Commercial bathroom stalls typically have gaps at the edges of the doors. Why do these gaps exist? Should they exist?
(Also see our articles on bathroom stall floor and ceiling gaps and bathroom stall wall gaps for additional information.)
Bathroom stall doors have gaps between the edges of the doors and the supporting pilasters for the following reasons:
Below are more details and considerations for these issues.
The gap required on the strike side of the door depends on the strike type and dimensions. Hinge manufacturers specify the gap requirements on the hinge side of the door. For example:
Most of the doors outside of public restrooms are enclosed in a door frame which typically includes stop moldings on the sides. These stop moldings cover the gaps between the door and frame.
Public bathroom stalls do not have door frames, so there is no place to mount stop moldings. As a result, partition doors have undesirable "sight line" gaps at their edges. These sight line gaps are a big privacy issue because patrons see through them so easily, even when they do not intend to.
There are a few ways to eliminate or reduce the sight line gaps at the edges of toilet doors:
Another reason for gaps at the edges of doors is to allow toilet partition installers to deal with stall dimensions which do not match the room dimensions. Since partitions are manufactured based on field measurements, this mismatch is usually due to:
Whatever the reason, when the actual room dimensions differ from the expected dimensions, gaps can be modified to absorb the change. These gap adjustments can be made at the walls, but they can also be made in the door openings.
As indicated, door gaps are a necessary (but not evil) part of toilet partition designs. Design features such as zero sightline overlap or hardware privacy strips allow gaps and privacy to happily co-exist. We struggle, however, to endorse the draped toilet paper solution for hopefully obvious reasons.