Specifying fire safety coatings inside a building [BLOG]

Specifying fire safety coatings inside a building [BLOG]

Building owners have a ‘Duty of Care’ to achieve and maintain conditions in buildings that reduce risk of injury, risk to life and damage to property in the event of a fire.

There are a multitude of different building products and materials available to specify, each with their own fire ratings to limit the potential damage caused by fire to keep buildings and their occupants safe. Paints and coatings systems have their part to play too, especially in a refurbishment where the existing paint surfaces and substrates can affect the suitability of the fire safety paint products specified.

In this blog, David Spicer, specification technical manager at Crown Paints guides specifiers through the process of specifying flame retardant coatings for any interior space, whether that’s a refurbishment or a new build, to ensure that the building owner’s ‘Duty of Care’ is effectively met.

Fire safe coatings systems explained

First, it’s important to explain what exactly is meant by flame retardance in relation to paints and coatings for walls and ceilings. Products which are rated Class 0 (BS476 Parts 6 and 7) or Class B (European tests BS EN ISO 11295-2 and BS EN 13823) will inhibit the spread of flames over the surfaces on which they are tested, and won’t generate a large amount of heat that could ignite items some distance away from the seat of the fire.

That doesn’t make walls and ceilings resistant to fire – but, crucially, it can slow the spread of fire over a building’s surfaces.

Specially formulated flame retardant paint products, like those from Crown Trade’s Timonox range, are recommended for use in commercial buildings such as offices, warehouses and factories as well as public sector spaces like schools and hospitals and local authority buildings including social housing stock.

As flame retardant paints are designed to slow the spread of fire across walls and ceilings, they are especially critical for key circulation areas and escape routes like corridors and stairwells through which occupants will evacuate in the event of a fire.

Refurbishments require a full assessment of the surface

The existing surface paint or wallcoverings don’t necessarily always need to be completely removed when applying flame retardant paint, unless in poor condition, and the decision on whether or not this is necessary should form part of any assessment and specification.

Manufacturers like Crown have developed products which offer specifiers the option to either overcoat or carry out a full upgrade, depending on the adhesion of the existing coatings to the substrate and, most importantly, the coating history of the buildings concerned as multiple layers of conventional paint coatings can make the surface of a previously non-combustible substrate, flammable.

Crown’s specification team works closely with specifiers to determine whether an overcoat or full upgrade is recommended, by asking key questions such as the age of the building, whether there is timber panelling present, or wallcoverings such as woodchip or lining paper, and what paint products may have previously been used.

Where this information is not available, Crown can carry out flake sampling to ensure that the most appropriate systems are specified in order to ensure they’re affective and will provide the protection required should there be a fire.

For example, non-combustible substrates are by definition Class 0 when new, however a build-up of multiple layers of conventional coatings, whether water or solvent-based, will downgrade this rating.

It’s essential to understand that the combined effect of multiple layers of conventional paint coatings can make a previously non-combustible surface very dangerous in the event of fire, spreading flames rapidly across the wall or ceiling surfaces.

Though again, it doesn’t necessarily warrant the removal of the existing paint layers, as tests have shown Crown Trade Timonox overcoat or upgrade systems, as appropriate, can re-instate the required Class 0 rating.

How does Crown Trade Timonox work?

The Timonox range from Crown Paints, which was one of the first flame retardant coatings to the market, offers a full suite of products for walls, ceilings and wood-based substrates. It provides a first line of defence against the spread of flame, and so offers a comprehensive
solution to building owners to protect the occupants of their properties as well as the building itself.

Timonox Bonding Primer effectively prepares both new and old surfaces and blocks stains prior to overcoating. Timonox Upgrade Basecoat is formulated to produce a thick insulating char layer in the event of a fire to protect the potentially combustible substrate underneath, whilst flame retardant finishes, and an optional anti-graffiti glaze, provide the decorative finish.

The use of the primer or base coat will depend on the individual site conditions and coating history. All coatings are water borne or solvent free.

All products within the Crown Trade Timonox range have been independently tested on a variety of substrates and achieved the highest ratings of Class 0 (BS476 Parts 6 and 7) and Class B (European tests BS EN ISO 11295-2 and BS EN 13823). But it’s vital that these products are applied exactly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions in order to provide the level of flame retardance stipulated.

Additional performance attributes of a paint coating are also important to consider, especially in high traffic areas such as stairways and corridors. Products which combine flame retardance properties with excellent stain resistance and scrubbablity, or resistance to graffiti, can provide all-round high-performance for a long-lasting finish. And with flame retardant Timonox finishes available in a vast range of tintable shades, there’s no need to compromise on aesthetics either.

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Crown Paints is one of the UK’s largest and most successful paint and coating manufacturers, with a rich heritage dating back over 200 years.

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