Applying a fire rated paint for wood

Fire retardant paint for wood prevents fires and increases safety

Fire has always been one of the greatest threats to homes; and wood one of the most common materials used for construction. In the US in 2015, there were 400,000 residential fires, causing thousands of deaths, injuries, and billions of dollars in damage and loss of property. Fortunately, the risk of fire can be reduced and the damage in case of fire minimized by applying fire retardant paint for wood, or other fire rated paint suitable for wood and timber.

There is interior and exterior fire retardant paint for wood, and the industrial systems can even be applied before fabrication to guarantee that the largest possible area is covered. Fire retardant paint for wood, in general, provides three crucial benefits by preventing the wooden structures from collapsing:

  1. Gives more time to evacuate the building and reduces fatalities;
  2. Minimizes property damage; 
  3. Allows the fire fighters more time to arrive and get the fire under control.

In this article we will take a look at the further benefits and technology of fire rated paint for wood as well as providing an overview of DIY products and professional contractors specialized in fire resistant paint for wood.


The rating and standardization of fire rated paint for wood

Wooden surfaces and structures, such as lumber and engineered wood products, can be protected from fire by using coatings; essentially fire paint for wood can be divided into two groups; intumescent systems and fire retardant paint for wood. This article focuses on the latter, but the fire resistance rating system used is the same for both.

In the United States most building codes rely on Fire Safety Code 101 established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The Fire Safety Code classifies materials (including fire rated paint for wood and other materials) from class A to E, A being the most resistant to fire, based on flame spread rating. Each building type has its own requirements for fire rating.

  • Class A – flame spread rating 0 – 25, excellent fire resistance
  • Class B – flame spread rating 26 – 75, moderate fire resistance
  • Class C – flame spread rating  76 – 200, light fire resistance
  • Class D – flame spread rating 201 – 500, no fire resistance
  • Class E – flame spread rating 500+, no fire resistance

In the USA, the manufacturers of fire retardant paint for wood use this rating system to define the fire resistance of their wood fire protection products.

Types of fire retardant paint for wood & the fire rating

The types of fire retardant paint for wood include flameproof paints, varnishes and wood preservatives. Even though the applications vary, they all result in a fire protection paint for wood based on similar technologies. When fire rated paint for wood becomes exposed to high temperatures, it either releases flame damping gas or starts to form a self extinguishing foam layer.

comparing plywood with fire retardant paint for wood and without fire rated paint for wood

Comparing a surface treated with fire retardant paint for wood with an untreated surface.

  • Fire retardant paint for wood – exists as industrial and DIY products. Applicable as interior or exterior fire retardant paint and contributes to the looks of the surface. Prevents flame spread by emitting gas or forming a foam layer. Fire retardant paint is available for class A, B and C fire rating.
  • Flame resistant wood preservative – almost predominantly industrial systems. Usually applied during wood processing (pre fab) to ensure that a surface as large as possible is covered. Usually emits flame damping gas. Class A fire rating is common; the penetrating fire retardant systems for wood offer the best and longest lasting protection.
  • Fire resistant varnish – industrial and consumer products, clear systems that retain the natural looks of the wooden surface. Usually class B, or lower fire rating.

Note that fire retardant paint for wood and other flame retardant systems can be applied as an independent system or combined with an intumescent product to increase the level of protection. There are codes and standards dictating the treatment of wood which can be found at the National Fire Protection Association.


Find USA based specialists of fire retardant paint for wood

The demand for fire retardant paint for wood is increasing and technology is improving meaning that there is an increasing number of fire protection products for wood as well as contractors to apply them. If you require fire resistant paint for wood, be sure to contact a specialist in those application; a specialist in application on steel cannot help you. Additionally, there are wood processing companies which apply fire retardant paint as a standard on their lumber resulting in Fire Retardant Treated Wood (FRTW). An example of such a company in the United States is Lonza Wood Protection.

If you are looking to get in touch with a manufacturer, supplier or contractor of fire retardant paint for wood, contact us! We are happy to connect you with the most suitable products and services, as well as providing competitive quotes in cooperation with our coating partners.

A selection of fire resistant paint products

If you are considering applying fire rated paint for wood yourself, you might want to take a look at the available products. Note that fire retardant wood preservatives often require specialist application. The industrial fire retardant paint for wood manufacturers include Sherwin Williams (Sayerlack), Teknos and AkzoNobel.

Brand & ProductTypeFire ratingSubstrates
Flame Stop, Flame Stop IIPenetrating fire retardant wood preservativeClass AUntreated wood
Flame Control, Flame Control No. 129 Interior / exterior fire retardant varnishClass BHard use surfaces: doors, trim lumber, decorative wood, wood paneling
Flame Control, Flame Control No. 141Hard-wearing fire retardant paint for woodClass BFloors and hard use surfaces
Retardants Inc., Burn Barrier 6-3Penetrating fire retardant treatment for woodClass AInterior surfaces; unpainted wood and plywood
Retardants Inc. Burn Barrier 130Flame resistant paint for wood as a topcoat to finalize the system Class BHard use surfaces: wood paneling, woodwork, doors, door frames
FireTect FR 10 Flame retardant LatexFlame retardant paint for wood (latex varnish)Class BWood, fiberboard, plasterboard or other decorative products

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