Ways to Maintain Code Compliance on Each Job

Code compliance; it’s an integral part of the design and installation processes of elevator interiors. When an interior does not meet applicable regulations, it grounds the entire project. How can you assure customers that their elevators will be installed on-time and fully functional? Just use this “cheat sheet” to help you keep the project compliant.

Code Compliance: Top Red Flags To Look For

Trained elevator mechanics know what to look for and can spot red flags that can keep customers’ interiors from passing inspection. The list below includes the top elevator code compliance issues you should be on the lookout for.

    • Adherence to fire codes. While some states and jurisdictions (e.g. Nevada, California, and NYC) are stricter than others, most cities and states use ASME A17.1 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators.

      One of the requirements is that all combustible materials be tested in their end-use configuration. For instance, it is not sufficient to test a piece of laminate, particle board, and adhesive individually. The entire panel will also have to be assembled and tested, as a unit, before it complies with code.

    • Use of glass. Both laminated and tempered glass need to be mounted properly to withstand required elevator tests without damage. Each piece also needs to be marked with the applicable glazing standard.

    • ADA requirements. Elevator interiors must comply with American with Disabilities Act requirements if the building is more than three stories tall or larger than 3,000 square feet per story.

      A few of ADA’s regulations include:


    • Buttons must be mounted at 42 inches above the floor.

    • Handrails are not required by the ADA, but may be by your specific jurisdiction. They are typically mounted nominally 32 inches above the floor.

    • Cabs must be large enough to allow a wheelchair to make a 360 degree turn.

    • Ventilation. ASME A17.1 requires elevators to have natural ventilation that equals 3.5% of the floor area. For example, in a typical 2,500 pound-capacity elevator, that would be 142 square inches. It must be equally divided between floor and ceiling (for example, a ceiling fan opening and toe kick ventilation).

    • Tamper-resistant installation. Panels cannot be removed with common tools. Panels which cover openings greater than 0.5 inches, with straight-through passages, cannot be removable from inside the cab.

  • Lighting. Elevator interiors must have at least two bulbs and passenger elevators need a minimum illumination of 50 lux or five foot candles. Proper mounting is essential to avoid accidental breakage, and the lights need to withstand required elevator tests without being damaged or jarred loose.

  • Weight issues. When you remove the interior of an elevator, it has to weigh the same as the old interior or be within 5%. Staying within that slim margin is critical.

  • Music. All passenger elevators are required to play the soothing sounds of elevator music. (Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention!)

Because of these regulations, which can and do fill volumes, it’s vital that a certified elevator mechanic – not a maintenance person – completes every installation. It requires an entirely different set of skills and know-how. If the interior fails to comply with regulations, the project shuts down, and this can impact the entire building’s functionality. Not to mention the budget and timeline.

Elevator and building code compliance is complex, but non-negotiable. Partnering with an experienced interior company ensures that your customers’ elevators meet all applicable standards – which to them means projects completed safely, on-time, and on-budget. Fortunately, with the right partner, compliance can be simple. If they’ll do the heavy lifting, you can get back to focusing on the rest of your project and rest assured that the final results will be up to code.

Maintaining Architectural Design and Code at the Same Time

Elevator interior design isn’t just “regular” interior design in a 4.5 x 6 foot space. Size constraints can create challenges – but so do fire codes, weight, and other safety standards with which interiors must comply. You need solutions that meet or exceed all applicable regulations and maintain the architect’s design intent of the elevator. Here’s how to preserve the integrity of a beautiful design – without facing non-compliance charges.

Balancing Design and Building Code

Those “Maximum Capacity of This Elevator” signs are there for a reason! Engineers have to figure out the resistance and pull of the entire system to set a weight limit. This ensures the elevator functions properly. If there is too much weight inside the elevator, the doors will stay open, and the cab won’t budge until some of the burden is removed.

Redundant safety features virtually eliminate the risk of a freefall or other accidents caused by excessive weight. Property owners face another problem, though. When they have occupants who need to get to their homes, offices, or appointments, a stalled elevator is not only an inconvenience – it reflects poorly on the building.

Sometimes, a specifier creates a design that is simply too heavy to implement. If it exceeds weight limits, it doesn’t meet code. And if it is non-compliant, it doesn’t meet the customers’ needs. It’s that simple.

A Convenient – Compliant – Answer

The solution can be equally simple. To ensure the initial design is executable, work with an experienced elevator interior company that knows how to preserve inspiration and vision – and lose the code violations.

Say, for instance, that the architect wants to recreate a building’s granite entryway in the elevator interior. Any material can be used in interiors – as long as they meet code requirements. But because granite is so heavy and is susceptible to damage from vibration, it is often not a feasible option.

But this is: printing a granite pattern and then laminating it with durable Corning® Gorilla® Glass panels. As good as the “real” thing? Well – better! Because, while it looks like granite and delivers ultimate sheen and protection, it is ultra-lightweight and easy to integrate into a fully compliant design.

If an architect specifies products that are too heavy or costly, there are viable alternatives that look as great and meet code and budget requirements. A knowledgeable elevator interior partner will help them find solutions that allow their designs to come to life – and pass inspection.

Up to Code

Designers and architects are driven by vision – not code. Working with a trusted partner gives them the coaching, advice, and expert knowledge they need to ensure their vision can be safely and properly executed. This support, from concept to implementation, ensures that they don’t have to spend time worrying about:

  • ADA Requirements. In buildings with more than three stories or larger than 3000 square feet per story, elevator hall and call buttons must be mounted 42 inches from the floor.
  • Lighting Issues. Elevators must have proper lighting, and canopies need clear, unobstructed passages to a ceiling emergency exit, which needs to be at least 400 square inches, with a minimum length of 16 inches per side.
  • Fire Safety Compliance. Materials used on the walls, ceiling, and floor have to be end-use configuration tested. For example, a laminate panel has to be tested with the substrate and adhesive that will create the complete assembly.

