Intumescent paints are a modern fire safety innovation. If you are not familiar with intumescent paints, they are a useful coating that can help control fire damage. However, their technology, applications, and benefits are more complex than simple fire protection. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about how these fire-resistant coatings work. Familiarize yourself with the concept of intumescent coatings and how they work to protect various buildings and environments.
What Are Intumescent Coatings?
Intumescent coatings are a type of fire-resistant paint that provides passive fire protection. They are coatings that transform through sublimation when heat and flames approach them. During this transformation, they can expand up to 100 times their original size to form a fire protection barrier. The expanded material helps prevent the spread of flames and can even help smother a fire in some cases. This prevents fire from spreading too quickly, providing more time for occupants to escape and emergency services to arrive on the scene. Intumescent coating helps reduce overall damage to the building and helps preserve its structural integrity during a fire.
How Do Intumescent Paints Work?
Fire-resistant coatings operate based on the fire triangle model. The fire triangle defines the three elements that must be present to start a fire: oxygen, heat, and fuel. These three elements combined result in destructive fires. Intumescent coatings work to remove the fuel component of the fire triangle by dampening building materials, making them incompatible with the heat from fires.
Depending on the type of coating, some of these products release a fire-dampening gas that controls fires and preserves materials. The chemicals in intumescent paints react with heat exposure and create a char that expands to cover and protect a building’s structural materials. This expansion acts as a heat-resistant insulator that prevents a fire from burning and consuming the materials it covers. The process can delay spreading flames by up to 120 minutes, usually ranging from 30- to 120-minute delays.
Professional builders and contractors apply intumescent coatings as a protective layer. This application takes place during the construction phase when the building’s structural materials are still exposed. This protective layer sits, waiting for a fire to activate the chemical reaction and release gases that allow it to expand.
Applications of Intumescent Paints
Applying intumescent coatings to a new building is just as important as installing fire alarms and other emergency systems. Many buildings utilize intumescent coatings as passive fire protection, along with other examples of passive and active fire protection. These two types of fire protection methods work together to protect future building occupants and prevent the spread of fire.
As mentioned, one must apply intumescent coatings during the construction phase of a building. This is to ensure the coating protects all the key structural materials that make up the building’s framework. If these materials catch fire, they jeopardize the structural stability of the building. This is why intumescent coatings are popular for many types of buildings and applications. There are even different types of paints for unique building materials, such as specialty paints for wood, metals, and other surfaces.
Commercial buildings are typically the biggest applications for intumescent coatings and the professional painters who apply them. This is because commercial buildings have some of the largest occupancies and range from retail stores to expansive warehouses. Commercial buildings also include office spaces and tall skyscrapers, which hold hundreds and thousands of people. It is important that these large numbers of people have as much time as possible to evacuate during fires. Intumescent paints are even part of building codes and safety requirements for constructing new commercial buildings. Fire-resistant coatings help protect the people working in these buildings and the products stored within them.
Some new construction sites for residential buildings and homes also utilize intumescent coatings. Experts recommend applying fire-resistant coatings in apartments and other residential buildings with many occupants. Because these coatings help delay the spread of fires, they provide more time for residents to evacuate the building in the event of a fire. This also allows more time for fire response teams to arrive and contain the damage to residents’ properties.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Even if you are familiar with intumescent coatings for interior safety, you may not be familiar with how to use intumescent coatings for exterior use. Coating can help protect homes and businesses from wildfires. These coatings are extremely useful in dry areas that frequently experience wildfires, such as in certain states like California. Exterior coatings can help contain damage to your business or home from the outside, protecting commonly flammable materials inside.
Applying Intumescent Paints: Where To Start?
You should always leave the intumescent coating application process to the professionals. This is not only to ensure a correct application but also to ensure you stay safe during the application process. Intumescent coating contains chemicals that can be dangerous without proper exposure protection. Professional fire coating painters have all the proper safety PPE and training necessary to provide a thorough, safe, and efficient coating application.
If you are interested in protecting your building or structure with fire-resistant coatings, you can learn more at Firefree Coatings. We can provide exterior intumescent paints or interior paints to protect your building from all directions. Our exterior systems feature topcoat technology that protects the intumescent coating from long-term weather conditions.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how fire-resistant paints work and what you need to know about their applications. Whether you want to protect a commercial building or a residential apartment complex, intumescent paints can provide passive fire protection alongside your active fireproofing measures. Browse our website for a wide selection of interior and exterior fire coatings and learn more by clicking on the Wildfires tab. Contact us at Firefree to learn more.