When it comes to fire doors, the materials are all aimed at one thing: providing exceptional fire safety and providing passive resistance to the occupants. However, that does not mean fire doors must stick out of the décor like a sore thumb. In fact, given the choice of materials, fire doors can easily blend in with the interior and add to the form factor. Since fire doors can balance out both form and function, and the differences will only really exist with fire door materials, let’s look at which is better: wood, steel, or glass?
Fire doors are part of a building’s passive fire fighting system. Whereas additions like water sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and firefighting blankets form the active fire fighting system in that they actively try to extinguish a fire, fire doors are passive and allow for the evacuation of occupants and keep the fire from reaching the more critical parts of a building. This is why the addition of fire doors is an important part of fire safety, especially in the UK, and which is why many variations of fire door material are available.
Let’s now look at which is better for fire doors: wood, steel, or glass.
Which one fares better: fire door materials
We’ll be pitting wood, steel, and glass against each other in several determinants to bring out the better choice objectively. Let’s get started.
The main purpose of installing a fire door is to insulate against fire and give the house occupants ample time to evacuate. Therefore, the primary determinant in this discussion will be which material provides the best fire insulation. In the case of wood, the fire protection and insulation are fairly average. Wooden fire doors are coated with a special material to help them stand up to the oppressive flames. However, better than wood is glass, which is con-combustible and has a very high tolerance for extreme temperatures. However, direct flames are where problems may start to surface, and they often crack under extreme duress. The best, when it comes to fire insulation, are steel doors. Steel has an incredibly high temperature tolerance, and many household fires can’t reach the temperature, which makes steel the best fire door material for residential and commercial applications.
Fire doors are a permanent fixture of the house and need not be changed regularly. Since they are mandated during construction in the UK, they are structurally important and cannot be removed. This makes the requirement for fire doors to be durable extremely crucial, and also because they need to stand up to the flames for a considerable period. In the case of wood, durability is fine, but wood, being an organic material, requires maintenance that keeps it durable, which can be troublesome in places where more than two might be installed. The durability of glass is better, and since no major maintenance is required, glass fire doors are an excellent choice. However, again, in durability, the obvious winner is steel. Considering the rigidity and the integrity of the steel build, these doors are the most durable and require zero maintenance as well.
Form factor/ appearance
As a regulated addition to the household, fire doors need to look the part as well, belonging in an otherwise very decorated setting. For that purpose, the form factor of the fire door is also considered, and wood is a material that is used throughout the house; the best form factor is actually a tie between wood and glass. Wood looks more in place in any house, whereas glass is also a good addition as a fire door material in residential and commercial settings. Steel, on the other hand, is harder to work with when it comes to form or appearance, and might look dull and out-of-place in a modern home or office place.
Maintenance for fire doors depends on the material, and while fire doors are designed to require less maintenance, the material may demand an occasional or periodic touchup. For example, the most maintenance-heavy fire doors are wooden ones. These require periodic painting and staining to ensure their ability to stand up to the flames isn’t compromised, and that they stay fire-resistant. However, for glass fire doors, maintenance isn’t an issue. However, if they are scratched or dented in any way, this may affect the physical integrity of the door, and they might not be as resilient as when manufactured. Like glass doors, steel fire doors are also maintenance-free. However, they require touchups and paints if dinged or dented, and even without these occasional maintenance routines, steel fire doors will perform absolutely fine.
The bottom line
While many other factors can be used to compare the benefits of these three materials, for fire doors, the one that matters and makes sense is fire resistance, and the ability to hold in flames for extended periods. Many specifications like the FD30, FD60, and FD90 use steel doors since steel has a very high tolerance for extreme temperatures and performs much better in terms of resisting fires when compared to other materials, including glass, wood, and even fiberglass. That being said, the one thing that steel fire doors may not deliver is appearance, but for many, fire doors are the perfect example of ‘function over form’.
However, that is not to say that the other materials aren’t useful. In the event of a fire, rating will matter more than the material; an FD60 fire door can box in flames for 60 minutes before structural integrity is compromised, and treated wood is used for many FD60 fire doors, like the ones offered by Ignis Doors. These are made out of wood boast both usability and aesthetic appeal, and can be a great addition to both residential and commercial settings. The same is also true for glass doors, and for places like restaurants and offices, glass fire doors may help maintain the décor without compromising on fire safety.
Ignis Doors: the best fire door solutions
Structurally important and keeping your family and loved ones safe in a blaze, fire doors are a lifesaver. They are used extensively worldwide, especially in settings that might be more prone to such occurrences. However, not all fire doors are created equal, and build quality and material quality are the two things that can make all the difference. We understand that difference, and at Ignis Doors, we make sure that each of our fire doors stands up to the oppressive flames to protect you and your loved ones, no matter how fierce the flames are. Because we provide security and fire safety more than anything else, you can trust an Ignis fire door to keep your family safe in such tragic moments. Invest in a quality fire door for the best results, and Ignis is the one manufacturer you can always count on.