The New High-Privacy Toilet Compartment

Eliminate sightlines and improve aesthetics with the HDPE hinge and post bathroom enclosure
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Sponsored by Scranton Products
By Jeanette Fitzgerald Pitts

Performance Comparison: Pilaster System vs. Hinge and Post System

This course has dedicated quite a bit of space to describing the differences between the typical pilaster toilet compartment and the new hinge and post toilet compartment now available, but the bigger question is how the performances of each solution compare. Performance of these two bathroom enclosures will now be compared in terms of the ability to create a private occupant experience with zero sightlines, aesthetic appeal, durability in the commercial bathroom space, and sustainability.

Delivering a High-Privacy Experience

The truth is that this is not the first time that customers have begun to clamor for better privacy in the bathroom. It’s just the first time that the design and specification community has had access to a tool to provide the improved privacy, without a lot of hardware. Before the introduction of the hinge and post system, sightlines in the pilaster system were combatted by adding brackets to the door to obscure the existing gaps. Now, with the hinge and post system, there is no need to cover gaps with obtrusive hardware. The concealed pivot hinge and the angle-cut door eliminate the gap between the door and adjacent fixed panels, providing a smooth, sightline-free, and highly-private experience, without requiring that any bandage bracket fixes be incorporated into the design.

Achieving high-privacy design without a lot of additional parts and pieces makes the hinge and post system the better performing of the two in this category.

Aesthetic Appeal

The swap of the bulky, rectangular columns in the pilaster system for the sleeker metal and headrail frame seems like an aesthetic upgrade for many reasons. Not only does it update this traditional toilet enclosure form with a more contemporary look, but improving the overall balance of the system and eliminating the view of hardware from the outside of the stall all contribute toward a hinge and post system that is much more aesthetically appealing.


When comparing the durability of different bathroom partition systems, the focus is less on the structure of the frame (pilaster vs. hinge and post) and more on the material, panel construction, and how it fares in the face of the common challenges of the bathroom environment. HDPE is a solid plastic material that has the color integrated consistently throughout the plastic panel. This is dramatically different construction from many of the other types of panels, such as stainless steel, which often feature a metal exterior with a honeycomb core made of cardboard. The HDPE material and its solid panel construction offer a more durable solution to each potential threat of the bathroom space.

The HDPE bathroom partitions provide superior resistance to dents, graffiti, corrosion, mildew, moisture, and delamination. These HDPE panels and doors are also very easy to clean, naturally resistant to bacteria, and will never need to be relaminated or repainted. The unparalleled durability of the HDPE solid plastic surface makes it a perfect fit for the harsh and high-traffic commercial bathroom interior.

Chart showing impact test results.


The hinge and post toilet compartment system made from HDPE solid plastic offers a unique solution that blends high privacy and durability in a building material that is designed to be environmentally friendly and support many important sustainable design criteria. The zero-VOC emissions rating indicates that the bathroom enclosure contributes toward a healthy indoor environment throughout the life of the system and then can be substantially repurposed for additional useful lives, without requiring a resting space in the nearest local landfill. Fully recyclable and capable of containing recycled content, the hinge and post system constructed from HDPE provides a sustainably savvy solution for commercial bathrooms throughout the United States.

Traditional metal pilaster systems fare much worse in terms of their support of sustainable design criteria. Rust or corrosion caused by the moisture in the bathroom environment can require that the doors, pilasters, and dividers be repainted to repair the damage. New paints or coatings can negatively impact the quality of the indoor environment, and most metal and alternative material systems are not designed to include a fraction of the recycled content found in the HDPE solution. In addition, the metal bathroom systems are not fully recyclable and will end up taking up a sizable amount of space in the local landfill at the end of their useful life.

“The HDPE material offers an overwhelming benefit to the commercial bathroom space and provides all-around superior performance when compared with the popular metal or stainless steel finishes commonly used in this area,” Scranton Products Director of Sales Administration David Casal explains. “Combining the hinge and post system design with the unparalleled performance of the HDPE material offers the commercial specification market everything it wants in one package—improved privacy experience for occupants, great looks, and the support of important sustainable design criteria.”

Tips to Specify New High-Privacy Hinge and Toilet Compartments

Perhaps the singular advantage offered by the pilaster system over the new hinge and post system is the ease of the specification, but that is simply a result of how long these rectangular-columned structures have been the only option for outfitting the restroom space. At this point, designers experienced in the specification of a commercial bathroom may quickly select the color and size of the standard pilaster-style partition and then spend more time choosing accessories and ensuring the placement of those other items is optimal or code compliant, where applicable. But specifying the new hinge and post toilet compartment is not complex; it’s just new. Using this new style of restroom enclosure to create high-privacy and aesthetically pleasing commercial bathrooms has never been easier with these four tips of the trade.

Specify a Hidden Pivot Hinge, Inswing, or Outswing

The most critical aspect of creating a high-privacy bathroom is eliminating the gaps at the door that cause the sightlines that allow people to see into and out of an occupied restroom stall. One of the best tools for creating a stall door with no open space for roving eyes or inadvertent flashing is the concealed pivot hinge. The hidden pivot hinge is located 6 to 8 inches inside the edge of the door instead of at the edge of the door where the hinges are placed in typical pilaster-based systems. This change in placement easily eliminates the gap that is created to accommodate the bulk of the edge-placed hinge.

