In this post, I’ll discuss some of the things you should know about fire doors because they are a vital line of defense against the devastating effects of a fire. Industry-certified fire doors save lives, property, and valuable possessions. They are designed to deter the spread of fire and smoke in a building, allowing for safe evacuation and firefighting activities.
Fire doors can withstand high temperatures, usually at least 30 minutes. And since they are crucial for protecting lives and property, fire doors should receive regular inspections to ensure they’re in good shape. By that, I mean measuring the gaps and assessing the seals, hinges, etc.
In this guide, we will walk you through the working mechanism of fire doors, how to maintain fire-rated doors, and the pros and cons of fire doors. All this and more are lined up for you in this guide, so let’s get started.
What Is a Fire Door?
Some safety measures can significantly help in a fire, and a fire-resistant door is among them. But what is a fire door? A fire door is a door with a fire-resistant rating used as part of a passive fire protection system to minimize the spread of smoke and fire between different structure compartments. This allows for safe evacuation and firefighting efforts.
Fire doors cost between $400 to $900, and the price is based on various factors, including:
- Door size
- Fire rating and material
- Delivery and installation costs
- Necessary upgrades like modifying the frame or door jamb.
Types of Fire Doors
Fire retardant doors are available in different types, and each serves a unique purpose depending on the demands of the building and space. The standard fire door is fireproof and limits the spread of fire and smoke in the building space.
A smoke control door is purpose-built to contain smoke in specific areas to avoid overwhelming those exiting evacuation routes. A smoke door comes with some fire-resistant properties but won’t withstand flames for a long duration.
An acoustic fire door blends fire resistance with sound insulation capabilities. These fire doors find wide applications in conference facilities, recording studios, and theatres.
Features of Fire Doors
A fire door comes with numerous critical elements that work jointly:
- Door frame: This is the structure into which the door is mounted. It offers support and stability and aids in maintaining the fire integrity of the system.
- Door leaf: This is the central panel of fire doors. Its thickness and composition dictate its fireproof rating.
- Seals: Seals help limit smoke and flame passage. Intumescent strips are often used as seals. They are typically made of expandable materials that create a barrier that fills gaps between the door leaf and frame when subjected to heat.
- See-through panels: Fire doors also include vision panels made from heat-resistant glazing.
- Hardware: Fire-rated doors have a closing mechanism (usually a spring-loaded or hydraulic) that closes the door during an emergency. The system also incorporates hardware such as locks, closers, and hinges.
What Materials Are Used for Fire Doors
Fire doors are made from top-notch materials that can tolerate extreme temperatures for extended periods. Fire-rated doors are made from one or a mixture of the following materials:
- Steel: Steel doors are among the most fire-resistant materials courtesy of heavy-duty steel sheets and airtight seals. However, steel retails at a higher price tag and is not necessarily the most visually appealing.
- Timber: This might surprise you, but a wide range of wooden fire-resistant doors are on sale. Such doors are treated with a fire-resistant sealant to obtain a protective layer. Wooden fireproof doors are less expensive than steel and usually look more aesthetically pleasing.
- Glass Compounds: Glass or ceramic Glass reinforced with metals to maximize fire resistance is another common material used for fireproofing. Glass can also complement the building’s interior design by creating a lighter, brighter space. The price of a glass-composite door varies based on its style.
What to Consider Before Installing a Fire Door
Although fire doors offer peace of mind, a severe fire can still overwhelm even the highest-grade steel. A fire-rated door will also be useless if the closing mechanism is not functioning. Before replacing your interior doors with fire doors, let’s consider what you should consider.
- The Door’s Rating
Fire-rated doors incorporate intumescent strips that activate and swell immediately after detecting excessive heat. These strips dictate a fire door’s rating, ranging from 45 minutes to three hours. However, door firms can customize your door’s rating.
Installing fire doors between sleeping areas and areas where fires are likely to start is advisable. Most fireproof doors are interior doors that lead to the attached garage.
Other possible installation locations include the top and bottom of stairwells. Fire doors are particularly useful for those with a two-story home, as upper levels are challenging to evacuate.
