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Intumescent paint colours and getting a good finish on steel

Intumescent paints are fantastic for fire safety, as they help to protect the surface below. Additionally, intumescent paints can be used to achieve fantastic decorative finishes on steelwork. There are different finishes available to use on steel, depending on your desired look.

Painting Structural Steelwork

How to get a good finish using intumescent paint on steel

Base

If you start with a quality intumescent paint, you’ll be able to achieve different finishes that also help with fire safety. A thin-film, waterborne Intumescent paint should allow you to achieve 30 to 60 minutes fire resistance easily in only a few coats. Use a compatible anti-corrosion primer then coat the steel with intumescent paint. This will often leave you with a smart matt finish. At this point you can leave the steel and coating as is if it can be guaranteed that subsequent in-service conditions will be in a C1 environment as defined in ISO 12944-2:1998. If not then a topcoat will be required which can be supplied in virtually any colour and finish.

Gloss

A gloss finish is often a popular choice, as the shine works well on steel elements. It’s also an easy clean, hardwearing finish. Use an approved topcoat for the intumescent paint you’ve chosen to make sure you meet fire safety regulations.

Eggshell

An acrylic eggshell finish can also help you to achieve an approved Class 0 finish, in combination with the intumescent base coat. This will give you a mid-sheen finish that can be wiped clean like gloss paint. It’s a more subtle sheen than gloss paint, if a gloss finish is too high-shine for your project.

Matt

Again, a vinyl matt finish can be achieved, and is becoming increasingly popular. If you are not looking for a shiny finish, a matt finish be a compromise as it won’t be as hard wearing or as easy to clean so may require more maintenance over time. Matt paints are often a good choice for surfaces with many imperfections as a matt paint will not draw attention to them, a gloss paint may highlight imperfections.

Top tips

  • To ensure your painted steelwork looks as good as it performs, take care applying the paints and for the smoothest finish apply multiple thinner coats rather than a few thick ones.
  • Make sure to clean and prepare surfaces as instructed before applying primer and coatings. Getting good adhesion to the substrate and between coats is important as it needs to be able to perform effectively during a fire.
  • Remember to carefully cover any areas you do not want to be painted.
  • Use an airless sprayer to help you achieve an even, professional finish for larger projects.
  • Finally, don’t forget to speak to your Building Regulations Officer to make sure your property is in line with any relevant regulations.

Related Articles: Find out more about exciting industrial paint colours that are outside of the norm.

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