fire resistant paint in a burning hllway

A complete guide to fire resistant paint in South Africa

Fire resistant paint, or other fireproof construction and lining materials, have been compulsory for years now in office buildings, entrance halls, public buildings, parking garages and governmental buildings. In South Africa the rule of thumb is: the higher the building, the longer the material needs to withstand flames. In case of fire, a fire resistant paint guarantees extended evacuation time, as well as vital extra time for firefighters to arrive and minimise damage.

Fire resistant paint, in general, comes with the following advantages:

  • Fire protection up to 120 minutes: conforms to British, European, South African and international standards
  • Prefab is possible: fire retardant paint can be applied before or after construction
  • Suitable for various substrates: fire resistant coatings are applicable on wood, steel, concrete, textile and plastics.
  • Durable protection: lasts for decades and makes the surface impact resistant
  • Decorative: if applied as a top coat, it is available in every RAL colour

When applying a fireproof paint there are several important factors that will affect your choice: the building type determines the minimum fire protection time required of the fireproofing method (30, 60, 90, 120 minutes), and each different substrate will need a specific product and application method (fireproof paint for wood is different to one for steel). Therefore, in this article we provide you with professional advice on what you need to know when choosing specialist fireproof  coatings.

Fire resistant paint provides tailored protection for each building type

Here in South Africa fires happen daily; and too often they lead to fatalities, like in 2015 there were more than 45.000 fires reported and more than 400 people lost their lives in them. according to the SA Fire Loss Statistics 2015.

If you are considering applying fire resistant paint, then the structure of the building is part of what defines the coating you need; what is the building going to be used for, and what is the building’s height? There are three factors that define whether the building requires 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes of fire protection.

  1. Height – The higher the building, the stricter the requirements: a building higher than 5 metres must be at least 90 minutes fire proof. A building lower than 5 metres does not always have specified fire resistance, which is why you should always consult a specialist when considering fireproof coatings.
  2.  Residential / non-residential building – Are there, or could there be people sleeping in the building? Buildings below 5 metres must be 60 minutes fireproof, and buildings between 5 and 13 metres require 90 minutes. If the building is higher than 13 metres, the requirement is 120 minutes of resistance to fire.
  3. Risk factor – In some cases the fire resistance must be 120 minutes regardless of the height and purpose of the building. This is true for industrial facilities and places with a heightened fire risk such as offshore structures and chemical processing plants. This is also true for archives, libraries, and museums where valuable information or goods are stored.

Note that these three factors are not affected by the substrate type; the same rules count for wood and steel. In general, the costs of fireproof paint can be estimated by the amount of coating needed and the required fire resistance: the higher fire rating the coating must have, the greater the investment to apply it.

General guidelines for defining fire rating for your building

The following table gives you an indication of what to expect from the fire protection for your building type.

Required fire ratingHeight of buildingExamples
Not specified or 30 minutes<5 metres: non-residential buildingsOffices, shops, and company facilities
60 minutes<5 metres: residential buildingsHotels, apartments, and health care centres
90 minutes<13 metres: residential buildings
>13 metres: non-residential buildings
Schools, hotels, blocks of flats, and prisons
120 minutes>13 metres: residential buildings
Buildings with high risk factor
Schools, hospitals, and blocks of flats; libraries, archives and industrial premises

Always consult a specialist about fireproof coating to make sure your building is appropriately protected and meets the set standards. Our experts are happy to help you receive a competitive proposal for the fireproof paint you need: just send us a message by clicking the “request a quote” button at the bottom of this article.

The South African fire rating system according to SABS 0177 Part III

In South Africa the standard that defines the needed fire rating is The South African National Standard SANS 10 400. The fire rating of materials such as fire resistant paint on the other hand is based on testing according to the standard by the South African Bureau of Standards, SABS 0177 Part III which divides materials into classes from 1 to 5, Class 1 being the most resistant to fire. The table below shows the surface fire index and fire resistance of each class. The surface fire index results from measuring flame spread index, heat contribution index and smoke emission index.

ClassificationSurface fire indexdegree of Fire resistance
Class 10.1Excellent
Class 20.6Good
Class 31.2Average
Class 42.9Moderate
Class 54.5Poor

Intumescent and fire retardant paint – the 2 fireproof technologies

There are two types of fire proof paint, intumescent and fire retardant, and each has a different method of impeding fire. These specialist fire coatings can be applied either independently or as a fire protective system.

a factory burning despite fire resistant paint

Fire resistant paint system can be created by combining fire retardant paint with an layer of intumescent coating.

  1. Fire retardant paint: used as undercoats for regular paint or topcoats for intumescent coating. These coatings release a flame damping gas when the temperature rises to extremes. This forms a buffer zone, protecting the surface from the flames. This is the most common type of fireproof paint used as an independent coating for wood.
  2. Intumescent paint: almost predominantly applied as undercoats. This type of fire proof paint expands when the temperature reaches 200°C forming a solid foam-like char which insulates the substrate. Not only does it protect the substrate from ignition but also from the effects of the heat; steel loses strength and structural integrity starting at 300°C .

If these two coatings are applied as a complete system, the fire retardant paint is a topcoat which prevents flames from coming close to the surface, postponing the swelling response of the intumescent paint undercoat. Once the fire has exhausted the topcoat, the undercoat kicks in. This system provides much needed extra time to get a fire under control.