- Whether the Door Is Self-sealing
Some fireproof doors expand when exposed to heat, forming a seal between rooms to keep the door from opening. Self-sealing doors are a great option for a door that shuts off the garage from your house. However, this is only good if your room has an alternative exit.
- Local Building Codes
Lastly, confirm your local building codes before setting up a fire door. They might require a minimum rating for some types of entryways.
Pros and Cons of Fire Doors
Technological advancements have introduced new ways that offer better security to buildings. Fire-rated doors are among these innovations, ensuring that building occupants are safe from the fire. Here’s why you should consider installing fire doors on your premises:
Pros of Fire Doors
- Security: Fire doors are solid, so they can do more than restrict fires from spreading. They double as a security feature as intruders will find it challenging to get through. Fire-rated doors should be unlocked if someone is in the building, but when they’re empty, they can be locked and are safer than regular doors.
- Durability: Fire doors have a solid construction intended to withstand a fire longer than your regular door. These features enable fire doors to tolerate the rigors of daily use for longer, even if it doesn’t fulfill their main function.
- Quality: Another benefit of solid construction is that fire doors create an impression of quality. For instance, a heavy wooden door feels like it’s built from high-grade wood, which is a big plus if you’re considering selling or renting out the property.
- Soundproofing: Fire doors also stop the noise, a huge plus in a work environment. It can prevent noise from getting through a loud factory to office areas where people are busy. Meanwhile, at home, fire doors can seal off noise escaping from a utility room or garage workshop into quieter living areas.
Cons of Fire Doors
- Pricey: Fire doors are more expensive than regular doors and also require professional installation, adding to the cost.
- Only as good as their fit: A fire door doesn’t automatically protect your property. It won’t function as expected if it’s not a perfect fit or you leave it open.
How Do Fire Doors Work?
Fire doors impede the spread of fire and smoke from one room to another. They are made from tested materials that withstand fire and smoke for a specific time (usually at least 30 minutes). These fire safety devices are outfitted with automatic closing devices (typically large metal arms that connect to the door and frame). Some use spring-loaded self-closing hinges.
Due to a fire door’s weight, specific fire-rated hinges should be installed. These are usually offered by the manufacturer when buying the door. Fire-rated hinges hold the weight of the door while keeping it from warping.
Fire doors don’t have any influence on extinguishing the fire. They are meant to contain the fire for a predetermined period, allowing occupants to escape to a safer area. Fire-rated doors come in different grades, each rated according to the duration they can hold up against a fire before disintegration.
How to Maintain Fire-Rated Doors
Having well-accredited, properly installed, and suitably maintained fire-rated doors is vital in any residential or commercial setting. Here’s how to properly your fire-rated door:
- Check gaps and seals
Use a gap gauge to see whether the gap between the door and frame is between 2mm and 4mm. If it exceeds 4mm, smoke and fire might spread through the gaps. Intumescent seals must be fitted around the door and in great working condition. Seals capture the smoke and restrict fire from traveling through the gaps.
- Check the hinges
If the hinges aren’t intact, have broken screws, or are leaking, the door’s integrity could be impaired under fire conditions and will need maintenance. Look for a certified logo on the hinge to indicate it’s fireproof. An improperly fitted fire door or unfit hinge might not prevent the spread of fire or smoke.
- Monitor the door
Fire doors must have a functional door closer. Inspect the closer to ensure it’s not damaged and that it latches the door from any position.
- Check for certification
Advanced fire doors should have a label on the top or side of the door to indicate it’s certified. Older doors have no markings, and their design and construction differ from contemporary ones.
- Does it fully close
Open the fire door and allow it to close independently. If it can’t close by itself, it won’t function as expected in a real emergency. Make any necessary repairs to ensure proper functionality in a real fire.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What Is the Life Expectancy of a Fire Door?
Fireproof doors are rated according to the duration they can tolerate heat exposure. The certified core thickness is the key determinant of how long a flame-retardant door offers fire protection.
