Washrooms: creating the perfect balance

As the demand for high-specification office washrooms has increased, so too has the specification of materials which are not traditionally associated with washrooms. While creating a unique design is important, it should not compromise on practicality. Trevor Bowers, Director at washroom designer and manufacturer, Washroom Washroom, explains how, by careful selection of materials and considered bespoke design features, it’s possible to create a washroom that delivers the perfect balance of form and function without compromise.

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y continually pushing the boundaries of design, creating new products and utilising the latest materials, manufacturers have developed an extensive range of options for the washroom – giving architects the tools to create unique design-led washroom spaces.

Material choice is a vital part of the washroom design process and innovative new materials, which offer exceptional durability together with design versatility and aesthetic properties, have been a game-changer.

Solid surface materials such as Corian, which are highly durable and easy to clean, have become a popular choice for washroom vanities and duct panelling systems, especially in the commercial office sector. The fact that such materials are also available in a wide range of attractive colours and textures and can be cut bent and joined to produce a desirable seamless, smooth finish, enables clients to create a functional washroom space that is as hardwearing as it is aesthetically pleasing.

LG HI-MACS, a solid surface material consisting of acrylic resin plus 5% natural pigments, and Silestone, which is manufactured from 90% natural quartz, not only look attractive but also offer increased anti-bacterial properties. Incredibly hardwearing and non-porous, both are highly resistant to stains from everyday products while LG HI-MACS is also impermeable to dirt, bacteria, viruses and countless chemicals.

Next-generation materials

One of the stand-out developments in terms of washroom design in recent years is FENIX NTM, a highly durable acrylic resin surface material, manufactured by Italian manufacturer Arpa Industriale using the latest nanotechnology. Not only is it anti-fingerprint, hydro repellent and resistant to scratches and abrasion, it is also thermally self-healing and lightfast so it won’t fade over time. The fact that it is also easy to clean, mould resistant and boasts enhanced anti-bacterial properties is an additional benefit for clients and facilities managers alike.

Extremely matt with low light reflectivity and a unique fashionable super-matt appearance, FENIX NTM is also soft to the touch, making it increasingly popular with architects and interior designers looking for a luxury high-performance finish. The advances made in the manufacture of glass have also impacted on washroom design, as specially toughened glass can be effectively used throughout a washroom, including cubicles, duct panels and even lockers without compromising performance.

Glass also offers scope for design versatility, making it a popular choice for contemporary commercial washrooms. The option to back paint glass means it can fit in with virtually any washroom design or colour scheme. There are also ways to incorporate digitally screen printed designs behind the glass, adding a further bespoke element to the overall design, while textured glass and acid etching opens up more possibilities for a greater array of finishes.

Clean, hygienic and clutter-free washrooms

Washroom consumables such as soap and paper towels are an essential part of a creating a clean and hygienic washroom space, but can sometimes cause more mess with unsightly bins overflowing or soap dispensers that are difficult to refill. Integrated consumable units such as the innovative Alavo unit from Dolphin Dispensers provide a new solution to an age-old problem. The modular unit incorporates all the facilities needed for wash, soap and dry, all concealed behind an attractive mirror unit.

Designed to save water and soap, they are also easy to maintain and refill, saving energy, time and money, while the use of infrared taps and soap dispensers limit the number of surfaces users need to touch, therefore, reducing the spread of bacteria. These units can be combined with bespoke vanity units with integrated waste bins for a clear and clutter-free washroom space.

Endless possibilities

Never before have washroom designers had such a wealth of practical solutions at their disposal. There’s huge scope to utilise new materials, products and finishes to stunning effect – creating washrooms that not only look exceptional but also save building managers time, energy and money.

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