Columbia Elevator Cabs and Entrances

Home > Blog

Lou's Lessons

Have a comment, question, additional knowledge to share, or a suggested topic for a future “lesson?”

About Louis "LJ" Blaiotta >> |

Safety First When Columbia Creates Captivating Cabs

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, August 5, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

Comments (2)

:   UL Label

UL Label

Elevator cab design, a compendium of design, aesthetics, and safety concerns, affects more people in more ways than is commonly considered. While we have been exploring today’s adventurous and varied aesthetic applications and use of materials, all continue to strictly require at least one thing: fire safety and compliance with the code designed to assure it.

Since its earliest days, Columbia Elevator has been undertaking active steps to provide its customers with this fire safety assurance. Columbia was the first and remains the only company with Underwriters Laboratories (UL®) certification adherent to the requirements of Section 2 of the code (including the flame-spread and smoke-development ratings) in every cab we build.

The definitive way to accomplish this certification is to set up an end-use configuration and submit it to a Steiner Tunnel test.

  • This Steiner Tunnel test, developed in 1944 by Al Steiner of Underwriters Laboratories, defines widely-accepted standards in North America for evaluating various finishes for their ability to support and propagate fire, and the degree to which they emit smoke.
  • These UL® standards are used in the regulation and selection of materials for interior construction in the building trades.
  • The Steiner Tunnel test measures how fast a flame will move on a particular material by comparing it to the flame spread rate of a 1-inch thick by one-foot wide piece of oak, a slow-burning hardwood.



We use a lot of decorative laminate in Columbia cabs, but we can’t individually test just the laminate or any other component of the job. Instead, we must test the final product by the Steiner Tunnel test in its end-use configuration. Just because we use flame-retardant plastic laminate, fire-retardant particle board and fire-retardant adhesives, we cannot assume that combining the three together will result in a fire-retardant final product.

Over the years Columbia has tested many configurations, including the use of traditional solvent-based contact cement, which was revealed to perform very well in such tests.

  • This is because the solvent emulsifies the solids of the adhesive, to render it fluid in the drum while it is being sprayed, but, once the solvent flashes off and evaporates, what remains is just the neoprene, which is self-extinguishing and does not support combustion.
  • If one were to hold a blow torch to a piece of fire-retardant particle board, a hole would burn right through it, but as soon as the source of the flame is removed, it self-extinguishes and will not burn beyond that spot and spread the flame.
  • This is similarly true of flame-retardant plastic laminate.

Installers can make the serious mistake of applying flame-retardant plastic laminate onto flame-retardant particle board, using water-based adhesive or hot-melt glue, which contains no solvent, and incorrectly assume that this combination will be fire-retardant. In such a case, under the flame-spread test, one end of the board is heated with a blow torch to start a fire, causing the flame-retardant laminate to peel up. The laminate does not support combustion and neither does the particle board. But what does happen is that the adhesive itself begins to burn, and, as it does, the laminate continues to peel up further, and so on. Such a scenario presents a flame-spreading situation that fails the requirement of Section 2 of the code.

I think most people would be quite surprised to know the depth of strategy and complexity that goes into making their daily elevator trips as aesthetically pleasing-while-safe as they are. Going forward – as architectural boundaries continue to be pushed ever further – we will endeavor to keep it so that the passengers of the future will continue to be delighted by their elevator rides without ever having to give a thought to safety matters!


Columbia Creates Captivating Cabs with Lighting

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, July 8, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

Comments (3)

CE Product List Ad

CE Product List Ad

Lou’s Lessons             July 8, 2019

Columbia Creates Captivating Cabs with Lighting

High on the list of dramatic advancements in creating captivating cab designs is the treatment of lighting. While ceiling-mounted “downlighting” remains in play, largely gone are the once-standard incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. They have been replaced by LED (Light Emitting Diode) fixtures. Consuming significantly less energy than standard bulbs, LED is far more eco-friendy and cost-efficient. They also support building owners’ applications to obtain LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Among this technology’s most profound impacts on the cab experience is its ability to produce stunning color ambience in varied and unusual positions within the cab via use of different lighting frequencies on the Kelvin scale. Instead of placing lighting in the ceiling in a downward facing arrangement, it can now be installed above a drop ceiling to make the canopy glow. And, instead of perimeter lighting, wall panels can be made to illuminate and glow by installing LED lighting behind them. Different effects can be achieved depending on the material used for the wall, for example, by combining yellow/orange lighting with stainless steel panels to approximate a bronze look.

