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Your guide to fire retardant paint

29th March 2018 Print
fire retardant paint

Fire retardant paint, also called intumescent paint, is a passive form of fire protection that surprisingly few people are aware of but is increasingly being used in a variety of settings and in different industries. Let’s take a look at how these fire-retardant paints work. We’ll also discuss where they can be applied, your options for using them, and the benefits of using them.

How Intumescent Paint Works

When fire retardant paint hits 120°C (or higher), they start to react. It creates a charring effect at the surface, which limits the transmission of heat from the surface to the structure underneath. Some paints release a gas that dampens the flame. It also releases water vapor, cooling the substrate. 

This essentially slows down the heating up of structural elements, providing more time before these elements catch fire. These paints are almost always applicable to softwoods, hardwoods, fibreboard, brick, stone, metal, and concrete.

The Benefits of Fire Retardant Paint

You can apply fire retardant paint to many materials, bringing combustible material into compliance with fire safety legislation. You can use the same paints to improve the fire resistance of an existing building at relatively little cost, and you’ll probably reap savings on your property insurance

One benefit of fire retardant paint is the fact that you can apply it in homes that don’t let you alter architectural features because of the home’s age; now you can make the building more fire-resistant without having to rip it all apart, put in fire-proof insulation, and try to put it all back in place without violating the rules intended to make the building look the same. For example, a single layer of intumescent paint gives you the same protection as a layer of plasterboard with up to sixty minutes of fire protection.

One benefit of fire retardant paints is that they can be applied on top of many existing non-retardant paints, as well as unpainted surfaces. Most of these paints can also be put on top of stained and varnished wood. You may not even end up altering how your room looks while making it safer. If you have fire retardant paint on the exterior of the building, it is also less likely to catch fire from a stray spark and the damage will be limited if it does.

The Uses of Fire Retardant Paint

When you apply these paints to structural steel, you give it more time before the metal begins to sag and the building collapses. The benefit of paint in these cases is that you don’t have to wrap the structural beams in fire-retardant foam and you can get fire protection in place quickly. 

You can have timber substrates painted with fire retardant paint before they’re installed, barely affecting installation time and without changing the dimensional tolerances of your home design. Fire-retardant paint is often applied to wooden cladding, staircases, and doors to slow down the spread of fire through these critical structures. And it is something you can do immediately.


Fire retardant paints are a quick, easy, and affordable way to improve the fire-resistance of any building. You can apply it to specific structures like staircases or to every surface in the building without having to alter the structure itself.

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fire retardant paint