firefighters at scene of fire with fire retardant paint

We live and work in an age where advanced fire detection technology and suppression systems are commonplace, yet a non-residential fire breaks out approximately every six minutes. And according to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were an estimated 100,300 nonresidential building fires per year from 2014-2016, causing over $2.4B in property damage per year.

While 47.9% of non-residential fires are confined, meaning they don’t spread past the initial point of origin, 52.1% of fires spread, also known as nonconfined fires. While sprinkler systems and smoke detectors can help alert building occupants once a fire is active, they can only do so much to keep a nonconfined fire from spreading. Instead, building owners and property managers should invest in fire retardant paint.

What is Fire Retardant Paint?

Fire retardant coatings and paint additives can offer an additional layer of protection to hospitals, college dormitories, restaurants, shopping malls, manufacturing and industrial plants, and other commercial facilities. When properly applied, the surfaces act as a heat resistant barrier, protecting the occupants of a building for up to two hours. This allows ample time to evacuate the building and for the fire to be extinguished at the source before major structural damage occurs.

How Fire Retardant Paint Works

Fire retardant paints act as a barrier to the spread of flames. The most common work by emitting a gas when in contact with a flame, which in turn dampens the flames and prevents the fire from fully forming.

Another form of fire retardant paint works by swelling when it reaches a certain temperature, creating a barrier, or char, that insulates the wood and slows down the spread of the fire.

When used on the structural timber of a building, fire retardant paints can help contain a fire at the source rather than letting it quickly spread throughout a building. This allows time for building occupants to safely evacuate the building.

In addition to slowing the spread of a fire, fire retardant paint also reduces the smoke and toxic fumes that are associated with building fires. These smokes and toxins are common causes of fire-related deaths and injuries, so ensuring protection against them is critical to fire safety.

Utilizing Fire Retardant Paints

Fire retardant paint can be applied to walls, doors, flooring, roofing, and other surfaces.

Many local building codes, including New York City, for example, require certain structural components such as ceilings, walls, and floor coverings, to name a few, to be treated with fire retardants that resist the spread of flames, smoke, and toxins.

Depending on the product used, the level of protection offered may vary. Every fire retardant paint is tested and given a flame-spread rating, which signifies the level or protection it provides.

Application is Key

To ensure that your fire retardant paint will effectively prevent the spread of flames, it’s imperative to properly apply the paint. Depending on the product there may be certain requirements, such as the thickness of the application, for it to work.

Secondly, the temperature and painting environment can both have an impact on the function of the fire retardant paint.

Lastly, surface preparation is critical to the effectiveness of the product. If you’re not sure how to prepare your surface for this type of paint, it’s imperative to consult a professional that has ample experience working with these products.

Working with an Experienced Team

Because there are a variety of fire retardant paint options that all offer various levels of protection and have specific application requirements, it’s important to work with a professional that has experience applying these specialty coatings.

In addition to having multiple options of paints with varying flame-spread ratings, some products also deteriorate over time and require re-application. To ensure high-quality protection that stands the test of time, whether by durability or re-application, it’s important to consult an expert team.

For help properly applying the right fire retardant paint for your commercial or industrial space, contact Independence Painting Co. today.