fire retardant paint for meatl applied in a stair case

Support passive fire protection systems with fire retardant paint

Each year in the United States there are half a million structural fires which cause thousands of civilian deaths and injuries, and billions of dollars in property damage. In 2016, a structural fire was reported to the fire department every 66 seconds. Fortunately, an active fire protection system can be supported by passive fire protection methods such as inflammable and fire retardant material such as fire retardant paint. Fire retardant paint and other fire resistant materials work by increasing the threshold required to start a fire, preventing ignition, and slowing the rate at which flames spread.

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

Choosing the right type of fireproof paint for steel and metal

Fire retardant paint is a type of fire resistant paint for metal which effectively prevents surfaces from catching fire by damping flames and preventing ignition. There are two different types of fireproof paint for metal – fire retardant and intumescent. Intumescent paint is fire barrier paint which swells and insulates surfaces in the event of fire, the most commonly used fireproof paint for steel. Fire retardant paints for steel are also used to increase fire resistance, and come in two different types – flame resistant and cementitious.

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 resistant paint for steel, however, there are two different types of flame retardant paint technologies, applicable on steel and other metals, which both have their unique advantages and disadvantages.

1. Flame retardant paint – the final layer of fire protection paint for steel

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 system; even 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.

cementitious fire resistant paint for metal applied on building structures

Cementitious fire retardant paint is the coating of choice for metal structures when a single fire protection paint is needed.

2. Cementitious coatings – the flame retardant coating for steel structures

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 labor costs.

Meeting the US regulations flame resistant paint

While each state and town may have different codes, in the United States there are two primary organizations that develop building and construction codes: the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Each code has a specific category and focus, such as new constructions, residential codes, fire codes, electrical codes and others. These codes are widely adopted by towns and cities across the country. The United States Department of Labor also establishes regulations and standards regarding health and safety. Fire protection is an important part of the Occupational Safety Standards.

Building codes are necessary because they determine flame spread and smoke release requirements for finishes, and the class of safety required for any application, substrate, and location. Factors like occupancy, height of the building, and substrate are taken into account when assessing fire resistance requirements and selecting a fire retardant paint or another fire resistant finish.  Flame resistant paints are tested using ASTM E84 or NFPA 286 tests, and they must meet the requirements of these tests to pass muster.

Find fire retardant paint for steel suppliers and products in the USA

Fire retardant paint for steel exists for DIY products and professionally applied coatings. Industrial fire rated paint for steel includes all cementitious products. The DIY sector consists of products that can be applied to interiors and exteriors on top of an existing coating layer. Note that only a professional and recognized contractor can provide you with legal fire rated paint certification for the coating job.

Below you can find some fire rated paint for steel products available in the USA.

Fire retardant coating supplierProduct Product type
Sherwin WilliamsSherwin Williams FIRETEX FX5120Fire resistant paint for metal in marine environments
NAFFCOGypsum based lightweight cementitious spraysFire retardant cementitious paint
ZeroFlameZeroFlame Fire retardant paintGas emitting fire retardant paint
Flame StopFlame Stop I-DSFoam forming / self-extinguishing fire retardant paint (clear)

From New York to Los Angeles, there are many certified contractors who specialized in fire retardant paint for steel and metals. These contractors trust the leading brand in the industry and apply for example NAFFCO and Sherwin Williams fire retardant paint. If you need a certified contractor for your project, or are looking for a suitable product, do not hesitate to contact us! We, together with our partners, will make sure that you receive a competitive quote for the fire retardant system you need; and it is a 100% free of charge!


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2 replies
  1. Scott Ridenour says:

    Looking to protect a 100 year old home. It is being remodeled and we are looking to put it back together with a high quality fire protection system. Looking for help picking out products that will achieve these goals.

    • Ayold says:

      Dear Scott,

      Thank you for your request for fireproof paint. We have sent you an email to further inform you about the possibilities.

      Best regards,
      Jasmin –

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