Is Your Building Material Fireproof?

31 Aug 2022 by Permax

One of the most aspects in the process of constructing new buildings and renovating old structures is analysing the fire risk factor of your chosen building materials. Aside from compliance to fire safety grading standards, this is also done in order to help building owners put a damage control plan and fire protection strategy in place, in case an unfortunate event happens.

But what are the most commonly used materials and which ones are fireproof? We’ve come up with a list with their corresponding fire risk profile.

  • Timber. With wood being one of the oldest construction materials used since the industrial revolution, it is not a surprise to see many commercial buildings still using it to erect their facades. Although a natural building material and a highly combustible one at that, it burns in a predictable and slow manner, thanks to its noteworthy insulating properties. When exposed to fire, timber undergoes thermal breakdown where a charred surface forms and acts as a natural retardant which protects the inner core of the wood. This process significantly slows down combustion, thereby maintaining the structure’ durability.
  • Concrete. Concrete is also a popular choice for builders since it withstands flames well. Composed of cement and aggregates that have poor thermal conductivity, concrete has a higher degree of fire resistance and is definitely a fireproof material. When caught with fire, concrete transfers heat rather slowly and does not release any toxic fumes compared to timber and other building materials.
  • Glass. An essential building component that radiates class and eloquence, glass is becoming a staple in the construction industry. As it is used mainly for aesthetics more than for stability and integrity, it has to pass the Australian Glass and Glazing Association’s (AGGA) quality standards. The use of glass in commercial structural projects is highly regulated; hence, it needs to be supplied by makers with AGGA accreditation to ensure that it has passed for thermal performance as well as for wind load for cyclone and high risk areas.
  • Structural steel.Known for its strength, flexibility, and refined look, steel is perhaps the most commonly used for structural framework of a building. It is highly durable thanks to its high second moments of area, enabling it to support heavy loads without excessive sagging. Nevertheless, it is a high conductor of heat so it loses its strength when it reaches a critical temperature, which can be avoided with the use of fireproof building materials. Permax offers intumescent coatings with up to 120 fire protection.

If you are looking for passive fire protection solutions to enhance your building’s structural steel fire resistance, you can contact our team from Permax.

Permax only source and supply products from the best manufacturers from around the world – those whose products meet the most stringent of criteria.The Permax team are highly qualified to help you with any question you may have. We can develop specifications, provide technical advisory notes and offer advice on design details to suit your project.We are Permax: a team of knowledgeable and experienced professionals who work with our clients to determine the right specifications for their project, determine ways to optimise the quantities required and ensure you are supported throughout the engineering and application process.Whether you are looking to learn more about the Nullifire range of products, source materials or a local certified installer, or are looking for technical assistance, Permax are here to help you.At Permax we are happy to offer our assistance and advice for your structural steel fire protection requirements. Our industry expertise has led us to compile a collection of the questions we are most frequently asked. One of our popular brand of structural steel fire protection is Nullifire.Nullifire is a brand recognized as a global leader in passive fire protection systems, and has become synonymous with some of the best structural steel fire protection coatings technologies available today. Formulated and manufactured to the highest standards, the Nullifire thin film intumescent coatings – specifically the SC900 series - offer application and performance advantages which have made it the first choice of builders, engineers, architects and specifiers in many countries world wide.Combating The Effects Of Fire - With NullifireFires are generally classified as either Cellulosic or Hydrocarbon fires. The essential difference between them relates to how quickly each reaches its maximum temperature range and the combustible fuel source feeding the fire.Cellulosic fires are those that are fuelled by materials such as timber, furniture, paper, plastics and other common items as found in buildings such as offices, hospitals, shopping centres and residential buildings.In such a fire, temperatures quickly reach around 550 degrees Celsius which over the course of the fire will have a dramatic effect on the structural steel within the building. Whilst it will not burn, it will warp and lose its ability to support a load, increasing the likelihood of building collapse.Under the NCC all buildings with exposed structural steel are required to implement protective measures around the steel.The Nullifire range of intumescent coatings are designed to protect structural steel in the case of cellulosic fire. Often called fire retardants, or mistakenly called "fireproof" paints, intumescent coatings refer to that class of specially formulated coatings which swell and form a protective "char" as a result of extreme heat exposure.Nullifire intumescent basecoats are formulated specifically to fire protect structural steel up to a fire rating level of 120 minutes.


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