Specifying intumescent paint for steel structures in buildings requires that a range of factors are taken into account to determine what type of fire prevention coating will help avoid the potential total collapse of a building in the event of a fire.
Why intumescent paint is important for steel fire protection
During a fire, temperatures can rise from 20° centigrade to 1,000° centigrade, and as the steel structure that supports the building heats up it loses its load-bearing properties. When its temperature reaches a critical point it will begin to buckle and the building will eventually collapse.
For steel coated with an intumescent paint, the rise in temperature causes a chemical reaction between the active components in the paint, and this in turn causes a gradual but thick expansion to the paint’s original thickness. This thick foam-like covering acts as insulation for steel during a fire, and protects it by slowing down its high temperature rise.
Specifying intumescent paint for steel
There is a broad range of intumescent paint products available, so it is important for architects, builders, engineers or consultants to know the exact type they require for their building structural works. Different types of steel require different types of intumescent coating. Making the right choice depends on:
1.The type of steel that needs fire protection. What is the nature of the steel used in the building’s structure? Is it universal and channel sections in open profile shapes? Is the steel square, rectangular, circular, hollow sections or solid circular rods?
2.The location of the steel within the building structure. Is it fully exposed to the weather, semi exposed, or fully embedded in concrete?
3.The region or geographical location of the building, and whether it is close to the coastline, lake or river.
4.How long it will last. If the right intumescent paint is properly applied, the steel’s coating could offer a very long lifespan.
5.What is the building used for? Fire protective paints required for offices are way different from the specifications of what’s required for say, a dairy farm or a chemical plant.
6.Fire rating required. All intumescent coatings are rated according to the time delay they offer, which ranges from 30 minutes, to 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes.
Finally, it is important to note that specifying intumescent paint for steel is not the end of ensuring fire safety in a building’s structure, because even the best fire protection products need to be applied professionally (applying intumescent coatings is a specialist task), for them to work optimally and save precious lives.