Fire-retardant plywood is a popular choice in homes around the country, whether it is being used to keep up with local building codes or to address personal safety concerns. This type of wood is treated to help prevent the spread of fires, and it is suited to both interior and exterior uses. Below is a look at how this type of wood is produced and some of the areas inside and outside the home where its use is recommended.
What Is Fire-Retardant Plywood?
Fire-retardant plywood is a type of plywood that is treated with chemicals that make it resist ignition and slow the spread of fires. This is not the same as wood that is treated with an external fire retardant or coating. Instead, the treatment is fully incorporated into the wood. When exposed to a fire, water vapor and non-combustible gas is produced, and a layer of char forms to protect the wood. As a result, this wood can hold its strength longer than regular wood during a fire. Much fire-retardant plywood undergoes testing to ensure their durability in conditions of high heat and moisture. They are also typically tested for leaching, corrosivity, and compatibility with stains and paints.
Making Plywood Fire-Retardant
Fire-retardant plywood is made by adding a retardant to kiln-dried, untreated plywood using a high-pressure system that completely infuses the wood with the chemicals. The untreated wood is placed in a sealed retort chamber, where the air is removed to create a vacuum. The chamber is then filled with the retardant chemicals and pressure is applied to ensure even treatment. The treatment time and pressure level required depends on factors such as wood type, thickness, and amount.
The chemicals used for the treatment depend on the manufacturer. It is important to note that partially infused plywood or plywood that is only treated on the surface does not generally meet fire code standards; it must be fully infused to comply.
Quality control agents check the plywood for the burn rate and retardant concentrations to ensure safety. It must be able to both resist ignition and slow fire spread to pass these checks. It is also tested for the depth of charring in specific burn conditions. Batches will not pass these checks if they fail any of the individual quality tests.
The Top Uses Of Fire Retardant Plywood
Fire-retardant plywood is suitable for a broad range of uses, but it is important to check with local code requirements first. It is used extensively for residential and commercial applications around the world. This type of wood is often incorporated into interior structural elements in new construction, and using it can sometimes lower insurance costs thanks to the extra safety it provides.
Decks & Balconies
Fire-retardant wood can be used for decks and balconies and their associated rails, trim and external staircases to give these structures an added level of safety in the event of a fire.
Exterior Of Home
This type of wood can be used for most exterior applications, with those that involve contact with the ground surface being a notable exception. The best places for fire-retardant wood in the exterior of a building are vulnerable areas, such as roof construction and shingling. This can provide additional security in a lightning strike or wildfire.
It is important to ensure that internal wood is not used for exterior projects because it is not normally rated for the exposure to moisture, fungi, and insects it would be subjected to outdoors. It should also not be placed in direct contact with ground soil given the potential for excess moisture to degrade the fire retardants in the wood as well as the composition of the wood itself.
Interior Of Home
Halls and ceiling support within residential buildings can benefit from fire-retardant wood, especially in townhomes. It is particularly useful in high-traffic areas as it can protect the integrity of the structure during an emergency, providing precious time in which families can escape and firefighters can try to get the fire under control. Likewise, it can be used for the internal partitions between rooms to provide a safety boost.
Workshops & Sheds
Fire-retardant wood is well suited to workshops, sheds, barns, stables, and other types of wooden outbuildings. It is an especially good choice in buildings that will house highly flammable materials, such as sawdust or grain and hay storage. This material should also be considered for buildings that are situated near fire risks, such as bushes and standing trees.
Talk To The Fire-Retardant Plywood Professionals
For more information about plywood and lumber that can enhance the safety of a building in the event of a fire, talk to the fire-retardant plywood professionals at Curtis Lumber & Plywood. They can answer questions about materials, and provide expert advice on the process and the right type of wood to use for any construction project. Call us at (703) 972-1947 or contact us online today.