Fire Resistant Paint: Ultimate Guide for Maximum Protection

Fire resistant paint protects buildings and structures from potential fire hazards. These specially formulated coatings are designed to resist the spread of flames and provide additional time for occupants to evacuate and firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

There are various types of fire resistant paints available, differing in their composition, applications, and the level of protection they offer. Intumescent paints are the most common, but other options include fire retardant paints, which contain chemicals that inhibit the spread of flames. These coatings can be applied to a range of surfaces, such as steel, timber, and plaster.

What is Fire Resistant Paint?

Fire resistant paint is a type of coating that increases the resistance of a surface to fire or extreme heat. Its primary function is to improve the time it takes for a material to ignite, and delay the spread of flames. When exposed to heat, intumescent paint undergoes a chemical reaction that creates a protective layer, thus helping to preserve the integrity of the material.

An essential aspect of fire resistant paint is its compliance with specific standards and certifications, usually tested under the ASTM E-119. This test measures the time it takes for a coating to fail under extreme heat and flame exposure. The fire ratings of such paints can vary, usually lasting anywhere from 30 minutes up to 2 hours, and should be chosen based on ASTM E-119 compliance guidelines.

When applied correctly, fire resistant paint can be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood, plaster, and metal.

It is crucial to understand that fire resistant paint is not the same as fire retardant paint. Fire retardant coatings merely slow the spread of flame; in contrast, fire resistant paint is designed to protect the underlying structural integrity of critical assets for a specified amount of time.

Fire resistant paint is a vital tool in enhancing the safety of buildings and structures exposed to high temperatures and potential fire hazards.

Types of Fire Resistant Paints

Fire resistant paints are an essential part of passive fire protection systems in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. There are different types to choose from, each offering specific benefits and catering to various surfaces. In this section, we will discuss the most common types, as well as the benefits of using water-based and low VOC options.

Intumescent paint

Intumescent paints are a popular choice, providing expandable fire protection that creates a charred layer on the surface, effectively insulating the underlying materials from the heat and flames. These coatings are suitable for various surfaces, including wood, steel, and concrete, and comply with building and fire codes to offer rated flame spread protection.

Cementitious coatings

Cementitious coatings are another type of fire resistant paint, which use a cement-based mixture with a binder that adheres to the substrate. This thicker barrier ensures fire protection while maintaining structural integrity. Though an older form of fireproofing, cementitious coatings remain a reliable option for surfaces that require robust protection.

Water-based fire resistant paint

To minimize environmental impact and prioritize human health, it is essential to consider water-based fire resistant paints. These products contain less hazardous solvents, reducing the emission of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. In addition to being environmentally friendly, water-based paints tend to resist yellowing and have faster drying times, delivering a versatile, effective, and safe solution for fire protection.

In conclusion, selecting the appropriate type of fire resistant paint is crucial for the safety and longevity of a building. Water-based and low VOC options should be considered to promote environmental sustainability and meet EPA standards.

Applications and Uses

Fire-resistant paint plays a crucial role in enhancing the safety of various construction materials. It is a versatile option for a wide range of applications, ensuring optimal resistance to fire on different surfaces.

One common use for fire retardant coatings is on wood surfaces, as these materials are particularly vulnerable to fire hazards. Applying fire retardant paint on wood can significantly reduce the rate of flame spread and prevent the destruction of wooden structures such as plywood and timber.

Ceilings and walls made of gypsum, drywall, and other similar materials can also benefit from the application of fire resistant paint. The coating forms a protective barrier against flames, slowing the spread of fire and preserving the integrity of these surfaces.

Concrete surfaces, though inherently resistant to fire, can suffer from spalling when exposed to extreme temperatures. Fire resistant paint can be applied to concrete to provide additional protection against heat, reducing the risk of damage due to thermal expansion and contraction.

Steel structures are susceptible to losing their strength under high temperatures, leading to potential structural failures. Fire-resistant coatings, such as intumescent paints, provide an expanded barrier when exposed to heat, maintaining the steel’s stability and preventing deformation.

