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Report: Brick Houses Last Longest in Fire, but No Siding is Invulnerable

Posted by Green Builder Staff

May 3, 2019 5:02:51 PM

A new report finds that brick's fire resistance lasts about 90 minutes, whereas vinyl clad wood frames collapse in than half an hour.

As the worst wildfire season spurs testing for fire-resistant homes, the latest studies show that brick exteriors protect homes best.

Firefighters report that it takes about an hour and half for a fire to breach a brick homeas compared to fiber cement in under an hour and vinyl siding in just minutes. 

In a one-hour severe fire test conducted independently for the Brick Industry Association (BIA), brick passed easily. Vinyl siding burned after only 18 minutes, fiber cement  which outperforms wood and vinyl siding  failed in under an hour. Failure occurs when the wall collapses, flame or hot gas penetrates the wall or when the temperature rises to over 250 degrees or greater on the interior wall.

"Fired-clay brick is an essential element of strong, safe and sustainable homes that can also help reduce propertydamage,” said BIA President and CEO Ray Leonhard.

With brick, homeowners can be confident that their cladding can provide fire protection without other elements in the wall system to do the job. Fired-clay brick has tested to provide a minimum one-hour fire resistance rating aloneregardless of backing material—unlike other exteriors that need to incorporate fire-resistant materials in their wall systems,and this fact has been recognized by ASTM E119, Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials and the International Building Code (IBC).

Choosing brick exteriors to protect their own firehouses, firefighters say brick also helps slow the spread, offeringthe extra few minutes to help save lives and property. Made from abundant natural materials, fired-clay brick is free of volatile compounds that will not burn, melt or combust. Bricks innate fire resistance is why brick chimneys and steps are frequently the only things left standing after fire events.

Brick provides better protection than fiber cement and vinyl siding other ways, too. As hurricane season approaches,studies show that brick also scores highest in moisture resistance, wind/storm protection, earthquake and tornado resistanceand protection from wind-blown debris.

A 2004 wind-blown debris study demonstrates that a medium-sized and wind-blown object, such as a 7.5-foot long 2 x 4, would penetrate homes built with vinyl siding or fiber cement siding at a speed of 25 mph, but would need to exceed 80 mph to penetrate the wall of a genuine clay brick veneer home.

To learn more, go to Fire Prevention at www.gobrick.com.

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