A tested and certified door should withstand fire for at least 30 minutes. Here’s how the fire rating of doors is graded:
- FD30 – fire door certified to offer 30 minutes of protection
- FD60 – 60 minutes of resistance
- FD90 – 90 minutes of resistance
- FD120 – 120 minutes of resistance
A residential building with roughly 300 residents should have at least FD60 internal and external fire doors to give people ample time to escape the premises. A small office will require FD30 interior doors.
- What Is the Difference Between a Normal Door and a Fire Door?
The difference between a typical door and a fire-rated door lies in the fire-resistant properties of the door. While wooden fireproof doors resemble standard doors, they are characterized by a large metal closing mechanism that connects to the door and the frame. Fire-rated doors are usually heavier and have fire-rated hinges that secure the door without warping.
Another notable feature is that fire doors are roughly 10 mm thicker than standard doors because of the materials they are made from and the fire resistance that the 10mm offers. You can also decorate them like regular doors to complement the building’s interior decor. You don’t have to sacrifice decor for safety.
- What Are FD30 and FD60 Fire Doors?
These are doors regulated by certified fire testing centers. They are designed to withstand a minimum of 30 or 60 minutes of intense heat or fire. Certified FD doors have a label identifying the manufacturer, the door’s fire rating, and the date of manufacture.
- Do Fire Doors Need Intumescent strips?
Yes, fire-rated doors should be equipped with intumescent strips. They can be put into grooves in the two vertical sections and the top edge of the door frame. Intumescent strips expand when subjected to heat, bridging the gap between the door leaf and frame.
Do Fire Doors Need Smoke Seals?
Sometimes, smoke seals are mandated by building regulations. Smoke seals deter the escape of cold smoke around the door’s edges. As much as fire can endanger a building and its occupants, toxic smoke is also dangerous.
- How Are Fire Doors Made?
Fire doors are naturally thicker than regular doors, and most are equipped with a solid core of variable material. Fire door construction varies based on the manufacturer. Still, the most important thing is that these doors are tested and certified to tolerate fire for more than 30 minutes.
Manufacturers should have the design of their fire doors and frames tested jointly as a set at a reliable testing center.
- Who Can Fit Fire Doors?
Fire doors should be fitted with a trained individual. Ensure anyone installing your fire-rated doors has prior experience in fire door installation. If your door is improperly installed, it won’t resist fire for more than 5 minutes, regardless of its rating.
Legal requirements recommend the gap between the fire door and the frame be between 2 and 4mm. These specifications can prove challenging to meet unless the door is installed by a competent individual with joinery skills. Hiring a professional fire door installer gives you confidence and peace of mind, knowing that the fitting has been done correctly and that the fire door will work as expected in an emergency.
How Can I Make My Fire Doors Look Better?
You can enhance the look of fire doors by painting them with high-quality, heat-resistant paint in a color that complements your decor. Before painting a metal fire door, ensure the surface is free of dirt and dust. General dirt and grease will impede primer and paint from sticking to the surface. Use a paint thinner to clean the surface.
Rinse off any residue of cleaning fluids and mask off surrounding areas. Suppose the door is bare, prime to seal. Hand-painting your metal doors is not a good idea as this might leave ridges on the outside. It’s best to use an HVLP gun. You’ll need to sand down the surface of wooden fire doors to enable the primer to adhere effortlessly. Use a wet cloth to clean the sanding dust, then apply primer using a roller or a brush for more intricate edges. Lastly, apply the paint according to the instructions printed on the package.
Adding stylish hardware can also give them a more appealing look. Consider incorporating decorative molding or trim around the edges to add a touch of elegance. Hang artwork or a mirror on the door to divert attention. Choose a design that complements your overall aesthetic to seamlessly integrate the fire doors into your space.
Things You Should Know About Fire Doors
If you’re considering protecting your property against fires, then there are things you should know about fire doors. Fire doors are purpose-built to defend against ravaging flames that tear through homes or offices and prevent the spread of toxic smoke.
They are made from fire-resistant materials that can hold up against fires for a minimum of 30 minutes. This gives a building’s inhabitants ample time to evacuate safely and allows firefighting efforts to commence before damage is done.
Knowing this, you should upgrade your regular doors to fire-rated doors. Inhabitants of a building are likely to succumb to smoke inhalation compared to fires, proving that fire doors protect lives.