Home urinal
November 20, 2005 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever heard of a urinal in a residential home? For a guy, these things are really convenient in business offices... so why is there a stigma about them being in a home? They conserve water, and there's no lid to fuss with. And women would certainly approve of having a much tidier, less-used toilet.
posted by zek to Home & Garden (30 answers total)
My father has two in his house- one in the guest bathroom, and another one in his master bathroom. Men who visit always are pleasantly shocked and surprised that it is in the restroom.
I think the reason you do not see more of them in homes is because of the custom plumbing involved.
posted by crazyray at 6:30 PM on November 20, 2005

Yes. It was in a bathroom on the third floor of a large victorian house. The third floor was pretty much open and huge. I think the guy who put it in used it as a game room, as in display of his manly prowess with a large bore rifle in Africa, but they guy I know who bought this house was far more sophisticated. It was still kind of a novelty, but he added a regular toilet so that women could use the bathroom as well.
posted by caddis at 6:31 PM on November 20, 2005

  1. They don't look as nice. Toilets have lids with fluffy covers. Urinals don't. It's just a big expanse of porcelain against the pretty wallpaper.
  2. You still need a normal toilet. So adding a urinal costs money (maybe $200 + plumbing costs) and bathroom space, and people building a house would rather use that elsewhere.
  3. A lot of houses are built on spec by builders. They only add features if they can get more money for them. Urinals aren't worth it.
(In a similar situation in Europe, bidets are no longer being included in most new construction.)
posted by smackfu at 6:34 PM on November 20, 2005

You can buy them for residential use. I think they are considered something of a luxury, because they are both unnecessary and take up space that may not be available in a home bathroom. Additionally, I imagine that there are probably some women that balk at the notion of a urinal in a shared restroom - it seems like it has the potential to turn a gender neutral space into a boyzone.
posted by amro at 6:35 PM on November 20, 2005

The answer's pretty obvious, man: a toilet can be used by women and men, while a urinal is essentially guys-only. Especially in middle and lower class housing, odds are you have one [maybe two] small bathrooms, and space-wise there's probably not room for both sorts of bathroom fixtures. In that kind of situation, a urinal will lose every time, because having a bathroom that only guys could use would not be an asset when the house went up for sale. The time and money involved in installing a urinal in a bathroom originally built with just a toilet would outweigh the convenience for most people, I think. [Furthermore, in bathrooms designed for just a toilet, there may not really be space for a urinal.] I'm sure that urinals are present in some larger houses owned by the rich, but for most people, a urinal is pretty low on the priority list, even as luxuries go.
posted by ubersturm at 6:49 PM on November 20, 2005

My brother had one installed in his home office, in the office itself, not the bathroom, as a glorious tribute to the Manly Pee. He was very miffed when the installer took the First Whiz in it, instead of him.
posted by Rubber Soul at 6:53 PM on November 20, 2005

At $1100 each it's not difficult to see why they're not showing up in middle-class homes yet.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:54 PM on November 20, 2005

Ozzy has one too - for obvious reasons....
posted by forallmankind at 7:07 PM on November 20, 2005

Class act NBA good guy Rasheed Wallace has one in his home...
posted by iced_borsch at 7:21 PM on November 20, 2005

$1100 is just the high end, crash. The less luxe models start at around $91 short installation. (The article discusses attempts to make the urinal residentially approved, beginning in the 1880s.)
posted by dhartung at 7:25 PM on November 20, 2005

I think the answer's to be had in The Design of Everyday Things -- in the general case, people design things to save money and satisfy buyers' expectations. If something's standard, people don't expect anything different (and, thus, don't demand anything better.)

The absence of urinals isn't a dealbreaker for anyone. But their presence requires a bigger bathroom, which means reducing the floorspace of the living space, or increasing the overall cost even beyond the cost of the urinal + extra plumbing + labor. Cost and floorspace are things buyers do care about.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 7:43 PM on November 20, 2005

"$1100 is just the high end, crash."

Yeah, I was just being silly.

