In order to meet building regulations when working commercial construction, fireproof building materials are a must-have. From using fireproofing spray on site to ordering fireproof columns for delivery, contractors have many options to fireproof steel. But which is the right choice?
Types of Fireproof Building Materials for Columns
Commercial construction building columns should be constructed with concrete and structural steel. If you use columns that are not already fireproofed for your construction project, you’ll need to use the necessary materials to create a fireproof covering at an additional cost in order to pass inspection.
Fireproofing SprayFireproofing spray also referred to as spray-applied fireproofing and sprayed fire-resistive material (SFRM), is a popular yet dangerous fireproofing method on construction sites. It serves as an insulator for steel columns, protecting them from extremely high temperatures. Materials commonly found in spray-applied fireproofing include:
- Slag Wool
- Carbon black
Manufacturers also throw in chemicals that accelerate the hardening process in efforts to save time for construction workers, but prolonged or continuous exposure can lead to health issues.
Fireproof paint, or Intumescent paint, is a more visually appealing on-site fireproofing option. It starts as a mix of chemicals that release vapors when exposed to extreme heat. These vapors turn into foam, which becomes a black insulating material with fire retardant properties. Intumescent paint is typically applied to columns in layers, allowing you to control the thickness of the fireproofing material. The problem with this is that it’s more difficult to measure the thickness, so you can’t gauge the right fire retardant rate of your columns. Too many layers can also lead to peeling or sagging over time, meaning the fireproofing will need to be redone.
Why Not Use Fireproofing Tools On-Site
Fireproofing spray and intumescent paint may seem convenient, but they’re not the safest materials to use on a job site. When implementing fire protection methods, you need to make sure the materials you’re using don’t pose a threat to the health of your coworkers.
Dangers of Fireproofing SprayExposure to SFRM can lead to a number of health issues, ranging from simple eye irritations to more severe conditions. These are just a few of the conditions that have been reported by those who work closely with fireproof spray:
- Sinus infections
- Respiratory tract irritation
- Flu-like symptoms
- Dry, itchy skin
- Lung cancer
Fireproofing spray isn’t aesthetically pleasing, either. After applied, it becomes a thick, spongy sort of surface, forcing contractors to add the cost and labor of an additional cover for the surface to which the spray was applied. When you’ve got tons of structural columns for a single project, extra costs add up quick.
Problems with Intumescent Paint
Fireproof paint may have a more appealing appearance and lower health risks, but it’s not much better to use on your job site than fireproofing spray. These are just some of the disadvantages of using intumescent paint as a fireproofing material:
Tougher to measure fireproof rating
Painting thick coats or too many coats can lead to sagging during the drying and curing process Dries and cures with an almost porous texture, similar to the skin of an orange
It’s possible to sand down and refinish intumescent paint for a smoother surface, but this just adds to the cost of your project.
Not many fireproofing material manufacturers exist, making it a competitive market. They know they can charge ridiculous prices for their products because you’re literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. Imagine needing to fireproof all of the intermediate columns in your mixed-use parking garage. After factoring in the cost of labor and materials for the 2-hour fire-retardant classification, you could be spending $1,188 per column. Every step of this tedious process, from prepping the surface that needs to be fireproofed to waiting for the spray to dry, sucks up valuable company time. On-site fireproofing can hold up production, too. In some cases, the use of these materials requires an additional inspection, which needs to be factored into the project timeline if you want to make the deadline. Outsourcing your fireproofing needs to a company that comes to your job site to apply fireproofing materials not only eats your budget but poses a health risk to everyone. It’s easier on everyone’s health--and wallets--to have fireproofing done to exterior columns off-site.
Why Use Fireproof Columns for Your Commercial Construction Project
You can easily save time and money by using prefabricated fireproofed columns in your project. Eliminate the financial burdens and health risks associated with SFRM and intumescent paint.
Lower Costs and More Business
Using prefab fireproofed columns cuts the costs and production time associated with fireproofing materials on site. Fireproof columns also require significantly less maintenance, which saves you and your customers the high costs associated with maintaining or recoating columns covered in SFRM and intumescent paint. This lets you offer more competitive rates to potential customers, gaining more business.
No Mess and Reduced Health Risks
When structural columns are made off-site, workers aren’t exposed to the dangers of fireproof building materials. No residue is left behind from messy sprays or intumescent materials, so construction workers aren’t at risk of the many health issues associated with the harsh chemicals.
Why Choose Black Rock Fireproof Column
Black Rock Fireproof Column makes fireproof columns using steel, concrete, and a unique proprietary insulating material that contains vermiculite for fire protection.
What We OfferOur building columns come in round, square, and rectangular shapes. If none of our standard sizes or shapes meet your needs, we can easily create custom columns to your specifications. When you order your building columns from us, these are just some of the benefits you’ll get:
- Fireproofing in our factory, saving you the mess
- Added durability and vermiculite fireproofing insulation
- Time effective, compliant production
- Affordable products nearly half the cost of fireproofing materials yourself on site
- Speedy delivery of fireproof columns right to your job site, ready for erection
Regulations We MeetBlack Rock Fireproof Column works with steel fabricators and structural steel detailers to ensure all requirements are met before we start the fabrication process. Our fireproof columns meet all necessary rules and regulations.
- Structural WF, pipe, and HHS square and rectangular shapes meet ASTM standards
- Conform to Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) requirements.
- Certified American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) structural fabricator
- Shop connections comply with the American Welding Society code