Compared to other composite materials, fiberglass is incredibly durable and resistant to damage. Its thermal capabilities are nearly unparalleled within the construction industry, where accessibility and cost are of paramount importance.
Fiberglass as a Building Material
Fiberglass is found in several different facets of the construction industry. One of the primary areas in which its thermally insulative properties are harnessed is within insulation, both interior and exterior. Fiberglass insulation is one of the most widely used insulation products in the world. Fiberglass textiles are also used within structural components such as EIFS to add an additional layer of strength. Self-supporting fiberglass components can be incorporated into buildings on a large scale, creating shapes that would otherwise be impossible to produce with conventional building materials. Today, FRP cladding is an incredibly common material, both lightweight and durable, for the exterior facade of buildings.
The Flammability of Fiberglass
Is fiberglass flammable? It’s a complex question. Glass fibers themselves are not flammable; when exposed to high enough temperatures (usually between 500-700 degrees F., depending on the glass) the fibers will simply melt. The auxiliary components of fiberglass, particularly resins, each have their own fire tolerance which ultimately makes fiberglass flame-resistant, not inflammable.
Reducing Flammability through Fiberglass
The composition of fiberglass plays a large role in its ultimate flammability. The thermal conductivity of all polymers is low; when paired with high-temperature glass threads, FRP can easily become one of the most flame resistant building materials in existence. This is due in large part to the low density of the matrix resins and the innate strength of the imbedded glass fibers.
The durability of fiberglass actually adds to its flame resistance. Because fiberglass does not degrade over time like other conventional building materials, components its embedded in won’t suffer from “weak spots” that can be exploited by fire.
Incorporating FRP Into Building Design
FRPs are becoming increasingly common for architectural applications. They are always subject to local building requirements and are required by the International Building Code to demonstrate certain flame spread and smoke characteristics before being approved. Some builders go a step further and subject all building materials containing FRPs and other composites to comprehensive pyrolysis before installing them.
Fiberglass is inherently fire resistant and technological innovations in the fiberglass sector are improving its characteristics every year. The end-uses for fiberglass products are limitless; the material is seeing a surge in demand within the construction industry as builders continue to seek out safer, more scalable materials as the economy at large grows.
The team at B&W Fiberglass has been advancing the science of fiberglass textiles for decades. Our partners produce some of the most cutting-edge products in the industry. Reach out to us today to learn more about how our solutions are improving the safety and durability of buildings.
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