Whether the installation is required by building codes or you're a home builder looking for fire protection, explore what you need to know about fire-rated drywall.
Did you know that more than 25% of all reported fires in the US occur in regular households? During the 2013-2017 period, the US firefighters responded to more than 350,000 house fires that caused almost $7 billion worth of damage.
Since fires can occur anytime in today's households, home builders do everything they can to prevent them and minimize their spreading. For example, fire-rated drywall is a common material used in households. This type of material can stop fires from expanding to other rooms and reduces property damage. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about fire-resistant drywall.
What is Fire-Rated Drywall?
Fire-rated drywall is also known as Type X drywall. It's a modern type of drywall that contains glass fibers to prevent the spread of fire. In comparison with regular types of drywall, the fire-resistant drywall is thicker and has a higher density of gypsum in its composition. This is what makes it ideal for installation in households as it can contain flames and prevent them from causing massive damage.
Fire-Rated Drywall Price Considerations
Because the Type X drywall is denser and more protective, it's more expensive to buy than regular drywall. The actual price differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, but you should expect to pay 20% more for fire-rated drywall, in comparison with regular drywall. If you're looking to save money, it's advised not to install fire-resistant drywall all over your house, especially if you have a large home.
Exploring the Benefits of Fire-Rated Drywall
There are many benefits associated with this building material. Although it's slightly more expensive than regular drywall and mandated by building codes, fire-rated drywall provides a plethora of benefits to houses of all sizes. For example:
1. Enhanced Fire Resistance
It's estimated that fire-rated drywall can withstand flames for up to an hour before being completely degraded. That's because it has a higher thickness than regular drywall and it's harder for flames to penetrate all its layers of fiberglass and gypsum. The Standard fire-rated drywall is 5/8 inches in thickness.
On top of that, fire-rated drywall also prevents the generation and spreading of smoke. This is an important benefit because smoke can quickly cause injuries and death through asphyxiation. Some fire-rated drywall panels can resist flames for up to 3 hours if they are properly installed and maintained, so the safety rating of your house is increased considerably.
2. Fire Resistant Drywall Can Be Used as Noise Insulator
Thanks to the fact that fire-rated drywall is thicker than regular drywall, it's also better at sound shielding. The superior density and the presence of a glass fibers core make the Type X drywall ideal for insulating recording studios. However, you can also take advantage of this benefit as a homeowner.
For example, the fire-rated drywall can prevent street noise from bothering you during the day if you want to take a nap. This type of drywall can also provide efficient acoustic shielding against sounds made by heavy machinery or construction equipment.
3. It's Easy to Install
Although fire-rated drywall is thicker than regular drywall, it's just as easy to install. It features an intuitive design that helps home builders to install it in various types of residential properties with minimal effort. No sophisticated equipment is necessary to install fire-resistant drywall, so the job can be done in a short period of time.
4. It Might Reduce Home Insurance Premium
This is another important potential benefit provided by the Type X drywall. Thanks to its fire-retardant capabilities, this type of drywall score great points when it comes to safety. As a result, your insurance provider might be able to provide a discount on your premium because your property is better protected and less likely to be devastated by fires. Make sure that you discuss this possibility with your insurance agent to see if you qualify for a reduction in monthly premiums.
5. It Can Be Enhanced for Additional Benefits
The structure of the fire-rated drywall can be modified according to the needs of the client. For example, it's possible to alter the composition of the drywall and make it lighter without compromising the fire resistance benefit. This would be useful in applications where reduced weight is a top priority.
At the same time, it's possible to make the fire-rated drywall more resistant to mold and mildew. As you probably already know, a humid environment can facilitate the development of mold. This can quickly degrade drywall, cause unpleasant odors, and provide an inviting environment for pests. Luckily, the fire-resistant drywall can be improved to be impervious to mold and mildew.
Lastly, the Type X drywall can be improved to withstand powerful impacts. Additional layers of durable materials can be added to the fire-rated drywall to enhance its toughness and make it more resistant to shocks, hits, and vibration. This makes it ideal for commercial or industrial properties where accidents are more common.
6. Doesn't Contain Dangerous Chemicals or Toxic Substances
Today's fire-rated drywall products are very advanced and built according to the latest environmental requirements. They contain no toxic substances such as benzene, formaldehyde, solvents, lead or other types of dangerous substances. As a result, they have little to no environmental impact and can be installed on almost all residential, commercial, and industrial properties.
Places Where Fire-Rated Drywall Can Be Installed
As mentioned earlier, it's more cost-effective to install the Type X drywall in certain places of your house instead of having it installed everywhere. Some of the most suitable locations for installing fire-resistant drywall are:
1. Near Fireplaces and Furnaces
Many homeowners have fireplaces installed in their houses. They can warm up a room quickly, not to mention that they provide an aesthetic benefit. However, fireplaces always pose a risk of starting a fire and that's why you should have fire-rated drywall installed all around the area. This type of drywall can be installed on the interior walls and ceilings to contain the flames if a fire starts. Utility rooms where furnaces are installed should also be equipped with fire-rated drywall for safety purposes.
2. In Rooms Featuring a Wood Stove
Wood stoves are still used in certain households because they're more convenient than gas or electric stoves. However, they can also be a source of fire and that's why these rooms should be surrounded with fire-rated drywall.
3. In Garages
A garage can hold numerous flammable items including spare fuel for cars, paints, and so on. Especially if the garage is adjacent to the home, it's highly recommended to install fire-rated drywall all around this space. By doing so, a potential fire can be stopped in its tracks before it can engulf the entire house and cause massive damage. If there are living areas above the garage, it's mandatory to install Type X drywall in this case.
4. In Basements
Similar to the garage, some homeowners deposit different types of flammable personal belongings in the basement. It makes sense to add fire-resistant drywall around the basement to prevent the spreading of a potential fire.
5. In the Kitchen
The kitchen is another room where a fire is commonly used for food preparation. It would be great if the homeowner decides to add fire-rated drywall on the interior walls and ceiling of the kitchen.
Important Considerations Related to Fire-Rated Drywall
Although fire-rated drywall is an excellent product, there are a few important things to consider to maximize its effectiveness. Here are some of them: