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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 rating||Height of building||Examples|
|Not specified or 30 minutes||<5 metres: non-residential buildings||Offices, shops, and company facilities|
|60 minutes||<5 metres: residential buildings||Hotels, 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.
|Classification||Surface fire index||degree of Fire resistance|
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.
- 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.
- 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 company||Address (ZA)||Specialisation|
|Bidvest TMS Industrial Services||Unit 11A Growthpoint Business Park, 2 Tonetti Street, Halfway House, Midrand, Johannesburg, 1685||Industrial fireproof coating for steel|
|Curvent International||75 North Rand Road, Hughes, Boksburg, Gauteng, South Africa||Insulation and fireproofing cables and fire and smoke ventilation.|
|Royal Coat Africa||28 4th Avenue South, Fountainbleau, Randburg, Johannesburg.||Industrial intumescent paint and mastic fire resistant coatings|
|Fireco||Century Boulevard, 1st Floor, East Block, Century City, 7441||Fire 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!