Foam materials are widely used in insulation and packaging materials. These materials, when unprotected, can be highly flammable. Fire retardant coatings can be applied to foam surfaces to reduce their vulnerability to fire, effectively slowing down the spread of flames.

In summary, fire resistant paint serves an essential role in safeguarding various construction and insulation materials, adapting to a diverse range of applications and offering improved safety for wooden structures, ceilings, walls, concrete surfaces, steel elements, and foam materials.

Fire Standards and Certifications

The field of fire-resistant paint and fire retardant coatings has various standards and certifications to ensure the performance and safety of these products. In this section, we will focus on the commonly referred standards, namely ASTM E-119 and E-84.

ASTM E-119

ASTM E-119 is a widely recognized standard for testing fire-resistant paint. This test measures the time it takes for a coating to fail under extreme heat and flame. Fire-resistant paints that are ASTM E-119 tested and certified usually have a fire rating lasting anywhere from 30 minutes up to 2 hours.

In contrast, most fire retardant paints are not ASTM E-119 tested or compliant. Fire retardant coatings generally have a different composition and mode of action when exposed to fire, compared to fire-resistant paints.


Another well-known standard in the industry is the ASTM E-84, which is used to test surface burning characteristics of building materials, including fire-retardant-treated wood and fire-retardant coatings. This test focuses on the flame spread index and smoke developed index of the materials under consideration.

The effectiveness of fire retardant coatings depends on certification and compliance with industry standards. In various applications, such as enclosed areas like airplanes or submarines, it’s crucial that not only the flames are extinguished, but also that the smoke or toxic materials released during the process are minimized.

In conclusion, when choosing fire-resistant paint or fire retardant coatings, it’s essential to consider their compliance with relevant standards like ASTM E-119 and E-84, as well as their certifications, to ensure they deliver the required safety and performance levels.

How to Apply Fire Resistant Paint

Before starting the application, clean the surface to remove any dirt, grease, or debris. This step is essential as it allows the paint to adhere properly and maximizes its fire-retardant properties. If the surface is porous, such as wood or drywall, consider using a primer to seal it and create a smooth base for the paint.

Once the surface is prepared, stir the fire resistant paint thoroughly to ensure consistency. Pour the required amount of paint into a container, making sure not to overfill it. Dip the brush into the paint and ensure it is adequately coated without excessive dripping.

Begin painting the surface with smooth, even strokes, working in one direction. It is essential to maintain a consistent thickness across the entire surface for uniform fire protection. Allow the first coat to dry for the recommended amount of time mentioned on the paint’s instructions, typically 2-4 hours.

After the first coat is dry, examine the surface for any imperfections, such as missed spots or uneven coverage. Apply a second coat of fire-resistant paint to achieve optimal protection. Be sure to follow the same application technique as the first coat, working in one direction and maintaining an even thickness.

Once you’ve applied all the necessary coats and allowed the paint to dry completely, the surface will now have an added layer of fire protection. Proper application, along with regular maintenance, will ensure that the fire retardant paint performs effectively in the event of a fire.

Always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific details on applying the paint, and consider hiring a professional if you’re uncertain about the process or require an extensive application of fire resistant paint.

Best Fire Resistant Paint Manufacturers

FlameOFF is a leading manufacturer of fire-resistant paint. Their Fire Barrier Paint is eco-friendly and 100% ASTM E-119 and E-84 compliant. It is a popular choice among consumers due to its Class A flame spread rating and long-lasting fire protection.

Benjamin Moore also offers a fire retardant paint, designed to minimize flame spread and smoke development. Their intumescent paint expands under heat, forming a thick cellular char blanket known as intumescence. This Latex paint can be applied like a conventional flat paint and is suitable for both commercial and residential use.

Similarly, Flame Control Coatings provides a range of fire retardant paints designed to reduce the spread of flames in case of a fire. Their coatings are versatile and can be used on a variety of substrates and finishes, making them a popular option among professionals.

Lastly, PPG Paints offers the SPEEDHIDE® Fire Retardant Interior Latex paint. This low VOC, water-based paint is perfect for use on combustible materials like wood, drywall, and plywood. It can be applied on interior walls, ceilings, and stairwells to slow down the spread of fire and smoke.

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