Recent history is a heartbreaking reminder of the importance of using fire retardant building materials for homes and multi-dwelling units. The 24 story Grenfell Tower in London, England brought tragedy and mourning to many families. The suspected cause – a faulty appliance. Yet, a full inspection of materials points to an inferior cladding. This building material had been proven to be combustible in government tests. Consider these 5 fire retardant building materials for home construction:
Concrete makes poor fuel for a fire and as it is considered noncombustible. As a result, concrete is enjoying a resurgence in the residential construction as one of most fire retardant building materials. Additionally, concrete stands out as being extremely resilient to high winds, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Concrete’s one-hundred-year service life and has good thermal properties – as the thermal mass of a concrete structure can reduce heating and cooling energy requirements by 29% and more.
Fire-resistant Glass Windows
The intense heat of flames shatter normal glass windows, but fire resistant windows such as dual-paned glass windows will double the time it takes for a fire to enter. Tempered glass is heat treated making it up to four times stronger than regular glass against breakage. Steel framed window construction add an extra layer of protection for windows versus wood framing.
Fire Rated Doors
Fire rated doors reduce the transfer of smoke and the spread of fire between rooms. The actual performance of the door is to limit the heat transfer and slow down the fire propagation into the protected area. Fire rated doors are available in wood, steel, and fiberglass, with ratings to withstand a fire from 20 minutes to 90 minutes. In lieu of a fire door, homeowners may consider a 1-3/8″ thick solid wood or steel honeycomb core door.
Treated Lumber – Plywood
According to NFPA, residential structure fires caused $7.2 billion dollars in 2015. Fire retardant wood is pressure treated with a chemical that remains stable under high temperatures. The result is a fire resistant barrier that effectively distributes the heat uniformly over the wood surface, slowing combustion. FRT wood is classified by its flame spread rating – or how far and how fast flames spread across the surface of the test sample. Consider brick is a Class A material, and so is fire retardant treated lumber.
According to ‘This Old House‘, for about 5% more per sheet, “5/8-inch, fire-code drywall Type X increases a wall’s fire rating to a minimum of 1 hour, from the 30-minute rating for standard ½-inch drywall.” Type X drywall is not 100% fireproof, but it contains glass fibers in addition to gypsum, and it is denser, making it harder for a fire to degrade the wall. Fire-rated drywall has increased sound insulation and resistance to impact. With this in mind, building codes in some states require Type X drywall near furnaces, utility rooms, and on the common wall and ceilings of attached garages.
Save your Life and Home
When renovating your home, consider materials that help reduce the spread of fire – allowing time to exit the home. When you replace the entrance to your home, consider the thicker wood or steel core models. If you’re updating your kitchen, install Type X drywall – and always choose quality window replacements. While no building material is completely fire resistant, using materials like these slow the spread of fire in your home. Another small a preventive measure is to regularly check your smoke detectors; they can save your life and home. Finally, discuss your family escape plan before disaster strikes.
RWC stands out as one of the largest home remodeling contractors in New Jersey. Our professional and courteous staff is committed to working with your family to use the highest quality materials and to make your home safer.