Doors are no longer expected to just be a functional item for access and egress.

There has been a trend toward the aesthetic – doors have become a decorative contribution to a buildings attitude, and where durability and or resistance to bacteria is sought, facing options beyond paint grade surfaces are desirable.

The problem is, where a fire door is concerned, it remains that its primary function is as a protective barrier in the event of a fire; and to that end, it is required to perform adequately in accordance with test parameters. The introduction of a facing material that has not been through full scale fire testing, on a fire door, would add an unpredictable element to a doorset system, and to put it plainly, is just not allowed.

There are certainly non-paint options available, but each has passed the test requirements to ensure the fire-resistance level of the doorset; and therefore it is important to confirm the proposed facing material has been tested on particular (fire door) core types, and that it is supported by test certificate / assessment report accordingly.

Potentially, material on the facing could burst into flames well earlier than the time required for the door to resist fire.

Manufacturers of some materials (eg laminates, synthetic veneers, metallic cladding, stone tiles, and one sided cladding) often promote their products as acceptable on fire doors; often off the back of ‘Group’ fire-rating / index properties of the material. We have heard first-hand “Well, it’s Group 2 fire rated… it will be fine on the fire doors”.

Unfortunately, this measure of fire-resistance, while the norm for a fixed surface material application, is not directly applicable to fire doors, which are not ‘fixed’ – fire doors move/deflect in a fire event, and some materials can add to the deflection in their behaviour on the door face.

Deflection equates to gaps around doors opening up and potential spread of hot gases and flame, and what is on the facing can have a significant bearing on measures of deflection.

An option to add changes to the door system would be to arrange for a fire engineered performance solution, however, without real testing, the reaction to fire is unknown.

This article was contributed by Plus Passive Systems.