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Urinals are a popular choice in the men’s bathrooms of most public buildings, office blocks and educational institutions. They are also to be found in some homes, although they are a lot less common in domestic settings than public ones.

Layout-wise there are two basic options; the individual urinal, usually made out of a ceramic material, or the communal trough-type urinal, either made from steel or tiles.

ceramic urinal steel communal urinal

Regarding the method of removing the urine from the bowl (or trough) there are two basic types; flush and waterless.

Within flush type systems the usual options are; manual, timed and automatic:

  • Manual. This type of urinal is generally fitted with a button or lever that allows the user to flush the system when finished with it. Buttons or levers are usually found higher up where they are operated by hand. Some systems have the button lower down where it is activated by foot, although this is less common.
  • Timed. This type of urinal has a built in mechanical or electronic timer that flushes the system at regular intervals without needing user intervention.
  • Automatic. In an automatically flushing urinal, there is a sensor or beam that determines when the device has been used and flushes it after use.

Waterless urinals have been gaining in popularity in recent times, mostly due to the negative environmental effects caused by flush systems needing a lot of fresh water to function and also feeding large amounts of waste water into the water treatment system.