Ever wondered how to upgrade a normal door into a fire door? Fire safety is something you should always be thinking about. Everything from internal walls and ceilings, exterior cladding, structural steel to interior doors should be considered. Avoiding fire safety measures, and the maintenance that comes along with them can result in serious accidents, fines and building regulation violations.
If you are updating or beginning a new job, doors are often an area requiring attention and many authorities will request normal doors be replaced with fire doors. Installing fire doors or upgrading your current doors can help to reduce the risk in the event of a fire. It gives fire fighters more time to access any burning areas, helps to prevent the spread of fire and crucially helps keep important means of escape clear.
Most modern, normal internal doors cannot be upgraded to achieve 30 or 60 minutes Fire Resistance due to them having a hollow core, being very thin or lightweight and liable to warping shortly after installation. Doors meeting such a description cannot be upgraded and should be replaced with a new Fire Door where one is required.
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Whilst we recommend the installation of custom built fire doors there can be reasons not to do so. Some properties may fall under strict planning regulations and/or are listed preventing removal or substantial change to be made to interior doors, others may have unusually large or small doors that require fire protection, in these instances the products and systems discussed below may offer a solution to help satisfy the relevant authorities involved in your project by helping to increase the fire resistance of the timber elements of a door.
Our recommendation is that both sides of the door are always protected, intumescent strips are fitted and your authority is consulted for advice on any other necessary requirements such as ironmongery, signage, glazing, etc.
A written specification should be obtained from our Technical Department for your project prior to use to ensure the proposed system will be suitable. Contact us by phone on 0113 2455450 or email [email protected], products will NOT be sold without this.
We also recommend all product data sheets, system information and any relevant test data is read, understood and forwarded to your authority for approval/comment. Information is available to download from the ‘DATASHEETS’ tab on each product page but we also suggest you speak to our Technical Department to ensure you have the most current versions and ALL relevant documentation relating to your project as information is being updated regularly due to new testing, product developments, legislation changes, etc.
Remember, intumescent paints and varnishes are just one element of protection and DO NOT create a ‘fire door’. Intumescent materials and hardware MUST also be used to ensure your doors meet the required standards of your authority.
Thermoguard’s Timbercoat Door Upgrade System is an intumescent paint system available as a convenient pack containing the required basecoat and topcoat to protect 2 doors in a white or coloured Eggshell or Gloss finish. Thermoguard UK will issue a Fire Certificate for Authority approved projects following completion.
As doors vary so greatly and the great majority are unsuitable for upgrading it is neither meaningful or realistic to carry out an official NAMAS / UKAS Fire Door Fire Test. Thermoguard Timbercoat’s uniquely effective formula resulted in the UK’s only successful official UKAS / NAMAS Fire Test Laboratory Fire Resistance Test to 60 minutes on softwood with timber lost to charring restricted to 7-10mm at 60 minutes… further details HERE.
Certain systems such as Envirograf’s Door Upgrade Paint System allow you to over paint their system with certain conventional decorative paints to ensure continuity of colour scheme throughout the building. The doors often don’t need to be stripped before application (preparation will still be required however) and as with most products you can also request a Certificate of Supply, signed by the applicator which can be shown to your local authority if requested for verification.
If you don’t want to interrupt the natural beauty of the wood on your timber doors, on bare or previously varnished/stained doors you can use a varnish to increase the fire resistance. Envirograf’s Door Upgrade Varnish System works in a similar way to their coloured paint system, by increasing the fire resistance of the timber areas of the door.
Envirograf have tested their Intumescent Coating and Intumescent Card/Veneer a number of times on different door types. Copies of these fire test reports are freely available upon request and some are readily available to download from our website. Envirograf also offer a range of products to complement their coatings such as fire & smoke seals, self-closing hinges, locks and hinge paper, glazing channels, glazing bead systems, glazing strips, ventilation grilles, and more.
A clear varnish with these properties can again help to reduce hazards created by fire, such as smoke, which can be just as dangerous as a fire. By using a fire door varnish and associated hardware, you can transform and upgrade your doors at the same time. You have the choice of different finishes, depending on the look and feel of your surroundings, so you don’t need to compromise when it comes to decoration.
Check doors and frames for any gaps that may allow the fire to pass through. Gaps may be present if a door hasn’t been installed correctly or is old, which will disrupt the effectiveness of your fire door paint or varnish if not dealt with.
Additionally, contact your relevant authority / Building Control Officers to check which doors they require protecting and seeking their approval for your proposed products and course of action prior to purchase and use of these systems.
As standards vary widely throughout the UK from property to property and region to region, it is important to check your doors have been installed correctly, and meet the minimum requirements of the product you wish to use, a fire door paint or varnish may be suitable for your project but not all doors are suitable and many need to be replaced.
*This article has been updated to reflect the new range of upgrade kits for extending the fire resistance of solid wood doors – 17/10/17