These regulations don’t even begin to scratch the surface! It can be a huge headache to coordinate – and an even bigger expense if the interior doesn’t comply with applicable codes. The proper partner can save you time, money, and a lot of Aspirin by handling compliance issues.

The right design team and technicians can flag elements that are not up to code in the design and take over the heavy-lifting. You’ll be sure of two things: that you’re installing an aesthetically pleasing interior that meets your architectural goals, and that you are getting a fully functioning, compliant elevator.

When you work with an experienced elevator cab company, you get the expertise and experience of both a designer and a code expert in your corner. The result? Elevator interiors that impress both building inhabitants and elevator inspectors! The winning combination of outstanding aesthetics and code-compliance means projects that are completed on time and without headaches.

Want to learn more about the expert? Read Eric Farah’s bio here.

Expert Tips for Creating Code Compliant Designs

The fast-paced, challenging fields of architecture and interior design offer the chance to flex creative muscles, solve complex challenges, and work with innovative new materials and methods. But an equally important component of design, (though maybe less glamorous) is elevator code compliance. Failure to consider compliance at the time of design can lead to rejected projects, delayed timelines, and inflated budgets. So, what do you need to know before you start your elevator interior to ensure that you only have to design it once?

Rule #1: Compliance Isn’t An Afterthought

Designs should not be tweaked so they’re compliant; they should be created with compliance top of mind. When you consider elevator code compliance at the onset of a project, you do not face unpleasant surprises on inspection. Consider a few of these common compliance objections:

“This space needs to be widened to comply with ADA requirements.”

“These panels need to be removed because they’re too heavy.”

“This whole cab interior is non-compliant, because it hasn’t been fire-tested in its end-use configuration.”

This isn’t what you want to hear after you’ve spent your time and resources creating a design and seeing it through to fruition. So what elevator code compliance issues do you need to keep top of mind as you design?

The Golden 5%: Cab Weight

When remodeling an elevator, the cab has to be within +/- 5% of its previous weight. If it weighed 2,000 pounds, for instance, the final weight must not exceed 2,100 pounds or be less than 1,900 pounds.

Knowing how heavy your design is – which requires knowing the weight of its components– is critical, and not only for regulatory reasons. So keep weight considerations in mind as you select different materials.

Keep Every User In Mind: Meet ADA Requirements.

If the building you’re working on is more than three stories tall, or larger than 3,000 square feet per story, it must comply with American with Disabilities Act requirements. How does this impact your design?

ADA outlines a host of seemingly small regulations that can have a big impact on design. For example, call buttons have to be mounted 42 inches above the floor, and the cab must be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair’s 360 degree turn. Rather than making adjustments to your elevator interior after the fact, it’s better to keep these considerations in mind at the first design – so that you don’t have to scrap great ideas simply because they’re non-compliant.

Put Safety First – Always: Complying with Fire Codes

Most jurisdictions use ASME A17.1 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. Among their requirements is end-use configuration testing. Say that you want to use a particular laminate for its sleek finish. It is fire-rated as is the adhesive and substrate. Good to go, right? Not so fast. The wall assembly has to be tested as a unit, in its end-use configuration. It is critical that these regulations stay top of mind throughout the design process, rather than becoming an afterthought. When that happens, a failed inspection and design becomes a likely, and expensive, possibility.


Glass can help create an elegant, expansive interior. But not just any glass. That, too, is regulated. Regular and plate glass is a no-go. Laminated glass is acceptable. Tempered glass is, too – but not if it is “stressed” with etchings, sandblasting, painting, or any other technique that can undermine its properties. You must also place a nonpolymeric coating or film on the glass so if it breaks, the fragments are held in place. For example, SnapCab panels featuring Corning® Gorilla® Glass meet these requirements and will always come with an ANSI Z97.1 stamp in the corner of every panel.

Your elevator interior company can assist you in choosing glass elements that comply with requirements and help you execute an exceptional, sophisticated design. This is just the transparency you need to ensure your project remains on track for successful completion.

Breathe Life into Your Designs with Proper Ventilation

During the remodeling process, it is not unusual for “decorative” toe kicks (the base below the wall panels) to cover over the existing ventilation. ASME A17.1 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators requires natural ventilation equal to 3.5% of the floor area of the cab. The gap in the door and the ceiling fan opening can account for part of this – but A17.1 also mandates that ventilation be equally divided between floor and ceiling. Enter vented toe kicks.

Be sure that your design accounts for these critical elements so you meet ASME requirements and your project stays on track. Your elevator interior company can help you find the right look (including concealed ventilation gaps), and you can breathe a big, perfectly ventilated, sigh of relief.

Spotlight on Lighting Regulations

Lighting is always an important design element: the right light can create a sense of more space – or conversely, a sense of cozy welcoming. In elevators, though, it must also meet safety and code requirements. Your design has to include at least two lamps, with a minimal illumination of 50 lux or 5 foot candles with the door closed. Emergency lights are also a must: they need to provide 2 lux or 0.20 foot candles of illumination and have enough power to operate two lamps for four hours. LED lighting is typically the preferred choice because of its energy-saving powers and low heat generation. Your design can’t afford you staying in the dark about these regulations!

Architects and designers have the opportunity, with every project, to build a lasting legacy that welcomes, soothes, excites, stimulates, or inspires. Code compliance is an integral part of that legacy, one that can be streamlined and simplified with the assistance of a trusted manufacturing partner. When codes and requirements inform and guide vision, it helps ensure projects stay on-schedule, on-budget, and get the final stamp of approval from inspectors and authorities – and from clients.