When constructing a building, selecting the right materials is an essential part of the planning process. For those looking to enhance a structure’s resilience against potential fire damage, investing in fire retardant-wood is a smart choice.
Regardless of whether wood is pressure treated with fire-inhibiting chemicals or simply coated with fire retardant, it can stand up against flames longer—allowing emergency responders to arrive or important materials and the people inside to be saved.
When selecting wood to bring to a job site, however, workers may be unsure of whether the wood they are working with is fire retardant, and retail dealers will want to know the quality of the wood they are purchasing.
How can you tell? Here is a quick overview of how to know if wood is fire retardant before you buy it, including how the labeling is presented and the differences in labeling requirements for exterior and interior-use wood.
Check the Labeling
The simplest way to understand whether wood is fire-retardant is to check the labeling in the bay. The price tag or product information sticker should indicate whether the material is treated to resist fire, so start there. This will bring you to the correct part of the lumber yard and allow you to see the wood in person.
However, be aware that retail dealers should not rely on the information from the product label or sticker alone; these labels can occasionally lead individuals to believe that a type of lumber is resistant to fire when it has not been appropriately treated as such.
To ensure that wood has been shelved in the correct location and that the wood under consideration truly is fire retardant, it is critical to examine it when purchasing.
Examine the Wood
The International Building Code has mandated the sale and labeling of fire-rated plywood that requires a visible stamp to be added to each piece. Usually, this stamp will be applied with black ink in a rectangular shape to be easily identifiable.
For wood meant for interior use, seven elements must be present on the stamp:
- The brand, logo, or name of the product
- The information of the company that treated the wood
- The species of the wood
- How the wood was dried after it was treated
- Information on the agency that inspected the wood after its treatment
- A rating of how resistant to flame spread or smoke development the wood is
- The ESR (evaluation service reports) number, which indicates third-party monitoring that is compliant with the International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES)
Wood intended for exterior use will also contain all of the above information. It will also include information about how the wood will respond to weather conditions. Because this lumber is meant for exterior use and users can expect to be exposed to rain, sunlight, and moisture, this additional point can share important information that impacts which lumber is selected for the project.
Can Wood Be Fire Retardant Without the Stamp?
Each piece of wood treated with fire retardant chemicals should have its own stamp; it is not sufficient for representative pieces in the pile to be stamped while the rest are not.
Sometimes, workers may find that they are considering lumber labeled on the shelf as fire retardant, but it does not show a stamp on its surface. All inspected fire-rated plywood will carry a stamp; wood that is labeled but does not have a stamp may not meet industry standards for appropriate fire resistance.
Occasionally, a piece of wood may have been cut or damaged in such a way as to remove or obscure the stamp. Whenever a stamp is not visible, it is wisest to avoid using the piece to ensure that the structure is built only with fire-retardant materials of the correct quality.
Do not hesitate to discuss stamping requirements or wood quality with whatever lumber wholesaler you choose for your product.
Learn More About Fire-Rated Plywood from the Pros
Choosing the ideal wood for a project is an important part of the overall strategy for the building. When a client elects to build some or all of their interior or exterior with fire-retardant wood, it is prudent to ensure that the wood being purchased for the project complies with international inspection standards for truly fire-retardant lumber.
Utilize the information on the stamp to ensure that each piece meets the standards of the project. Curtis Lumber & Plywood wants to educate builders on the right type of lumber for their goals.
Take a look at Curtis’ comprehensive knowledge base to learn more about fire retardant wood, labeling, and other wholesale lumber concerns.