A Guide to Commercial Toilet Refurbishment Projects

A Guide to Commercial Toilet Refurbishment Projects

The refurbishment of commercial toilet rooms can be a complicated affair given the number of different trades needed to complete the work and the variety of materials available on the market. The expectations of users are higher than ever, with aesthetics and hygiene ranking among their prime considerations. It is therefore vital to get it right both during the planning of the project and the execution of the work.

This blog aims to help both contracting companies and end-users who are looking to undertake a toilet refurbishment project. It applies to toilets, showers, and changing room refurbishments in any commercial environment including schools, offices, public toilets, and restaurants among many others.

Toilet Refurbishment Costs

The budget is important when planning a toilet refurbishment project to ensure there are no unexpected issues. Costs can be divided into 2 areas – labour and materials. The project manager will need to understand the full costs and we recommend the use of a simple spreadsheet to collate them all.

Labour costs can be gathered from the separate trades either with or without the inclusion of materials. Material costs are easily understood by looking through the internet, either at separate websites that supply individual items or through a specialist like Commercial Washrooms who can help with quoting all the required washroom materials. 

A typical Ladies and Gents pair of toilet rooms will likely cost in the region of £25,000.00 - £30,000.00 (excl. VAT) to fully refurbish. The end price depends on the exact specifications. 

At Commercial Washrooms, we offer three different levels of service to suit various budgets:

Completed Toilet Refurbishment

Washroom Design

Refurbishment projects differ from new build work because much of the layout has already been dictated by the existing washroom. Moving the position of toilets within a room is often difficult because of the fact that the wastewater positions cannot necessarily be adjusted without intrusive building works. Therefore, the layout design of the toilet room must be carefully considered and will frequently require input from a specialist commercial plumber if it does have to be changed. CAD drawings will help to ensure everything fits within the rooms.

A key aspect of the design is the specification of the materials. Commercial washrooms need to be robust and easy to maintain. This often means that the cheapest materials are unlikely to be the most appropriate. For example, it’s worth considering cubicle panels made from solid grade laminate (SGL) rather than MFC or HPL which have a chipboard core and will de-laminate with consistent water exposure. The specification of taps is a key decision – lever taps will give users a continual flow of water to wash their hands but risk water wastage if left running. If water waste is a risk, then sensor or non-concussive (push button) taps will be a better option.

Planning and Preparation

Most washroom refurbishment projects will succeed if enough time is committed to planning and preparation. Multiple trades are required during the work (plumbers, cubicle installers, electricians, tilers, etc.) and we recommend creating a robust programme of works that will dictate who is conducting what work and when.

Toilet rooms are notoriously tight spaces and the overlap of tradesmen can be counter-productive as they will likely get in each other’s way. An appropriate programme will allow enough time for a tradesman to carry out their work but not leave any gaps where no work can be conducted. A full refurbishment of a typical male and female pair of washrooms will likely take around 3-4 weeks to complete.

The early days on-site include the stripping out of the old washroom materials and the preparation of the rooms for the following trades. At this point, it is vital to consider where all the electrical and plumbing services will be run to minimise surface-mounted pipes and cables. This can often mean chasing them into walls or running them into ceiling voids. Mistakes and oversights made during the strip out and preparation phase are often not realised until later in the work when it is too late. Examples include wall and floor preparation with plaster and latex skims to leave a smooth even surface for the final finishes.

School Toilet Refurbishment

Finishing Touches

If each tradesman has completed their work to their highest standard you should be left with a toilet room which looks great, helps to conserve energy and water and is easy to keep clean and maintain. However, it is the finishing touches that really set a great job apart from a good one. We recommend a professional cleaner is booked to conduct a builder’s clean on the last day of the project to remove all the dust and grime generated during the work. They will be armed with the necessary tools and cleaning products to leave the rooms sparkling. We also suggest employing a professional mastic man who will leave neat, straight runs of mastic around all sanitary ware items and to all necessary wall, ceiling and floor lines.


Conducting a refurbishment project to any commercial toilet, shower or changing room is best handled by a professional builder or contractor capable of washroom design. It takes a considerable amount of time to design, plan and prepare but when done well will leave a washroom that is modern, good looking, environmentally friendly and easy to maintain. If you want any more information or advice, please do get in touch with us today.

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