Why Do Public Toilet Doors Have a Gap Below the Door?


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    Is it beneficial to have floor to ceiling toilet cubicles?

    Why do public toilet doors have a gap? This is one of the most common questions asked whilst we are using public toilets. In this article, we will explain some of the reasoning behind why public toilets are set off the floor and why floor-to-ceiling toilet cubicles are less common.

    About Public Restroom Cubicles

    Love them or hate them, public bathrooms are necessary when you are away from home for extended periods.

    Different types of toilet cubicles will have different regulations to adhere to.

    British standards state that every standard cubicle needs to have a 450mm  manoeuvring space inside the toilet cubicle.

    Washrooms must have a minimum of one Ambulant disabled cubicle per washroom.  The cubicle must be minimum 800mm wide and include grab rails. The door must open outwards, and the swing must leave a 750mm activity space in front of the WC.

    Enlarged toilets are required if there are four or more cubicles (including ambulant) in a washroom in both the male and female washrooms. The cubicle must be a minimum of 1200mm wide, include a shelf, horizontal and vertical grab rails and a folding baby changing table for parents to use. The door must have a horizontal pull rail and open outwards.

    The provision of an enlarged cubicle in a washroom can be of benefit to ambulant disabled people, as well as parents with children, and people with luggage who need extra space. In large building developments, separate facilities for baby changing and an enlarged unisex toilet are desirable.

    The sizes of standard toilet cubicles are shown in the table below.

    Wide (mm) High (mm) Deep (mm)
    Toilet cubicle  800 1950 1500
    Enlarged toilet cubicle 1200 1950 1500
    Disabled toilet cubicle 1500 1950 2200
    3.5 Why Do Public Toilet Doors Have A Gap

    Floor to Ceiling Toilet Cubicles

    As the name suggests, a floor to ceiling toilet cubicle provides the user a “private space.”  

    Advantages of Floor to Ceiling Toilet Stalls

    • Complete privacy.
    • You do not have to worry about someone looking through the gaps that are associated with other toilet cubicles.
    • When you use this type of toilet cubicle you are enclosed in your own space.
    • Floor to ceiling toilet cubicles give a perception of opulence. You can expect to see this type of toilet cubicle in commercial buildings, high end retail and all new builds within the education sector. User privacy is currently a hot topic within the washroom market, mobile phone camera access is a huge area of concern, floor to ceiling cubicles can negate this issue.
    3.3 Why Do Public Toilet Doors Have A Gap

    Disadvantages of Floor to Ceiling Toilet Stalls

    • The cost to purchase this type of toilet cubicle is higher than standard height cubicles due to the increase in material required; standard floor to ceiling heights in new builds @ 2700mm will require circa 1000mm of extra material on the frontage and partitions. Manual handing and access into the buildings also need to be considered. These panels are large and heavy, some as big as 1500mm x 2700mm.
    • Lighting and ventilation will need to be considered for all full height cubicles.
    • In public washrooms and facilities with a high footfall a fully enclosed cubicle is rarely installed; being able to observe public safety, occupancy levels and anyone in trouble from collapse being a key driver.
    3.2 Why Do Public Toilet Doors Have A Gap

    Toilet Cubicles Set off the Floor Onto a Leg

    So why do public toilet doors have a gap? With the doors and walls not extended all the way to the floor, this type of toilet cubicle is the most common toilet cubicle on the market,

    Whilst most of us prefer to have as much privacy as possible when we use public toilets there are a variety of reasons why a cubicle with gaps between the stall doors is commonly used.

    Advantages of Having Gaps in Bathroom Stalls

    • Easier to clean. With no tricky junction details on the floor, a mop or pressure washer can easily fit in these stalls.
    • Cost effective due to less material as a result of the gap at the bottom.
    • Air circulation, ventilation and lighting does not need special consideration
    • Easily see which cubicle is occupied and which is vacant
    • Easily accessible should there be an emergency / someone has collapsed inside
    • You can share toilet paper - another emergency!
    3.3 Why Do Public Toilet Doors Have A Gap

    Disadvantages of Having Toilet Door Gaps

    • The main disadvantage of toilet cubicles off the floor is reduced privacy. People passing by can sneak their phone between the floor and the bottom of the cubicle door to take a photo of you while you are on the toilet.
    3.4 Why Do Public Toilet Doors Have A Gap


    Both floor to ceiling toilet cubicles and toilet cubicles on a leg have benefits and drawbacks, and not all these advantages and disadvantages will apply to all projects. The sector generally dictates the specification decision, the most important factors to consider are the type of project (is it a shopping centre, school, office, etc.), the interior design concept, and last but not least, the budget.


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