Fire protective coatings, also called intumescent, are unique in their ability to combat fire. When exposed to heat, these coatings increase in volume and decrease in density, forming a layer of charring that doesn’t conduct heat. In this way, they prevent the spread of fire while protecting the structure beneath the coating.

Some intumescent coatings also contain components like graphite, hydrates, and sodium silicates, which release water vapor when heated and produce a rapid cooling effect that strengthens the char.

Typical structures that require intumescent coatings include:

  • Second floor or higher in buildings
  • Underground facilities
  • Parking garages

There are essentially two different types of intumescent fireproofing: hard char and soft char. They approach fireproofing in different ways and have different purposes, but both can be helpful in slowing down the advance of an out-of-control fire.

Soft char fireproofing is often the most common commercial and industrial painting solution, and certainly the most visible type that is used. These types of intumescent are designed to expand in the presence of heat and produce a light char over an exposed surface. The soft char can keep a fire from heating the substrate, usually steel, to instability for as long as 30 minutes to over three and a half hours.

Hard char intumescents, on the other hand, tend to be used inside of areas like pipes. They’re designed to be more substantial than soft char variants. When exposed to heat, hard char intumescents melt and solidify into a hard substance similar to an epoxy that can create an impromptu firewall to prevent fire from traveling through pipes to other areas, and also keep the pipes from bursting due to the heat.

Proper application is the key to the effectiveness of fire-protective coatings. Specific compatible, manufacturer-designated primers must be used, and multiple coats must be applied to achieve the proper fire rating. At Raider Painting, our extensive product knowledge and hands-on experience assures that your intumescent coating will work as intended.

Intumescent coatings serve as excellent barriers to the spread of devastating fire, and can play a critical role in saving lives as well as structures.