Drawing of the pivot hinge.

The concealed pivot hinge is the best tool for eliminating the sightlines in the bathroom stall because it’s located on the inside of the door instead of jutting out at the edge.

The hidden pivot hinge also offers an auto-close feature that can be adjusted to keep a 15-degree open position when not secured shut. This makes it easier for people in the restroom to identify which stalls are unoccupied and makes it less likely that someone would forget to secure the door before getting started.

These hinges are available in both inswing and outswing configurations so ensure that the hinge selection matches the intent of the design.

To aid a designer in specifying a high-privacy toilet compartment, the actual spec language used to craft requirements for the inclusion of a concealed pivot hinge, angle-cut doors, a 72-inch panel height, and a system constructed from HDPE have been included.

Actual spec language:


  1. Inswing hinges:
    1. Hidden pivot type fabricated from heavy-duty cast aluminum
    2. Auto-close feature, adjustable to 15-degree open position
    3. Mounted to doors with stainless steel Torx head screws and through bolted metal post with tamper-proof Torx head sex bolts
    4. Hinge pivot point: 6 to 8 inches from the edge of the door, maintain sufficient clearance to the water closet

  2. Outswing hinges:
    1. Fabricated from extruded aluminum
    2. Auto-close feature, adjustable to 15-degree open position
    3. Surface mounted to doors with stainless steel Torx head screws and fastened to metal posts with countersunk, tamper-proof screws
    4. Provide for field adjustment of plus or minus 0.125 inch laterally and plus or minus 0.125 inch vertically

Specify Angle-Cut Doors

With the hinge no longer placed at the edge of the door, it is now possible to angle cut the edge of the door to create an overlap between the swinging stall door and the fixed panels on either side. This overlap successfully eliminates any existing sightlines that would provide visual access to the occupied enclosure. Specify that the door of the hinge and post toilet compartment feature an angle cut on both edges, opposite of one another, to ensure that the overlap and sightline protection it provides is equally available on both sides of the door.

Actual spec language:

Doors: 60-degree angle on two opposite edges for enhanced privacy

Specify a 72-Inch Panel Height

Door and dividing panels in both hinge and post and pilaster systems are often available in multiple heights. Specify the high-privacy door and divider panels onto a project by selecting the height of 72 inches. These taller panels can be mounted within a range of 4 to 10 inches above the finished floor, reducing the amount of open space between the floor and the bottom of the panel and creating a more formidable barrier between the person in the stall and those on the other side.

Actual spec language:

Doors and Dividing Panels:

  1. 72 inches high, mounted 4 to 10 inches above finished floor

Specify a Compartment Made of HDPE

Specify a hinge and post toilet compartment equipped to withstand exposure to moisture, mold, and mildew and resist graffiti and dents. These doors and divider panels never need to be repainted or relaminated to improve their color or vibrancy. The key is to select HDPE as the material of the toilet compartment instead of metal or alternative materials often found in the commercial bathroom space. HDPE can be specified to contain up to 100 percent of recycled content, offering a minimum of 25 percent recycled content, and meets the fire hazard classifications most commonly required in the commercial bathroom space. HDPE has been tested to pass both ASTM E84 and NFPA 286.

Actual spec language:


Doors and Panels:

  1. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), fabricated from extruded polymer resins, forming a single thickness panel
  2. Waterproof and nonabsorbent with self-lubricating surface, resistant to marks by pens, pencils, markers, and other writing instruments
  3. 1 inch thick with edges rounded to 1/4-inch radius
  4. Recycled content: Minimum [25] [__] percent
  5. Fire hazard classification (select one)
    1. [__] Not required
    2. [__] Class [A] [B] flame spread/smoke developed rating, tested to ASTM E84
    3. [__] Pass NFPA 286
  6. Color: [__] (to be selected from manufacturer’s full color range)

The design and specification community finally has a solution to eliminate those sizeable sightlines from the American-made bathroom stall and create toilet enclosures that offer the level of privacy that people have been enjoying in Europe and China for quite some time, without requiring the addition of extra hardware and brackets to camouflage the gap. The new hinge and post toilet compartment revamps the structure and style of the traditional pilaster system, swapping the bulky, rectangular-column frame for a sleeker, better balanced, and more contemporary design, and eliminating the sightlines by moving the placement of the hinge and creating overlaps on both sides of the door. Constructed from the solid plastic material HDPE, this new solution is extremely durable and equipped to withstand the typical challenges of the commercial bathroom environment, while supporting many important sustainable design and green building criteria.

Specify a hinge and post toilet compartment made of HDPE to create private, beautiful, and environmentally friendly places for people to go about their business and then get on with the rest of their day. Now, people will be able to use a commercial bathroom with no downside in sight.

Jeanette Fitzgerald Pitts has written dozens of continuing education articles for Architectural Record covering a wide range of building products and practices.

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Scranton Products brands of plastic toilet compartments and lockers have dominated the market for more than a quarter of a century, setting new benchmarks for the industry in quality and innovation. Our well-known brands feature the most durable, low-maintenance, and best products in the industry.


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