Fireproof coating specialists in South Africa

Depending on the substrate material, there are several fire resistant paint specialists in South Africa whose services are available to you. Which one you should contact, depends on the substrate – most of them can help you with coating steel, but wood and concrete require different expertise. We at Coating.co.za are happy to help you find the right fireproof coating specialist for your project, and provide you with a quote. Just use our 100% free quote service by clicking the “Request a quote” button at the bottom of this article. Our experts are here to help.

Here is a selection of South African specialists in fireproof paint. These companies often use internationally recognised products from manufacturers such as AkzoNobel, Sika, and Jotun. The South African manufacturers include Mandoval Vermiculite Innovations (Durban), Timberlife (Pretoria) fire retardant paint for wood, My Big Nano (Johannesburg) and Micon (Johannesburg).

Fire resistant coating companyAddress (ZA)Specialisation
Bidvest TMS Industrial ServicesUnit 11A Growthpoint Business Park, 2 Tonetti Street, Halfway House, Midrand, Johannesburg, 1685Industrial fireproof coating for steel
Curvent International75 North Rand Road, Hughes, Boksburg, Gauteng, South AfricaInsulation and fireproofing cables and fire and smoke ventilation.
Royal Coat Africa28 4th Avenue South, Fountainbleau, Randburg, Johannesburg.Industrial intumescent paint and mastic fire resistant coatings
FirecoCentury Boulevard, 1st Floor, East Block, Century City, 7441Fire protective design and application of fire resistant coatings

A certified fire resistant coating job by a professional

We advise you to leave the application of fire resistant paint to a certified contractor. Every building has specific requirements for fire resistance, and it takes a trained professional to apply the coating effectively. The building type, substrate type, and end use requirements all impact the choice of coating and the way it is applied, including such factors as film thickness. An inspection report needs to be drawn up by the contractor, including calculations for film thickness and the suitable materials for the project.

Once the coating has been applied, you will receive a certificate. This certificate confirms that you have complied with all relevant regulations and used the correct fire resistant coating. The coating must also be regularly inspected in order to detect any signs of premature deterioration and need for maintenance.

For more information about fire resistant paint, do not hesitate to contact us. We at coating.co.za are happy to connect you with the coating partner most suitable for your project – whether you need a fire resistant paint product, contractor or inspection on existing system, contact us!


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12 replies
  1. Richard Marsh
    Richard Marsh says:

    Hi
    I am looking for fire retardant clearcoat for timber. Please email me a price per 25L. The normal burn rate of up to 60 minutes is fine. Many Thanks.

    Reply
    • Coating Specialist
      Coating Specialist says:

      Dear Richard,

      Thank you for your request for fire retardant coating for timber. We will email you to help you further with your enquiry.

      Best regards,
      Jasmin – Coating.co.za

      Reply
  2. Khaya
    Khaya says:

    Hi I’m looking fire retardant for thatch roof. Please give the sizes it comes in and the prices. I need the quote urgently. Thanks

    Reply
    • Coating Specialist
      Coating Specialist says:

      Dear Khaya,

      Thank you for your request for fire retardant paint for roofs. We will email you shortly to further inform you about the possibilities.

      Best regards,
      Jasmin – Coating.co.za

      Reply
  3. henry
    henry says:

    good day,

    I need a quotation for coating of electrical cables, please provide quote for 25L. Please email me so that I give full details of what needs to be done and the material to be used.

    regards

    Reply
    • Coating Specialist
      Coating Specialist says:

      Hi Henry,

      Thank you for your interest in fireproof coating for cables. You will receive an email from us for further details.

      Best regards,
      Jasmin – Coating.co.za

      Reply
  4. Mariehette Davel
    Mariehette Davel says:

    morning
    looking to put paint onto drywalling to make it fire proof. I am a guest house and need to fire proof everyroom .also have suspended wooden floors. what can i use on that.
    would not like to break things down and take to long to do otherwise cant aell rooms.

    kind regards
    Mariehette Davel

    Reply
    • Coating Specialist
      Coating Specialist says:

      Dear Mariehette,

      Thank you for your question about fire resistant paint. It is possible to make your drywalls fire proof with an intumescent latex paint. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Fire protection coating systems on wooden floors are unusual and not all applicators will apply it. These systems are often applied when wooden floors are manufactured and not on already existing floors.

      If you have any further questions, please contact us via our contact form “request a quote”.

      Best regards,
      Sofia – Coating.co.za

      Reply
  5. Valerie Breedt
    Valerie Breedt says:

    We are buying a house and would like to make it virtually fireproof. I would like to do costings prior to purchase. The house is in Kleinbaai

    Reply
    • Coating Specialist
      Coating Specialist says:

      Dear Valerie,

      Thank you for your enquiry about fire resistant paint. In order to properly help you with your costings, we need more information about your house. Please use our “Request a Quote” contact form and tell us some more about the house you wish to fireproof.

      Best regards,
      Sofia – Coating.co.za

      Reply
    • Ayold
      Ayold says:

      Dear Grant,

      Thanks for your question regarding fire resistant paint for decking. First off, the answer depends on whether your deck is made from fire resistant treated wood. These timbers are impregnated with fire resistant chemicals under pressure, so the fire resistance is throughout the wood itself and does not dissipate. This means reapplication is not required. The most effective option for coating a deck is to use an impregnating fire resistant treatment. These can last years without needing reapplication. If your deck is already coated or painted, you should check with the fire resistant coating’s manufacturers as to best practice.
      Best regards,

      Anne-Kathrin – Coating.co.za

      Reply

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