The sources of fires are plenty. And we are really talking about a six-figure number of house fires alone every year. Now, while it’s easy to get fire and smoke damage services these days, this is not actually compensation to the terror and loss.
Yes, it’s good to know that you can effortlessly get fire damage restoration and soon gain your life back, but wouldn’t it be better if we could eliminate fires?
What’s odd here is that when the first smoke alarms entered homes, people had nearly twenty minutes to get out of the house. One would easily assume that as time went by and things have improved on all levels, this average ‘evacuate-time’ would improve too. But something else happened. People, nowadays, have only 3-4 minutes to exit the house. So, what happened?
It has to do with what’s in the house. What accelerates fire is all the stuff we keep in the home. Also, the building materials. We keep lots of flammable materials in the home, while most buildings are constructed with or people choose for their renovation engineered timber instead of real wood. And engineered timber burns much faster. There’s also drywall and that’s our subject here.
Standard drywall made of gypsum and paper is easy to burn as opposed to the good old plaster-and-lath walls. But then again, not all drywall types are the same. And there’s fire-rated drywall as well. Why don’t we use that?
Fire-rated drywall: the misconceptions
One common misconception is that fire-rated drywall is fireproof. But this is not the case. No drywall can stop fire from spreading. Some types may only slow it down – hence, giving people more time to escape. And that’s our objective. Isn’t it?
Then, not all fire-rated drywall types are the same. The first attempt to slow down fire was with the construction of Type X drywall. It’s 5/8” thick, dense and actually contains glass fibers – all of which retard fire. It’s also known as the one-hour fire retardant drywall since this is the time people usually have at their disposal to get out of the house.
As a matter of fact, the Type X was improved to the Type C drywall, which contains even a larger quantity of glass fibers and other fire-retardant components. Lately, we saw the Type X Shaftliner drywall which is one-inch thick and has even better fire-resistant properties.
And so, the question is this: if there’s some fire-retardant drywall types on the market, why don’t we use these ones?
To get or not to get fire retardant drywall?
Whether you are remodeling or building a home, there are building codes in each area regarding drywall. Actually, the only place required to install fire-rated drywall in a standard home is for the wall that separates the living area and the garage. If there’s living space over the garage, fire-rated drywall is also required for the ceiling. Fire-retardant drywall is often considered a must in between different living units in big apartment complexes.
But having fire-rated drywall inside the home is not common practice. Why? Because drywall is not the only construction material that may let fire spread. In fact, there are so many things in each home that can easily catch fire that one or two walls won’t make a difference. And don’t forget that no drywall is fireproof. Even the best types just retard the spread of fire; they don’t stop fire.
Now, if you consider all the above plus the fact that fire-rated drywall types are much more expensive than regular drywall, you can clearly see why it’s not used all over the house. It’d cost quite a lot to dress the whole house with fire-rated drywall. And while at first glance, it seems that it’s worth the expense, if you consider that it only retards fire which spreads due to all combustibles in the house, it’s understandable why it’s not used all over the home. So, if you were to go ahead and use some fire-rated drywall in the house, choose rooms like the kitchen or where you keep flammables.