One of the biggest confusions about fireproofing your home is that most people don’t understand the difference between fire resistant and fire retardant. A fireproof material just won’t burn, while a fire retardant material (or coating) is slow to catch fire.
Because the majority of people are unfamiliar with the term fire retardant, the majority of businesses that are selling fire-retardant materials choose to market them as fireproof. It’s a simple marketing label switch that has many people confused when choosing the right solution for your home.
Now that you know the difference, here are the top five solutions to protect your home using fire retardants.
1. Fire-retardant wood coating
Wood is probably the element that concerns you the most. If you live in one of those rustic homes with exposed wooden elements everywhere, you probably sometimes walk around the place imagining it catching fire.
Even if not, most of your furniture is made out of wood, some of your utensils, and the entire construction of your home (most likely). Wood is supposed to be highly flammable, and most timber is. Therefore, what you need is a wood fire retardant.
These fire-retardants work is quite simple – they usually contain chemicals that release water vapor or other gasses that create a barrier when exposed to high temperatures. This slows down the combustion process quite drastically.
Now, quality wood fire retardants are expensive, and you’ll likely have a problem covering all wooden surfaces in your home.
Also, while most of these fire retardants are made to comply with building code requirements, it’s still worth checking this out. The type you’ve just bought to save money might be imported and, therefore, not have local construction laws in focus.
2. Fire-retardant paint
The next thing your home needs is some fire-retardant paint. You apply this paint to walls, ceilings, and other structural elements. The way it works is similar to what we described in the previous segment, with the big difference being that it’s designed to adhere to a different surface texture.
Generally speaking, there are two types of these fire-retardant paints.
- Intumescent: This paint swells when exposed to heat, which creates a physical barrier that protects its content.
- Non-intumescent: This one contains materials that are resistant to heat by their nature and physical properties.
Many fire retardant paints consist of some form of both of these methods, yet it’s worth checking what the label says.
Also, keep in mind that this is still paint. You can get a clear finish, allowing the painted surface to maintain its original color. At the same time, you can also go for a colored finish and use this protective layer as you would a regular paint. Either way works, but you can’t focus exclusively on fire protection. You also want your home to look good.
3. Sprinkler system
A sprinkler system is quite an effective solution to this problem, but a lot of the time, it’s not self-sufficient. After all, if this were the case, every home would have to have a sprinkler (it would be a mandatory building regulation), and there would be no need for the fire department.
However, just because a sprinkler system can’t stop every fire, this doesn’t mean that it can’t slow it down. Even more importantly, it can detect the problem quite early, and when activated, it can prevent the situation from escalating.
The main reason why sprinkler system is sometimes unreliable is because people don’t check their smoke detector. The second reason is the fact that it detects smoke. Unlike the gasses and vapor in fire-retardant paint that responds to heat, detectors respond to smoke, which is a much less reliable system. It may go off on something that’s not fire or not go off when the real fire is starting.
At the same time, a sprinkler system should have a manual activation option (which many don’t).
4. Fire-retardant curtains and drapes
The next thing you need to consider is the importance of picking the right textiles for your home. If anything will catch fire in your home, it’s a curtain. Still, many drapes are right next to heating units, which, although it is supposed to be safe, won’t necessarily be the case.
One of the concerns that a lot of people have when choosing curtains and drapes is the visuals. On the one hand, people want something decent-looking. While they do want the curtains and drapes to be fire-retardant, they also need to serve their primary purpose of being a design element.
These curtains don’t have to be made out of special materials; they can just undergo a special treatment process, soaked in special chemicals. At the same time, sometimes, these compounds are inherent in the fabric or just applied as a coating.
5. Fire-resistant insulation
The biggest problem with the insulation is that it is usually highly flammable due to its texture and material. While fiberglass is not flammable, mineral wool and foam boards are entirely different. Still, the manufacturing industry is aware of this flaw, so they’re making these materials more fireproof nowadays. The process is simple: during manufacturing, these materials are treated in a special way to make them less flammable.
The problem is that the installation process is usually quite expensive, and you need a lot of these materials. This means people usually go for the cheapest per pound or square foot. This is especially the case if you’re hiring professionals since their services won’t come cheap.
Remember that while making your home more energy-friendly is a priority, keeping it safe from fire is even more important. The thing is that, due to positivity bias, people just assume that bad things are less likely to happen.
The last thing you need to remember is the importance of this decision. So many homes burn in fire every year, and there are a lot of fatalities as a result of these events. The insurance can never compensate for the loss of life, and its capacity to compensate you for the loss of property is questionable. Therefore, prevention is the best protection.