How fire retardant coatings protect your facility | Cleaning and maintenance management

2021-11-13 06:58:51 By : Mr. Carl zhang

What you need to know about passive fire protection, coating types, costs, and ASTM standards

Passive fire protection is an important part of building safety. While active fire protection such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers helps to control the fire once it is started, passive fire protection can extinguish the fire before it is ignited.

Passive fire protection can include everything from installing firewalls and building design to applying intumescent and cement coatings to existing infrastructure. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on fireproof coatings that help protect your facility.

There are currently two popular fire retardant coatings on the market: intumescent coatings and cement coatings.

Intumescent coatings are a (relatively) new technology that emerged in the 20th century. The binder of these paints will melt when the temperature rises. A chemical reaction occurs and the intumescent paint expands to 25 to 50 times thicker than the original coating, forming a charcoal that prevents the flame from burning and spreading.

On the other hand, lightweight cement coating is a relatively outdated technology-a mixture of cement and paint used to coat heavy steel and concrete. These lightweight fire-resistant coatings require more coatings than intumescent coatings and leave tiny spaces between the coating and the substrate, which can accumulate moisture and crack. Cementitious coatings are a cheap alternative to intumescent coatings, but they are generally less effective.

Fire protection costs range from $4 to $12 per square foot, depending on your supplier and the type of paint you buy. 

The following characteristics will affect the price of paint:

Especially for intumescent coatings, the rate of expansion—that is, how much charcoal expands and protrudes after heating—can also affect the price.

Fire retardant coatings are usually topcoats, which means you also need to consider the cost of primers to prevent corrosion. Zinc-rich primer is a good choice and can provide long-lasting protection, but you need to consider the grade and ASTM standards before buying.

The two most famous ASTM fire standards and tests include ASTM E-84 and ASTM E-119. There is also ASTM E-2924, which is a relatively new standard developed in 2014 specifically for intumescent coatings.

These are the three criteria that facility managers and maintenance personnel should consider when purchasing fire-resistant coatings.

The ASTM E-84 test evaluates coatings based on two indices: Flame Spread Index (FSI) and Smoke Index (SDI). According to the speed of flame spread and the amount of smoke produced during the test, the coating is graded from A to C-these two indicators are the indicators of the coating's resistance to continuous burning.

In order to achieve Class A, the coating must have a flame spread of 0 to 25 during the test. One of the reasons why intumescent coatings became popular in the last century is because they are usually classified as Class A and meet modern fire protection standards.

Please note that ASTM E-84 is similar to the UL 723 standard, and you may encounter any of these standards, depending on your local rules and regulations. The similar standard NFPA 255 was absorbed into ASTM E-84 and UL 723, and was officially abandoned in the fall of 2009.

ASTM E-119 is another standard you may encounter as a facility manager or maintenance personnel manager. This code is specifically for the heat resistance of your building materials. High-grade coatings can withstand temperatures of 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit for up to eight hours, while low-grade materials can only withstand 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes.

Please note that UL 263 is a code similar to ASTM E-119 that covers thermal standards that facility managers may encounter.

Finally, let us look at ASTM E-2924. The code specifically relates to "designation, manufacturing, testing, labeling, transportation, delivery and storage, installation and inspection." Other standards relate to coating quality, and this standard specifically relates to surface treatment and installation. It is important to consider this standard to ensure compliance and prevent steel load failure.

Of course, fire protection standards vary by region and state, and before buying intumescent coatings, you should understand the regulations that affect your area.

Fire protection is more than just meeting minimum standards and buying the cheapest paint.

Before buying, you need to consider the following attributes and ask yourself a few questions:

Building fire protection is a high-risk job that requires learning various rules, regulations and jargon. If you have any questions, please call a coating professional and get a second opinion. Getting the right coating can save lives-and your company's bank account.

Thomas O'Shaughnessy is the owner of CDN Paint, an online platform that connects owners, facility managers, engineers (and everyone else) with top paint professionals.

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