: The epitome of sophistication and style
With this brief snapshot under our belts, let’s take a closer look at the composition of each of these materials, as well as their various strengths and weaknesses.
1. POWDER-COATED STEEL
No matter which manufacturer or distributor you buy from, powder-coated steel partitions will almost always be the most affordable option on the list. And while this lower price point might fool you into thinking that these partitions are somehow less sturdy or reliable, this isn’t the case. These partitions are generally more affordable because of their construction. They’re built from lightweight materials, and while they might not pack quite the same amount of longevity you’ll find in some of the more expensive partitions, they still have a lot to offer.
A panel of honeycomb cardboard forms the core of these partitions, giving them the lightness they’re so well known for. Heavier sheets of steel then cover the cardboard on either side. These steel panels sandwich the cardboard between them and lend it additional structure and strength. Finally, a colored powder coats this outer steel layer, which gets baked into the steel to give it color and style.
This construction results in a partition that is light and highly affordable, while remaining robust and reliable. Just a few of the most significant benefits that make people choose powder-coated steel include the following.
- Affordability: It doesn’t get more affordable than these lightweight partitions. For anyone operating on a constrained budget, consider joining the legions of other businesses that have gone with powder-coated steel. Prices can start as low as $200 to $300, although they can easily climb much higher, even reaching numbers like $900.
- Rust protection: Powder-coated steel also holds up quite well against corrosion and rust stains. If you’ve had bad experiences with rust in the past, powder-coated steel will do an excellent job of fighting it off this time around.
- Vandalism resistance: Powder-coated steel offers mid-level protection from vandalism and graffiti. While it doesn’t provide quite the same level of resistance you’ll receive from more expensive materials, it nonetheless gets the job done. These types of partitions make excellent choices for spaces that may encounter the occasional vandal, but won’t be heavy targets.
Here are a few of the potential drawbacks to be aware of when choosing powder-coated steel.
- Limited color options: There are certainly multiple color options to be had here, but you will also find yourself more limited than you might be with other materials. If you’re looking for something with extreme customizability, this likely will not be it.
- Poor water performance: Powder-coated steel is not the best choice for shower rooms, locker rooms or even bathrooms at public pools. If you’re outfitting a restroom in a setting where water will be prevalent, or even where high levels of humidity might be a factor, you may want to look at other options. Powder-coated steel is an excellent partition material, but it doesn’t perform well when it comes into direct contact with water.
2. PLASTIC LAMINATE
Plastic laminate partitions are another very affordable option, just one step up the price scale from powder-coated steel. Like powder-coated steel, plastic laminate is a solid choice for anyone looking to stay within a budget, or even for someone not worried about money but looking for a more durable model.
A sheet of particleboard forms the core of these partitions, which allows for the lower price. Plastic laminate then covers the particleboard on either side, followed by an edge band that is heat sealed to add a touch of strength and security. As with the powder-coated steel, the final partition is strong and sturdy, and the wood core helps keep the price down. And while the two partition materials do have a lot in common, laminate ultimately represents a step up from powder-coated steel.
There are plenty of reasons to opt for plastic laminate partitions.
- Affordability: Although they are a bit more expensive than the powder-coated steel, these partitions are still extremely affordable. For anyone feeling the constraints of a tight budget, these are a perfect choice.
- A wide range of colors: Looking for classic neutrals? Bold colors? Soft pastels? Plastic laminate partitions are your best bet, no matter what color you’re searching for. They come in a vast range of colors from dark to light, and everything in between. For sheer customization potential and variety, nothing beats these partitions.
No material is without its disadvantages, however. For laminate partitions, you’ll want to be aware of the following cons.
- Poor water resistance: As is the case with the powder-coated steel, plastic laminate partitions do not resist heavy levels of water well. Whether you’re worried about showers, pool water or even just high humidity, plastic laminate is the wrong choice for these situations.
3. SOLID PLASTIC
Regarding price, your next option is solid plastic bathroom partitions. These partitions represent excellent middle-of-the-road pricing, but the value they offer is nothing less than superb. These partitions are heavy-duty, highly durable and built to take just about type of vandalism or damage without missing a beat.
These built-to-last partitions consist of at least an inch of solid plastic all the way through. Because there’s no light core, these partitions can last through even the toughest abuse. For school settings or any other location where you expect lots of vandalism, these are an excellent choice.
Just a few of the most significant benefits you can take advantage of with these partitions include the following.
- High levels of durability: Solid plastic partitions are called “solid” for a reason. Whether you’re worried about corrosion, dirt, rust, water, mold, graffiti or blunt force abuse, these partitions can handle it. For any location where you anticipate heavy usage, these partitions are an ideal option.
- Easy cleaning: Solid plastic performs extremely well against water, meaning cleaning is easy and simple. Feel free to use a hose, a bucket of water or whatever else works without worrying about causing damage through water exposure.
Here are the primary disadvantages to keep in mind with solid plastic partitions.
- Aesthetics: Aesthetic value is difficult to define, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many people agree, however, that while solid plastic partitions are incredibly durable, they do not represent the pinnacle of aesthetic appeal. Their construction focuses on longevity rather than attractiveness, meaning they will be far from the most beautiful partitions.
