Improving safety in the workplace often revolves around minimizing the potential for damage caused by fire. This is usually achieved by making sure employees working around flame or arc hazards are wearing the proper flame resistant personal protective equipment. But as technology and innovation continues to improve we are seeing new products designed to make buildings themselves more fire resistant.

At the top of this list is fire resistant intumescent paint. As with flame resistant clothing, fire resistant paint is designed specifically to resist ignition and also slows the spread of fire through a structure.

This paint is not just useful for coating the walls of rooms. Some contractors have begun adding a layer of this intumescent paint on the wooden frames of houses as they’re being built, and it is possible to buy building material with fire resistant paint already applied.

How does it Work?

Intumescent paint works by expanding into a hard foam like barrier upon exposure to extreme heat, blocking the flame’s ability to reach material underneath and catch fire. Two coats of fire resistant paint measuring out to 20mm thickness is enough to greatly improve the fire resistant properties of most surfaces it is applied to. The paint is also available in clear colorless form as well.

On a technical level, ASTM E-84 approved building materials are assigned a flame spread class and index number based on a material’s propensity to burn rapidly and spread flames.

Class “A” or I: 0-25 on the flame spread index.
Class “B” or II: 26-75 on the flame spread index.
Class “C” or III: 76-200 on the flame spread index.

The lower the value the better, so something like asbestos would be Class A with a 0 flame spread index value.

In the past, paint has not been rated because a study by the National Paint & Coatings Association concluded that paint did not significantly increase or decrease the flame spread of material. However, many manufacturers of fire resistant intumescent paint have been performing ASTM E-84 testing on their products and the results are impressive: Class C wood covered with intumescent paint improved to a Class A rating.

Fire resistant paint is quickly becoming a popular product both for industrial and residential use. When it comes to fires, the amount of time it takes for a small blaze to spread into a full blown inferno often determines whether people will live or die. With intumescent paint showing such promise in slowing down the ignition of materials, it should be considered an essential addition to the safety plans of any business involved in work where fire hazards exist.

Make sure you’re wearing the right personal protective equipment to improve safety in the event of a fire. Workrite has an extensive selection of flame resistant clothing and would be happy to help you choose the best fit and style to meet your needs. Contact us today, visit our online catalog, or download our new app for both iPhone and Android.