Pros and Cons of Traditional Fireproofing vs. Intumescent Fireproofing
Protecting your facility from fire with fireproofing coatings is essential for protecting your people and property as well as staying up to code. As you review your fireproofing options, you’ll find that there are multiple materials suited for these purposes. The two main categories of fireproof coatings are cementitious (the traditional choice) and intumescent. The former type of coating doesn’t alter its state during a fire while the latter puffs up when exposed to high heat — both types, however, offer significant passive fire protection (PFP). Let’s go over the various pros and cons of both cementitious and intumescent fireproofing so you can make a more informed decision for your facility.
Though not always the case, traditional features tend to be more pervasive than their less traditional counterparts — as such, cementitious fireproof coatings are typically easy to track down (in part because they’re easier to manufacture) and less costly compared to intumescent coatings. Both normal-weight and light-weight cementitious coatings are also highly protective, especially when it comes to shielding structural steel from flames. The chemical composition of these coatings passivate steel, reducing the metal’s overall reactivity — in this way, cementitious coatings protect steel from both fire and oxidation (as well as other threats).
Cementitious Fireproofing Cons
Lighter cementitious coatings can run into durability concerns since they’re composed of less Portland cement material. Conversely, normal cementitious fireproofing can become heavy, which may burden certain structures over time and interfere with the ease of application. All types of cementitious coatings are porous, too, meaning moisture can make its way inside crevices and in turn harm underlying surfaces. As such, cementitious coatings should not be applied in high-moisture environments.
Where intumescent coatings really shine is their superior protective abilities. The aforementioned “puffing up” that occurs when these coatings reach a certain temperature is triggered by chemical processes, preventing flames from getting too close to underlying surfaces for extended periods. The advantages don’t end there, however. In the right hands, intumescent paint is also easy to apply (especially single-component formulas). And when properly applied, these coatings create a watertight seal, leaving no gaps or holes for moisture to enter. Ultimately, intumescent coatings act like other protective coatings, mitigating the risk of corrosion while also protecting surfaces from fire.
Intumescent Fireproofing Cons
Unfortunately, the added bells and whistles offered by intumescent fireproofing increases its price. Moreover, it’s imperative that interior structures are thoroughly prepared (e.g., cleaned, sealed, climate-controlled, etc.) prior to application, as failing to do so can decrease the efficacy and longevity of these coatings. While we mentioned the ease with which intumescent sprayed fireproofing is applied to various surfaces, it’s worth noting that specialized knowledge and experience are required to get the job done — in other words, not just anyone should attempt coating surfaces with intumescent fireproofing. Lastly, the complex nature of intumescent paint often necessitates a greater degree of maintenance over the long term.
Both traditional (cementitious) and intumescent fireproofing provide a facility with significant passive fire protection. Many buildings rely on a combination of these materials to suit every type of surface and environment. At Kaloutas, our fireproofing specialists understand the ins and outs of all fireproofing materials and provide efficient, high-quality applications across many industries. Let us help you determine which fireproofing solutions are best for your business.
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