Whether you’re preparing for an upcoming construction project or planning a community event, both of these scenarios have something in common—the need for restroom facilities. And in the planning phase, you’ve likely encountered a dilemma: portable toilet vs. restroom trailer.
Which one should you use?
In this guide, we’ll give you the full run-down on both choices, discuss applicable regulatory requirements, and help you decide which one is right for your project, event, or temporary site.
Portable Toilets 101
Portable toilet rentals and waste services are part and parcel of every construction sanitation requirement—but portable toilets are useful in various other contexts, too, like:
- Outdoor festivals
- Farmers’ markets
- Large outdoor parties
- Disaster cleanup areas
And, even though you may have only ever seen one type, there are a few different kinds of portable toilets, including:
- Standard models with a waste tank, toilet paper, urinal, and toilet seat
- ADA-compliant models, which are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs
- Models with sinks inside them, complete with soap and paper towels
- High-rise models, which feature high ceilings and vented doors—they resemble traditional, indoor bathroom stalls
All of these models share an important feature. Instead of connecting to a wastewater drain, portable toilets feature waste tanks. The rental company is responsible for:
- Regularly emptying the waste tanks
- Refilling the soap in in-sink units
- Re-supplying units with toilet paper and paper towels
Since they don’t require a water hookup, portable toilets are an excellent option for outdoor events, construction sites, or other service areas where water connections are either limited or non-existent.
A Guide to Restroom Trailers
While portable toilets can be a less-than-luxurious option, restroom trailers provide a more elevated experience. The average restroom trailer features:
- Flushing toilets
- Trash cans
- Light fixtures
- Consumables like toilet paper, paper towels, and soap
But, portable restroom trailers aren’t always the best choice for more rural venues—for proper operation, they require:
- An electrical hookup to:
- Run the lighting system
- Heat water, when applicable
- Operate the pumps for flushable toilets
- Power the air conditioner or heater, when applicable
- A water source
However, restroom trailers don’t necessarily have to hook up to a city water supply—if you don’t have a water source on-site, you can connect a restroom trailer to a portable water tank.
Portable restroom trailers are available in two-, three-, or five-stall sizes. Keep in mind that, while they bring more comfort than a porta-potty, they also take up more space on-site.
What Are the Requirements?
Outdoor events and construction sites have different sanitation requirements you’ll have to consider before renting a portable restroom product. Let’s start with the latter.
According to the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), depending on the type of project, site operators may have to provide:1
- Drinking water
- Toilets and urinals
- Hand-washing stations
- Change rooms
At a minimum, employers must provide:
- One toilet for locations with 20 employees or less
- One toilet and one urinal per 40 employees for locations with 20-199 workers
- One toilet and one urinal per 50 people for locations with 200 or more employees
So depending on the size of your job site, a restroom trailer rental may be the most space-efficient way to meet your quantity requirements.
And, if you opt for a portable toilet with interior sinks, you can also meet the hand-washing station requirements and your changing room needs.
For public events, the restroom regulations will depend on:
- Assembly laws in your jurisdiction
- The type of property where you’re hosting the outdoor event (i.e., public vs. private land)
- The power and water hookups available at your venue
Portable Toilet or Restroom Trailer?
So, what should you consider when choosing a temporary restroom?
- How many people will be on-site
- Your available space for facilities
- The “luxury level” of your outdoor event
- Local regulations
- Your budget
Let’s explore two scenarios:
- You’re a general contractor preparing for a homebuilding project. The site doesn’t have a water or power hookup yet, and you have limited space to accommodate the trucks, equipment, and tools needed for the project. Due to increasing materials costs, you’re on a tight budget for site operations.
- You’re planning an outdoor wedding at a local vineyard. The venue will provide extension cords and hoses for vendors to use, and you want your guests to be as comfortable as possible. You’ve been saving up for your wedding and can spring for high-quality amenities and vendor offerings.
In the first scenario, traditional porta potties might make more practical sense—you have limited space, no water or power hookups, and limited funds. But, in the second, a restroom trailer more closely aligns with the special event’s formality, you have the money to make sure your guests are comfortable, and you can use the venue’s power and water.
Rent Portable Toilets, Restroom Trailers, Shower Trailers, and More from ASAP Site Services
So, in the portable toilet vs. restroom trailer debate, which option is right for you?
If you’re still on the fence, chat with an expert at ASAP Site Services. For nearly 30 years, we’ve been providing job site superintendents, event planners, and DIY-savvy homeowners with site rental solutions—and the expert advice to help their projects run smoothly.
At ASAP Site Services, we can help you choose the perfect rental products, connect you with reputable vendors in your area, and compare their pricing options. We’re the top choice for your next construction project or special event, so reach out today to outfit your site.
- OSHA. 1926.51 – Sanitation. https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1926/1926.51