Have you considered how a fire could impact your home? If it were to start on your deck…how would it spread? At least 4% of house fires will begin on a deck - with the biggest cause of house fires being unattended cooking, meaning that grilling on your deck only increases the chances of fire. If you live in a fire zone, building a deck is about more than aesthetics. It’s also essential you choose fire-resistant decking to help protect your home and family in the event of a wildfire. Living in Central Oregon, the majority of properties in our area are also at risk for wildfires.
Effective fire safety should be a priority for every homeowner.
Being conscious of the fire resistance of your decking can help a fire that starts outside to end outside. In fact, your decking may be the protective barrier that keeps your home safe from fire damage.
It is important to understand that no wood or composite decking is truly fireproof. However, there are fire-rated decking options with specific certifications that make them a better choice for homes in fire zones.
Fire-resistant decking is decking made to a specific level of quality and resistivity to fire. This can include being non-combustible or treated with a fire retardant, depending on the decking material.
There are many different types of fire-resistant decking, including:
With any material, fire-resistant decking can better protect your property by preventing the spread of fire.
All fire-resistant decking is not made equal. The fire resistance of building materials is measured by Fire Class Ratings.
Fire Class Ratings classify materials based on their ability to “support and propagate fire.” With every rating, there is an assigned Flame Spread Index range. The Flame Spread Index tells you the rate the fire would travel during a ten-minute tunnel test. So, a lower rate of flame spread makes for a higher fire rating. (Source)
The Fire Class Ratings, with Class A being the best, are:
In simple terms, a Fire Class Rating tells you how quickly your decking will burn. The highest rating, Class A, is reserved for decking that takes the longest to succumb to a fire.
Fortress Evolution Steel Framing is a sturdy metal deck framing system. Fortress Steel Framing has a Class A rating. (Source)
TimberTech features capped polymer and capped composite decking. TimberTech combines sustainable manufacturing processes with innovative materials science to have Class A fire-resistant decking. (Source)
Trex is a popular, high-performance composite decking product. Trex’s Transcend and Select decking lines retain a Class B fire rating, while their Enhance decking lines retain a Class C fire rating. (Source)
Wood treated with the right chemicals for fire resistance can garner a Class A flame spread rating (the best rating) and be a good option for fire-resistant decking. However, fire-retardant chemicals may leech away in time, which can lower the fire-resistant efficacy of your wood deck.
Dense hardwoods like Ipe, Cumaru, and Batu can achieve a Class A or B fire rating with no chemical treatment at all thanks to natural properties of the wood. However, these woods are expensive, often contribute to deforestation, and are difficult to maintain to keep them looking their best. And over time, they’ll naturally fade and dry out without regular maintenance. Maintenance can involve cleaning, sanding, and treating with a UV protective oil or brightener, some of which can be flammable
While not a traditional decking material, aerated concrete may be the best when it comes to fire-rated decking. Aerated concrete is made of concrete and aluminum, making it super light, easy to work with, and non-combustible. The maor drawback…It’s the most expensive option on our list. And if you’re looking for fire-rated decking that gives you the beauty of real wood, aerated concrete simply doesn’t make the cut.