We all know that fire doors play a crucial role in saving lives. But since the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017, local authorities, building owners, developers and fire door inspectors have
come under even greater scrutiny to ensure fire doors are fit for purpose. In our latest blog
post, we outline the different types of fire doors and their uses to help you determine which
ones are appropriate.
The fundamental role of fire doors in saving lives and protecting buildings has long been
acknowledged. However, following the Grenfell Tower disaster that sadly killed 72 people,
fire doors have come under the spotlight.
The Grenfell Inquiry found that the fire doors in Grenfell Tower didn’t perform as expected.
As well as lacking the correct inspection and maintenance, some fire doors weren’t able to
resist fire for as long as they should have done, and some were missing self-closing devices.
As a result of the Inquiry and the Hackitt Review, Regulation 10 recently came into force.
The legislation places greater onus on ensuring fire doors in multi-storey properties are fit for
purpose. It also advises that regular checks be carried out to ensure all fire doors are fitted
with an effective self-closing device which is in working order.
What different types of fire doors exist?
There are various types of fire doors, and selecting the right one is critical. But with so many
fire doors on the market to choose from, it can be tricky to know which ones are suitable. So,
let’s take a look at the different types of fire doors and their uses.
Timber fire doors
Timber is one of the most common materials used for fire doors because it’s readily
available and has a very predictable char rate. Timber fire doors are also cheaper, easier to
fit and replace, and a good environmentally friendly option.
The core of a fire door plays a crucial role in controlling the spread of a fire, with its primary
task being to resist fire penetration.
Sold timber core doors
These fire doors are made with a solid timber core. They are commonly coated with a
natural wood veneer to give them the appearance of a solid door but at a lower cost. They
are heavier and provide better insulation compared to hollow wood doors so they’re more
suited to higher-rated doors.
Particleboard fire doors
Particleboard is a very versatile and widely used product. Made from ground wood chips
bonded with adhesive, it’s extremely robust and can easily be fabricated to produce a wide
range of fire doors.
Strebord is the top-selling particleboard door core in the UK and is suited to many installation
and maintenance scenarios, including offices and residential buildings.
Tubular core doors
Tubular core doors, or tube-core doors as they’re more commonly known, are lightweight
and offer great stability. Tubes are installed in the door during the manufacturing process but
are later removed, resulting in hollow areas in the core.
Because of this, tube-core is 60% lighter in weight than solid particleboard, making it highly
suitable for residential buildings and care facilities. However, due to their core construction
being weaker, there are limitations on what components can be installed.
Hollow-core doors are the lightest and cheapest alternative. The doors are usually
constructed using an inner frame of cardboard, coated with a layer of veneered hardwood.
The honeycomb pattern of the interior makes the hollow door stable, while the solid wood is
used in the area where the catch, locking mechanisms, and handle are positioned.
Composite fire doors
Composite fire doors are made from a combination of materials, engineered to provide the
best possible performance in terms of fire resistance, durability, and aesthetics.
The core of a composite fire door typically consists of one or more fire-resistant materials,
such as mineral wool, gypsum, or particleboard.
The core is then covered with layers of other materials like wood veneer, high-pressure
laminate, or PVCu (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride).
The combination of materials in a composite fire door results in a strong, durable product
that can withstand daily wear and tear, as well as resist warping and cracking.
They offer excellent fire resistance, with ratings ranging from 30 to 120 minutes. And
because they can be designed to mimic the appearance of solid wood, they’re an attractive
option for various architectural styles and building types.
What’s more, composite fire doors offer good thermal and acoustic insulation so are a great
choice for quieter environments and organisations with energy efficiency targets to achieve.
Steel fire doors
Steel fire doors are manufactured using high-quality steel sheets, with a honeycomb
cardboard interior. With ratings up to 240 minutes, their construction allows them to
withstand extreme temperatures and maintain their structural integrity even in the most
Steel doors can be used in a variety of commercial, industrial and residential buildings.
However, because of their strength and durability, they’re generally used in environments
where increased security is required. And because they’re easy to clean, you’ll often see
them used in hospitals and kitchens where high levels of hygiene are expected.
As they are not susceptible to rot, warping or insect damage, steel fire doors require minimal
maintenance. It’s this durability and resistance to corrosion that make them a cost-effective
choice for long-term use.
How do I know if a fire door is fit for purpose?
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing a fire door. To determine
which one is best, the Responsible Person in a business or organisation should carry out a
thorough risk assessment. This risk assessment will help the organisation decide what fire
doors are needed, where they should be located, and what fire rating they should have.
One way of knowing whether a fire door is fit for purpose is by checking that it’s certified.
The door leaf, frame and all components should be certified by an independent third party,
such as BWF-Certifire, BM Trada Q-Mark, LPCB, Blue Sky and Kiwa Fire Safety Compliance (Formerly IFC Group).
Third-party certification of fire door assemblies and doorsets means that the product has
been tested to British Standard BS 476-22 or European Standard EN 1634-1. And this test
must be carried out at a UKAS-accredited test facility.
Fire doors should also carry a label or a plug that points you to a fire door certificate of
approval or certificate datasheet. This certificate details all of the compatible components
and configurations allowed on a particular door. It will tell you everything you can and can’t
do with the door, as well as give information on things like the position of hinges, locks,
glazing, the types of seals allowed, and where they can be installed.
It is vitally important that the certificate of approval is followed to the absolute letter. And as
an inspector, you must ensure any issues are identified and suitable remedial action is
Want to find out more?
At UK Fire Door Training, we’ve designed a training course specifically to help you improve
your skills, knowledge and competency when inspecting fire doors. By taking part in the
course, you’ll be able to:
- Recognise the importance and role of fire doors.
- Describe what fire doors are made from and explain how they work.
- Identify the laws, regulations and standards that affect fire doors.
- Recall how to find and use certificate data sheets and apply this knowledge in a practical scenario
- Explain what fire door ratings and configurations are.
- Plan a fire door inspection job.
- Inspect a fire door.
- Describe what to do post-inspection to a client.
All our courses take place online, allowing you to learn at your own pace from wherever
you’re based. Plus, you’ll have lifetime access to the training materials, so you’ll always have
something to refer back to.
We’re also an official CPD provider, which can help you demonstrate your commitment to
improving your knowledge and skills and maintaining competence.
To book your place on our Fire Door Inspection Course, click here.