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Is Your Building Material Fireproof?

Aug 27, 2018

One of the most aspects in the process of constructing new buildings and renovating old structures is analysing the fire risk factor of your chosen building materials. Aside from compliance to fire safety grading standards, this is also done in order to help building owners put a damage control plan and fire protection strategy in place, in case an unfortunate event happens.

But what are the most commonly used materials and which ones are fireproof? We've come up with a list with their corresponding fire risk profile.

  • Timber. With wood being one of the oldest construction materials used since the industrial revolution, it is not a surprise to see many commercial buildings still using it to erect their facades. Although a natural building material and a highly combustible one at that, it burns in a predictable and slow manner, thanks to its noteworthy insulating properties. When exposed to fire, timber undergoes thermal breakdown where a charred surface forms and acts as a natural retardant which protects the inner core of the wood. This process significantly slows down combustion, thereby maintaining the structure’ durability.
  • Concrete. Concrete is also a popular choice for builders since it withstands flames well. Composed of cement and aggregates that have poor thermal conductivity, concrete has a higher degree of fire resistance and is definitely a fireproof material. When caught with fire, concrete transfers heat rather slowly and does not release any toxic fumes compared to timber and other building materials.
  • Glass. An essential building component that radiates class and eloquence, glass is becoming a staple in the construction industry. As it is used mainly for aesthetics more than for stability and integrity, it has to pass the Australian Glass and Glazing Association’s (AGGA) quality standards. The use of glass in commercial structural projects is highly regulated; hence, it needs to be supplied by makers with AGGA accreditation to ensure that it has passed for thermal performance as well as for wind load for cyclone and high risk areas.
  • Structural steel.Known for its strength, flexibility, and refined look, steel is perhaps the most commonly used for structural framework of a building. It is highly durable thanks to its high second moments of area, enabling it to support heavy loads without excessive sagging. Nevertheless, it is a high conductor of heat so it loses its strength when it reaches a critical temperature, which can be avoided with the use of fireproof building materials. Permax offers intumescent coatings with up to 120 fire protection.

If you are looking for passive fire protection solutions to enhance your building’s structural steel fire resistance, you can contact our team from Permax.

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