26 Jun Non-Combustible External Flooring & Fire Regulations
While internal flooring is often the focus when a new building construction project is conceptualised, the choices made around external flooring are just as critical.
The design and material selections made when constructing walkways can determine everything from maintenance needs through ease of accessibility. Design elements—balconies, terraces, roof gardens, and similar—can have major impacts on how a building looks, while also serving as design instruments used to address everything from drainage concerns through lighting.
Regardless of how each of these elements contributes to the overall construction, all of them must comply with fire regulations. The use of fire-rated materials ensures that constructions are safe, while the establishment of guidelines for these fire ratings makes certain that they are reliable.
What are Class A-rated Materials?
The European Union agreed upon a rating system to categorise different materials based on how they perform in the presence of fire, based on a standardised set of tests developed to back these classifications. Because this ratings system extends throughout Europe, it is easier to purchase materials and understand the extent of their compliance.
The resulting fire rating system is known as the Euroclass system, where each material is named based on its reaction to fire as being placed along the spectrum of A1, A2, B, C, D, E, or F classes. Class A1 items make no contribution to an ongoing fire, while Class F products have not been tested and therefore adhere to no specific performance requirements.
Class A-rated materials, then, are the safest in the presence of a fire since they are non-combustible and do absolutely nothing to contribute to the growth or the spread of a fire. The difference between Class A1 and A2 is somewhat small. A1 includes inorganic materials like stone, bricks, and ceramic, while A2 can include very small quantities of organic compounds.
Why use Non-Combustible Materials in External Flooring?
Exterior environments subject to less fixed control than interior ones. From aggressive weather through to reckless passers-by, there are plenty of factors that can contribute to disaster. As a result, the use of fire-rated materials in external flooring can prevent the emergence or the spread of a fire.
In fact, even while considering strictly “fires,” the use of non-combustible materials on external flooring has a wide variety of use cases. Use of class A rated materials on walkways can help in case of a fire, by keeping exits safe and clear and allowing firefighting access. Non-combustible materials on external flooring in balconies and terraces will not catch fire in case of an accident, nor will roof gardens upon increased sun exposure and dry heat in the summer.
Insurance companies recognise these benefits as well. A lower premium may result when safety is factored into design, such as through the use of class A rated materials. Some companies may even have specific requirements for coverage, which should be factored into construction considerations.
There are specific guidelines for the types of materials that may be used in construction, including which classes of fire-rated materials may be used in particular aspects of construction. Working with reputable builders and supply companies is one way of ensuring that you will adhere to the guidelines and avoid penalties or, even worse, project shutdown.
The selection of fire-rated materials is only one way in which Alfresco Floors can partner with you on design and construction projects. Use the form below or call us at 0208 977 0904 to explore how we can work together.