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Fire-Retardant Coatings

Do powder-coated products have any merit as fire retardants compared with liquid-painted products? How do they compare to uncoated products?

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Q. One of my customers is concerned about the safety of powder-coated products in environments with strict fire safety codes. Do powder-coated products have any merit as fire retardants compared with liquid-painted products? Also, how do they compare to uncoated products? A.C.

A. Any organic coating can ignite if the concentration of the fuel (powder or paint) is high enough and the heat is intense enough. Powder will be more resistant to flame than some liquid coatings that are not thermally cured. A typical powder might ignite at around 900°F. A product with no coating will depend on the substrate material. Metal substrates will need much higher temperatures to melt and become molten. Steel does not melt until it hits around 2,600°F, brass will melt at 1,650°F and aluminum melts at 1,220°F. While some coatings are more resistant to flaming than others, I would not consider any typical organic coating as a fire retardant. However, a powder coating is not going to be very easy to burn without an intense and sustained fire source. 

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