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Intumescent paint

Intumescent paint is passive fire protection and insulation.

Fireproof paint is a form of passive fire protection that includes two different coating types – fire retardant paint (which emits flame-damping gases to halt fire spread) and intumescent paint.

When exposed to the heat of a fire, intumescent paint expands or swells to up to 50 times its original thickness and forms a layer of foam-like char. This works to protect a substrate from fire in two ways:

  1. The char is very slow burning – this provides up to 120 minutes of extra time for firefighters to get the situation under control and for buildings to evacuate.
  2. The char is insulating – this protects the substrate from being damaged by the heat of the fire and, in the case of steel, prevents it heating to temperatures above 300°C where it begins to lose structural strength

The many benefits of intumescent paint:

The benefits of a coating that insulates a substrate from the devastating effects of fire are clear to see. Intumescent paint:

Intumescent paint can be applied across a range of surfaces and substrates.

  • Provides vital extra time for evacuation and fire crews – The coating adds 30, 60, 90, and up to 120 minutes of fire resistance to a substrate depending on the film thickness. This allows more time for fire detection, building evacuation, and for fire crews to get the blaze under control.
  • Protects the substrate from structural weakening and collapse – Steel weakens above temperatures of 300°C, and it is this that leads to structural collapse and endangers firefighters’ lives. Intumescent paint reacts at temperatures of approximately 200°C, insulating the substrate from the heat extremes.
  • Is easy to apply – Intumescent paint is applied by spray at varying film thicknesses, can be solvent- or water-based, on-site or off-site, and can be overpainted if required.
  • Is applicable across a range of substrates – Suitable for wood, plaster, concrete, steel, other metals, brick, and more. Thin film intumescent paint is used to protect heritage buildings while also preserving the original look and heritage values of the property.

Coating manufacturers develop intumescent coatings as solutions for specific grades of fire protection, climate and exposure, and application techniques. Cellulosic passive fire protection is ‘Category 1’ and hydrocarbon passive fire protection is ‘Category 2’. Commercial and architectural installations like tall buildings, stadiums, or bridges are usually Category 1, while industrial and offshore installations like refineries, oil and gas platforms and chemical plants include the more heavy duty Category 2 protection.

The fire resistance requirements of your building depend upon a range of factors. Building use and building height are the two most important factors. High rise buildings with high occupancy have high fire resistance requirements, as do hospitals.

Intumscent paint should always be applied by a professional. A trained contractor can provide effective and Standards-compliant coating that is certified and meets all requirements. 

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