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Hinge Requirement for Toilet

Updated: Mar 5, 2023


Are there requirements for hinged toilet doors? Does it apply to residential and commercial properties? Under the Building Code of Australia (BCA) that toilet doors in certain buildings must be capable of being readily opened from the outside in an emergency.


Specifically, the BCA requires that any toilet compartment in a Class 9b building (which includes public buildings such as schools, hospitals, and offices) must have a door that is capable of being unlocked and opened from the outside in an emergency without the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge.


Toilet Door Australian building law requires that in an emergency, the toilet door can be removed by someone on the outside. This requirement only applies if the space between the toilet pan and the door is less than 1200 mm.


This is to ensure that in the event of an emergency, such as a person becoming incapacitated inside the toilet, emergency services can gain access quickly and easily to provide assistance.


For example, in most cases, toilet doors must open outwards, slide, or be readily removable from the outside of the compartment. This requirement only applies if the space between the toilet pan and the door is less than 1200mm.




Toilet Door Requirements


In the 1990s both Queensland and Western Australia made variations to the code based on evidence from emergency service agencies that people who are feeling unwell often retire to a sanitary compartment and can, as a result of their condition, lose consciousness and collapse to the floor. This was part of an ABCB initiative to reduce the number of State and Territory variations to the BCA.


There were cases where first persons to respond to an emergency situation had been unable to reach a person who had collapsed in a toilet compartment because their body was wedged between the toilet an inward opening door. This delayed assistance being provided to the occupant.


In 1996 all States and Territories agreed to adopt the requirements expressed in the Queensland and Western Australia variations as a national requirement.


The requirement only applies to a compartment containing a toilet bowl or urinal. It does not apply to a bathroom that only contains a shower/bath and a basin.


  • The requirement does not apply if the toilet compartment is not fully enclosed. Where the partition or door has a gap to the floor that is big enough to allow removal of an occupant.

  • The clear space of 1.2 m, is only measured to the toilet bowl pan. Other fixtures can be within the clear space.


However, if the sanitary compartment is an accessible unisex sanitary compartment, the circulation spaces and clearance requirements contained in AS 1428.1 (Design for access and mobility, Part 1: General requirements for access - New building work) would also have to be met.


If the door to a fully enclosed sanitary compartment either opens outwards, slides or is readily removable from the outside (e.g. via “lift-off” hinges), there is no need to provide a 1.2 m clear space between the closet pan and the doorway.



Removal of door in an emergency


An inward swinging toilet door with lift-off hinges will have a gap between the top of the door and the underside of the head of the door frame.


This is to allow sufficient movement upward so the pin in the door hinges can slip out of the hinge-blades screwed to the side of the door frame or style.


The door latch should allow the door to be lifted upward and away even if it is in a locked position.



Lift Off Hinges


Lift-off hinges are a type of hinge made up of two parts which allow door removal without the need to open the door.


The use of lift-off hinges are the most common building solution used for access into fully enclosed sanitary compartments.


This National Construction Code states mandatory requirements where a sanitary compartment is not considered large enough to allow safe removal of an unconscious occupant within a sanitary compartment.


The current National Construction Code requirements (2015) for construction of sanitary compartments states the following:

Clause 3.8.3.3 Construction of sanitary compartments


The door to a fully enclosed sanitary compartment must

(a) open outwards; or

(b) slide; or

(c) be readily removable from the outside of the compartment, unless there is a clear space of at least 1.2 m, measured in accordance with the closet pan within the sanitary compartment and the doorway.


A sanitary compartment is stated as any room or space that contains a closet pan or a urinal.


If the enclosure has gaps that are large enough to allow access for a person into the sanitary compartment, the compartment is not considered enclosed for the purpose of this clause.


How much space do you need around a toilet in Australia?



A room between 1.2 and 1.5 metre deep is usually sufficient and 1 to 1.2 metre wide. If you're creating a separate toilet room, you'll need to allow for more space. The standard door width in Australia is 820 mm plus architrave and wall space either side, so you'll want the room to be at least one metre wide. Some toilet cubical doors may be 600 mm in width.


FAQ

Can your toilet door open outwards?


Yes it can.


A disabled toilet door has to open outwards. You need to have the available space outside the room for the door to swing wide open. This can require smart design when other rooms adjoin the disabled toilet.



What is the space clearance around a toilet?


Most codes require at least 38 centimetres (measured from the center of the toilet) from any side wall or obstruction. While not closer than 76 centimetres center to center to any other sanitary fixture. There should be at least 24 inches of clear space in front of a toilet or bidet.



Does a toilet need to be next to the shower?


Toilets tend to be next to showers/bathtubs because both of them tend to be in a small rooms. Plus both of them need to have fairly substantial plumbing in order to operate correctly.



Can you save space with a corner toilet?


Corner toilets can save space in a small room. They are generally compact and with a triangular tank. This makes such toilets an excellent choice for small washrooms, such as basement bathrooms and powder rooms.



Why are toilets low?


The low height seating position enables better bowl function. Raising the feet off the ground further increases that function. It's all about the bowel.



Interesting names for the toilet room?


The toilet room is known as a water closet, WC or CR, a toilet, and a quarter bath. As opposed to a room with a toilet and a sink which is a half bath. The tub/shower with toilet and sink is a full bath. The potty room which is also known as a Porta-Potty when transportable.



What to look for when buying a toilet?


While there are many features to consider when buying a toilet, including height, bowl shape, color, style, and flushing technology, most toilets fall into one of two basic types: gravity-feed and pressure-assisted. Gravity-feed toilets dominate the market, but pressure-assisted models are worth consideration too.



The round vs elongated toilet?


Elongated toilet bowls seem to be more comfortable. But in a small bathroom, a round bowl can save space. Elongated toilet bowls measure up to 78 cm from the wall, while round fixtures max out at 71 cm. Round bowls can be less expensive than elongated bowls.




Conclusion


Whatever your seating requirements are to be on your Throne there are requirements for toilet doors that need to be applied where necessary. Your builder will know what they are and advise accordingly.

The specific requirements for toilet doors can vary depending on the building type and location, as well as the specific regulations in place in that area. Builders and architects are typically responsible for ensuring that all building elements, including toilet doors, meet the necessary requirements for safety and accessibility.

In addition to the requirement for emergency access from the outside, other important considerations for toilet doors may include:

  1. Size: The door must be wide enough to allow for easy entry and exit, and to accommodate people with disabilities or mobility issues.

  2. Accessibility: The door handle or latch must be located at a height and position that is accessible to all users, including those in wheelchairs.

  3. Privacy: The door must provide adequate privacy for users, and may need to be soundproofed or include a lock.

  4. Durability: The door should be made of durable materials that can withstand heavy use and frequent cleaning.

Your builder or architect should be able to advise you on the specific requirements for toilet doors in your building or project, and can help ensure that all necessary standards and regulations are met.


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