How to Choose the Best Fire Retardant Material for Your… | Kaloutas

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How to Choose the Best Fire Retardant Material for Your Commercial Building

Worker applying fire retardant material on a ceiling. How to Choose the Best Fire Retardant Material for Your Commercial Building

A sin­gle fire in your com­mer­cial build­ing can put your peo­ple in dan­ger and result in major finan­cial loss­es. Imple­ment­ing opti­mal pas­sive and active fire pro­tec­tion meth­ods is essen­tial for pro­tect­ing your peo­ple and prop­er­ty, as well as stay­ing up to code with all rel­e­vant fire safe­ty reg­u­la­tions. Pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion (PFP) refers to mate­ri­als and sys­tems with­in your build­ing that slow the spread of flames and impede the neg­a­tive effects of fire and smoke. Mate­ri­als des­ig­nat­ed fire-retar­dant” burn slow­ly (not to be con­flat­ed with fire-resis­tant” mate­ri­als which are meant to resist burn­ing entire­ly), allow­ing addi­tion­al time for safe egress and for fire­fight­ers to arrive on the scene.

Fire-retar­dant mate­ri­als dif­fer in cost, load-bear­ing capa­bil­i­ties, flex­i­bil­i­ty, ther­mal con­duc­tiv­i­ty, and rate of decay. Dif­fer­ent mate­ri­als may be bet­ter- or worse-suit­ed for dif­fer­ent com­mer­cial build­ings and func­tions. Let’s explore some of the var­i­ous types of fire retar­dant mate­r­i­al avail­able and how they stack up to dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­tures and oth­er conditions.

Types of Fire Retar­dant Material

Min­er­al Wool

Man­u­fac­tured by spin­ning molten min­er­al rock, min­er­al wool is a fire retar­dant mate­r­i­al com­mon­ly used for ther­mal insu­la­tion and noise reduc­tion. It takes seri­ous­ly high tem­per­a­tures to burn min­er­al wool – glass wool and stone wool have heat resis­tances of 446 – 500 °F and 1300 – 1560 °F, respec­tive­ly. Ceram­ic fiber wool takes this heat resis­tance to the next lev­el, approach­ing 2,200 °F, though it’s cost­ly and rel­a­tive­ly rare.

Gyp­sum Boards

Fire-rat­ed gyp­sum board is anoth­er pop­u­lar fire-retar­dant mate­r­i­al for homes and com­mer­cial build­ings alike. This spe­cial type of dry­wall releas­es water when exposed to flames, slow­ing down the fire’s rate of spread.

Treat­ed Lum­ber Plywood

Most types of wood burn quite eas­i­ly. When prop­er­ly treat­ed, how­ev­er, lum­ber ply­wood can great­ly slow a fire in its tracks. Treat­ed with a fire-retar­dant chem­i­cal, this wood­en mate­r­i­al chars but doesn’t oxi­dize, trans­fer­ring heat ener­gy uni­form­ly through­out the wood so it burns slow­ly and less intense­ly. So, fire-treat­ed lum­ber ply­wood isn’t a fire stop­ping mate­r­i­al, but it can be a sig­nif­i­cant asset for var­i­ous com­mer­cial buildings.


Brick is one of the longest-used build­ing mate­ri­als in human his­to­ry, in no small part thanks to its dura­bil­i­ty in the face of high tem­per­a­tures. Of course, not all bricks are cre­at­ed equal. Dif­fer­ent brick mate­ri­als offer dif­fer­ent lev­els of pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion. Fire” or refrac­to­ry” bricks are the most fire-retar­dant options available.


Like brick, con­crete is also inher­ent­ly resis­tant to fire. With a low­er heat con­duc­tiv­i­ty than steel, con­crete is often used as fire pro­tec­tion for steel frames. These fire-retar­dant prop­er­ties make con­crete an excel­lent con­struc­tion choice for floors ceil­ings, roofs, walls, and more.

Intu­mes­cent Paint

Intu­mes­cent coat­ings expand in the pres­ence of flames, cre­at­ing a cush­ion-like bar­ri­er that engulfs the sur­faces they pro­tect (often struc­tur­al fea­tures). These spray on fire­proof­ing coat­ings are rel­a­tive­ly easy to apply and patch – they also resem­ble tra­di­tion­al paint when under nor­mal con­di­tions, so they blend in with a com­mer­cial building’s exist­ing inte­ri­or design.

Addi­tion­al Fire Retar­dant Materials

Oth­er fire-retar­dant mate­ri­als include, but are not lim­it­ed to:

  • Asbestos cement

  • Cal­ci­um silicate

  • Cement ren­der

  • Cor­ri­board

  • Fire-retar­dant treat­ed wood

  • Geobond asbestos substitute

  • Glass

  • Mag­ne­sium oxide (MgO)

  • Per­lite boards

  • Potas­si­um silicate

  • Sodi­um silicate

  • Treat­ed veg­etable fiber (e.g., cot­ton, jute, kenaf, hemp, flax, etc..)

Which Fire­proof­ing Solu­tions Are Right for Your Building?

With so many fire-retar­dant mate­ri­als out there, choos­ing the right com­bi­na­tion of mate­ri­als can be over­whelm­ing, espe­cial­ly when nav­i­gat­ing fire safe­ty codes, OSHA reg­u­la­tions, and more. Not to wor­ry – Kaloutas is high­ly expe­ri­enced in all mat­ters relat­ed to pas­sive and active fire pro­tec­tion, includ­ing the appli­ca­tion, repair, and replace­ment of spray fire­proof­ing, fire-retar­dant mate­ri­als, fire-resis­tant mate­ri­als, and more. To learn more about us and all that we do, con­tact us online or give us a call at 9785321414 today.

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