Section 803.2 of the International Building Code states that materials having a thickness less than 0.036 inch (0.9 mm) applied directly to the surface of walls or ceilings shall not be required to be tested. These materials, in other words, are exempt from these testing. This is because these materials do not have enough mass to create significant fire hazard; one fire technician explained to me that they “burn off” quickly.
Almost all cities carry this same Thickness exemption into their own city codes: everywhere from San Francisco to Houston to New York City. (If you’re wondering if it’s exempt in your city, connect with us and we’ll find a link to the code for you!)
But, isn’t it easier to just spec everything as Class A? Why leverage the E-84 Thickness
Most Fire A surfaces (excepting stone and concrete) require flame retardants to be added to the product to achieve Class A results in E-84 testing. These flame retardants are incredibly toxic to human health and the environment: they are highly persistent, have a high potential for bioaccumulation and biomagnification, as well as for long-range transport. There is evidence of their toxic effects in wildlife, including mammals which are linked to cancer, hormone disruption and other adverse health effects. Because these chemicals do not easily break down, they can remain in the environment and in the human body for years. You can read more on that topic at the UN Environment Programme’s site.
Architects and designers – who have outsize influence in material choices – can make or break the health of interior spaces by knowing, understanding, and, whenever possible, leveraging the International Building Code E-84 Thickness exemption. By specifying natural products that do not have flame retardants, we’ll be taking care of human and planet health.
Does Lingrove offer Class A Fire Rated products?
Yes. Lingrove offers an ekoa® Surface “Extreme Commercial” line that is Fire Rated as Class A. But we do our best to promote using our ekoa® Surface Natural, which is certified with Clean Air Gold, Mindful Material Platinum, HPD, and is low carbon. Because our material is so thin, it is exempt from E84 fire testing according to International Building Code requirements.