Story at a glance:

  • More new construction and renovation work can be expected in the second half of 2022.
  • Building owners are focusing more on upgrading properties, including adding spa-like and accessible amenities.
  • Architects and engineers should consider keeping functionality at the forefront without sacrificing design when specifying new products.

Commercial plumbing remodeling and overall commercial market project timelines continue to experience impact and changes in the wake of the pandemic. A large fraction of new construction and renovation work was paused over the past couple of years, and contractors are only now reestablishing those project timelines and scope priorities. There’s still a lot of volatility in this scheduling; however, we can expect to see the pipeline continue to increase with project work into the second half of 2022.

Hotel ownership groups saw the pandemic as an opportunity to reinvest in their properties. Hospitals wanted to continue leading innovation inside and outside the building by renovating, rebuilding, and adding to their current footprint.

Overall, building owners are investing in providing a higher quality experience at their properties. More and more projects are gravitating toward accessible and inclusive amenities, including updates like grab bars, pipe wraps, benches, hand showers, and curbless showers for bathrooms. These products offer a spa-like luxury and added functionality for higher-end properties while staying ADA-compliant.

Factors Fueling the Trend

One factor driving the trend toward more accessible and inclusive restrooms is the aging population. Restaurants and hotels are now starting to increase the number of ADA-compliant bathrooms, which are required to accommodate those needing more accessibility. Ten years ago we saw 80% bathtubs and 20% showers in the commercial sector. Now that has flipped to where hotels are installing primarily showers, instead of showers with tubs.

Another factor is that more consumers, homeowners, and travelers desire a design-forward and open format. The open-plan layout is more accessible from an ADA standpoint, and more people seek this design in their homes as well as when they’re away. Even though the square footage is the same, fewer walls and dividers make the space feel more open.

Functionality and design are what end users demand. Architects and engineers should consider keeping functionality at the forefront without sacrificing design when specifying new products. Products that save time, money, or both are particularly desirable, but function and design have even greater value in the end.

Also keep in mind versatility and flexibility, allowing the use of fewer products while getting the project done sooner. If contractors can go room to room installing products as intended, even with unforeseen complications, those products are highly valuable to them. One example: a solution that would allow the contractor to adapt to unexpected plumbing rough-in configurations and various shower enclosures.

Below are four plumbing updates that will promote accessibility and inclusivity, while keeping functionality and design at the forefront.

Curbless Showers


Photo courtesy of Oatey

Used in curbless showers, QuickDrain’s complete shower solution provides a universal design to improve accessibility. Users benefit any time safety measures can be taken into consideration within an upgraded bathroom design.

Linear drains are the ideal design solution for creating ADA-compliant showers and universally accessible wet spaces. With no barrier to cross, the floor more easily accommodates a freestanding bench, wheelchair, or other mobility aids.

The integrated PVC drain, combined with pre-sloped shower panels and waterproofing accessories, represents a total shower solution for promoting effective and efficient drainage. Its site-sizable trough extension provides coverage from finished surface to finished surface. At the same time, the adjustable pre-sloped PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic foam facilitates onsite customization.

ADA Pipe Wraps

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QuickDrain ProLine linear shower drains deliver a new level of flexibility in linear shower drains. Photo courtesy of Oatey

Dearborn’s ADA pipe wrap gives commercial plumbing systems a professional look with an easy, intuitive installation process. Designed for exposed plumbing under bathroom sinks, these ADA-compliant Lavatory Tubular Covers feature a universal, form-fit design that makes installation simple and fast. The covers securely wrap both 1¼-inch and 1½-inch tubular systems, whether brass or plastic, with and without cleanouts.

Covering under-the-sink pipes provides much needed safety and peace of mind for individuals in wheelchairs; yet many existing pipe wraps are bulky, heavy, and time-consuming to install. Dearborn ADA pipe wraps are made from a highly durable, antimicrobial material that is lightweight and soft to the touch. The intuitive design protects against sharp corners, abrasive surfaces, and elevated temperatures while also softening accidental impact to prevent injury.

Grab Bars

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Grab bars are available in peened or satin finishes. Photo courtesy of Oatey

Grab bars are in high demand for hospitals, hotels, government facilities, commercial buildings, and residential settings. Dearborn Grab Bars are ADA-compliant and available in 1¼-inch and 1½-inch diameters with concealed or open flanges. Available in peened or satin finishes, these grab bars can be ordered in whatever desired length is needed.

Shower Bench

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Shower bench. Photo courtesy of Oatey

A shower bench can greatly enhance the look and functionality of a shower. It can serve as a necessary place to sit, a retreat to relaxation, or simply a place to store hygiene products, while also meeting accessibility needs and maintaining style.

The QuickDrain BenchSeat offers three PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bench configurations to meet differing needs, depending on bench placement and overall shower size. These multiple configurations are suitable for newly constructed or renovated tile showers. Not only do these shower benches meet the ADA standard guidelines for height, but they also exceed the weight requirement, promoting a universal design for all.

For example, QuickDrain corner benches are most popular for limited layouts with standard shower door assemblies, while still providing an element of luxury. For larger shower footprints or customized shower-door assemblies, the rectangular bench is a great match that will accent the larger space.

Traditional-framed benches require a minimum of one day of construction, sometimes waiting for multiple trades. The QuickDrain PET BenchSeat can be assembled in a matter of hours—from start to waterproofing to finishing with tile.

From an installer’s perspective, it is important to note that no mechanical fasteners are required; therefore these simple-to-install benches can easily be trimmed to offer the perfect fit.

QuickDrain shower benches have the added benefit of being a sustainable choice: Every bench installed saves up to 415 plastic bottles from landfills.

How can the industry promote more inclusive and accessible spaces?

The way forward is obvious. Continue utilizing products and designs that promote accessibility. Many people are still unaware of the options available to increase the comfort and convenience of their businesses. There are plenty of opportunities to create spaces that are forward in design and offer a safe environment.

It all starts at the decision-making level when specifying what products to go on a project. Contractors want planning and foresight for a project. Installers and specifiers alike should continue seeking products with higher functionality and convenience. After all, one of a project’s many goals is to enhance the user experience so guests will want to return to a hotel, a restaurant, or other commercial spaces.

All of this is why products promoting accessible and inclusive restrooms will continue to be in high demand going forward.

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