When getting insurance for your home, you have many different hazards in mind; however, the first thing you probably come across is a fire hazard. With so many appliances, sockets, and electrical installations, a fire can break out anywhere. Then, there’s also the fact that you have so many heat sources in your home, both for heating and cooking, which could further complicate the situation.
You want to protect your home, and while insurance is a great way to cover the expenses, you want to slow the fire down when looking to protect your property. The right fireproof paint can act as a retardant and slow the spread. This may give you enough time to get to the extinguisher, enough time for the fire department to arrive before the flames consume everything, or, at the very least, enough time for you to get to safety.
One such fire-retardant material is fireproof paint. Here’s what you should know about it and how to use it best in your own home.
Fireproof vs. fire retardant
These two terms are often confused, but the difference is huge. You see, fireproof are materials that are completely immune to catching fire and are non-combustible. We’re discussing materials like concrete, gypsum board, fireproof glass, brick, and stone. These are materials that can be damaged by fire but they won’t burn and they won’t combust.
On the other hand, fire-retardant materials are substances that are slow to catch fire. It would take a lot longer for these materials to catch flames. This is why fire-retardant materials are placed strategically around the fire/heat source to slow a potential spread.
Can paint truly be fireproof?
No, paint cannot be fireproof. When you see something labeled fireproof paint, we’re really talking about fire-retardant paint. So, is this misleading? Not really! You see, this is a sort of brand name. No one really expects this paint to be completely immune to ignition. Also, it does what you expect it to do – protect your property from fire as much as its properties allow it.
Imagine if you tried to argue that bulletproof glass is not bulletproof because some calibers can penetrate it. No one would expect 100% impenetrability, so why would it be any different with paint?
In other words, since there’s no such thing as fireproof paint semantically, but people use the term anyway to describe fire-retardant paint, we’ll use these two terms interchangeably throughout the rest of the article.
How does fireproof paint work?
Fireproof (fire-retardant) paint contains reactive components like fire-retardant chemicals, heat-expandable graphite, vermiculite particles, and binders. When exposed to heat, it activates these components, which expand and generate a foam-like layer that acts as a protective barrier. This way, it insulates the underlying material, providing extra protection to your furniture and the rest of your home.
Even without its chemical properties, the fact that fireproof paint provides a thicker layer between the flames and the flammable materials would already do the trick.
One more trick used by this material is the release of heat. This cooling effect releases vapor which cools the surroundings, further slowing the fire spread.
Is it expensive?
The cost of fire-retardant paint is relative, but there are a few factors you need to consider. First of all, you don’t paint your home every year. The painting cost is already high, so why not add one more feature to this list?
Also, it’s hard to quantify the level of protection that a fire-retardant paint would give you. If, for instance, fire-retardant paint made a difference between whether a dining room table would burn, then you could compare the cost of the saved property to the cost of fire-retardant paint. However, dealing with these hypotheticals is never rewarding.
Also, it’s one of those things that are like insurance – it’s something that you pay for with hopes that you’ll never actually get to use them. So, in the best possible scenario, you’ll feel like you’ve wasted your money. Quantifying peace of mind is even harder.
Who needs fire-retardant paint?
While it’s clear to everyone that commercial buildings, healthcare facilities, and industrial facilities need fire-retardant paint, whether or not this is necessary for privately-owned residential homes is still disputed.
The bottom line is that fire can happen everywhere, even if the odds differ. A fire in a steel mill is more likely than in a residential home, so steel mills have more protection measures and staff trained to handle these scenarios.
Also, while using fire-retardant paint won’t affect the value of the property, it shows that you’re serious about the care and maintenance of your real estate.
Where should you apply fire-resistant paint?
While it sounds intuitive to apply fire-retardant paint around the heat sources, this strategy greatly overestimates the potency of these fire retardants. Instead, it would be best to use it to create partial barriers between the heat source and potentially critical areas of your house.
For instance, you want to apply it between the potential source of fire and your escape route. In a fictional scenario where we’re talking about a grease fire, you would have to use it on the wall between the stove and the kitchen door.
Then, you want to protect some of the most critical elements like electrical installations, ceilings, walls, and structural components. While the idea of being consumed by flames sounds scary, the result of a building collapse can be just as horrible. So, make sure to use fire-retardant paint to try and avoid this outcome.
Ultimately, the more protection you can provide your home, the better. The best thing about using fire-retardant paint is that you make a one-time investment and a one-time effort, and your home receives passive protection for a while. It’s not even like with the fire alarm, where you have to check the batteries, or with the fire extinguisher, where you have to replace it regularly. Sure, a fire-retardant paint doesn’t hold indefinitely, but it offers a decent amount of extra protection (and extra safety measure).