July 6, 2021
Q: How does a code authority determine the acceptability of a filmed material, nonmetallic cladding, wrap or sign applied to a passenger elevator door?
A: It has become very common to see films or skins and signage applied to the elevator doors in buildings. Filming or cladding products (often referred to as “signs” or “wraps”) are being used to either change the appearance of the door panels for decorative reasons or as a marketing and promotional tool for the building owner. The increased use of these materials on elevator entrance doors has been noticed within the healthcare community and has been identified as a focus for audits being conducted by The Joint Commission, a leading accreditation entity for hospitals and healthcare facilities.
To provide some context, elevator passenger doors are certified by UL under the product categories GSUX, GSUX7 and GSNVC. GSUX is for U.S Market (UL Mark), GSUX7 is for Canada Market (C-UL Mark), and GSUXC is for Canada Market (ULC Mark).
Products intended for the U.S. market are certified to ANSI/UL 10B, the Standard for Fire Tests of Door Assemblies. Products destined for Canada are certified to CAN/ULC-S104,the Standard Method for Fire Tests of Door Assemblies. UL product certifications (Listings) are available on the UL Product iQ® database at www.ul.com/PiQ. UL Product iQ is free to use, but does require a simple one-time registration.
A UL certification (listing) for the elevator doors typically covers the door panel and its construction features, which may or may not include metallic cladding attached over the door panel. An elevator door panel certification does not address any type of vinyl or other material used for signs or wraps. Additional fire testing of the complete filmed, wrapped or cladded assembly to UL 10B is necessary for UL to determine how the addition of vinyl graphics and adhesives may affect the fire rating and certification of the door assembly. UL certification (listing) under this category, passenger-elevator-type Fire Doors (GSUX) also requires hoistway doors for elevators to be installed in accordance with NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, and ASME A17.1, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. NFPA 80 and ASME A117.1 are also applicable to elevator door frames certified (listed) by UL under product category GVTV. These door frames are also certified to UL 10B.
UL does certify (list) cladding materials for fire doors and frames under UL’s product category GVUZ. Cladding materials, which consist of different product types and materials that can be installed at a fire door or frame manufacturer's factory or in the field, are also tested and certified to UL 10B. The ratings and applications for these materials are reflected on the individual product certifications. It is key to note that adding cladding to an elevator assembly may reduce its fire rating.
What may be confusing is that some of these vinyl graphics and adhesives may have been tested to UL 723, the Test for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials (CAN/ULC-S102), or ASTM E84, Standard Test Methods for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials. Such products will have a rating for interior finish based on the Flame Spread Index (FSI) and the Smoke Developed Index (SDI), as required for an interior finish. However, this testing and certification is not applicable for any material attached to a fire door, including elevator doors, due to significantly different test methods. A few of the more significant differences include the testing methodologies in each standard, i.e., the test results such as FSI and SDI versus an hourly rating, and that the UL 723 test permits limited combustion of the building product whereas UL 10B requires a fire door to have no unexposed flaming during the first 30 minutes of the test. Fire door assemblies of any type are to be rated in accordance with either UL 10B or UL 10C with no requirement for a FSI or SDI rating to be included on the label.