By Roger Williams, Global Market Director for fire protection, Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings
When fire strikes in the civil construction industry, time is critical in protecting steelwork against structural damage. Offering proven protection against fire, cellulosic passive fire protection (PFP) systems such as Sherwin-Williams’ FIRETEX® FX series can provide a valuable time window and are designed to meet the specific demands of architects and engineers. From primers to topcoats, the world-class FIRETEX FX series ensures both the performance and aesthetic integrity of PFP and delivers industry-leading low dry film thicknesses to achieve optimal loadings.
In different global markets, there are a number of independent testing procedures in place to provide those specifying PFP systems with the reassurance that the chosen approach offers proven protection against fire. FIRETEX thin film intumescent coatings protect steelwork for up to two hours and have been independently tested to the highest international standards, including ISO 9001, BS476 Part 21:1:1987, EN13381-8 and other national approvals. Although there is no legislative requirement anywhere in the world regarding explosion testing in civil construction, Sherwin-Williams have carried out gas explosion tests to ensure FIRETEX thin film intumescent coatings enhance the safety of tall buildings. Third party verification concluded that FIRETEX products provide a ’significant level of hydrocarbon fire resistance’.
Form meets function
Whilst never compromising on functionality, FIRETEX thin film intumescent coatings achieve the highest levels of finish, allowing structural steel to be transformed into an architectural feature. FIRETEX topcoats are available in sheen or gloss finishes and functionally provide additional abrasion and moisture resistance. With a strong track record, recent projects featuring the FIRETEX series include some of the world’s most iconic steel office and hotel structures such as the Al Kifaf Tower, Statoil Headquarters, the Shard, Sonkar Hilton Hotel, BayArena – FC Bayer Leverkusen, The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the Olympic Stadium in London.
Projects in the civil construction industry have a wide range of requirements and may be best suited to a solvent-borne, water-borne or epoxy-based intumescent coatings system. Ideal for confined areas, FIRETEX water-borne systems have low odour and meet the requirements of the Environmental Protection Act. FIRETEX solvent borne systems are fast drying and well suited for application year round. Able to withstand exposure to the elements for up to 30 years, FIRETEX epoxy based systems are specifically engineered for use where long term exterior durability is a primary concern.
Preparation and application
Flexibility is also essential when it comes to the preparation and application of the PFP system. The coating might need to be applied in-shop or on-site and disruption to schedules should be minimised to deliver both time and cost savings. Designed with ease of use at front of mind, FIRETEX intumescent systems can be applied by airless spray or by brush to give maximum control and allow for fast application. The thin film intumescent coatings also offer excellent storage stability, reducing the need for mixing or preparation.
To prepare, surfaces must be abrasive blast cleaned to a minimum of Sa21/2 EN ISO 8501-1:2007, with a surface profile not to exceed 100 microns. Spent abrasive needs to be removed by vacuum, clean compressed air or brush. Mechanical damage should be scrapped back to the film edge and FIRETEX primer applied within four hours of cleaning, or before the surface has rusted. During application, regular and frequent measuring of wet film thickness is recommended to achieve the specified dry film thickness. Overcoating can take place after just four hours.
A worldwide leader in asset protection
Now trading as Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings following the acquisition of Leighs Paints, Sherwin-Williams has more than 20 years’ experience in delivering high performance cellulosic passive fire protection to the civil construction industry. Driven by technology, innovation and quality products, Sherwin-Williams’ dedicated R&D team has a history of developing industry-leading PFP products to meet the highest standards of performance. By pooling the resources and expertise of Sherwin-Williams and Leighs Paints, Sherwin-Williams continues to innovate with coatings technologies that are optimised to meet the requirements of each market.
From bespoke specifications, site surveys or technical assistance, Sherwin-Williams’ dedicated specialists are on hand to support at all stages of a project. Certified experts ensure that the highest standards are met and there is an experienced team available to provide on-site support, wherever it is required. Led by structural engineers, the Fire Engineer and Estimation Team (FEET) understands the technical challenges faced by the industry and is able to assist with fire engineering solutions as early as concept stage. To achieve the highest degree of detail, proprietary FIRETEX Design Estimation (FDE™) software is used to determine the thickness of coating needed to ensure fire protection is optimised.
Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings currently distributes products across 47 countries and has European sales and technical support centres in the UK, Germany and UAE.