Lighting today is a major component of the market’s demand for advanced elevator design, allowing for astonishing wall and ceiling treatments. Another current trend is to place lighting in the throat of the jamb surrounding the elevator entrance, indicating the cab’s arrival and departure as it enters and leaves the floor.

Lighting designers today are no longer restricted to only round or tubular bulbs. LED fixtures can be virtually any other shape: square, rectangular, triangular, even in linear format to create glow behind handrails, and their small size makes them adaptable to an infinite number of lighting applications.

  • LED’s do not require the traditional glass bulb surrounding the light, making them less susceptible to damage from breakage or vibration.
  • LED’s are directional light sources, able to aim light in a specific direction, unlike conventional bulbs, which emit light in all directions.
  • LED’s are mounted on a flat surface, allowing them to emit light hemi-spherically rather than spherically, which reduces wasted light and energy.
  • LED’s are capable of turning on and off instantaneously and continuously without delay or shortening their life.
  • LED’s can significantly reduce the labor costs of replacing bulbs with their longer operational life.
  • LED fixtures don’t release heat, which would shorten their life. By contrast, incandescent bulbs, which produce light using electricity to heat a metal filament until it becomes “white” hot, release 90% of their energy as heat. 



Columbia Creates Captivating Cabs with Marble, Tile, and Stone

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, June 3, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

Comments (0)

Receiving Ellie Awards Elevator World, the elevator industry’s leading global trade publication, presented Columbia Elevator Products co-founder Marie Blaiotta and CEO LJ Blaiotta the prestigious Ellies Award in two key categories: Best Cab Supplier - Cabs and Best Supplier - Doors.

Receiving Ellie Awards Elevator World, the elevator industry’s leading global trade publication, presented Columbia Elevator Products co-founder Marie Blaiotta and CEO LJ Blaiotta the prestigious Ellies Award in two key categories: Best Cab Supplier - Cabs and Best Supplier - Doors.

At Columbia Elevator, we are getting more and more requests to create captivating elevator cabs with finishes that include marble, tile, and stone. This is especially in high-end hotels and commercial buildings. To accommodate the increased use of stone materials in an elevator’s design, there is a growing trend toward synthetic quartz, a material that is virtually indistinguishable from natural material.

Using natural stone would present deflection and load-level issues in the smooth vertical operation of the elevator. In response to today’s trends, stone suppliers have found ways to produce and supply the industry with thin slices of material to help lighten the load and stress on the lifting equipment. To keep incredibly thin panels strong, stable, flat, and safe, they are supported by honeycomb backing that does not support combustion.

Cutting-edge technology allows for stone elevator panels that are light in weight, while maintaining the beauty of the natural look. In these types of cabs, Columbia Elevator installs lightweight panels that

  • are made using natural stone or man-made materials.
  • are 80% lighter than conventional 3/4" slabs.
  • are supported with a honeycomb backing, made of either aluminum or fiberglass.

In order to produce these light weight panels comprised of only 3/8” thick stone, an interesting fabrication technique is used. Honeycomb reinforcement backing sheets are glued to both sides of a 3/4"-thick slab of stone. Using diamond wire, the slab is then split into two identical 3/8”-thick pieces and separated to reveal two identical mirrored (or book matched) stone panes. The surfaces are then polished or finished to the customer's preferences.

Using these techniques will allow you to ride in ‘stone elevators cab’ interiors that safely address the weight issue and allow for beautifully finished interiors.