Drying Hands Matter: The Paper Towel Dispenser

Hand drying in a public restroom is a necessity. If you are including paper towels in your ADA restroom, the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design offers advisory guidelines in Advisory 606.1 General. They must be located within the reach ranges specified in 308: 308.1 Unobstructed or 308.3.2 Obstructed High Reach, depending on where it will be placed. If unobstructed, then the side reach can be 15” to 18” above the floor. If obstructed (by the sink) and the depth is 10”, then the side reach can be 15” to 48”. However, if the depth exceeds 10”, but no more than 24”, then the side reach range is 15” to 46”.

Keep in mind that these dimensions are different for children’s restrooms. They are:

Children’s Reach Ranges
Forward or Side Reach Ages 3 and 4 Ages 5 through 8 Ages 9 through 12
High (maximum) 36” 40” 44”
Low (minimum) 20” 18” 16”

Often when specifying paper towel dispensers for ADA restrooms, the wording is general such as “provide ADA compliant paper towel dispenser.” Surprisingly, paper towel dispensers are most often specified under the Specialties Division. Sometimes the specifications list a specific manufacturer or manufacturer list. At this writing, there were 142 projects in ConstructConnect within the Specialties Division that specified ADA paper towel dispensers for this year. Since most do not contain a specific manufacturer, the field is wide open for product manufacturers to become a basis of design or position their dispenser as THE ones for ADA restrooms.

Choosing the right paper towel dispenser can play a large role in encouraging handwashing and keeping users healthy. Options to look for in paper towel dispensing include systems that can be operated with one hand. Roll or Fold? Folded towel or roll dispensers offer one towel at a time or roll systems with one lever to push down for a preset length of towel. Sensor-operated dispensers are ideal options because they do not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist.


There are many manufacturers of towel dispensers for ADA restrooms. Here are a few to consider.

Bobrick. Bobrick is recognized as an industry leader in well-designed, value-oriented restroom accessories and toilet partitions. Some of the world’s most renowned companies and institutions rely on Bobrick Solutions to reinforce their brands, reduce long-term operating costs and position their organizations for a successful future. You will find a section dedicated to paper towel dispensers on their website.

American Specialties Inc. (ASI). The ASI Group designs, engineers, and manufactures fully integrated washroom accessories, partitions, lockers, and visual display products from one source. This includes paper towel dispensers.

Kimberly-Clark Professional. Kimberly-Clark Professional partners with businesses to create Exceptional Workplaces, helping to make them healthier, safer, and more productive. Here too you will find a section dedicated to paper towel dispensers on their website.

Georgia-Pacific Pro is a division of Georgia-Pacific and a leading provider of advanced dispensing solutions for commercial facilities. GP PRO offers a variety of paper towel dispensers and paper towels to help make any restroom or breakroom better.

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