The Ins and Outs of Intumescent Paint: How It Works, Where to Install It, and Why It Matters
If you’re building or running a commercial property, you are required to have a fire protection program in place. There are many fireproofing options available, and coating surfaces with intumescent paint is one of the most effective methods.
What Is Intumescent Paint and What Does It Do?
Intumescent paint is a type of fire-resistant coating that can help protect a structure from the devastating effects of a fire. “Intumescent” comes from the Latin word ” intumēscere,” which means to swell or expand. This is exactly what happens when fire comes in contact with the material.
The intumescent coating contains different chemicals, such as a binding polymer, a blowing agent, and carbon. Exposure to heat creates a chemical reaction that causes the paint to expand. The coating can swell up to 100 times its original thickness, creating a dense, spongy layer. This foamy layer turns into a tough carbon char as it is exposed to rising temperatures.
Through swelling, the intumescent coating keeps flames far from the coated surface. Therefore, building materials are not easily damaged or destroyed by fire. The coating can provide at least 30 minutes of protection. But the time the coating lasts depends on the char’s quality and thickness. Generally, the thicker the coat, the greater the insulation and the longer the protection.
Where Can You Apply Intumescent Paint?
Intumescent paint is versatile. You can apply it to many materials. Steel is the most common material painted with this coating, but you can also use it on wood and concrete. Examples of wood you can coat with intumescent paint include plywood, soft and hardwoods, gypsum, OBS, cladding, paneling, and wooden doors.
Your local contractor will know where to apply the intumescent paint. Suppose you don’t plan to hire professionals to apply the paint but need to see whether you can use it for a specific material. In that case, there are resources you can read or experts like Kaloutas you can call.
Intumescent Paint Application Process
Applying intumescent paint requires careful preparation and attention to detail to ensure that it provides the necessary protection in the event of a fire. If you want to explore, “How is intumescent paint applied?” here are some general guidelines:
1. Determining the right paint — Before anything else, ensure the intumescent paint is formulated for the material you are coating.
2. Preparing the surface — Remove loose or flaking paint, oil, rust, dirt, and any debris from the surface. The surface needs to be smooth and clean to prevent any adhesion issues.
3. Applying primer — A primer coat is usually applied before the intumescent paint to ensure adhesion and provide additional protection. The primer should be allowed to dry completely before applying the intumescent paint. Take note that primers are not one-size-fits-all. Make sure the primer is compatible with your intumescent paint.
4. Coating with intumescent paint — Wait for the primer to dry before applying the coat. You can use an airless sprayer, roller, or brush for the job. The best method will depend on the type of intumescent paint you have.
Measuring the dry film thickness (DFT) during the application is essential. DFT refers to the thickness of the coating. As mentioned above, the amount of time the intumescent paint delays fire varies depending on the quality and thickness of the layer.
5. Applying a topcoat — A topcoat is unnecessary when coating interiors. But it can provide additional protection for intumescent paint that’s painted on the building’s exterior or highly humid areas. You can also apply a topcoat if the color of the intumescent paint does not match your interior design.
It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when applying intumescent paint, as the application process may vary depending on the product. For speed and quality, let professionals like Kaloutas handle the job.
Benefits of Using Intumescent Paint
A fire can happen at any time for many reasons. And when it does, your business risks losing valuable assets and money. Commercial fires also risk the lives of your employees and everyone on your property.
Intumescent paint may not completely stop a fire, but it can help slow down or prevent the spread of flames. It can allow more time for firefighters to respond and occupants to evacuate.
In addition to fire protection, intumescent fireproofing can protect your business against legal troubles. If you are already in business, you know that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to develop fire protection systems. You will have one fireproofing system in place by coating your structural elements with fire-resistive paint.
Furthermore, the material isn’t high maintenance. All you have to do is keep an eye out for any damage, which is unlikely to happen since the material is designed to withstand many hazardous situations. Address any problems with the coating to ensure it remains effective.
How Much Does Intumescent Paint Cost?
The cost of intumescent paint can vary depending on several factors, such as the level of thickness, required surface preparation, expansion ratio, and environmental resistance.
Generally, intumescent paint is more expensive than traditional paint due to its specialized properties and the added protection it provides. On average, intumescent paint can cost between $2 to $14 per square foot, although this can vary significantly depending on the project’s specific requirements.
It is essential to get a quote from a professional installer to accurately determine the cost of intumescent paint for a particular project.
Intumescent Maintenance Tips
Maintaining intumescent paint is essential to ensure it continues providing the required level of fire protection. The following are some tips for maintaining intumescent paint:
Regular inspections — It’s best to inspect the painted surfaces regularly to check for any signs of damage, such as cracking or peeling. Be quick to repair any damage to maintain the integrity of the protective layer.
Cleaning — Intumescent paint should be cleaned regularly to remove dirt or debris that accumulates on the surface. Cleaning should be done using a soft cloth or sponge and a mild detergent solution.
Avoiding abrasives — Abrasive cleaners or scrubbers should be avoided as they can damage the surface of the intumescent paint.
Recoating — Damaged intumescent paint is pretty easy to fix. All you must do is clean the area surrounding the damage and reapply the coating.
Following the manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining intumescent paint is vital to ensure optimal performance. If there are any doubts or concerns about keeping the paint, it’s advisable to consult a professional installer or contractor for guidance.
Intumescent paint serves as your property’s passive fire protection system. After application, you may forget about it, and it will still come to your rescue should your building catch fire. If the coating is applied correctly, your business will be less likely to suffer significant losses due to a fire.
So, whether your commercial property is still under construction or is already operational, it’s wise to consider investing in intumescent paint. If you are already using a facility and want to apply an intumescent coat but don’t want to put your operations on hold, professionals like Kaloutas can help you.
The Kaloutas team consists of intumescent fireproofing experts who can do the job quickly without affecting your operations or compromising the result. Everyone can go on with their day while the team coats every structural element of your building with intumescent paint.
For more on intumescent paint, visit or call Kaloutas today.