A Review of Intumescent Paint


Achieving a proper fire rating in construction projects is incredibly important. The right approach can save companies thousands of dollars in repairs and save the lives of people. While there are many active approaches to fire safety, including fire alarms and sprinkler systems, passive fire protection can be incorporated in a preventative effort to stop and contain fires.

Intumescent paint is a form of passive fire protection that requires thorough testing from third-party labs. Approved products can be very helpful in minimizing the damages associated with fires as well as limiting flame spread.

Learn about the origins of intumescent paint as well as the mechanics of how it works:

History of Intumescent Fire Protection
History of intumescent fire protection. Intumescent coatings are an increasingly popular choice as a form of passive fire protection

The very first mentions of passive fire protection can be dated back to ancient Rome. At this point in history, the methods consisted of calculating safer building spacing and using more fire-resistant materials in construction.

However, the movement for fire regulation as we know it today really took off in the 1900s as multiple destructive fires terrorized New York City. Many horrible casualties were attributed to massive building fires, inspiring the movement to stop negligence within building construction and to hold building managers accountable.

Intumescent coatings were first patented in 1948 and have been a commercial structure since 1960. Intumescent coatings are exceedingly complex coating materials. They need to perform all of the functions that other exterior weathering coatings do (adhesion, hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, etc.). Then, when exposed to sufficient heat, they need to transform and expand to form a thick, insulating, carbonaceous char.

In today’s day and age, intumescent coatings are an increasingly popular choice as a form of passive fire protection as many building standards require some form of reliable fire defense.

How does Intumescent Paint Work?

Intumescent paint is a form of passive fire protection that accomplishes several crucial things:

  • Prolongs the life of load-bearing structures in a fire
  • Protects building insulation and wiring
  • Limits flame spread throughout a building/neighborhood
  • Grants emergency responders time to get a fire under control
  • Allows time for an emergency evacuation of a building

Intumescent coatings are commonly applied to protect load-bearing structures in buildings, such as steel beams. Without proper fire protection, these structures can buckle under exposure to intense heat, causing buildings to collapse.

These coatings are specifically engineered to prevent this process. The intumescent swells when exposed to heat. Specifically, FlameOFF’s Fire Barrier paint expands 10 to 100 fold of the original size. This swelling creates a char like texture and provides greater insulation for the structure.

The process as a whole lowers thermal conductivity, slowing down the fire damage by 1-2 hours. This time frame can be pivotal in the context of fire destruction and can minimize the damage that is typically caused in these situations.

Following the fire, the char that remains can be removed, and the affected area can easily be repaired via sanding and a fresh coat of paint.

Why Choose Intumescent Coatings?

There are many reasons why intumescent paint should be considered as a passive fire protection solution. This innovative technology is relatively easy to work with and can add the crucial time needed to save lives and preserve buildings.

FlameOFF® Fire Barrier paint is applied easily with a professional-grade airless sprayer. This painless application process provides a smooth, architecturally pleasing finish on diverse substrates that are commonly encountered in modern construction.

Applying an intumescent coating can help buildings reach the fire safety code that is required by building officials. Quality paints are tested and accredited by third-party labs like UL and ICC.

Demonstration of Intumescent Paint in Action
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