Construction Law

Wall and Ceiling Finishes in North Carolina featured image

Wall and Ceiling Finishes in North Carolina

In the State of North Carolina, interior wall and ceiling finish materials must meet the standards expressed in Chapter 8 of the 2018 North Carolina State Building Code. These finishes must be classified appropriately according to their performance in the presence of smoke and fire. In this short article, an Asheville contractor attorney will discuss wall and ceiling finishes in North Carolina to help contractors determine whether or not they are following the applicable building codes. Failure to do so could result in defective construction, an OSHA violation, or something else entirely.


Interior finishes are grouped according to their flame spread and smoke-developed indexes. There are three classes:

  • Class A: Flame spread index 0-25. Smoke-developed index 0-450.
  • Class B: Flame spread index 26-75. Smoke-developed index 0-450.
  • Class C: Flame spread index 76-200. Smoke-developed index 0-450.


Materials used for interior wall and ceiling finishes must be tested in accordance with NFPA 286. Interior finishes, specifically, must comply with the following criteria:

  • Flames do not spread to the ceiling during 40 kW exposure.
  • Flames are unable to spread to the outside of any wall or ceiling tested.
  • “Flashover” is mitigated entirely.
  • Peak heat release rate doesn’t surpass 800 kW throughout the administered test.
  • Smoke released during the test doesn’t exceed 1,000 m2.

Textile Wall Coverings and Expanded Vinyl Wall Coverings

Textile wall coverings and expanded vinyl wall coverings must meet similar benchmarks to those listed in the preceding section. They require a Class A flame spread index and must be accompanied by an automatic sprinkler system. In addition, test specimen preparation, including mounting, must align with ASTM E2404. ASTM E2404 also includes guidelines for testing. This standard states that, “fire testing of products and materials is inherently hazardous, and adequate safeguards for personnel and property shall be employed in conducting these tests. Fire testing involves hazardous materials, operations, and equipment.”

Other Considerations

In addition to the considerations mentioned above, contractors should be cognizant of the following standards listed in Chapter 8 of the 2018 North Carolina State Building Code including (but not limited to):

  • Thickness exemption: materials less .036 inches thick do not need to be tested.
  • Heavy timber exemption: parts of buildings that are exposed but meet the requirements of Type IV construction are not required to meet interior finish requirements.
  • Foam plastics: not to be used for interior finishes unless permitted by Section 2603.9.

If you would like to speak with an Asheville construction lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.