How Fire Retardant Varnish Can Save Your Life

A great coat of varnish can protect wooden works of art, but did you know it can also save your life? Let me explain. Fire is an incredibly important source of heat and energy in our world, but it also kills more Americans than almost all other natural disasters combined. If that weren’t enough, fire is also the third leading cause of accidental death in homes. We need fire, but it can be hazardous to our health. The key is keeping the fire contained, and preventing it from spreading beyond the bounds of the area where it’s needed.

Fire retardant varnish is an important tool in preventing the spread of fire, as well as the fumes that can create health hazards of their own. Understanding how fireproof varnish can slow the spread of fires and keep your family safe will give you all the reasons you need to make the switch from traditional varnish to fire retardant varnish.

What is flame retardant?

There are many different types of flame and fire retardant materials, and each is used for different applications. Some are used to protect wood, others keep the steel beams that hold up large structures intact, and some can even protect your property from wildfires. 

One thing that’s common to all of them is the fact that they can prevent fires from starting and prevent a fire that has already started from spreading. They are also formulated to be less noxious when they burn, protecting your lungs, the environment, and even your cognitive ability when escaping a structural fire. Keeping both your head and your routes of escape clear can save your life in a fire.

Flame retardant varnish can provide the same amount of protection from things like moisture and UV damage as traditional varnishes can, but without the downsides that come with those varnishes. You can use fireproof clear varnish or get it tinted with a number of colors to suit your style. The cost may run a bit higher than the old-school alternatives, but there are very good reasons why you’d be wise to choose a fire retardant varnish option.

Why is it important to use fire retardant varnish?

Have you ever seen the movie Meet the Parents? Remember when sparks hit the altar, and it went up in flames in a matter of seconds? Now imagine someone was standing in it at the time. In the case of a fire, varnish can cause flames to spread much more rapidly if you haven’t used the right kind.

The reason for this is that many traditional varnish products contain benzene. There are a few reasons that the use of benzene-based varnishes causes issues. First, benzene is a carcinogen, and it can cause drowsiness and headaches, so it’s not very good for your health. Also, it burns very quickly. Not good when you’ve coated your home furnishings with the stuff.

Luckily, fire retardant varnish is made of resins that don’t burn, as opposed to the incredibly flammable alternative.

If you’re coating small trinkets and boxes, it may not matter that much whether you use fireproof or traditional varnishes. On the other hand, if you are finishing particularly large items that will live in or around your home or any wooden structural elements, slowing the spread of any potential fire may make the difference between getting out or putting the fire out safely and a much less favorable outcome.

Where should we use fire retardant varnish?

While fire retardant varnish can provide a beautiful coat for any piece of wood you want to protect and beautify, it isn’t always necessary. If you’re finishing smaller pieces like desk clocks and picture frames, they aren’t going to spread fire as quickly as structural elements and large sections of the facade, so you’ll probably be fine with either in these cases. Use fire retardant varnish for wood that covers large areas or where flames may prevent your safe escape.

On overhead beams

Finished beams spanning the length of your ceiling provide a beautiful accent to your home, but all that exposed wood can cause issues if a fire ignites in your home. Since they cross the entirety of your ceiling, if they happen to be coated with flammable materials, a fire can spread across the entire room with extraordinary speed. 

Coating them with fire retardant varnish provides the beautiful finish we all know and love while protecting the upper levels of the home long enough to let people escape and possibly extinguish the fire before too much damage is done. Speaking of escape, there’s another important area to focus some attention on before a fire, door varnish.

On doors

A very commonly varnished piece of wood in the home is our doors. Doors provide protection from noise and drafts, but they are a critical portal for escape in the case of fires in the home. If you’ve coated them with a traditional varnish, they can go up in flames much more quickly, preventing your chance of passage and escape. 

If they happen to be the hollow type of interior doors that are constructed of cardboard and wood veneer, they can erupt into flames almost instantly. Coating them with fire retardant varnish is an important part of keeping your escape routes clear of flames and allowing you and your family to get out safely.

On trim

If you’re going for the natural wood look in your baseboards and door and window frames, you’ll need to protect them. Here is another location where flammable materials can cause flames to traverse a large distance in a very short amount of time. Using fire retardant varnish can slow the spread long enough for you to grab your fire extinguisher and put the fire out before it becomes a bigger issue.

On wood wall facades

If your walls are covered almost entirely with wood, such as with a log cabin or tongue and groove construction, you’re likely going to cover most of your interior space with varnish. That means that if you coat them with flammable materials, the entire place is primed to go up very quickly in a fire. Using fireproof varnish for wood wall facades provides a great layer of protection for you and your family.

Any exposed wood areas that are coated with traditional varnish 

If your home has any type of wooden features, and they’ve already been coated with a traditional varnish, freshen them up with a couple coats of fire retardant varnish. Your fire retardant barrier can still keep those older layers of varnish from igniting the same way it protects unfinished wood. If the wood underneath has seen better days, and you don’t want to go to the trouble of repairing or replacing it, you can hide your ugly lumber with a coat of fire retardant paint.

Fire retardant paint

When you want to block something out of sight entirely, you can go with fire retardant paint. If you’d prefer white baseboards and trim to the varnished wood look, you can use fire retardant paint here. Same with doors and wooden facades. Fire retardant paint serves the same fire protection purposes as fire retardant varnish, but with the opacity to deliver even, vibrant layers of color wherever you want it. You can use fire retardant paint to cover previous paint layers in your home to add a layer of fire protection to that as well.

Flame retardant paint and varnish both give you enough time to extinguish fires before they get out of hand and enough time to escape if you can’t put a fire out.

Take your fire safety plan up a notch

When it comes to fire safety, most of us focus on alerting ourselves to fires through the use of fire alarms and fighting them with sprinklers and fire extinguishers hung handily around the house. As important as these things are to protecting our families and property, nothing beats prevention.

When it comes to fire protection, fireproof varnish is an incredibly important tool to have in your arsenal. Fire retardant varnish can stop a fire from starting or spreading, meaning it may protect a good deal of your property if a fire starts. It may even save your life.