All you need to know about fireproof paint and its benefits
Fireproof paint or fireproof construction materials have been compulsory for years now in office buildings, entrance halls, parking garages, public buildings and government buildings. Even the Sydney Harbour Bridge has fireproof paint, and the National Gallery of Victoria uses passive fire protection paint to add extra security for its artworks. Heritage buildings across Australia use thin film intumescent coating for wood to protect their structure while not interfering with their strict heritage requirements. In case of fire, an appropriate fireproof paint guarantees extended evacuation time, as well as vital extra time for firefighters to arrive and minimise damage.
Fireproof or fire resistant paint provides the following beneficial features:
- Durable protection: Lasts for decades and makes the surface impact resistant
- Fire protection up to 120 minutes: Conforms to British, European and international standards
- Suitable for various substrates: There is an appropriate fireproof paint for wood, steel, concrete, plastics, and more
- Decorative: If applied as a top coat, it is available in every RAL colour
- Prefab is possible: Fireproof paint can be applied before or after construction
When applying a fire rated paint there are several important factors that will affect your choice: the building type, the building use, and the substrate all affect the choice and requirements of fireproof paint. In this article we provide you with professional advice on what you need to know when choosing a fire resistant paint.
Determining the fire resistance requirements for your building
If you are considering applying fire protection coatings, then the structure of the building is part of what defines the coating you need; what is the purpose of the building, and how tall is the building? There are three factors that determine whether the building requires 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes of fire protection.
- Height – The taller the building, the stricter the requirements: a building higher than 5 metres must be at least 90 minutes fire proof. A building lower than 5 metres does not always have specified fire resistance, which is why you should always consult a specialist when considering fireproof coatings.
- Risk factor – In some cases the fire resistance must be 120 minutes regardless of the height and purpose of the building. This is true for industrial facilities and places with a heightened fire risk such as offshore structures and chemical processing plants. This is also true for archives, libraries, and museums where valuable information or goods are stored.
- Residential / non-residential building – Are there or could there be people sleeping in the building? Residential buildings require longer fire resistance than non-residential buildings; unless an additional risk factor is involved.
Note that these three factors are effective regardless the substrate type. The same guidelines count for timber, steel and any other construction material. In general, the costs of fire resistant paint can be estimated by the amount of coating needed and the required fire resistance – the higher fire rating the coating must have, the bigger the investment to apply it. Also, each different substrate will need a specific product and application method. A fire retardant coating for timber is different to one for steel.
The 2 types of fire rated paint
There are two types of fire proof paint, intumescent and fire retardant, and each has a different method of slowing down the burning process. They can be applied either independently or as a complete fire protective system.
- Fire retardant paint – Used as topcoats in a fire resistant system or as stand alone products for wood. These coatings release a flame damping gas when the temperature rises to extremes. This forms a buffer zone, protecting the surface from the flames (and so they are also known as flame resistant paint or flame retardant paint). This is the most common type of fireproof paint used as an independent fire retardant paint for wood.
- Intumescent paint – Almost predominantly applied as undercoat. This type of fireproof paint swells when the temperature reaches 200°C forming a solid foam-like char layer which insulates the substrate. Not only does it protect the substrate from ignition but also from the effects of the heat; steel loses its capacity to carry heavy loads starting at 300°C.
When these two coatings are applied as a complete system the fire retardant topcoat keeps flames at bay, postponing the swelling reaction of the intumescent undercoat. Once the fire has exhausted the topcoat, the undercoat kicks in. This fire rated paint system provides necessary extra time to get a fire under control.
Fire resistant paint with the right fire rating for your structure
There are several requirements for fire rating of buildings, especially commercial and public constructions. However, private buildings can also be treated with fire resistant paint products for the same reasons as other constructions. In Australia this is especially useful for homes located in the bushfire risk areas; with bushfire season getting longer and more severe, and with more days in the Catastrophic Fire Danger category, these risk areas are no longer simply “the bush” – as the fire in South Sydney earlier this year shows.
The following table provides you with an indication of the fire resistance requirements of different building types.
|FIRE RATING requirement||Building height||Examples|
|Not specified or 30 minutes||Lower than 5 metres: non-residential buildings||Offices, shops, and company facilities|
|60 minutes||Lower than 5 metres: residential buildings||Hotels, apartments, and health care centres|
|90 minutes||Lower than 13 metres: residential buildings Higher than 13 metres: non-residential buildings||Schools, hotels, blocks of flats, and prisons|
|120 minutes||Higher than 13 metres: residential buildings and buildings with high risk factor||Schools, hospitals, and blocks of flats; libraries, archives and industrial premises|
Always consult a specialist about fire protection paint to make sure your building is appropriately protected and meets the set standards. Our experts are happy to help you receive a competitive proposal for the fireproof paint you need: just send us a message by clicking the “request a quote” button at the bottom of this article. Our quote service is 100% free.
Fire resistant paint experts & certification in Australia
We advise you to leave the application of fire resistant paint to a certified contractor. Every building has specific requirements for fire resistance, and it takes a trained professional to apply the coating effectively. The building type, substrate type, and end use requirements all impact the choice of coating and the way it is applied, including such factors as film thickness. An inspection report needs to be drawn up by the contractor, including calculations for film thickness and the suitable materials for the project.
Once the fireproof paint has been applied, you will receive a certificate. This certificate confirms that you have complied with all relevant regulations and used the correct fire rated paint. The coating must also be regularly inspected in order to detect any signs of premature deterioration and need for maintenance.
Always check for the FPA Australia membership
When looking for a contractor to apply fire proof paint, you certainly are looking for reliability and quality. The best way to assure the quality of fire resistant paint application, is to choose an applicator who is a member of FPA Australia (Fire Protection Association).
Fireproof paint specialists in Australia
Depending on the substrate material, there are several fireproof paint specialists in Australia whose services are available to you. Which one you should contact, depends on the substrate – most of them can help you with coating steel, but fire resistant paint for wood and concrete require different expertise. We at Coating.com.au are happy to help you find the right specialist for your building, and provide you with a competitive proposal for the product and job. Make use of our 100% free quote service by clicking the “Request a quote” button at the bottom of this article. Our experts are happy to help. We also provide lists of specialist fire coatings applicators in Sydney and Melbourne.
Here is a selection of Australian specialists in fire rated paints, both intumescent and fire retardant coating. These companies often use internationally recognised products from manufacturers such as AkzoNobel, Dulux, Sika, Sherwin Williams and PPG.
|Fireproofing paint company||Address||Specialisation|
|CAP Coatings Australia||PO Box 277, Ettalong Beach, NSW 2257||Real estate and consumer fire rated paint applications|
|OL’ Painting||Suite 284, 4 Young St, Neutral Bay NSW 2089||Industrial and commercial fire resistant coating applications|
|Pro Plaster N Pain||54 Abbotsford Parade, Abotsford, Sydney, New South Wales 2046, Australia||Commercial and consumer fire resistant coating applications|
|Mike Bailey Paint Services||17 Toolamba Road, Mooroopna VIC 3629||Commercial and consumer fire resistant coating applications|
|Action Alliance||50 Cyanamid SDt, Laverton NOrth VIC 3026||Industrial, commercial, civil, mining and offshore fire resistant paint applications|
|PFS Group||Unit 2 401 Francis Street Brooklyn VIC 3025||Industrial and consumer fire paint applications|