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Fire Retardant Plywood
22 Jul
2021

A Quick Guide To Fire Retardant Plywood

To ensure building safety and compliance with building fire codes, contractors are increasingly using fire retardant plywood in their projects.

Having said that, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of fire retardant plywood.

 

What is Fire Retardant plywood?

 

FRTW, as defined by the National Building Code of Canada (NBC), is a piece of wood (or a wood product) impregnated with fire-retardant chemicals that reduces its surface burning characteristics, such as flame spread, rate of fuel contribution, and smoke density. In addition to testing for durability in harsh weather conditions such as high moisture and heat, fire retardant plywood is also tested for corrosivity, compatibility with paints, and whether these flame retardant chemicals leech from the plywood.

 

Fire-retardant plywood is a great way to reduce the risk of a fire outbreak since it serves as a physical barrier to flame spread inside of your residential or commercial property.

 

How is Fire Retardant Plywood made?

 

Impregnating the plywood with fire-retardant chemicals during the veneering process is one of the most widely used methods of treating plywood against fire risk.

 

For plywood to be fire retardant treated, it must conform to BWR grade IS 303 to withstand pressure impregnation.

 

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For treatment, plywood must be clean, free of oil or dirt patches, with a moisture content of not more than 15 per cent.

 

A retort chamber is used to generate the required pressure. After loading the untreated wood into the retort, it is sealed. The retort is vacuumed to remove all the air, allowing flame-retardant chemicals to be introduced. The chamber is then depressurized, and the lumber is kiln-dried to the appropriate moisture content, i.e. 15%.

 

Fire retardant plywood can be categorized into two types: one includes a blend of nitrogen and phosphorus organic compounds, while the other relies on ammonium polyphosphates with additives (boric acid, borax, bactericide, and others). Formulations for treating wood are proprietary and differ between manufacturers.

 

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Where can Fire-retardant plywood be installed?

 

Listed below are a few places where installing fire retardant plywood makes perfect sense.

Residential Buildings

The use of fire retardant wood is recommended for decks and balconies, railings, external staircases, soffit, fascia, trim, and siding in residential buildings.

Interior

Typical interior applications of fire retardant plywood include architectural millwork, paneling, roof assemblies/trusses, beams, interior load-bearing, and non-load bearing partitions.

 

Exterior

The exterior of the building is most prone to wildfire, lightning strikes, and even stray neighbourhood fireworks. Thus fire retardant plywood serves as an extra layer of security when used in roof construction, shingling, building support structure, and framing.

 

Additional Exterior Projects

Wooden structures such as stables, workshops, sheds, large agricultural and ranch settings, and feed storage barns are commonly built with fire retardant plywood. Also, it is an excellent choice for buildings containing highly flammable materials like grain storage, hay storage, sawdust, and more or buildings located near fire-risks like standing trees, bushes, etc.

 

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How does Fire Retardant Plywood protect during a catastrophe?

 

The chemicals in fire-retardant plywood react with the heat produced by a building fire and char the wood instead of oxidizing it. CO2, H2O, and carbon char are produced as a result of this reaction. Charring wood serves as a fire-proofing agent that slows the spread of fire by insulating the wood and reduces heat transmission. Once the flame source has been removed, fire retardant plywood ceases to char.

 

Moreover, the fire-retardant chemicals incorporated into fire-retardant plywood limit the amount of smoke produced from wood in fire situations and the amount of flammable volatiles released, which decreases the rate of flame spread over the surface. All of these factors combine to provide the victims and their loved ones adequate time to evacuate the site of the accident and the emergency responders to participate in the rescue operations and prevent the fire from destroying families and precious belongings.

 

Final Words

 

There is no truer saying than “Fire is a good servant, but a bad master”.

 

The launch of Austin Defender comes in response to series of fire accidents taking place recently.

 

Austin Defender delays flame penetration through the sheet by at least 50 minutes. Upon contact with flames, the fire retardant chemicals release a non-combustible gas and water vapor, resulting in reduced emissions of smoke. Austin’s fire retardant plywood not only meets explosion safety requirements but is also insecticidal and antifungal. Our FR grade plywood conforms to IS 5509 standards and is tested to IS 1734 (part 3) specifications.