Intumescent paint is passive fire protection
Aside from active firefighting measures such as alarms and sprinkler systems, there are passive firefighting measures you can undertake to protect against fire. Some of these are the use of fire resistant and fire retardant paints. Intumescent paint is the former; a paint which resists fire by swelling up when exposed to extreme heat. Intumescent coatings are suitable for softwoods, hardwoods, brick, MDF, tiles, steel, concrete, plaster, and many other surfaces.
In this article we look at how intumescent paints protect in the case of a fire, as well as the costs, suppliers, and British regulations related to passive fire protection.
The advantages of intumescent paint
When exposed to temperatures of 200-250ºC, intumescent paint undergoes a reaction and expands to up to 50 times its original size. This forms a foam-like solid called a char, which insulates the underlying substrate from the heat and fire for up to 120 minutes, providing invaluable extra time to evacuate or get the fire under control. In this way, intumescent coating is part of a building’s fire protection system.
While advantages like insulation against fire are obvious, intumescent paints have other advantages including:
- Easy application
- Cost efficient
- Maintaining the structural, aesthetic and architectural value of a building
- Can be used on interior and exterior structures
- Will strengthen the building and prevent substrates from burning, melting and weakening in fire
- Can be combined with fire retardant paint to form an even more powerful duplex system
Combing intumescent paint with a top coat of fire retardant paint greatly increases your fire protection. The fire retardant paint works by releasing a flame damping gas, impeding the spread of the flames and extending the time til the intumescent layer is triggered. Together the two layers work to provide the highest degree of protection.
Intumescent coatings for all substrates
The advantages of intumescent coating vary depending on your substrate, with products providing added protection or features tailored by material. All of them insulate against fire, but some include added extras.
- Wood: Fire resistant paint for wood provides weathering and UV protection.
- Steel: Fire resistant paint for steel is often rustproof, as well as prolonging the life of steel by insulating it against temperature fluctuations.
- Concrete: Intumescent coating helps concrete retain its strength, and like with steel, protects it from structural and load-bearing damage caused by fire.
One of the greatest benefits of intumescent paint is its flexibility, not just with substrate but also application. Intumescent painting can be done with a brush, roller, spray, on site or off site, on structural elements and walls.
Fire safety regulations in the UK relating to intumescent coating
In the UK the responsibility of providing fire safety in business and other non-domestic premises is given to the employers, owners, landlords and other parties in control of the premises. To assist them the governement provides a guide for making premises safe from fire, and the British Standards Institute lists the standards expected of fire resistant materials in BS 476 Part 6.
BS 476 divides intumescent coatings into class 1 and class 0 coatings. Class 1 is the lower standard, though even this requires that the coatings and other construction materials do not allow fire to spread. Class 0 includes the specifications for class 1 but adds the requirement that the materials have a very low tendency to propagate a fire. Intumescent coatings can also be classified by the length of protection they offer. So, a 30 minute fire rated coating should provide 30 minutes additional time between the fire breaking and taking hold.
When applying intumescent coatings, you should always make sure the product and coating job are certified. Many service providers and intumescent coating manufacturers provide a certificate together with the service or product.
Intumescent paint cost UK
If you want to get the best coating for your project we advise you to request a quote and have your intumescent painting done by a certified professional. These figures are just an indication to give you a rough guide as to the intumescent paint cost per m². Prices are for the UK and include VAT. The cost of intumescent paint will vary depending on project and substrate requirements.
|3M||Scotchkote Intumescent Coating LS1000||£330||20L||6.7m²/L|
|AkzoNobel||International Interchar 212||£750||20kg||1m²/kg at 1mm thickness|
|Bollom||Intulac Ultra Basecoat||£200||5L||5m²/L|
|Bollom||Fireshield Ultra Universal||£360-370||10L||Dependent on layer thickness|
|Crown Trade||Timonox Upgrade Basecoat||£120-130||5L||2.5m²/L|
|Nullifire||S707 Water-Based Intumescent Basecoat||£140||25kg||700g/1m² at 0.5mm dry film thickness|
|Sherwin-Williams||Firetex FX1003||£330-340||20L||Dependent on layer thickness|
|Thermoguard||Thermocoat W||£260||20kg||Dependent on application method|
|Zero Flame||Aquasteel WB +||£175||10L||Dependent on application method|
Intumescent paint suppliers and manufacturers in the UK
As the popularity of intumescent coatings increases, so too does the number of products and manufacturers. Here are just a sample of intumescent paint suppliers and manufacturers whose products are available in the UK.
|INTUMESCENT PAINT MANUFACTURERS||PRODUCT LINE|
|Akzo Nobel||International, Interchar|
|Bollom||Intulac, Fireshield, Broflame, Brosteel|
|Zero Flame||All products|
|FPCL||Intumescent coating products|