Building a sturdy and safe structure is more than properly distributing the weight and planning the underlying architecture. During this process, building owners must decide what materials to invest in for their projects.
It is wise to select fire retardant plywood as part of the installation because it stands up well to flames. A small investment in this area can save the building—and the people and property—if a fire should arise by decreasing how quickly a flame can spread. This allows emergency personnel to arrive before significant damage has been done.
However, savvy building owners will wonder how long fire retardant plywood lasts. Investing in this product type is less financially smart if it becomes ineffective in only a year or two! Here is what prospective builders and owners need to know about fire retardant plywood, including how long it lasts, the differences in types, and what can be done to increase the longevity of this type of lumber.
Fire Retardant Pressure-Treated vs. Fire Retardant-Coated Plywood
Before construction can begin, the first decision is what type of fire retardant plywood to use. Two primary categories are fire retardant pressure-treated plywood and fire retardant-coated plywood.
Individuals will quickly note that coated plywood is easier on the pocketbook, which makes it an appealing option. However, there is a reason for that cost reduction. Fire retardant-coated plywood is covered in a layer of chemical inhibitors that slow flame spread.
This coating only exists on the outside layer of the wood. Once the fire penetrates that layer, the rest of the wood will burn as if there were no fire retardant chemicals. Coated wood is better than nothing, but it will only stand up to fire for a while.
Fire retardant pressure-treated plywood is the more expensive option but for good reason. This lumber is placed into a pressure chamber, where force is used to push the moisture out of the wood.
Then, using the same force, fire-resistant chemicals are injected into the open spaces where moisture used to be. This process ensures that chemicals reach all parts of the wood, even the center. Fire cannot spread as effectively if it cannot find a foothold to start burning.
How Long Fire Retardant Plywood Lasts
The short answer to “How long does fire retardant plywood last” is “a long time.” No matter which type you choose, you can expect decades of reliability from the product. However, some small factors will impact how soon this plywood needs to be replaced.
Fire retardant pressure-treated plywood will not lose its chemical resistance to flames because the fire inhibitor is sheltered within the wood. You can expect 50 years or more of service, and many manufacturers even provide warranties for 50 years on their treated plywood.
Flame retardant-coated plywood, on the other hand, will also last for decades, but with some caveats. In order to last its full potential lifetimes, this type of lumber needs to be properly cared for. If it becomes damaged through chips, scrapes, and other surface wear, the coating can be worn away.
While this will not affect the longevity of the plywood itself under normal use, it can make the material more susceptible to flames if a fire should occur. The thickness of the coating, how well it adheres, and the conditions in which it is used all impact how effective coated wood is at repelling fire.
Extending the Life of Fire-Retardant Plywood
Taking care of plywood is important regardless of the type that you choose. Treated wood needs less care, but it should still be kept dry to prevent rot and deterioration. The lifespan of coated wood can be extended by being careful not to scrape or damage the surface.
It is easy to grind coated wood together accidentally during transport or when sliding one piece of plywood off a stack. However, carefully avoiding these behaviors will leave the coating intact, which means greater resistance to fire over time. Once the plywood is undisturbed, it can last just as long as its pressure-treated counterpart as long as it, too, is kept dry and safe from mold or mildew.
Get High-Quality Plywood from a Reputable Wholesaler
No matter which type of fire retardant plywood you choose, be sure to select something of high quality from a wholesaler with a reputation for honesty and customer service. The experts at Curtis Lumber & Plywood are available to help customers understand their options and choose the ideal lumber for their building project. Contact us to discuss project goals or order the lumber you need to complete your job.