Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stop the Plank Wall Trend in the Name of Fire Safety

Wood Planked Wall, Image and Project on Cape27 Blog
Recently, it has become popular to install wood planks (boards) on top of ordinary dry wall. It adds aesthetic warmth and visual texture and interest. The problem is that wood is not as fire-resistant as ordinary interior walls (i.e. dry wall).

Fireplace Plank Wall, Image from Design*Sponge, Rita Brownstein; See Note Below Regarding Fireplaces
I worry about all that wood making the room more susceptible to fire. This especially worries me when any of the following are true:
  • The planked walls go on all four sides of a room
  • A planked wall is anywhere near a fireplace* or stove
  • A planked wall is anywhere near electrical work
  • The wooden planks are dry, e.g. old barn wood that is left untreated

Plank Wall, Image from Do-It-Yourself

My web research has shown that the items in a room (furniture, curtains, etc.) are more likely to encourage a fire to burn than either dry wall or wood. However, when you compare wood to dry wall (apples to apples, one wall covering to another), I would think that the wood is less resistant to fire than ordinary dry wall / gypsum.

See this Flame-Spread Ratings article, excerpt below:
Flame-Spread Classification Flame-Spread Rating or Index
Class I (or A) 0 - 25 (Good)
Class II (or B) 26 - 75 (Medium)
Class III (or C) 76 - 200 (Poor)
Flame-Spread Class
Hardboard siding panels<200III
APA Wood Structural Panels (includes APA 303 Sidings such as T1-11)76-200III
Birch, Yellow80III
Cedar, Western Red69II
Fiberboard, Medium Density167III
Gypsum Wallboard10-15I
Gypsum Sheathing15-20I
Fiber-cement exterior materials0I
Hemlock, West Coast73II
Idaho white pine82III
Inorganic reinforced cement board0I
Oak, Red or White100III
Oriented Strand Board (OSB)150III
Particle Board116-178III
Pine, Lodgepole98III
Pine, Ponderosa115III
Plywood, Fire-retardant-treated construction0-25I
Plywood, Oak125-185III
Plywood, Pine120-140III
Spruce, Engelmann55II

However, that being said, maybe you could coat the wood with layers of fire-resistant polyurethane? Or, why not use barnwood-look tiles like in the image below?

Tile Wall, Image from Houzz Article by Travis

Other tips to reduce fire-susceptibility:
  • Install double-pane windows
  • Use thicker gypsum, i.e. 5/8-inch thick gypsum
See this Fire-Resistant Details article.

If you are still interested in doing a real wood plank wall, The House of Smiths website does a nice tutorial.

Image from Tutorial by The House of Smiths Blog

*Note: If you are doing a plank wall near a fireplace, make sure you have at least a 6-inch separation, or whatever the building code in your area directs.

No comments:

Post a Comment