fire retardant paint in action in a staircase

Passive fire protection with fire retardant paint

Each year in Singapore there are almost 5000 structural fires, causing civilian injuries and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. In 2016, a structure fire was reported to the Singapore Civil Defence Force 4114 times. Fortunately, the active fire protection can be supported by passive fire protection methods which include inflammable and fire retardant materials such as fire retardant paint. Fire retardant paint and other fire rated materials work by increasing the threshold required to start a fire, preventing ignition, and slowing the rate at which flames spread.

In Singapore the examples of applied fire retardant coating solutions include Marina Bay Sands HotelRaffles PlaceThe Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Lotus Inspired ArtScience Museum.

In this article we look into the different ways a fire retardant paint for steel and other substrates works, and which fire resistance requirements can be met by applying fire rated paint, and structures that require such paint.


Choose the right type of fire retardant paint to protect steel or wood

Fire retardant paint is a type of flame resistant paint which effectively prevents surfaces from catching fire by damping flames or being flameproof. Note that fire retardant paint systems are not intumescent. The intumescent technology refers to fire barrier paint which swells and insulates surfaces in the event of fire; these coatings are the most common systems as fire resistant paint for steel.

Fire retardant paint systems in general come with the following three benefits:

  1. Increasing evacuation time and holding off structural collapse
  2. Increasing the safety of firefighters
  3. Protecting substrates from burning, melting and weakening in fire

The aforementioned benefits are the same for all types of fire rated paint however, there are three different types of flame retardant paint technologies, applicable on steel or wood, which all have their unique advantages and disadvantages.

1. Fire retardant paint – a general system

fire retardant paint releases gas when exposed to flames

When fire retardant paint becomes exposed to flames it usually emits flame damping gas.

Fire retardant paint works by interacting with the flames, rather than insulating against them. It prevents ignition and slows the rate at which the flames spread by emitting flame-damping gases or similar foam when exposed to heat, starving the fire of flammable gases and reducing its power.

Applications: Predominantly as a top layer of fire rated paint for steel systems; or as a topcoat or complete system on wood; for both substrates prefab- application is possible
Pros: Lightweight coating, easy to apply, maintaining the structural, aesthetic and architectural value of a building.
Cons: Not effective when applied as the only flame resistant coating for steel; requires an intumescent system. More effective on wood.

2. Cementitious coatings – the fire retardant coating for steel

Cementitious fire retardant coatings were developed as the lightweight alternative for dense concrete which is the oldest fire retardant coating for steel. These coatings are common on structural steel; they provide the same protection as concrete immune to fire, but are much lighter in weight.

Applications: As fire retardant coating for steel and structural steel
Pros: Lighter weight than dense concrete, but still flameproof , cost efficient and a better fire protection paint for steel than gas emitting fire retardant paint.
Cons: Prone to cracking and leaves a space between coating and substrate (increased corrosion risk), effects appearance and requires application in layers, which increases the labour costs.

3. Flame resistant wood preservative

The most common and effective fire retardant coating for wood is a flame resistant wood preservative which differs from other systems by being the only one that penetrates the substrate and soaks into it. These coatings are applied on lumber before construction (off site) to assure optimal coverage and protection. Once exposed to fire, they release flame damping gases.

Applications: Almost predominantly industrial systems. Usually applied during wood processing (pre fab) to ensure that a surface as large as possible is covered.
Pros: Highest fire rating on wood, penetrates the wood, greatest possible coverage.
Cons: Must be applied off site


Fire retardant paint Singapore – Rules and regulations

In Singapore building owners and the building industry are obliged to follow strict building regulations and provide safe and effective means of evacuation. Fire resistant coating systems have proved to be real game changers in this area. In Singapore fire resistant building materials are mandatory in the latest legal building regulations and more and more people choose to apply the coating in their homes.

In Singapore, the Singapore Civil Defence Force SCDF released the Fire Code 2013 for buildings. Also, there is a Fire Safety Act at the Singapore Statutes Online. 


Find a fire retardant coating contractor in Singapore

As the use of fire resistant materials such as fire retardant paint is increasing, there are also many certified contractors to apply these coatings and assess required fire resistance. Below is a brief overview of a selection of these companies in Singapore.

COMPANYADDRESS
Berger Paints Singapore Pte Ltd22 Benoi Sec S 629854
Copas Coatings Pte Ltd8 Aljunied Ave 3 Oakwell Bldg S 389933
Limex (F E) Pte Ltd2 Jln Rajah #07-06 Golden Wall Flatted Fty S 329134
Nippon Paint (S) Co Pte Ltd Blk 23 Bendemeer Rd #01-509 S 330023
3M Singapore Yishun1, Yishun avenue 7, S 768923

For more information about fire retardant coatings or other means of passive fire prevention with coatings, contact us! We together with our partners are happy to consult you in choosing a fire protective system as well as providing competitive quotes.


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