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What Are The Best Fire-Resistant Materials for Construction?

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Fire is a factor you should always consider when constructing a house or a building. To avoid catastrophic events involving fire, you should consider using fire-resistant materials to protect the occupants and possessions within the premises. This blog will discuss four different types of fire-resistant materials which can be used during construction.

1. Brick

Brick is arguably one of the best fire-resistant building materials available, and the kicker is that they usually provide excellent value for money. Brick is also one of the market's most widely available building materials.

Since fire is used during the process of producing brick, it makes sense that they can take the heat well. If you're looking for strong passive fire protection, then you'll want to have some form of brick-based structure. It's worth noting though, that the mortar that's used to hold bricks together can melt in intense fire, but other than that, you certainly won't be disappointed with the brick's performance in the fire resistance aspect.

Bricks can achieve between one to four hours of fire resistance — depending on their fire-resistance rating.

2. Concrete

Concrete is a widely-used fire-resistant material to construct skyscrapers and corporate towers and with good reason. Aside from being able to assume nearly any shape, size or thickness, concrete is cheap and has low thermal conductivity. It's also non-combustible and can actually help prevent fire from spreading quickly.

However, not all concrete is alike. Aggregates make up anywhere between 60-80 percent of the volume of concrete. Aggregate is a term for a category of coarse to medium-grained material used in construction, including sand, crushed stone, gravel, etc. The nature of the aggregate will dictate whether the concrete can withstand fire and for how long.

Concrete is often accompanied by fire-resistant steel for added reinforcement against possible fire hazards.

3. Fire-Resistant Glass

Fire Rated Glass is subject to fire testing throughout the world and is always installed into a fire-rated framing system to create the complete unit.

For compliance in Australia, fire windows, fire doors, and partitions need to be tested and or assessed to AS1530.4.

There are many ratings for fire-rated glass systems. Below is a brief illustration detailing the Fire Resistance Levels (FRL) of each type of Fire Rated Glass:

Best Fire-Resistant Materials for Construction

Integrity Only (E)

Provides a barrier against fire, hot gases, and smoke.

Integrity and Radiation (EW)

Provides a barrier against fire, hot gases, and smoke. EW glass also provides a reduced passage of radiation from heat and heat transfer.

EI (Integrity and Insulation)

Provides a barrier against fire, hot gases, and smoke. EI glass completely limits the passage of radiation energy from the fire and heat transfer. This type of glass has the longest fire resistance time, of up to 120 minutes.

4. Gypsum

Gypsum is a building material that's often used to form drywalls. It is the most commonly used material for interior walls and ceilings. By itself, gypsum already has good passive fire protection, but when treated with fire retardants you get an extra layer of security.

Gypsum is usually paired with other structural materials to add fire resistance. Gypsum boards, especially Type X, will contain paper that burns rather slowly and won't contribute to spreading fire. The cores of these boards will have water, which transforms into steam and impedes the transfer of heat.

Builders normally prioritize gypsum as a construction material and install multiple layers of it to improve the structure's fire resistance rating. Combining gypsum with other fire-resistant materials such as brick or concrete can increase a structure’s fire resistance.

Talk To The Fire-Proofing Experts

If you are seeking advice on what are the best fire-resistant building materials or want to know which is the best fire-proofing solution for your commercial property or workplace, get in touch with us. We manufacture and install custom steel fabrications and fire and smoke applications that will safeguard the property and its occupants in the worst-case scenario of a fire event, providing the best chance of a safe evacuation.

In Australia, fire-proofing your building is crucial, so get it right the first time with Australian Fire Control.

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