What are fire retardant coatings?

Fire retardant coatings applied in homes can save lives. Find out what they are, and when you would need to use them.

basement ceiling sprayed with fire retardant | Construction Pro Tips

What arefire retardant coatings?

Fireretardantcoatings (or spray) are non-combustable chemicals appliedin residential, commercial, and industrial buildingsfor the following reasons:

  • Stop the spread of a fire
  • Slow the spread of a fire
  • Reduce a firesintensity
  • Reduce the smoke a fire produces

Fire Retardants Save Lives

According to FEMA, “An estimated 6,500 single totwin-family residential buildingsbasement fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year and caused an estimated 65 deaths, 400 injuries and $278 million in property loss.”

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Those are startling numbers. Creating a barrier between the basement and the upper floors with a fire retardant coating can drastically reduce all of those stats. We talked with a building official and fire retardant coating manufacturers to find out how, why and when you should be using fire retardant coatings.

Are fire retardant coatings required?

Fire retardant coatings are required during the construction of a new home if the floorassemblyis built with wood I-joists.Fire coatings are part of theIRC Code R501.3. Because of their thinplywoodwebbing, when I-Joists catch fire theycan lose their integrity at a dangerously fast rate. By applyinga chemical fire retardant, that rate is slowed, giving occupantsin the home more timetoevacuate andemergency responders more time to enter the building and put out the fire before the flooring structure collapses. Not all municipalities accept new building codes at the same rate, or ever for that matter. Check with your local building official to find out what the exact code requirements are for your area.

When are fire retardant coatings not required?

Youare not required to apply fireretardantcoating if:

  • Existing homes
  • Remodel projects
  • The area is less than 80 square feet, like inmechanical/utilityrooms
  • Asprinkler systemis installed
  • The floor assembly (joists) is built withdimensional lumber: 2×10,2×12, etc.
  • Finished basement ceilings where the bottom of the I-joists are finished/covered with-in.gypsumor5/8-in.plywood paneling
  • Check your local code for other exceptions

When should fire retardant coatings be applied?

The best time to applyfire coating would be right after the framing iscompleteand before the mechanicals are being installed. This time frame allows for easy access to alltheareasthat needto be coated.

Bucket of fire Retardant coating | Construction Pro Tips

Is there more than one type of fire retardant coating?

Fire retardant coatingsareavailableinthree differentformulas:

  1. Oil based
  2. Two-part mixes
  3. Epoxy solvent-base
  4. Water based

All approved formulas have a minimum Class A rating (1-2 hour flame spread). These coatings can be applied to steel, gypsum, and wood. Some can also be applied to foam and plastics.Water based products are typically easer to clean up after.

How are fire retardant coatings applied?

Most coatings are sprayed on with astandard paint sprayer.Anextension on yourpaint gun makes it easy to apply the product from a distance, anda rotating tipwill help you get in any tight, hard-to-reach areas.Abrushcan be usedforsmall areasand touch up.

Depending on where you are located you can usually apply fire retardant coatings on your own, butcheck with your local building official to make sure that you dontneed to be certified installer. Also, be aware that some manufacturers themselves require that you are a certified installer, so check with them as well.

What dofire retardant coatings cost?

An oil base or water base productcosts about$.75per square foot.Hiringa certified installer will cost about$1.50per square foot.