When is fire-rated plywood required? Modern buildings are designed with safety in mind, and one of the biggest threats to many structures is fire. Fire-retardant wood products like fire-rated plywood are widely used in construction projects to help increase safety and minimize damage in the event of a fire.
What Is Fire-Rated Plywood?
Fire-rated plywood is a type of wood that has been pressure-infused with fire-retardant chemicals, conferring it with permanent protection. Fire-retardant coatings, in contrast, only provide superficial protection. To be officially considered fire-retardant, treated wood must have been infused with the chemicals in a pressure process and have a listed Flame Spread Index of 25 or less in testing. In addition, it must not show any evidence of significant combustion when this test goes on for an additional 20 minutes, and the front of the flame cannot progress more than 10.5 feet beyond the center of the burners at any point during the test.
Fire-rated plywood is often used in public building construction projects such as hospitals, schools, restaurants, and auditoriums for applications such as wall partitions, ceiling panels, and interior wall panels. It is a very lightweight material that is easy to transport and machine on site. When shopping for fire-retardant plywood, it is important to choose the right type for the location of the project in question. Interior fire-retardant plywood should never be used for exterior projects as it may not be able to stand up to the weather. However, products like Exterior Fire-X lumber and plywood can be used both outdoors and inside for siding, fascia, trim, roof sheathing, and scaffolding.
Where To Purchase Fire-Rated Plywood
Fire-rated plywood is available from general home improvement stores and lumber suppliers throughout the nation. Regardless of where you choose to purchase it, it is essential to look for the official stamp to ensure you are getting genuine fire-rated plywood that has passed the relevant tests. The stamp is required to be displayed on this type of wood in a highly visible location. It contains valuable information about the wood, tells buyers the brand and quality of the wood, and can be used to guide buying decisions.
For example, the brand or product label appears above the name and location of the treating manufacturer so that buyers can check the reputations of the companies that made the wood. The species of wood is also identified, along with the method that was used to dry the wood following treatment with fire-retardant chemicals.
Perhaps even more importantly, this stamp bears the identification mark or name of the approved inspection agency that tested the wood. Below this, information from the wood’s quality tests appears, such as the flame spread and smoke-developed index (SDI) value, along with an ESR number or a statement of conformance to appropriate standards. If the wood is designed for exterior use, it will also contain a required statement for wood products that will be exposed to wet, damp, or other weather conditions.
All of these elements must appear in the stamp, and building codes require that these stamps appear on wood treated with fire retardants. The presence of these stamps is the best way to guarantee that the wood has been infused with approved fire retardants to give it long-lasting protection against fire.
Why Is Fire Rated Plywood Important?
Fire-rated plywood can help protect a building and the people inside it in the event of a fire. When this type of wood is exposed to a fire, it creates a non-combustible gas and water vapor to hinder combustion. It is also designed to form a layer of protective char that insulates the wood against deeper damage. This allows the structure to maintain its integrity longer under the stress of the fire. This can give those inside the building more time to make their way outside to safety, and it also gives emergency crews more time to control the fire and rescue those who need assistance. In addition, by minimizing the damage caused to the structure, it can keep repair costs down after the fire. This is one of several reasons that using this type of wood can result in lower insurance rates.
Check Your Local Laws And Building Codes
It is essential to check your local laws and building codes to ensure that the wood you are choosing for your project will meet their requirements. This can also have an impact on your insurance. It is important to ensure the stamp on the wood is displayed in a visible manner for inspection purposes.
Consult With A Fire Rated Plywood Professional
If you are interested in giving your next construction project the benefits of fire-rated plywood, get in touch with the fire-retardant lumber professionals at Curtis Lumber & Plywood. We offer a broad range of high-quality treated products that are suited to all types of projects. Call us at (703) 972-1947 or contact us online today to get started.