The sad truth is that most fatal fires occur when people are asleep in their homes, as smoke can lull a person into a deep slumber. While no practical building material is truly fireproof, well-constructed houses and buildings can help prevent such tragedies by using materials that are relatively fire-resistant.
It’s not a question of whether a fire can damage a structure, but a question of when. It simply takes longer for flames to affect fire-resistant materials. The key is to construct a building in which a fire would take effect slowly, allowing the occupants plenty of time to escape. This is also why materials themselves are rated in respect to how long it would take fire to affect its structural abilities. Even heavy timber can be considered fire-resistant. It’s combustible, however, while metals like aluminum or steel aren’t combustible — instead, they tend to buckle under intense heat.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the best building materials for preventing and impeding a raging fire.
Fire Resistant Glass Windows
Windows, important for visibility and light, can nonetheless be a fire hazard. Even before a window is in direct contact with flames, the intense heat of a nearby fire can cause the glass to break. A broken window allows flames to enter a building easily. In addition, the heat from a fire outside might be enough to simply ignite flammable items inside a home without direct contact.
To protect your house, consider installing fire-resistant windows. One example is dual-paned glass windows, which, in addition to providing energy efficiency, also double the time it would take for the flames to break the windows. The outer layer will break first before the inner layer. Tempered glass, which is heat-treated to make it about four times stronger than regular glass, is also effective.
Fire Resistant Concrete
Concrete, one of the most common building materials, is also an excellent fire-resistant material. It is noncombustible and has low thermal conductivity, meaning that it takes a long time for fire to affect its structural, load-bearing ability, and it protects from the spread of fire. It’s actually significantly more fire-resistant than steel, and often used to reinforce and protect steel from fire.
However, it’s important to note that not all concrete is created equal. It consists of cement and aggregate, and the particular kinds of aggregate materials used can vary, as well as the amount used. Aggregate can make up 60 to 80 percent of the concrete’s volume. The exact fire-resistance properties change depending on the type and amount of aggregate used. Natural aggregates tend not to perform as well. Moisture in the aggregate can expand when heated, causing concrete to sinter after long exposure.
Fire Resistant Brick
As bricks are made in a fire kiln, they’re already highly resistant to fire. However, it’s true that individual bricks are much more fire-resistant than a brick wall. A brick wall is held together with mortar, which is less effective. Nevertheless, brick is commonly cited as among the best building materials for fire protection. Depending on the construction and thickness of the wall, a brick wall can achieve a 1-hour to 4-hour fire-resistance rating.
So, although some materials are more fire-resistant than others, several factors might influence a builder’s decision, including cost effectiveness, ease of installation and climate.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. Are there any building materials that you know of that will help prevent injuries or deaths in the event of a fire? We look forward to reading your comments.