If you’ve ever been in a public bathroom, you’ll notice that bathroom doors usually have gaps below them. This compromises the privacy of those using the bathroom stalls. So why do bathroom doors have gaps?
There are valid reasons for the gaps in bathroom doors. They make bathrooms easier to clean, prevent undesirable behavior, provide emergency access and escape routes, allow for sharing of toilet paper, and comply with ADA while ensuring better air circulation, cost-effectiveness, and orderliness.
However, you’ll still find bathrooms with no space or gaps. This is most common with private bathrooms or in Europe. Here, we discuss why bathroom doors have gaps.
1. Easier to Clean
The gaps in bathroom doors make each partition easier to clean. It also aids in the cleaning of the whole restroom. Due to these gaps, it’s possible to power wash or hose down the restroom. Even if each bathroom stall doesn’t have its drains, water will still be able to run out.
It also ensures that anyone who wants to clean the bathroom can easily see that someone is inside and won’t intrude on their privacy. Sanitation workers don’t even need to open the door to clean the bathroom. They can slide the mop inside from below the gap. Due to the space below the door, dirt can’t accumulate around the corners of the bathroom.
2. Emergency Access
The gap provides emergency access to the bathroom without breaking down the door. Someone can faint while inside the bathroom. If the bathroom has a gap below its doors, it’ll be much easier to notice something wrong. This can make a big difference when trying to save a person. If it’s a bathroom with a lock, someone can crawl into the bathroom through the gap and open the door from behind.
3. Prevent Undesirable Behavior
The partitions in the bathroom door are also a deterrent to various undesirable acts. When people know others can see them, they’re less likely to break the law. That seems to be the logic behind making the bathroom exposed. It might be easy to tell what the person inside is doing by the direction of their shoes. Without the gap, some people could go to the bathroom for other acts such as sex, drug use, vandalism, etc. These acts are quite rampant in public bathrooms.
4. Escape Route
It’s possible to get locked up inside the bathroom. Maybe it’s the lock that jammed. It could also be that someone mischievously locked the door from the outside. Whatever the case might be, anyone inside the bathroom can get out by using the gap below the door if necessary. Suppose they need to call for help; it’ll also be easier.
It’s more affordable to use these door partitions in the bathroom than any other type. The partitions are usually cheap and don’t need to be custom-made to fit the measurement of the doors. The European style of building bathrooms offers more privacy as it doesn’t leave gaps.
But it’s also more costly, and several businesses or organizations building bathrooms can’t justify the cost. This kind of bathroom is also much easier to build. It’s possible to build it in any room regardless of its height or the slope of the floor.
Beyond the gaps below the door, there could also be gaps in the doors. This is because all the materials used for the construction are mass-produced. The contractors focus on getting the job done instead of how good it is. So, they do enough to make the bathroom a little private. This saves costs for the contractor and the business that gives them the job. The cost-efficiency of installing simple stall partitions is clear, and everyone in the business understands this.
6. Better Air Circulation
If you think the bathroom smells, imagine how bad it could get without air circulation. The gaps in the door allow air to circulate. Most times, the bathrooms don’t have windows which means that the gaps allow fresh air to come in. Without that, it could be unbearable to use a public bathroom.
7. Compliance with ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act ADA requires that anytime bathroom stalls should have a minimum toe space of 9 inches (230mm). This will allow patrons in a wheelchair to move within stalls and be more convenient. Thus, the gap below bathroom doors effectively ensures compliance with this rule. This rule won’t apply if the stall has a depth above 60 inches (1525 mm). The toe clearance means a person in a wheelchair should be able to unlatch the door from inside.
8. Ensures Orderliness and Protect Privacy
Many people are usually trying to use public bathrooms. That could mean a long line of people waiting. The gaps in the door let you know when a stall is vacant and occupied. So no one is knocking incessantly to confirm if someone is inside or standing in line in front of an empty stall.
Some bathrooms have locks that signal when they’re occupied from the inside. But it’s not all public bathrooms that use this. It’s even possible for the bathroom not to have a lock on the door. So, the gaps usually tell people that someone is inside.
The fact that the stall isn’t fully enclosed could also encourage those taking care of their business to do it faster. The gaps in the bathroom usually make anyone inside feel exposed. So they’re more rushed. This ensures that the queue moves faster and there’s no unnecessary traffic in the bathroom.
9. Allows sharing of toilet paper
If you run out of toilet pepper in the bathroom, you’ll know how important the gap in the door is. Most times., you’ll ask the person in the next stall. The easiest way to pass it to you is by using the gap below the door. If the bathroom has a floor-to-ceiling door, it’ll be impossible to ask for the toilet paper from the next person and get it.
The lower costs might be the major motivator for the gaps in the bathroom doors. But it also serves a functional purpose and makes the bathroom a little safer, even if not so private.