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What to consider when choosing a urinal for your school

Guidance from the Department for Education and Skills states that private WC cubicles are preferable to urinals in a school setting – but spending restrictions can mean that this isn’t always possible. With a little planning and consideration, you can deliver a cost-effective solution without compromising the privacy of your pupils.

Things to consider when choosing a urinal for your school

Trough or bowl?

There are predominantly two types of urinal to choose from: trough urinals and bowl urinals. Bowl urinals offer a greater level of privacy, but they are costlier to install as each needs its own plumbing.

Trough urinals only need a single waste outlet, making them easier to install and maintain and therefore more cost-effective in the longer term – but the compromise is reduced privacy.


Elbow room

When it comes to trough urinals, the rule of thumb has always been to allow about 600mm of width per person. However, in accordance with the Toilets in Schools guidance, you should look to provide as much room per person as possible in order increase privacy and combat paruresis, or shy bladder syndrome. According to the Paruresis Trust, you should allow at least 800mm per user.

There are no set-in-stone rules for how high to mount your urinals, but Cornwall Council advises a height of 430mm for infants, 500mm for juniors, and 560mm for secondary-aged pupils. If the washroom will be used by mixed age groups, a trough urinal should be mounted at the lowest appropriate height, while bowl urinals can be mounted at different heights to accommodate each age group.

The Department for Education states that there should always be separate toilets for students and staff. For staff toilets, urinals should be mounted at the standard adult height of 660mm.



As far as materials are concerned, there are two common options: vitreous china or stainless steel. Each has its benefits, but our experience is that stainless steel urinals are easier to maintain and clean than china, as well as being less vulnerable to graffiti.

To clean stainless steel all you need is warm soapy water, making it a cheaper and more eco-friendly option than china, which requires specially formulated cleaning agents. For more troublesome deposits such as limescale and paint, you can consult this handy guide from the BSSA.



If you opt for bowl urinals, you can choose to install divider screens to further improve privacy.

We’d also recommend fitting a flush controller to your urinal. Instead of flushing every urinal intermittently, flush controllers use infrared sensors to detect when a urinal has been used, so that flushing only occurs when necessary. An auto-flushing cistern used in conjunction with a Marnic Urinal Flush Controller can provide water savings of up to 90%, meaning the initial outlay can be recovered within months.

Decisions, decisions

It may seem like a lot to think about, but careful planning will enable you to choose a urinal that saves you money while accommodating the needs of your pupils. For the latest on this and many other educational issues, subscribe to our free newsletter and print magazine.

Paul Thorn is the MD of Washware Essentials. He has developed cost-effective washroom solutions for schools, nurseries, and a wealth of other clients both public and commercial.


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