Choosing Toilet Partitions: Plastic Laminate vs. Solid Plastic

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There are many factors to consider when choosing the materials for your toilet cubicles. There are five common toilet cubicle materials: powder coat, plastic laminate, solid plastic, stainless steel, and phenolic. This article discusses the different properties of plastic laminate and solid plastic partitions.

People don’t really realize how toilet cubicles can make or break a public restroom’s aesthetic. They do, after all, take up the most space in a restroom. Unlike with choosing a partition’s color and style, choosing the material or finish for your toilet partitions isn’t a matter of preference. Toilet partition materials aren’t one-size-fits-all things, and some are more suited for certain situations and bathroom settings than others.

There are toilet cubicles that are made out of metal, plastic laminate, solid plastic, stainless steel, and phenolic materials. Some also have powder coating finishes. Plastic laminate and solid plastic materials are of the most common ones used all over the country.

All about Plastic Laminate Toilet Partitions

Plastic laminate is made out of multiple layers of thin kraft paper soaked in a melamine resin and subjected to high pressure and temperatures that harden the material. The more kraft paper is used in the creation of the plastic laminate, the harder and more durable the material is.

If the partition is meant to be in a certain color or have a certain design, colored or decorative paper can be easily used as the top layer – over all the layers of brown kraft paper – before it is soaked and hardened. This allows plastic laminate toilet cubicles to be highly customizable without adding much to its price tag.

Disadvantages to Using Plastic Laminate

Plastic laminate is a great choice for toilet cubicles but they’re not perfect. Here are some disadvantages to using this material:

  • Cost

Plastic laminate is actually on the cheaper side of the toilet partition material spectrum. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s affordable. This material costs more than basic metal partitions. Given its durability and susceptibility to damage, it may end up costing you more in the long run.

  • Durability

Plastic laminate isn’t waterproof. In fact, they don’t even do well in high-moisture areas as they are porous and absorb water and moisture easily. This makes them not ideal for humid areas, for areas near the ocean or pools, and for shower rooms.

Its plastic coating can be damaged by heat and sharp objects putting them at risk of damage by vandalism. Cigarettes can easily burn plastic laminate cubicles, and while plastic laminate is hard, it’s not hard enough to deter scratches.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Plastic Laminate

Because of its laminated surface, plastic laminate toilet cubicles don’t absorb odor, dirt, grease, and even cosmetics. While this property definitely makes this material easy to clean, certain precautions still need to be taken in its maintenance.

Plastic laminate partitions are porous so they cannot be exposed to water even when being cleaned.

General Cleaning: a damp (not wet), gentle cloth or soft-bristled brush can be used to rid of any loose dirt on the material.

Minor Stains: mild cleaning detergents can be used to remove minor stains on the material.

Stubborn Stains: a stronger chemical cleaner can be carefully used to remove more stubborn stains. Acetic acid cleaners are recommended as they are very effective in removing stains.

One should be careful not to use abrasive agents when cleaning plastic laminate partitions as they can damage and discolor the material. Even polishes are discouraged as they can lead to unsightly residue build-up when used a lot.

Of course, due to its porous nature, plastic laminate partitions cannot be rinsed with water.

All about Solid Plastic Toilet Partitions

Solid plastic toilet cubicles are also called – and are made out of – high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This plastic is usually used in jugs that store milk, laundry detergent, and bleach. When used as toilet cubicles, they are made thicker and more durable. Since HDPE has a high strength to density ratio, solid plastic toilet cubicles tend to be pretty strong.

Aside from its durability, they are also waterproof and moisture resistant. This means that, unlike the plastic laminate toilet cubicles, they don’t absorb water and moisture that could damage the material.

They’re microbial resistant as well. This makes HDPE a solid choice for shower rooms and other humid, high-moisture settings.

Vandalism is rarely a problem for HDPE partitions. They’re strong enough to withstand most scratches and are graffiti resistant, too.

Because of this, HDPE is the preferred material for a lot of heavy-traffic restrooms.

Disadvantages to Using Solid Plastic or HDPE

Even if HDPE is used for most public restrooms, they still have their disadvantages:

  • Cost

Because HDPE is such a durable material, they cost much more than plastic laminate partitions. However, since they are not prone to damages and vandalism, they will usually last longer than other toilet partitions.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Solid Plastic

General cleaning is a breeze with solid plastic partitions. The compartments of this partition material do not rot, rust, mold, oxidize, or de-laminate.  They don’t absorb odor, too!

General Cleaning: for this material, cleaning is the same as for plastic laminate partitions – using a damp, gentle cloth with a mixture of warm water and mild detergent.

Minor and Stubborn Stains: Non-abrasive cleaners and industrial strength cleaners are safe to use on HDPE partitions. One may also opt to go DIY and use a mixture of baking soda and water.

Unlike porous plastic laminate partitions, solid plastic partitions can be hosed down to rinse off all the different cleaning agents used on it.

Quick Summary

Plastic laminate partitions are economical and highly durable. They are not recommended for use in restrooms that are in high-moisture areas as they are porous. They are ideal for public restrooms that don’t get that much traffic.

Solid plastic partitions are far superior in terms of strength and durability, but can be quite expensive. They are recommended for use in high-traffic, vandalism prone, humid, and high-moisture areas.

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