Knowing which type of paint will make your project successful is an important step, and it can be hard to distinguish between the benefits and differences of fire-resistant and fire-retardant paints.
Have no fear: here is everything you need to know about fire resistant and fire retardant paints!
What are Fire Resistant and Fire Retardant Paints?
When picking the right paint, it is important to note the key differences between fire-resistive and fire retardant coatings. When building and personal property protection are on the line, it’s key to choose the proper paint for your project.
Fire-resistant paints work by creating a barrier against flames. These styles of paints often work by forming a char layer on the substrate when met with flames. These paints are often applied to steel, timber, and plasters to avoid burning and destruction. This style of paint works by creating gas bubbles that strengthen the paint’s additives when met with flames. When used on steel and timber, the foaming char layer works to add time before flames can penetrate through the substance. These paints often come with fire-resistant time limits, anywhere from thirty minutes to hours, which show the amount of time before the char layer will fail and flames will enter the substrate.
The difference with fire retardant paints is in their ignition abilities. These paints work by making more combustible materials much more difficult to ignite and to give products a desired flame spread classification level. If a substrate catches fire, the fire retardant paint works to slow the rate that the flames spread. Fire retardants are best when used on woods as they slow down the flame performance levels. This paint works best when used in residential spaces, commercial spaces, and escape routes, to slow ignition when the evacuation of a building is needed.
Are you still unsure about whether or not you need fire resistance or fire-retardant paints? Contact a CDN Paint specialist today to find the best paint for your project!
Types of Fireproof Paint
Often, the term “fireproof paint” carries a variety of meanings. Two of the most important classifications of this paint are intumescent and cementitious paint formats. Simply put, cementitious paint is an older style of fireproofing that creates a thicker barrier. This paint works by combining cement with the fireproof coating and then applying it to the desired surface. Intumescent paint is a newer method and works by growing and forming a barrier when exposed to extreme heat.
Cementitious coatings began surfacing in the mid-1900s when durable fireproofing solutions were needed. Concrete enhances the fire strength of a steel building, thus making cementitious paints an option. Over time, as dense concrete became too bulky, lighter cement paint methods were created. This type of coating is best in areas with low moisture exposure, as high moisture can cause an excess of corrosion and can reduce the effectiveness. Two of the biggest benefits of this coating are its affordability, especially for larger projects as well as its lightweight format.
Intumescent paints are relatively newer to the market but show excellent fire ratings and durability. Rather than being mixed with concrete to provide resistance, these coatings expand and char when introduced to flames. Intumescent coatings have been known to swell up to 25 times their original thickness when exposed to fire! The expansion of this coating is vital, as it allows for the volume to increase and the density to decrease, which in turn slows down the heating process. Intumescent paints are easier to apply, have reduced labor costs, and do not allow for gaps, making them better for moist environments. However, this paint is highly sensitive to changes during curing time and can be a costlier choice if multiple coats are needed.
While both formulas have their benefits and disadvantages, the general fireproofing industry often recommends intumescent paint for the majority of common applications. Cementitious paints are not the best for aesthetic appeal and can add weight, while intumescent paints blend into the visuals of the project.
Understanding Fire Rating Standards
Before selecting the paint for your project, it is important to pay close attention to the fire rating standards needed in your specific project. While there are a variety of standards, certain standards must be met for different styles of application. Here is a look at some of the most common ratings and their meanings:
- ATSM E-84/UL 723- usually just called the “E-84”, this is the most common fire standard. This test measures the flame spread along a sample to determine the predicted burning behaviors. When working on new projects or renovations, keep in mind that almost all facilities require an ASTM E-84 test.
- UL 236- This method rating tests and certifies the fire protection of structural steel. Often called the “default standard for North America,” this method is key to testing the structural steelwork fire protection before a project is finished.
- ASTM E-119- This rating/test evaluated the fire-response to a variety of structural substrates in a project. This rating is used specifically to test load bearing items such as walls, partitions, columns, floors, roofs, and structural beams.
- ASTM E-2768- A newer standard in fire ratings, this test is usually called a 30-minute version of the ASTM E84 test. This test is used for more intricate estimates of fire protection.
- NFPA 703- This test works best when used on fire-retardant-treated wood building materials.
- NFPA 286/UL 1715- These tests are often the go-to “defacto room corner tests” and are best for interior testing. The general test room is an 8 foot by 12-foot room with open or closed cell spray foam.
In addition to these testings, paints also come with fire retardant classifications of A through E. The system was originally developed by the National Fire Protection Administration for their “Line Safety Code”. When observing the rules of buildings, make sure to take into account the required retardant classification before purchasing your paint materials. If you are unsure of what specific ratings or classifications are needed for your project, reach out to a CDN Paint specialist today for help!
Popular Fireproof Coatings
With a variety of fireproof coatings on the market, it can be helpful to see which coatings are the most tried and trusted. Here is a list of some of CDN Paint’s favorite coatings:
- Sherwin Williams Firetex: This paint is a cellulosic intumescent coating with extremely high aesthetic, durability, and performance ratings. Sherwin Williams’s line of FX paints can be used on woods, steels, and a variety of other surfaces, and come with up to four hours of fireproofing.
- Fireguard E-84: Known for its ability to minimize flame spread, smoke production, and structural damage, this coating is also an intumescent paint. It is quite cost-effective with an average cost of 75 cents per square foot! Also, this paint can be applied to a variety of surfaces with rolling, brushing, or spraying methods.
- PPG PITT-CHAR NX: This paint provides passive fire protection and is suitable for both on and offshore applications. It can be applied to a variety of surfaces such as aluminum, carbon steel, galvanized metals, and stainless composites. This paint features high durability against vibration, abrasion, impact, and deflection.
- FlameOff Fire Barrier Paint: This paint is offered as an eco-friendly alternative for fireproofing. Around $350 for 5 gallons, this paint is classified as Class A and can offer up to 2-hour fire protection.
Choosing the best fire protection can be hard. If you are still unsure about your project’s specific fire ratings or are unsure which product best fits your needs, contact a CDN Paint representative. We are here with you each step of the way, to help you achieve your project goals!