Common Applications of Intumescent Paint

December 13, 2012

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Intumescent coatings, also known as fire protective coatings, can be an important part of an overall fire protection program for commercial and industrial buildings. In some cases, the application of intumescent paint may be required by California law for certain locations and structural components.

Your commercial painting contractor should be familiar with the best applications for fire protective paint, and how these coatings can serve your facility and protect your staff, your customers, and your investment in the event of a fire.

Steel structural components

The most common use of intumescent coatings for industrial and commercial facilities is to add a layer of protection to steel structural components, either alone or with a topcoat of latex paint for aesthetic purposes. These coatings form a protective char when exposed to heat, which prevents steel from reaching critical temperatures of 550 degrees Celsius, where the structural integrity begins to break down.

Interior steel structural components that are often coated with fire protective paint include the areas above ceiling, behind walls, and in elevator shafts. In addition, the structural steel in parking garages, canopies, and storage areas benefit from the use of intumescent coatings.

Other uses and applications

Intumescent paint can also provide an additional barrier for other building materials, particularly where the risk of fire is high. This type of coating can be used with Sheetrock, wood, concrete, and other substrates. Fire protective coatings resemble regular paint in appearance at ambient temperatures, so they can be applied to enhance the appearance of a facility, as well as to provide fire-retardant capacities.

Special circumstances for intumescent coatings

Facilities for the oil and gas industry, such as tank farms and drilling sites, are at a high risk for hydrocarbon fires. Burning gas and oil produce extreme turbulence, combined with a highly rapid rate of heating. In addition, these facilities are often located in areas with extreme environmental conditions, and require highly durable coatings to protect exposed structures from the elements.

Specialized intumescent coatings made with epoxy are ideal for oil and gas facilities. These tough coatings are not only formulated to withstand aggressive weather conditions, but also provide extra resistance to the jet fires and blast pressure that result from hydrocarbon fires.


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