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Even though the building materials market is full of options other than wood, many are still partial to it. Obviously, the biggest concern with wood is that fact that it not only burns, but quickly. Building codes are established to keep the safety of the public in mind and instituting the use on non-combustible or fire resistant materials is at the top of the list for advancements. Thankfully, we now live in a day and age where fire retardant treated wood is a thing! With this comes LOTS of questions!

We hope to answer some of the most common questions that seem to come up when it comes to fire retardant treated wood (FRTW):

What exactly is Fire Retardant Treated Wood?

FRTW is enveloped with chemicals at the time of manufacturing. These chemicals reduce the amount of time it takes for flames to spread. They also significantly lower the combustion rate.

The wood is placed in a chemical bath under high pressure allowing for deep penetration.

Is FRTW Immune to Fire?

FRTW is NOT completely immune to fire. It will eventually catch flame. The purpose of the treatment is to slow the burning process. This gives people more time to get out of burning structures before they collapse and allows first responders to get the scene ahead of major damage.

What are the Advantages of Using Fire Retardant Treated Wood?

First and foremost, the greatest advantage is the decreased risk of fire in single family homes and multi-family dwellings. 

Why have Building Codes Changed to Allow the Use of FRTW?

Studies have shown that FRTW often performs better during a fire because it maintains its structural integrity longer than steel.

How Does the Chemical Treatment Process Affect Wood?

The strength of the wood is somewhat compromised. To what level depends on the species. Therefore, building codes require additional strength adjustments to be implemented based on the intended use of the wood.

What Are Some of the Most common Uses for Fire Retardant Treated Wood?

  • Exterior architectural trim
  • Framing and building supports
  • Hallways and deep corridors
  • Fire walls
  • Exposed exterior walls
  • Roofs
  • Interior partitions

China has been conducting research on FRTW for about two decades now. It appears that chemical mixtures that consist of phosphorus, nitrogen, and boron are among the most effective. 

Researchers and scientists are looking at ways to add fire retardant to glues and other bonding agents used in building.

We here at Rocky Mountain Forest Products are excited about the future of FRTW looks promising and the research results may be able to provide valuable information to other areas of fire reduction making fire as a whole less threatening.