Solid surface wash troughs
Solid surface wash troughs are a low-maintenance, cost-effective alternative to individual handwash basins. Comprising a long, narrow basin with a tap provided for each user, a hand wash trough can accommodate multiple users while requiring far less plumbing than an individual basin.
Instead of filling the wash trough with a mixture of hot and cold water, as with an individual basin, wash troughs are normally fitted with a mixer tap which supplies water ready mixed at a comfortable hand-washing temperature. Fitting a thermostatic water mixing valve, which ensures that the water delivered to the tap does not exceed a specified temperature, can help reduce the risk of scalding and ensure user comfort.
 About Solid surface
Solid surface was invented by DuPont in the late 1960s as a low-cost, low-maintenance alternative to natural materials such as marble and granite. The initial product from DuPont was called Corian, but since the expiration of the patent, a number of other manufacturers have begun producing their own solid surface products, such as Formica and Hi-Macs.
While the composition of each product varies, solid surface is typically made up of natural minerals (such as marble dust or bauxite) and pigments, suspended in an acrylic polymer resin.
The unique properties of Solid surface mean that it can be joined together almost seamlessly; and by using a process called thermoforming, whereby the material is heated and moulded into the desired shape before being cooled again to set, solid surface can be formed into an almost endless variety of shapes.
While it is most often used to make kitchen countertops, the versatility of Solid surface material means that it can be used in any number of applications. Solid surface is particularly useful for wash troughs because it is both seamless and impermeable; this prevents water from pooling and creating the conditions that allow bacteria and mould to flourish.
The sheer versatility of the material means that Solid surface wash troughs are available in a huge range of colours and designs. They can also be custom made to suit the dimensions and aesthetic of any washroom.
 How are Solid surface wash troughs made?
Sheets of Solid surface material are cut to size and then heated to make them malleable. The softened sheet is then quickly placed onto a mould and transferred to a thermoforming machine, which uses a vacuum to draw the solid surface material to the shape of the mould. This process is repeated for each individual component. Finally, the individual pieces are joined together and sanded down for a smooth, seamless finish.
 Where are they used?
In fact, the Department for Education and Skills (now called the Department for Education) recommended wash troughs over individual basins in its Toilets in Schools guidance, stating that they are ‘easier to clean, aesthetically more pleasing, and reduce the potential for pupils to flood the toilets’.
 Cleaning a solid surface wash trough
Thankfully, solid surface material is easy to clean and does not require specialist detergents or cleaning products; simply wash the surface with warm soapy water or any ammonia-based household cleaner.
To avoid scratching the surface of the wash trough, you should use a soft microfibre cloth, and never abrasive cleaning pads or scourers. Using a circular motion when wiping the wash trough will ensure the best finish.
Periodically, you may wish to ‘deep clean’ your solid surface wash trough. To do so, spray down the wash trough with a mixture of three parts household bleach and one part water, then leave overnight. In the morning, remove the residue with a damp cloth before rinsing thoroughly.
This article was written by Paul Thorn, MD of Washware Essentials, who provide a range solid surface wash troughs. They also supply urinals, toilets and accessories.
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