Many people wouldn’t consider a door made of wood to be high performing in the event of a fire. However, timber is one of the most commonly used materials for fire doors. In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons why it’s so popular and how it works to save lives and protect property.
One of the main benefits of timber is its versatility. It suits various environments, including commercial, residential, and industrial. And because it’s so versatile, it’s also compatible with different design styles.
For example, one client might require traditional style fire doors to match the features and décor of their Victorian office building. Another client, on the other hand, might have a modern office so they’ll most likely want a more contemporary finish to their fire doors.
Whatever the client’s requirements, timber gives greater flexibility of design than other fire door materials like steel. Timber can also be easily customised with various finishes, veneers and designs to match the environment, providing visual appeal as well as that all-important safety.
It’s Easily Customisable
Timber fire doors are great because they are easy to handle and can be shaped and cut to your client’s exact specification.
Many manufacturers provide standard sized fire doors, but they can also be made-to-measure. Requirements for a customised fire door depend on multiple factors, including what the door’s day-to-day use and prime safety functions will be, the building and occupancy risk profile, and any aesthetic needs.
A standard block of flats or office building will have fairly straightforward requirements, so an off-the-shelf fire door may suffice. But buildings like hospitals with much more complex needs will have a much wider range of requirements, so a custom-made fire door will be required.
Timber is a fantastic option for organisations who have straightforward needs, as well as those who need more tailored, specific solutions.
It’s Readily Available
As a natural raw material, timber is more readily available than other fire door materials like steel or composite. Softwoods in particular are easier to come by than hardwoods due to the trees’ short maturing time.
This wide availability makes timber a lot quicker and easier to source, meaning it’s one of the cheapest fire door materials you can use. As well as having the benefit of being cost effective, the use of timber fire doors can also contribute to reducing lead times on building projects.
With climate change at the forefront of everyone’s minds, architects, specifiers and building companies are increasingly prioritising building materials that are more sustainable.
Timber is a popular option because it’s a raw 100% renewable resource with a low carbon footprint, making it one of the most environmentally friendly materials available.
However, this is only the case if it’s sustainably manged and responsibly sourced. One way to check for this is by looking out for an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate. It doesn’t impact the fire door’s ability to perform, but it does mean the timber has been sourced from an FSC-certified forest that’s been managed to strict environmental, social and economic standards.
It’s Classic and Timeless
Timber is considered a classic and timeless material in the world of building design, making it a popular choice for a range of applications, including fire doors.
Because of its versatility and ability to be customised, it can be used in both classic or contemporary spaces. And unlike some trends that come and go, timber provides an aesthetic that will stand the test of time.
From an architectural perspective this is essential, in an age of increased concern over conservation and carbon footprints, timber is far less at risk of being removed and replaced.
It Has Predictable Char Rates
A char rate refers to the depth and speed that materials burn on exposure to fire. It’s a key part of calculating the fire resistance of a fire door.
One reason timber is so commonly used for fire doors is its predictable char rate. Softwoods (like pine, fir and cedar) have a char rate of around 0.7mm/min. Whereas hardwoods (like oak, ash and beech) have a char rate of around 0.5mm/min.
Because softwood has a faster char rate, it’s more likely to be used in lower rated doors and frames (FD30s). Hardwood, on the other hand, has a slower char rate so it’s used in higher rated doors and frames (FD60s).
Excellent acoustic properties
Another reason timber stands out as a top choice for fire doors is its excellent acoustic properties. In settings where noise control is imperative, such as educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and office spaces, timber fire doors can offer a dual advantage: providing both fire safety and effective sound insulation.
For buildings that serve multiple purposes or house various tenants, the acoustic benefits of timber can be particularly advantageous. Different rooms or areas may have specific acoustic requirements, and timber’s natural ability to dampen sound makes it a suitable choice for addressing these needs.
Thus, the inclusion of excellent acoustic properties adds yet another string to timber’s bow, making it an even more versatile and functional material for fire doors. Given the rising demand for multi-functional building materials that can address a range of needs, timber’s acoustic advantages shouldn’t be overlooked.
In summary, timber is a hugely popular choice for fire doors in the UK. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s practical, versatile, widely available, sustainable and can be customised to suit any design requirement.
Of course, the effectiveness of timber fire doors depends on proper installation and maintenance. Thankfully, at UK Fire Door Training, we have several courses to help you enhance your fire safety knowledge around fire door installation, maintenance and inspection.
Take a look at our nationally recognised online fire door courses here.