Posted By: Tim Published: 20/06/2018 Times Read: 77 Comments: 0
In this blog we look at the difference between fire retardant and fire resistance

Customers are often confused about which fire protection coating (paint or varnish) they need, to comply with the regulations. Essentially these coatings come in two types; fire retardant and fire resistant or intumescent.


Fire retardant paints and varnishes will, when applied to combustible surfaces, such as timber, make them much more difficult to ignite to the point where some small fire can self-extinguish. Once a surface has caught fire, the rate of flame spread is much slower. This also reduces the phenomenon of flash-over in confined spaces. Generally these coatings need to comply with either BS476 Parts 6&7 or EN13501-1. Both are accepted under Part B of the Building Regulations. Occasionally these are referred to as intumescent paints, but not all fire retardants are intumescent

See our Fire Retardant Guide  

Fire resistant or intumescent paints and varnishes will create a barrier against fire by forming a foaming char layer above substrates such as timber, steel or plaster. Chemicals within the coating react to heat by creating bubbles of inert gas which are strengthened by both the paint’s own polymer and additives. This non-combustible meringue type layer insulates the substrate and increases the time it takes for the fire to penetrate through. In the case of steelwork, this insulation keeps the metal cool for longer, extending the time it takes to collapse. Intumescent paints are usually rated by time (i.e. 30, 60 or 90-minutes resistance). Customers often think these coatings protect the substrate for the specified time, but this is not the case. The time given is the time it takes for the paint and substrate to fail (i.e. for fire to go through a treated door).

See our Intumescent Guide

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