Throughout the years, people have always sought to protect their properties, valuables, and their lives from fire. This has resulted in the invention of devices such as fire/smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire-resistant construction materials. Fire doors are also such devices; these are doors specifically designed and made in order to withstand fires for a specific period of time. They are primarily used in closed spaces, such as hotels and apartments, to help contain fires when they occur. Fire doors are made from various materials, such as timber, metal, and other fire-resistant components.
Fire doors have also undergone development as researchers continue to find ways to improve their fire-resisting capabilities. One product of such development is the composite fire door.
Composite fire doors, which are becoming more common today, contain several features, one of which is its composite core.
A fire door’s main component is known as the core. It is the thickest part of the door, and is sandwiched by the door’s surfaces. As long as the door’s core is intact, then the fire door can contain a fire. Composite fire doors differ from traditional fire doors due to the composition of their cores. While traditional fire doors have cores that are either made of timber (oak) or metal (steel, aluminium), composite fire doors have fire-proof cores that are made from stronger yet lighter fire-resistant materials.
This means that these cores can withstand a fire better than traditional cores could. Furthermore, composite cores can be made more fire-resistant simply by using a combination of specific materials. Common composite fire door core materials include polyeurothane, recycled materials, minerals, and PVC plastic, among others.
Aside from the core, composite fire doors also come with seals that wrap around the doors’ edges. These seals are commonly composed of intumescent material that swells up in the case of extreme heat. This makes it difficult for smoke to pass through the gaps between the door and the door frame in the event of an emergency. Some doors also have acoustic seals to block noise. This is helpful especially for external composite fire doors.
Features of Composite Fire Doors
A composite fire door is not good enough if its ironmongery does not perform accordingly. Ironmongery refers to the metal parts needed to secure the composite fire door to the frame. This includes the latch, hinges, locks and closers. Like the door itself, these components must also be fire-resistant to a certain degree so their integrity- as well as the door’s- is not compromised in case of a fire.
Furthermore, composite fire doors also contain fire-resistant glass for improved visibility. This is more common in internal fire doors where visibility is essential. The inclusion of a fire-resistant glass also makes the composite fire door different from a standard composite door.
Another nice feature of a composite fire door is its customizability. Composite fire doors are available in a variety of colours, materials, styles, and even add-ons. These ensure that the doors fit the consumers’ specifications, as well as the building’s theme and design.
Burglary and Theft protection is also becoming a popular feature for composite fire doors, since they are often used as the main door of a building or structure. Thus, these doors should protect the building and its owners from burglary and theft attempts. Composite fire doors come with closers, locks, and hatches design to prevent forced entry. In addition, its glass panels must also withstand repeated blows. This can be achieved through the use of laminated or reinforced glass. This makes composite fire doors ideal for front or back doors.
Aside from these features, composite fire doors offer several advantages over traditional fire doors, and make them more suitable and attractive to the consumers. One of these advantages is minimal maintenance. Unlike traditional fire doors, composite fire doors need not be cleaned using strong cleaning chemicals; wiping the doors is often the recommended way of cleaning them. Washing the doors with warm soapy water is also a good cleaning method.
Another advantage of the composite fire door is its lighter weight. Because composite fire doors use various types of technologies and materials, they often weigh less than their traditional counterparts. The lighter weight also aids in the easier installation and maintenance of the doors.
Furthermore, due to the materials and process used to build them, composite fire doors are not prone to warping and swelling, which cannot be said for traditional fire doors, especially those made of timber or metal. Warping and swelling of doors is commonly caused by moisture seeping into the door itself. This is common in timber-based fire doors, and occurs especially to doors that become partially submerged due to floods, or even those exposed to large amounts of rain. Composite fire doors are created in such a way that prevents moisture from seeping in. This makes them ideal all-weather doors.
Likewise, the materials used in constructing a composite fire door are already coloured. This means the colours are permanent, and thus need not be painted, unlike traditional fire doors. Using this method of construction means the door’s colour will not fade over time, and any scratches or others forms of damage on the door will not result in discoloration since the surface and the material underneath it share the same colour.
Aside from these advantages, composite fire doors are also more environmentally friendly. Due to the nature of its materials, composite fire doors are more eco-friendly than traditional doors. Composite doors need less wood or metal to be made, and can therefore save trees and minerals in the long run. Furthermore, some composite doors have cores that are made with recycled materials, thus helping in recycling efforts in order to sustain the environment.
Like other doors, composite fire doors are designed and created in various styles. This ensures that the doors are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. Some of the common styles of composite fire doors include combinations of rectangular composite panels and ‘squares,’ or the slots for fire-proof glass. This means doors can be designed with combinations such as two panels and two squares, two bottom panels plus one glass square at the top, and many others.
Another element of style for composite fire doors are colour selection. As mentioned above, fire doors can come in a variety of colours to satisfy customers’ desires. Common colours are white, black, red, and brown.
Some fire doors are also styled to look more like traditional doors with the wooden finish and panels, while others and made to look flush. This means that the entire face of the door is one flat surface; there are no grooves or panels, and there is just one flat panel colour. A specific style, known as the ‘cottage’ style, is characterized as similar to a flush finish, but with vertical lines spanning the door’s entire height.
Fire Safety Certifications
Fire doors are rated and certified based on their ability to withstand fire in a specific amount of time. This rating is known as the Fire Defense (FD) Rating, based on the British Standard 476 (BS 476). The most common ratings of composite fire doors are the FD30 and the FD60. Composite fire doors that have an FD30 rating can withstand a fire for 30 minutes, while those with a rating of FD60 doors can do the same for 60 minutes. Doors can also be rated to withstand fires for 90 and 120 minutes (FD90 and FD120). FD30- and FD60- ratings are found in common fire doors, while those with higher ratings are used more often in areas, rooms, or structures where important machineries or documents are located. Some composite fire doors have ratings as high as FD180, which means they can withstand and contain a fire for 180 minutes.
In addition to Fire Defense ratings, composite fire doors are also rated by their ability to contain smoke in the form of “S”- suffix designation. Thus, doors can be rated as FD30S, FD60S, FD90S, FD120S, and FD180S. It is important to note that the S designation is separate from the FD ratings; some doors are rated FD30, while others are rated FD30S.
Aside from these ratings, composite fire doors should also conform to PAS 23 and PAS 24 Standards, which are standards that measure how well a door protects against burglary attempts. This is essential especially in external composite fire doors.
Composite doors make for good fire doors because of its advantages over traditional fire doors. Using composite materials for the core and surfaces, composite fire doors are lighter in weight, and are also more environmentally friendly. The further development of materials research also means that researchers and manufacturers can still improve composite fire doors in terms of performance, to the point of surpassing traditional fire doors. The longevity and resistance of composite fire doors to warping, stretching, and fading make them suitable long-term investment for a house or any type of shelter.
Aside from fire protection, composite fire doors are also now becoming better at foiling burglary attempts. The fire-resistant components of a composite fire door can also be modified to be burglar-proof. Advancements to the doors’ fixtures and ironmongery can also contribute to this improved protection.
These attributes, in addition to the degree with which they can be customized, composite fire doors are definitely a good choice for the modern fire door.