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  • Writer's pictureRolling Plains Construction

Fireproofing Methods for Structural Steel

Cementitious Fireproofing

Many building codes require fireproofing protection to structural steel as a safety precaution. The most common way to provide such protection in the U.S. is by spraying low-density fiber or cementitious compounds, now called spray-applied fire-resistive material (SFRM). The product can be sprayed on steel to provide heat resistance and also can be applied over wood, fabric, and other building materials. Building codes dictate the required thickness of the coat is applied. Sprays are divided into a wet spray or dry spray materials, describing how the material is mixed and applied.

Sprays are not the only choice, though. Other options can be superior to commonly used sprays depending on circumstances, and they are worth considering.

Intumescent Coatings

Also known as intumescent paint, this method provides fire resistance to structural steel members. One of the key benefits is that intumescent coatings will expand as much as 100 times the original thickness of the material, providing superior fire resistance by creating a buffer between the fire and the steel members. The coating will undergo a chemical reaction and expand when subjected to extreme temperatures—but before the temperatures become hot enough to affect the integrity of the steel.

Intumescent coatings are a great solution when aesthetics come into play with steel that is exposed to the general public. The product is applied just like paint, with every layer adding to the overall thickness of the product. This fireproofing material can be applied to structural wood as well.

Rigid Board Fireproofing

Rigid board fireproofing can be installed quickly and easily. One of the benefits is that it can be installed as you go during the process of installing steel decks and beams. Rigid board fireproofing provides the right fireproofing requirements as well as thermal and acoustic control. This type of fireproofing can be mechanically fastened and can prevent pests and termite attacks. It also is available in different thicknesses to meet UL requirements and can withstand moisture and humidity without losing its fire-stopping characteristics. Boards can be designed to precise measurements and can include decorative finishes.

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