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Standing STRONG with timber

Andy Lake, our UK Sales Director, explains exactly why timber is such a reliable building material and how its strong fire safety properties make it a suitable option across all construction projects.

Fire rated doors

Misconceptions still persist regarding the flammability of timber, despite the material being specified across a number of the world’s leading construction projects. While timber does deteriorate and charr in a fire situation, this “charring” occurs at a known and stable rate, meaning it can still be relied upon to provide fire resistance.

The world of construction has changed so much in the past few decades. From new tools, to new methods of construction, the sector is constantly evolving and modernising its processes. Despite all this upheaval some things stay the same; timber being one of the best examples. Thanks to its durability, sustainability, timeless aesthetic and cost-effectiveness, timber remains an important building material, which is routinely specified across some of the world’s most exciting developments and projects. Unfortunately, in recent times, some building professionals have developed a diminished view of timber over its perceived poor fire performance. This perception is misguided, as timber can provide excellent performance in a fire – when used as part of a certified system – and is able to achieve the highest levels of protection.

In fact, with the right testing and assessments, those using timber are able to accurately predict how the material will perform in a blaze. In turn, this allows project teams to put together more robust fire escape plans for building occupants. All types and associated densities of timber have their own specific charring rate, which can be used to indicate fire resistance in the event of an incident. As a result, architects and specifiers are able to work with fire safety glass experts to design glazing frames to the right thickness, to ensure that they offer the level of protection required for the build. With the right guidance, timber is able to achieve an EI60 fire rating, which guarantees a minimum of 60 minutes Insulation and Integrity against an ongoing blaze.

As well as ensuring long-term, robust fire performance, timber fire-rated systems are also more effective at retaining their shape and structure when exposed to high levels of heat. To this end, fire test results indicate how stable timber can be when subjected to fire situations. Unlike some other materials, such as steel, timber does not warp, twist or distort in a blaze. Instead, this sturdiness helps to ensure that the fire safety glass solution remains secure within its frame. Additionally, thanks to their more flexible nature, timber frames are easier to adapt on-site. As a result, project teams using the material can deal better with any structural opening variations that might have occurred.

When compared to other building materials, timber is also able to offer exceptional aesthetic value and can be used to create designs unimaginable with other options. As well as exuding a natural beauty, timber can be stained and designed more ornately than alternative materials. Similarly, in an industry, which is increasingly concerned about protecting natural resources and attaining lofty environmental targets, timber represents a truly sustainable building choice. In adopting timber, architects and specifiers are choosing an easily recyclable, long-lasting solution with a significantly lower embodied carbon footprint than other popular choices.

More than ever before, people are becoming concerned with the fire safety performance of the buildings that they live and work in. This change has been driven by a number of tragic events, which have shaken the sector to its core. Whilst scrutiny is important, it’s essential that those in the industry don’t jump to unfounded conclusions about the fire safety performance of certain materials, like timber. With a wealth of research to support its use, the material has emerged as an obvious choice when looking to achieve strong performance. However, to get the most from the material it must be properly specified, which will require the assistance of a fire safety glass expert, such as Pyroguard. By following this advice, architects and specifiers can continue creating beautiful, high-performing and sustainable buildings, which provide exceptional performance in a fire

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