Articles on Fire Retardant Decks

The complete decking system for your exterior walkways, balconies, and roof decks. This is a top of the line, decking system, it is Class A, one-hour fire rated. There is no limit for your finished look, it can be color stained, stamped, stenciled, or the standard knock down texture, the choice is for you to make.


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Information on this website was compiled by a number of people at University of California,  Berkeley, and is based on input from fire tests, observations of wildfire damage, and input from those who are involved in firefighting. It is very important to realize that no (livable!) house is fire proof, but you can make it more fire-safe!
There are two basic kinds of decks – those that have a solid surface and those that utilize (usually gapped) deck boards over the structural framing. The upper surface of a solid surface deck and the underside of gapped-board deck are shown in this slide.
During a wildfire, decks can be ignited from a surface fire from below and/or ember attack from above. If ignited, the burning deck will present a long term flame impingement exposure to the side of the house, potentially igniting or otherwise resulting in failure of the siding, and/or breaking the glass of a window or sliding glass door. If the decking and/or siding is very combustible, flames could spread to the eave.
  • Open frame versus solid surface, membrane deck:
    • Most deck boards used in open framed decks are considered combustible (wood, plastic or fiber-plastic composites).
    • If exterior rated fire-retardant treated lumber is used, then the deck boards are classified as ignition resistant.
    • Most solid surface deck surfaces are noncombustible (concrete, stone, tile, etc.)
  • Flame spread, edge of deck to wall
  • Enclosure of decks
    • horizontal
    • vertical
  • Need for venting if enclosed

DECKS-Fire Safe Or Not?

By Stephen Quarles   Email: ‘; document.write( ‘‘ ); document.write( addy_text49485 ); document.write( ‘<\/a>’ ); //–>\n
Steve Quarles is a University of California Cooperative Extension Advisor in Wood Building Durability. His research and extension program focuses on wildfire and moisture durability issues as related to the in-service performance of wood framed buildings.
 CLICK THE TITLE TO READ THE ARTICLE-This article focuses on wood decks and plastic/composite decking. This article is provided here for you to read and use to help decide to go with a solid surface (waterproof) deck or a “traditional” deck.

 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA Homeowners Wildfire Mitigation Guide

By decks, we are including all types of horizontal walkways, including landings, porches, and patios that are directly connected or very close to a house. Decks are described by the surface that you walk on (called the deck covering). There are two basic kinds of decks – those that use deck boards as the deck covering, and those that have a solid surface deck covering. The deck boards are almost always made from combustible materials (wood or one of the wood fiber – plastic composite or 100% plastic deck board products). Solid surface deck coverings are usually made from noncombustible materials, and include light-weight concrete or stone. They are built over occupied (living) space. Occasionally an open frame deck will be installed over a water-proof membrane, again built over occupied space. As with normal decks, this open-frame deck will also be vulnerable to accumulation of debris, and ignition by burning embers.
Decks: Potential Problems
There are two major problems that decks present. First, they are a great source of fuel and an ignited deck will also certainly endanger many portions of a structure. Second, nearly all decks are adjacent to large windows or glass sliders. The heat from the deck fire can cause the glass to fail and permit the fire to enter the house, where entry means certain destruction.

Construction Concerns: Combustible Metal Deck Roofs

Under fire conditions, metal deck roofs can present some problems for firefighting operations. Gregory Havel discusses their properties and some developments regarding insulating them.
Jul 14, 2010
Article and photos by Gregory Havel
For decades, builders have been using metal roof decking supported by bar joists, covered with combustible insulation board and a roof membrane that is often topped with gravel. The earliest of these roofs had melted asphalt mopped onto the steel roof deck to hold down the insulation board with additional melted asphalt mopped between and on top of the layers of roofing felt. This was known as a “built-up” roof and was inexpensive when compared with other types of roofs.

Caveat Emptor: Let the Buyer Beware!

In fire protection terms, “caveat emptor” applies to our understanding of marketing literature and broadcast advertising regarding building materials and products, especially when they claim to be fire rated or fire retardant. Greg Havel discusses fire resistance claims in the marketing of building construction materials.
Feb 18, 2010
Article and photos by Gregory Havel
“Let the buyer beware” is a legal principle derived from America in English Common Law. This principle implies that it is up to the buyer to decide the appropriateness of an item for the purpose for which it is purchased, to evaluate its quality, and to judge whether the price is fair. These are the responsibilities of the buyer, not the seller.
This same principle applies to our understanding of marketing literature and broadcast advertising regarding building materials and products. We need to be cautious and evaluate what is said about a product before we decide that it is true.
The purpose of marketing is to sell products. Marketing carefully chooses words and presentation to show the product in the best light. As the store manager told the new clerk in a 1940’s radio comedy, “If the man wants a green suit, turn on the green light.”
If a building material is advertised as “fire rated” or “fire retardant,” we should be shown the standard to which it was tested and the name of the independent laboratory that performed the tests. These standards and laboratories can guide us in making decisions that balance tested performance against marketing claims. If test standards and laboratory information are not shown, building officials and fire bureau officers should verify the truth of the statement before approving the material for use in code compliance. If this information is included in the advertising, it is simple to verify whether the listing is legitimate.
Most products advertised as “fire rated” have been tested to the proper National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), ASTM, or Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard by an independent laboratory:
  •  If the products are advertised as tested and listed for use in assemblies rated in hours (one-hours, two-hours, etc.), they were probably tested for resistance to a test fire according to the procedure in NPFA 251 (ASTM E119, UL 263), Methods of Tests of Fire Resistance of Building Construction and Materials. This test rates how well (and for how long) an assembly of materials like studs, drywall board, insulation, and fasteners will resist the effects of the test fire in a laboratory.


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