The Grenfell Tower tragedy was a catalyst in the industry for significant change.
Not only were regulations introduced that banned combustible cladding from residential buildings above 18m, but the same was also done for balcony flooring, too.
This means that when you’re sourcing flooring for outdoor decking and balconies, decking materials must be class A fire rated.
Fireproof, Class A1 fire rated, non-combustible; whichever way you describe the products used on external flooring one thing is necessary – It needs to conform with the latest building regulations, government legislation and be resistant to fire.
But what are your options?
Fire-rated and fireproof decking options are plentiful, but it’s hard to pick out the right product from the crowd. This guide is aimed at answering all the most common questions surrounding fire rated decking, providing you with the best possible products for your project.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FIRE RATED & FIREPROOF?
The simple answer is – it depends!
Fire rated and fireproof are used as synonyms of one another and are interchanged when describing decking and other building materials.
The difference comes in the detail and when you start specifically talking about individual fire ratings that decking has.
Where a decking option is fire rated, it is categorised by the Euroclass standards and given an official rating. The classification categorically refers to the rating it is given under the BS EN 13501-1. A decking product is only fireproof when it achieves a certain rating.
WHAT IS FIRE RATED DECKING?
Fire ratings refer specifically to the classification given to any material and its levels of combustibility. Like other building products, decking materials need to be fire-rated and therefore must undergo a series of tests in order to meet the standards.
BS EN 13501-1 comprises three ratings, with the Euroclass being the most significant. With ratings ranging from A1 (non-combustible and no contribution to fire) through to F, defined as easily flammable, these classifications are the fire rating decking receives after rigorous testing.
Typically, when people talk about fire rating decking, they are looking for essentially fireproof decking products, so those that are rated with A1 or A2.
FIREPROOF DECKING: WHAT ARE THE FIRE REGULATIONS FOR BALCONIES?
Since the government voted to approve new building regulations, there is now a ban on all materials that don’t meet the minimum of a Euroclass A2 rating on residential buildings 18 metres or above.
What this means is that where once residential balcony projects didn’t require fire-rated decking, there are now more strict requirements and all materials used must have an A2 fire rating as a minimum.
You can learn more about fire ratings and fire-resistant decking by listening to The Green Room podcast featuring Alfresco Floors’ Mike Wilderink
CAN YOU GET FIRE RATED DECKING SYSTEMS?
It’s not only the material underfoot that you need to make sure meets the latest fire regulations, but also everything that goes into the entire fire proof decking system, too.
For a decking system to be fire rated it needs to include fire rated pedestals, joists and support systems which meet the Class A criteria, too.
Rather than sourcing all of these components from different suppliers, there are those that can provide completely class A rated decking systems. This means that as well as the material itself being non-combustible, the system on which it sits also has no contributions to fire.
All of Alfresco Floor’s products are fire rated. The most recent system comprises ZERODECK, fire rated composite decking, and A-PED, non-combustible adjustable pedestals. This complete fire rated decking system has recently been certified by NHBC Accepts meaning it can be fast-tracked for NHBC warranty and helps continue to build confidence to clients and the wider industry.
WHAT DOES THE EUROCLASS SYSTEM TEST FOR FIRE RATED DECKING INVOLVE?
The Euroclass system includes four separate tests that help products within the construction industry determine fire rating.
EN ISO 1182:2010 – THE NON-COMBUSTIBILITY TEST
A simple test that shows how fireproof a product is, a small sample is placed within a furnace and monitored to determine if it contributes to a fire.
EN ISO 1716:2018 – GROSS HEAT OF COMBUSTION
This test calculates the maximum heat of a specimen when burned completely.
The sample is ground down to dust and ignited within a chamber. The results help determine the temperature a fire rated product can withstand.
EN ISO 9239-1 – RADIANT PANEL TEST
Dedicated to testing the fireproof levels and combustibility of flooring systems, the radiant panel test determines how likely it is to contribute to the spread of fire.
The panel test focuses on determining how much heat is required to maintain the burning of a material.
EN ISO 11925-2 – SINGLE FLAME SOURCE TEST / IGNITABILITY TEST
This test focuses on taking a vertical from any given product and testing its combustibility when exposed to a flame.
To view each individual test in further detail, head over to Alfresco’s detailed blog post on how materials are tested for fire rating.
FIRE RATED DECKING: WHAT IS CLASS A FIRE RATING?
A Class A fire rating is a rating given to material that has properties which result in minimum spread of fire. EN 13501-1, also known as The Fire Test Classification, separates materials into 3 classes.
Fire-rated decking is given a grade from A to F. A Class A Fire rating is the highest rating meaning the decking has met EN ISO 1716 and the EN ISO 1182 standard.
In this instance, a rating of A rating is considered non-combustible, whereas F is considered to be easily flammable.
FIRE RATED DECKING: A1 & A2
Class A fire ratings can be categorised as either class A1 or A2.
A1 materials are considered completely non-combustible and therefore have the best fire ratings available. Typically, this fire rating is given to naturally non-combustible materials like stone or porcelain, but only if they are left untreated.
A2 ratings on the other hand have very limited combustibility but have the potential to produce some smoke or flaming droplets.
What Fire Rated Decking Options Are There?
Even though it is essential that decking is fire rated and deemed fireproof, it isn’t difficult to source options. Different materials, boasting different material properties and different aesthetics are available across the entire industry.
However, it’s always important to check their fire ratings as some fire rated decking products might not meet the requirements of your individual project.
FIRE RATED COMPOSITE DECKING
With options available across the spectrum of fire ratings, Alfresco Floors has a composite decking option called ZERODECK which is A1 fire rated. You can discover more about composite decking and what makes it fire rated here.
FIRE RATED ALUMINIUM DECKING
Considered an A-rated fireproof flooring option, aluminium decking is non-combustible and a popular option. Alfresco Floors aluminium decking is rated A2 due to the powder coating finish which helps with slip resistance.
Before selecting materials and products for your fire rated decking it’s always important to check the requirements of your project.
OTHER FIRE RATED PRODUCTS
There are other fire rated decking products that are A1 fire rated, including those like concrete or naturally occurring materials.
Decking products manufactured from the likes of porcelain or stone are naturally fire rated and therefore suitable for use on those projects looking for A fire ratings.
When specifying for Class A fire-rated projects, there are options, but it’s about combining the requirements of your project with the desired aesthetic. These days, there are fire rated and fireproof decking options that provide an extensive range of finishes.
Discuss these options and their fire ratings with your decking provider.
FIREPROOF & FIRE RATED DECKING – ALFRESCO FLOORS
There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to fire rated decking and finding the right materials to make your next decking project fireproof.
Understanding the different fire ratings and the tests that materials must undergo is just the start. Then you have to find materials that not only have the required fire rating but give you the desired aesthetic.
From external 20mm porcelain to composite and aluminium decking, there really is a variety of fire rated decking options available to you.
Speak to Alfresco’s expert team to find out more and to get the best possible fire rated products.