What is California 117-2013 (Cal-117) and how does it apply to furniture?

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Cal 117 or Cal 117-2013 are different ways of referring to California Technical Bulletin 117-2013. The complete name of the governing body that issued the bulletin is the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs



The bulletin discusses the methods of testing which consists of three tests used to evaluate the cigarette ignition resistance of upholstery cover fabrics, barrier (interliner) materials and resilient filling materials used in the manufacture of upholstered furniture. Each test involves a miniature assembly consisting of the component to be tested along with other specified materials, mounted on a plywood mock-up that resembles a small chair seat and back. The assembly is exposed to a lighted cigarette as an ignition source with the goal of Testing the Smolder Resistance of the various Materials Used in Upholstered Furniture. Upholstery cover fabrics that fail the cover fabric test described in Section 1 can be used in upholstered furniture if a barrier (interliner) material that passes this test method is used.When a barrier is required, the barrier material must cover all sides and top of the seating cushion(s).

Exceptions: Non-reversible and non-detachable seating cushions do not require the use of the barrier material on the underside of the seating cushion.

A material is considered to pass or fail based on the following criteria:

1.A single mock-up test specimen fails to meet the requirements of this test procedure if any of the following criteria occurs

a)The mock-up test specimen continues to smolder after the 45 minute test duration;

b)A char develops more than two inches (50 mm) in any direction from the cigarette on the Standard Type II cover fabric measured from its nearest point.

c)The mock-up test specimen transitions to open flaming.

2. A barrier material passes the test if three initial mock-up specimens pass the test, i.e., the cigarettes burn their full length and the mock-ups are no longer smoldering.

3. If more than one initial specimen fails, the barrier material fails the test.

4. If any one of the three initial specimens fails, repeat the test on additional three specimens. If all three additional specimens pass the test, the barrier material passes the test. If any one of the additional three specimens fails, the barrier material sample fails the test.

The main difference between this test and a test like Cal-133 is that Cal-117 is a component test while Cal-133 is a completed unit test.  Vinyl, foam, fills and other materials can be individually rated Cal-117.

For more information here is a direct link to the Cal 117-2013 Technical Bulletin.

What is the CAL TB 117 Fire Code?

The CAL TB 117 fire code is both an open flame or the component pieces of upholstered furniture.  The TB 117 test requires upholstered furniture paddings to withstand 12 second of an open flame without spreading the flame.

In 2013, the Technical Bulletin was updated to transition from an open-flame to a smoldering (cigarette) test. Materials are no long tested separately, but are combined with standard materials to create a composite - upholstery, foam, and any barrier layers are tested together.  The new standards allow for materials to be used without chemical flame retardants, as they are no longer exposed to a direct flame.

How are filling materials tested?

CAL 117 - 2000:
A 6" x 3" sample of the filler material is placed in a test cabinet. A 5/8" flame is applied to the lower edge of the sample for 5 seconds. The time flame spreads and the time to self-extinguishing is then measured. Five samples of the material are tested this way.  Other types of furniture materials are tested in a similar fashion, with size and number of samples changing as dictated in the bulletin.

CAL 117 - 2013:
Each test involves a miniature assembly consisting of the  component to be tested along with other specified materials, mounted on a plywood mock-up that resembles a small chair seat and back.The assembly is exposed to a lighted cigarette as an ignition source. The test lasts 45 minutes, at which point the material must have self-extinguished. The char mark must be less than 1.8 inches in either direction, and at no point can the material transition to open flame.

Additional Information on Flammability Testing

I think one of the things that makes the CAL 117 test different from many of the other tests is that 117 is a component test.  You need to test each component and each component of the furniture will either pass or fail.  For instance our vinyl passes cal 117.  Our foam passes cal 117.  Our chair on the other hand would need to have a different test.  Cal 133 is a full chair smolder test which shows how flammable the completed product is.  Cal 117 is primarily concerned with the removal of anything that might cause cancer.  It is similar to prop 65 and CARB compliance.  California TB 117-2013 has the number 2013 because it came out in 2013.  There have been other versions of Cal 117 in the past.  When getting requests for indoor commercial furniture, we often get asked about Cal 117.  Most of our materials are already compliant.  We just need to make sure you choose a Naugahyde that is Cal 117-2013 and we will be good to go.

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