What Is a Fire Rated Wall?


Aug 03, 2023

Fire safety is taking on more importance in building construction than ever before. More business owners are starting to realize that not only does a large-scale fire threaten the lives of their employees and customers, but a fire could also destroy their business’s entire reputation and financial stability.

This explains why fire rated walls are growing in prominence. The simple choice to incorporate fire rated walls into the construction or renovation of a building could protect lives, property, and the entire existence of a business.

To help you learn more about these specialized walls, we provide a detailed guide to fire rated walls. Not only will we explain what a fire rated wall is, we will explain how they are constructed, how they can safeguard your business, and where you can go to upgrade and replace existing walls with fire rated alternatives.

What Is a Fire Rated Wall?

As the name implies, a fire rated wall is a wall, or a segment of a wall, designed to resist high temperatures and limit the spread of flames. These specially constructed walls, or specialized wall panels, are built using materials that have high fire resistance and can withstand extremely high temperatures without combusting.

All fire rated walls have a specific fire rating, which is based on their ability to withstand heat and flames. Not only is the rating given to the wall based on its ability to withstand heat but it is also determined by the finished wall’s ability to prevent the transfer of fire from one side of it to the other.

In other words, the rating classifies how capable the wall is of protecting that which sits on the other side of it, including other segments of the building, property, equipment, and even people.

What Building Materials Are Used in the Construction of Fire Rated Walls?

Fire rated brick wall with flame on top

Fire rated walls and fire rated wall panels are constructed from a combination of materials that are naturally resistant to fire. Not only are these materials non-flammable, they have high melting points, which means they can withstand exposure to fire and high temperatures for extended periods, without losing any of their structural integrity.

These materials will often include high-quality concrete with minimal air pockets, rock, and mineral combinations that have been bonded and specialized steel beams and meshes with an extremely high melting point.

Some fire rated walls are also given an additional fire-resistant coating, as this helps to fully seal the wall and prevent the passage of heat, flames, and even sparks.

A well-constructed fire rated barrier is always completely sealed, as when it comes to fires in large buildings, even delaying the spread of the flames by a few minutes can give first responders, like paramedics and firefighters, the time they need to make a difference.

While the exact combination of building materials can differ from one fire rated wall to the next, they are always made with materials that have the properties required to inhibit the spread of flames and high temperatures. This allows the fire rated wall to act as an important fire barrier in a fire.

How Are Fire Rated Walls Given a Rating?

Fire rated walls are often given a rating in hours. This rating refers to how long a wall could withstand a fire. For example, a one-hour fire rated wall could withstand and contain a fire for one full hour, while a two-hour-rated wall could offer fire protection for two hours.

This fire resistance rating is granted by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). They rigorously fire test the building material using simulated fire conditions. The fire protection rating can also be calculated using tables provided by the International Building Code (IBC).

What Is the Purpose of a Fire Rated Wall?

Illustration of fire rated wall resisting flames

While it may seem like a fire rated wall would serve a relatively simple purpose, they help to minimize fire-related damages in a variety of ways.

Fire Rated Walls Help Contain Fires

A well-built fire rated wall assembly can contain a fire within a specific area by acting as a flame, heat, and smoke barrier. Confining a fire to particular areas, rather than allowing it to spread throughout the entire building, not only limits property damage, it also gives first responders more time to arrive on the scene, so they can extinguish the fire.

Fire Rated Walls Aid Evacuation Procedures

Simply slowing down the spread of a fire is one way fire rated walls can save lives. If a fire is started inside a business, fire rated walls could give employees, customers, and anyone inside the building the time they need to evacuate safely.

Slowing down and containing the fire also gives first responders the time they need to rescue trapped individuals, which can also help to save lives.

Fire Rated Walls Can Protect Valuable Assets and Property

Given their ability to act as a fire-resistant barrier, fire walls can be used to protect valuable assets and critical infrastructure. Surrounding a particular room in fire rated wall panels could be the difference between the assets within being destroyed or surviving a fire.

When it comes to critical assets for the continuation of the business, such as expensive pieces of equipment that would be difficult to replace, these fire rated walls could save the business money and allow it to restart operations much faster.

Fire Rated Walls for Fire Code Compliance

Certain industries and residential buildings are required by law to use specialized walls with fire resistance. For example, in some areas, the building code requirements are that fire rated walls separate hotel rooms, apartments, and classrooms.

Failure to build these walls using the correct, fire rated materials could result in failed safety inspections and heavy fines.

Rockwall Fire Rated Wall Panels

isowall insulated wall panel diagram

If you want to build or renovate a wall using fire rated materials, we highly recommend Rockwall Fire Rated Wall Panels. These easy-to-install panels are available in 1, 2, and 3-hour fire ratings, so you can easily order panels that meet your exact needs.

Not only do they offer varying degrees of fire resistance, they are built to last, easy-to-clean, and offer outstanding chemical resistance and protection. They also provide impressive levels of insulation so that they can save you money in energy costs.

This unique combination of benefits makes them capable of acting as reliable fire barriers and practical wall system panels for a wide range of applications.

If you would like to order a sample, read a detailed pamphlet, or simply talk to one of our specialists, simply click the link below:

Learn More About Rockwall Fire Rated Wall Panels

You can also learn more about how fire rated walls work and how you can install your own by reading Installation Tips and Training for Fire Rated Wall Panels.