First impressions last, and cab interiors should not be overlooked. Dated, dark, dirty and damaged elevator cab interiors could leave the impression that a building and its elevators are not well maintained and even unsafe. Simple aesthetics aside, mileage really matters. The National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII®) estimates that elevators in the U.S. and Canada travel a whopping 1.36 billion miles per year. That’s more than 2,700 trips to the moon and back. And, all this mileage means that elevator interiors can take a real beating. Freight, stretchers and suitcases can ding and mark the walls and doors. Flooring can become stained, and finish choices made decades ago can be out of style.
Cab upgrades can and should be included when and if you are mechanically modernizing your elevators. A full-scale modernization can be lengthy and inconvenience tenants, and stepping into a modernized machine that looks just as unappealing as its predecessor will likely disappoint them.
Elevators are made up of many components and are designed based on weight. Therefore, the weight of specific finish materials, such as flooring, can affect movement. If building owners want to hire interior designers or architects to advise them on finish selections, those professionals also need to be knowledgeable about elevator code requirements regarding design, weight, fire rating on materials, fabrication and installation.
Cabs can also be renovated by a company solely dedicated to upgrading elevator cab interiors. These companies understand the many details involved in upgrading cabs and have designed a process that makes installation and future renovations easy. After the old cab interior is removed, a clip system with interlocking joints is installed on the cab walls. Then, wall panels can simply be hung on the clips. This makes the installation time quick and clean. And, if the interior of the cab is damaged, it can be replaced easier and less expensively. There are literally thousands of finish choices, arrangements and trims to choose from, and these companies can also offer preselected designs to make the whole process easier.
Using this method can also be advantageous if building owners are working under a tight schedule. That was the case for Jason Lee, project manager for Copeland & Johns, Inc., when overseeing the renovation of a historic building being transformed into a convention center on Mississippi State University’s campus in Starkville, Mississippi. He recalled:
“When the architect made some specification changes on the finish options of the cab interiors, it meant we were not going to be able to get the elevator installation finished in time for a planned opening event. The fast installation time helped us meet our shortened timeline.”
The elements that make up an elevator cab include the walls, ceiling, flooring, lighting, handrails and controls. Each should be considered carefully when planning a renovation. Cab walls come in many forms: plastic laminate, wood-veneer laminate, wood panels, glass or steel. The elevator walls are likely the most important element. They set the tone for the style, but choose carefully. While the finish should look beautiful, it must be durable. Remember that elevator cabs can take a lot of abuse.
People are more comfortable in a well-lit interior, and a brighter ceiling can make the cab look newer and cleaner with an increased lighting output. Cab ceilings come in a downlight style with recessed lighting or a suspended style with fluorescent lighting behind a grille. Also, consider upgrading to LED over incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. LEDs last up to 50,000 hr. – that’s 45,000 hr. longer that others – and their energy consumption is decreased by up to 90%.