However, my wife says that between our two teenaged boys and all their friends, $1100 would be money well spent it if it kept the floor dry.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:57 PM on November 20, 2005

As a mother of boys I'd love one in their bathroom, but no way , no how in the master bath. What comes to mind is - ugh, gross, uhcky, icky
posted by LadyBonita at 8:12 PM on November 20, 2005

I knew a guy in college who had three in his bathroom. There were, like, 9 guys living in an ex-frathouse. Very surreal.
posted by jmgorman at 8:35 PM on November 20, 2005

From the site that featured the $1100 urinal, "Luxury Housing Trends", emphasis mine:

If you're a person who pays particular attention to germs (and shouldn't we all?), you may cringe at the idea of putting your hand on the same toilet flushing handle as everyone in the house (including all the grubby little neighbor kids who pass through) uses. Well, the folks at Foot Flush came up with a solution. Their flusher rests on the floor, and you simply pump it once with your foot to activate the toilet. Shown here is the whimsical "Fun Foot Flush." They also have a classic version that comes without the toes. You can find the Foot Flush online for $30.

Gee, I hope that was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
posted by Savannah at 8:54 PM on November 20, 2005

My washbasin is a convenient height. A proper urinal (with a lid or cover, of course) would be an improvement, but just not going to happen in an NYC-size apartment.
posted by nowonmai at 8:55 PM on November 20, 2005

nowonmal for the touchdown!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 PM on November 20, 2005

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal recently about how urinals are becoming more popular in residential homes. One factual benefit is that they use about half as much water as a normal toilet, IIRC.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:08 PM on November 20, 2005

My mother-in-law's house, which predates domestic indoor plumbing, had a w.c. built and attached to the house about 80 years ago, and this includes a urinal. I've seen them in older Japanese homes before, but not newer ones. Why, I don't know.

Lady Bonita, please come visit. The bath and toilet are completely separated in different rooms in Japan (except smaller apartments).
posted by planetkyoto at 10:10 PM on November 20, 2005

nowonmal's comment reminds me of my favorite "Life in Hell" cartoon, featuring deathbed confessions. akbar says to jeff (or maybe the other way around, who knows) "All these years I've been pissing in the sink." i hope i can remember to say this when i'm on my deathbed. i try to get mileage out of it whenever someone tells me they have a confession to make though.

all hail matt groening.
posted by joeblough at 10:16 PM on November 20, 2005

I haven't seen a urinal in a house. My father-in-law did install one in his garage although. Being a master plumber and a party-type fellow, he installed a urinal in his garage. The females kept to the house and the men tended to congregate outside. Even though the urinal was there, business was done in the alley, and behind the trees.
posted by Kilovolt at 10:47 PM on November 20, 2005

Heard of one? I use mine every day. To keep the peace, I call it "the shower." Am I right, people? Anybody?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:37 PM on November 20, 2005

I've seen antique urinals in use in some of the lofts here in Denver.
Several years ago on a tour of the Villroy & Boch factory in Germany we saw urinals that matched the various styles of bathroom ceramics. Here's a link to one of them. I thought it was a great idea.
They have the cheap, ugly ones at Home Depot for around $50 but the Villroy & Boch urinals were actually quite attractive.
And, you really have to check out these
amazing flower urinal/sculptures by Clark Sorensen
posted by BoscosMom at 12:08 AM on November 21, 2005

I think they should be built-in to the toilet itself. They are practical and save water. Kills the problem with those stupid people always leaving the seat down, too! Properly shaped, they also reduce splatter.
posted by Goofyy at 12:39 AM on November 21, 2005

There's an alternative that is prevalent in Europe and Australia - dual flush toilets. These toilets use about half of the amount of water when flushing after urination.

This helps reduce water usage without taking up more space in the bathroom, but still might not be enough to keep the floor from getting wet.

I've never seen any dual flush in the U.S., has anyone else?
posted by cactus at 3:00 AM on November 21, 2005

cactus, you don't need dual-flush in North America, since we don't (tend to) use syphon cisterns. Tap the flush handle a few seconds after it's started, and the flush will stop. In the UK, at least, once a syphon cistern starts, there's nothing in it that can stop it until it's empty.
posted by scruss at 6:19 AM on November 21, 2005

Urinal.net provides images and stories of residential urinals that have been posted to their website here.
posted by UnclePlayground at 8:16 AM on November 21, 2005

posted by UnclePlayground at 8:18 AM on November 21, 2005

This is timely. Our architect just suggested we put one in a new bathroom. I laughed when he mentioned it and told him that if money was no object I'd rather have one of those new "full service" toilets instead.

Unfortunately, money IS an object so I nixed both his and my suggestions.

Even if I had the money, I have a feeling it would make my personal haven feel too institutional.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 8:32 AM on November 21, 2005

I almost put one in when I was finishing my basement, but ended up cheaping out and not having a bathroom at all.
posted by jewzilla at 10:42 AM on November 21, 2005

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