- Price: While solid plastic partitions are still firmly in the middle of the road when it comes to price, they’re starting to climb the scale and become more expensive. An essential thing to remember, however, is that despite the larger upfront costs, these partitions are an investment that should long outlast more inexpensive materials. Typical solid plastic partitions will start at around $400 per stall.
4. PHENOLIC CORE
Phenolic core partitions are also noteworthy because of their excellent resistance to everything from heavy traffic to rust and corrosion. They are the second-most expensive toilet wall partition material, but they offer outstanding value for this price and represent a phenomenal investment due to their longevity.
Unlike the other partition materials we’ve examined, which typically rely on plastic, steel or both, phenolic partitions consist of multiple layers of paper, pressed tightly together and soaked in a coating of phenolic resin. The resin causes the paper to harden and become stiff and sturdy, and bonds them together to prevent dirt or mold from breaking them apart.
These are a few of the major benefits you’ll experience with phenolic core partitions.
- Longevity: The resin does such an excellent job of sealing this partition together that this material can far outlast almost any other materials. While they fall second regarding a typical lifespan, they still will serve you well for years to come.
- Durability: Thanks to the phenolic resin coating, these partitions are perfectly capable of standing up against damaging outside forces such as heavy traffic, abuse, mold and corrosion.
The only real potential drawback you’ll want to keep in mind is as follows.
- Price: These phenolic core partitions, while not the most expensive material, are also not cheap. As with the plastic partitions, however, you should view these as an investment that will last long after cheaper partitions fail and need replacement. In many cases, phenolic core partitions may be the most cost-effective option for the long-term planner.
5. STAINLESS STEEL
Stainless steel stands at the top of the scale in everything from quality to longevity, aesthetic appeal and more. And while these partitions are unbeatable for their stability, strength, durability and lifespan, this isn’t what they’re known for. They have a reputation for representing the very highest levels of elegance and beauty. For luxury hotels, classic office buildings or stylish restaurants, these partitions are guaranteed to make a splash.
As the name suggests, these partitions are stainless steel all the way through. They’re easily identifiable due to their sleek and smooth finish, as well as their iconic silver gleam. No matter what kind of facility you have, installing stainless steel panels is a way to add an instant touch of authority and class.
While a discussion of every benefit of stainless steel partitions would go on for ages, here are a few highlights.
- Durability: While the brilliant silver sheen might trick you into thinking these partitions are all style and no substance, think again. Stainless steel partitions bring serious levels of resistance against rust, corrosion, scratches and blunt force damage.
- Aesthetic: Stainless steel partitions don’t just hold up against wear and tear. They also look amazing while doing it. For any comparison of partitions concerning beauty, stainless steel will win every time.
Despite all these many advantages, the one potential drawback that’s worth mentioning is cost.
- Price: These partitions won’t come cheaply. In fact, you’ll find they typically cost about twice as much as powder-coated steel. We encourage you not to let this price deter you, however, as it’s an investment that will serve you magnificently for years to come.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT BATHROOM STALL COLORS?
In addition to choosing the material for your bathroom partitions, you also get to decide what color they should be. It is a fun and exciting decision that gives you an opportunity to play with the aesthetic you want your bathroom to exude. Bathroom color choices, perhaps as much as the floor tile style or the wall design, say a great deal about the type of bathroom you offer to your visitors, and can make your guests feel either comfortable and welcome or uneasy and eager to leave.
Are you seeking a classic and minimalist look? Consider white, black, gray or some other neutral. Looking for a fun and vibrant atmosphere? Toilet partitions are available in colors like bright jewel tones as well. Or, are you perhaps looking for something that’s unique and makes an impressive statement? Try a metallic shade or a marbled swirl.
Choosing your partition color is not entirely independent from choosing your partition material, however. Every partition material is available in a unique set of colors. If there’s a specific shade you’re looking for, you might only have a choice between one or two partition materials.
It’s also worth noting that stainless steel only comes in its trademark silver shine, and isn’t available in different colors. The other partition materials, however, are more customizable. Here is a brief overview of your options for toilet partition colors.
- Powder-coated steel: This highly customizable material comes in 15 different shades, including neutrals like grays, blacks and whites, as well as bright shades like red and blue.
- Plastic laminate: Plastic laminate is by far the material with the most customizability. Choose from 48 different options, from solid colors in every shade from blue to green, and red to gray, and even more patterned options, such as designs intended to look more textured.
- Solid plastic: Solid plastic offers 16 different color options. Choose from neutrals including a range of grays, whites and creams, as well as brighter shades of blue, green and red.
- Phenolic: Phenolic partitions offer the fewest customization options, with 11 possibilities to choose from. These color choices are exclusively available in neutrals.
Take these color options as your guide as you consider what type of aesthetic you’re looking to achieve in your bathroom. If you’re determined to install brightly colored partitions, for instance, phenolic partitions would not be the right choice, but plastic laminate would be excellent.
START BUILDING YOUR BATHROOM TODAY
Are you ready to start planning your bathroom and designing your partitions today? Here at TubToday, we offer high-quality, American-made partitions in all these material and color options. To get started, open our pricing tool and begin customizing your partitions today.