Finding the right industrial paint for the job at hand is a vital aspect of any project. The wrong paint can damage the surface and allow further damage from lack of proper protection. In this article we’ll discuss why intumescent paint for steel is usually the right choice for structural integrity and IBC compliance.
Why you need intumescent paint for steel
Intumescent paints are fire resistant, which makes them incredibly important and useful in a variety of industrial applications including steel. Intumescent paints have a high fire resistance level, and prevent fire damage for thirty minutes to several hours, depending on the intensity of the heat and how well the coating was applied and maintained.
Intumescent paints are one of the best to protect load-bearing elements such as steel beams and columns. They are a unique type of passive fire protection for structural steel, but they can also be used on materials like wood, concrete, drywall and other elements.
Their versatility makes them a necessary part of a comprehensive fire protection plan.
FlameOFF Fire Barrier Paint for steel protection
FlameOFF Fire Barrier Paint is a fire resistant paint, making it an excellent choice for a variety of industrial applications. It’s an intumescent paint designed for interior steel, drywall, and wood, meaning you can use it for a variety of applications. It’s also ecologically friendly, making it better for the environment and for workers who use it on the job.
FlameOFF is ASTM E-119 certified, making it a great choice for steel fireproofing.
Fire resistant vs. fire retardant paint for steel
Fire resistant coatings are designed to withstand extended periods of extreme heat and fire, somewhere between 30 and 4 hours depending on the fire rating.
The ASTM E-119 standards are a set of requirements that allow for an intumescent paint to be recognized as “fire-resistant.” Intumescent paints for steel should be ASTM E-119 tested and certified to ensure and meet IBC compliance for whatever material you’re painting.
Not all paints are rated so highly against heat resistance. Some paints are just fire retardant, and, while they can help slow the spread of a fire, they are not ASTM E-119 rated and certified.
Instead, fire retardant paints typically have an ASTM E-84 rating that measures their FSI (flame spread index) and smoke development index (SDI). Fire retardant paints will not prevent structural fire damage, but will slow a fire’s progress.
While fire retardant paints are appropriate for applications such as non-load bearing interior walls and ceiling finishes, for load bearing and structurally significant elements like steel, intumescent paints are needed to ensure proper safety.
You should check the IBC’s manual before purchasing a coating to determine which is right for your application. Our friends at FlameOFF Coatings can also answer your questions.
Preparing steel for intumescent paint
As part of job preparation, the substrate surface needs to be readied for the job. Remaining paint on the surface should be removed, especially if it’s peeled or cracked. Paint stripper can be used for this, but keep the timing in mind since it can take 15 to 30 minutes for stripper to take hold.
Coarse paper, hot air guns, or old fashioned paint scrapers can be used as well. Regardless of how you remove the paint, once it’s gone, look over the surface to see if it needs any further cleaning. A degreaser or the like might be needed to remove leftover grease or oil. Once the old paint is removed and substrate properly prepped, painting can begin.
How to apply intumescent paint on steel
An important part of any application guide, of course, is to remember to use proper safety equipment when you apply the paint. Along with proper safety equipment, make sure to read the safety guidelines for the paint as well.
Once you have everything and everyone safe, application is pretty standard. You need to test to make sure everything is up to code, prepare the surface for painting, apply the paint via the recommended method for the job then let it dry and cure as needed. The various times involved will depend on the size of the job and the layering of the paint, of course.
Along with proper safety, the environment needs to be properly prepared for application as well. The biggest issue with any paint can often be humidity, and for intumescent paints it should be no higher than 85%. If a hygrometer isn’t handy, you can test the humidity by painting a test strip and waiting for it to dry and cure. If it takes longer than fifteen minutes, the area is too humid.
Ambient and surface temperature are also extremely important. Temperature at the job site should be at least 45 F, or 10 C. The same is true for ambient temperature, and those conditions should be maintained during application and for at least 48 hours afterward to ensure the paint dries and cures properly. This may require the use of heating or cooling equipment to ensure the proper temperature, so keep that in mind as part of the preparation process for the job.
Recommended protective gear and application materials
When painting steel with an intumescent paint, we recommend the following gear:
- Protective eyewear, goggles, and/or a face shield
- Earplugs or muffs
- A filtered mask to protect your lungs
- Overalls to protect from spray
To apply your paint, we recommend the following applicators:
Rollers can be used for certain coatings, but read your product and safety data sheets or check with the coatings manufacturer first.
Which applicator you choose will depend on your desired WFT (wet film thickness) and DFT (dry film thickness), which are two metrics for determining how thick your paint is applied.