Ask Angela: How can we convert an indoor wedding to an outdoor wedding?

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Waste Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela: With everything going on, we decided to play it safe and convert our indoor wedding to an outdoor wedding (just in case events get shut down). What are some things we should consider when making the switch?

First, congratulations on your wedding! And second, you’re in good company. We’ve seen a lot of people make the switch and convert an indoor wedding to an outdoor wedding in 2020. Here’s some of the advice we’ve been giving soon-to-be-newlyweds:

  1. Rent your portable toilets as early as possible. Typically, you’d be making these rentals up to a month or two in advance. Get your rental squared away as soon as you know you’re converting an indoor wedding to the great outdoors. This helps ensure you actually get some toilets! If you’re planning a summer or fall wedding, you might still compete with festivals, fun runs, municipal events, and outdoor enthusiasts who rent portable toilets. A lot will depend on circumstances in your area, so call early. You even have lots of event portable toilet options to choose from.
  2. Consider using temporary fencing to create private areas and to prevent gate crashing if you’re in a public area. Temporary fencing can be combined with fabrics and floral arrangements to create an unobtrusive addition to your ceremony or reception. It doesn’t have to look like a construction yard!
  3. Storage containers make great staging areas for catering, DJs or bands, and it creates a safe, lockable space for storing gifts and other valuables while you enjoy your big day. We help people bundle storage units with their outdoor restrooms and fencing all the time.
  4. This might seem self-promotional, but it’s true—you can get all these outdoor services through one company like ZTERS. You (or your wedding planner) have enough to worry about without tracking down several different vendors for toilets, fencing, and containers. If there’s a problem, we can help. And you’ll get one invoice instead of managing one from each different vendor. No one wants to sort through invoices on a honeymoon!

You might be wondering how many portable toilets you’re going to need. We use this handy chart from the Portable Sanitation Association International. If you don’t feel like wading through charts and doing calculations, you can give us a call. We do this literally every day and we can help you sort it out.

In fact, I’ve even answered a previous question about event portable toilets for outdoor weddings. Feel free to take a look before you call, so you have some ideas about what you’d like.

Times are challenging, but you can convert an indoor wedding to an outdoor venue. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a big ordeal. Keep these ideas in mind and feel free to call us if you want some help figuring out what services are available. We help people rent portable toilets (and more) for events every day, and we’re glad to help you out.

What’s the life cycle of a porta potty?

The average lifespan of a porta potty is around 10 years, and a lot can happen in that decade. There are many types of portable toilets. Just a few include luxury trailers, toilets with baby changing tables, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant toilets, and more. Some units (trailers, for example) are built for custom purposes with a limited lifespan. But the vast majority are durable polyethylene units that are made to stand up to years of use. So, what’s the life cycle of a porta potty?

Stages: the life cycle of a porta potty

Heavy-duty plastic construction and water-saving technology means porta potties only need to be serviced every 200 uses or so. These stages are a general rule of thumb. The number of people using the unit and the amount of time it spends being hauled from location to location can put extra wear on units over time.

New from factory

When these sparkling clean units come off the factory floor, they’re generally reserved for special events. Brand new units will usually feature the latest technologies. For example, new solar panel restrooms look and feel more like a regular restroom rather than a traditional porta potty.

New units are more expensive for porta potty vendors to purchase, so they may be in limited supply. This largely depends on your location. In rural areas or areas where there isn’t much demand for portable toilets, it may be more difficult to find brand new units. On the other hand, there are events vendors that specialize in upscale events. They’ll have access to the newest porta potty models and features, and they may be willing to deliver outside their normal service area.

Light wear

New toilets can be like new cars. When newer models and technologies are released, older units move down a tier. No longer new, but not yet old, these “light wear” porta potties are often used at events and construction sites. They may not be the latest and greatest, but these are clean units in good repair.

This is the most common grade of portable toilet you’ll see on worksites and events where many toilets are needed. Fun runs, festivals, and events where large crowds are gathered will likely have many rows of these toilets available.

Moderate wear

If you’ve ever stepped into a portable toilet that has seen better days, maybe at a carnival or state fair, then you’ve been inside a unit that’s reached the midpoint of its life cycle. These units are still clean and functional, but they probably show signs of having been hauled around a lot and maybe even tipped, dragged, dented, or tagged here and there. Scratches and dents are pretty typical. And they probably look pretty dated as well.

You will definitely find these on many construction sites. Demolition sites, in particular, may opt for these older porta potties because it won’t be a complete loss if the unit is damaged or unintentionally destroyed. While these units are still sanitary and safe to use, they may not be great to look at. (Luckily polyethylene doesn’t hold odors, so they shouldn’t smell!)

Heavy wear

The last stage of the game for porta potties is when they’ve had so much wear and tear that they need to be replaced. This may include damage caused by accidents or general wear and tear. The plastics and parts used in porta potty manufacturing are designed to last longer than their typical 10-year life cycle, but after a decade most portable toilets do show their age. Especially if they’ve been dragged around construction sites.

Restroom trailers and custom units that don’t get a lot of use each year could last much longer than a decade. But for everyday porta potties, all the moving around and servicing will add up to more wear in a shorter amount of time. Toilets at the end of their life cycle may be resold to private parties or dismantled to be properly destroyed.

So, where will your rental fall in the life cycle of a porta potty? When you’re renting portable toilets for events, construction sites, emergency use, or even home improvement DIY projects, it will almost always be in the light to moderate wear category. That may vary by location and demand at the time. When in doubt, give us a call! We’ll help you find the right portable toilets for your project.