Everything you need to know about fire-rated plasterboard
As a keen DIYer I'm a fan of plasterboard because it offers a cost-effective way to build and repair walls, ceilings and partitions in your home. It's lightweight (great if you work alone), easy to cut and gives a smooth surface to decorate. It's not perfect, as it can be damaged quite easily and it can be dusty work, but at a fiver a sheet, it's easy to overlook these downfalls!
Due to its widespread use in domestic properties, fire resistance is an area of interest, and for commercial properties, it's downright essential to ensure compliance with building regulations. So, is standard plasterboard fire-resistant and how do you get your hands on officially fire-rated plasterboard? Let's take a look...
Plasterboard fire resistance ratings
Fire-resistant plasterboard slows the spread of fire, reducing property damage and increasing the chances of safe evacuation of the inhabitants. The better the fire rating, the more superior the fire protection offered. Fire ratings usually measure the resistance time in minutes (30/60/90/120) and they fall into classes (1-4) as set out by the (UK) government, which are then specified in the building regulations. Fire-rated plasterboard is also known as pink plasterboard due to the pink paper on its outer shell. Standard plasterboard is not fire-rated and doesn't offer the additional fire protection required to achieve a superior fire rating.
When do building regulations apply for plasterboard?
If you are adapting or repairing an internal plasterboard wall in your home, the chances are these works will not be covered under current UK building regs. If you are working on an extension to your home or building a new property, they probably will fall into the remit, so always check the details and requirements before starting a new project. Also, just because you aren't obligated to comply with building regulations doesn't mean you wouldn't want to meet the standard, as there are obvious benefits to increasing your home's fire resistance, thermal insulation and acoustic performance.
Where can I buy fire-rated plasterboard?
You can buy fire-rated plasterboard at all the usual places, from DIY stores to builder merchants. Here are a couple of examples that you can order online.
Knauf Fire board
They say... (Source Wickes)
Ideal for fire-rated partitions such as in domestic separating walls, garages and corridors
Designed for use in higher risk areas where it can help meet UK building regulations for fire safety
Can provide up to 1/2 hour fire resistance with a single layer per side of the partition
This product received a BES 6001 classification of 'excellent'
They say - (Source B&Q)
Contains glass fibres and additives for core reinforcement – provides higher levels of fire protection
Designed for use in higher-risk areas – helps meet UK building regulations for fire safety.
Factors Affecting Fire Resistance
Fire retardant plasterboard has special additives (glass fibre is usually one) combined with the aerated gypsum core during the manufacturing process.
Another factor is the thickness of the gypsum board. 12.5mm & 15mm are the mm thickness you'll find and unsurprisingly the 15 mm board has the edge in terms of best fire resistance.
Other benefits of fire rated plasterboard
As well as fire resistance and resilience in high temperatures, fire rated plasterboard also has great sound insulation and impact resistance too. All in all this type of plasterboard is far superior to the standard variety.
Mistakes to avoid with pink plasterboard
The high performance and superior fire resistance is only guaranteed if the fireproof plasterboard is installed correctly. The sheets need to be securely installed with the appropriate adhesive or fixings. Do not hammer fire plasterboard as this could damage it, causing issues with its structural integrity. Always use plasterboard screws. They are black and extra hard making them harder to strip; there's no need to pre-drill. Don't forget to mark the positions of the studs for ease of installation.
So, is plasterboard fireproof?
There are several different types of plasterboard, of which fire-rated plasterboard is one. This type has fire resistance additives in its core and is used when fire-resistant materials are required - for internal walls or partition walls on commercial buildings or renovation projects where the original property is being extended, for example. Fire-rated plasterboard has excellent thermal performance and prevents the spread of flames in fire incidents, but it's technically not fireproof as will only provide protection for a limited period (30-60 minutes commonly). Opting for the thicker of the two available boards (15mm) will provide greater protection. Correct installation is essential for optimal fire resistance if you are unsure, follow the manufacturer's guidelines for installation to ensure the effectiveness of fire-rated plasterboard.
Disposing of plasterboard
You do have to be careful when it comes to disposing of plasterboard because if left to rot in wet areas like landfill it releases toxic chemicals as it deteriorates which is bad for the environment and people's health. It's also easy to recycle it which is a much more sustainable approach. I wrote a separate blog post about how to dispose of plasterboard which you might find useful. Read the plasterboard disposal blog.
Best plasterboard filler and smoother
I recently wrote a post dedicated to finding the best plasterboard filler for a combination of reasons from small holes to larger plasterboard repairs. Read the plasterboard filler post.
How to repair holes and cracks in plasterboard
I have a whole section of my blog dedicated to skimming visit here.
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