Implementing flame retardant paints to help reduce fire risk

By Crown Paints

Considering how fast fire spreads, taking steps to protect buildings in the first place is absolutely crucial. And paint has a significant role to play in achieving this. When you consider that paint is often the first line of defence against the spread of a fire once it has got going, applying the right fire-safe and flame-retardant paint is vital.


Paint is a key factor of any fire risk assessment, with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (England and Wales) and the Fire Act (Scotland) both outlining the potential hazard of flame spread on painted surfaces. As a result, the onus is now on building owners to demonstrate a duty of care regarding fire safety in their properties. But by using specialised paint products and other safety precautions, fire risks can be minimalised.


Multiple layers of conventional paint can combine to make a previously non-combustible surface extremely dangerous, where a fire can burn and spread rapidly. So, it’s essential to use specially formulated flame retardant paints to combat this by drastically improving the fire rating of painted surfaces. These ranges have numerous applications that can be applied to corridors, halls, stairwells, communal areas and on external walls, making it an ideal tool for local authorities and housing associations, as wells as in hospitals and schools which are looking to add an extra layer of protection to their buildings. By implementing flame retardant paints, building developers can reduce the risk of fire, but also reduce the chance for loss of life, injury, and damage to property in the event of a fire.


Being compliant with all current BS and European fire test standards is crucial too. The paint chosen should have gone under an intense level of scrutiny to ensure it meets requirements, and paint manufacturers should take a meticulous approach to ensure their paint will meet all future regulations. They should go beyond simply supplying paint with an informative process which outlines the correct paint needed for the job.


Paint manufacturers should also go above and beyond to help developers looking for the right specification, and as such there is a need to understand existing coating history as well as the adhesion of any such decoration. For example, some ranges are formulated to produce a thick insulating char layer in the event of a fire, and must be overcoated to provide a durable decorative finish. 


Meanwhile, others can be used as part of a system to upgrade existing coatings to class 0. Some provide a flat matt finish and are ideal for use in communal areas. Other ranges provide a flame retardant anti-graffiti top coat for use over the Vinyl Matt to upgrade existing coatings. Choosing the right flame-retardant paint selection is key to ensuring a building provides a high level of fire safety, and this is where paint manufacturers can go beyond its duty as a provider of paint.


For example, at Crown Paints expert specification technical teams will visit a site to test adhesion and take samples, which can then be analysed to give the client a specification for which paint to use. This is then supplied to the contractor who gives sign-off to the specification, with the final steps including providing documentation confirming its application and supplying visible signage to inform the public that residents are protected.


When it comes to bolstering a building’s defence against fire, these are crucial steps. Simply providing developers and tradespeople with a flame-retardant product is not enough. By paint manufacturers providing that extra layer of care and guidance, this will put in place another line of defence for if the unthinkable happens.


Current regulations in place are absolutely necessary for protecting the public and are vital to ensuring buildings are safe and give as much resistance as possible when a fire does break out. When it comes to it, they can be the difference between life and death. The onus for making sure these regulations are met falls on property owners. But that doesn’t mean they should go it alone, and paint manufacturers also shoulder a responsibility to help them carry that burden.

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