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Contego Fire Barrier Scores Exceptional Test Results on UL-1715

We are excited to share perhaps the most exceptional set of test results ever announced regarding any intumescent fire barrier and its ability to protect spray polyurethane foam insulation (SPF).

SPF is unmatched as an insulation product, as well as an excellent sound and moisture barrier.  It must be protected from fire, though, in any situation where the space is being occupied or used as storage.  There are a few ways to protect spray polyurethane foam insulation, but nothing matches Contego’s reactive intumescent fire barrier coating. Contego is thin, beautiful, completely non-toxic and easily applied.

Until Contego, test results were limited to a maximum of 15 minutes, which qualified it as a “thermal barrier”.  (There is a lesser rating for unoccupied space called an “ignition barrier”, but there are several products that can do this, so that is of little interest to us.)

Now all of that has changed. You can check out a live burn of spray polyurethane foam in the video below (2nd half):

Even though a few spray foam products are marketed as being fireproof, you can see that they are not. However, with two coats of Contego’s intumescent fire barrier, SPF is protected well above and beyond code requirements. Even repeated burns can’t get to the foam when coated with Contego.

Here’s the exciting part. Note that all metrics were flat by 6:00.00 and remained so until the end of the test. Had the test been able to run for multiple hours, it is only logical to assume it would have performed no differently than it did at 6:00.00. This is further supported by our EN-13823 test outcome, which you can view (here-part 1 and here-part 2), that also flat lined in under six minutes and stayed flat for an additional 20 minutes before the test was terminated. Is one hour now possible? How about two? Frankly, it would have been able to go all day.

Click here to view the formal, finished report from UL describing the results of using Contego fire barrier on GACO western foam using the UL-1715 standard.

Please see our Polyurethane Foam Fire Test page if you would like to see other Contego fire barrier tests on spray polyurethane foam insulation.

9/11 and Why Adhesion Matters with Fire Retardant Paint

delamination of paint coating

The delamination on this example shows that poor application can cause failure of adhesion just as an explosion can.

Utilizing fire retardant paint for your fireproofing needs is more than just adhering to building guidelines — it can mean life or death. The tragedy of 9/11 made the case for that point forever.

“If the steel in the World Trade Center could have been adequately protected for just a little longer, it might not have fallen,” says Tony Scott, Contego executive vice president.

As flames engulfed the Twin Towers, the steel was exposed to temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than a normal cellulosic fire because of the jet fuel.

However, an even bigger problem was the total failure in adhesion. The impact completely stripped the substrates of their protective coating.

When heated to 1,000°F, steel loses half its strength: For instance, a beam supporting 2,000 tons could only support half that weight at 1,000°F, putting the entire structure at risk. “The World Trade Center collapsed because it could no longer support itself,” says Scott, “The weight of the floors above the failure acted like a pile driver collapsing the floor below. The increasing momentum guaranteed the total destruction of the Towers.”

Contego thin film acrylic copolymer latex protects against fire

By making sure you’ve used an intumescent product with excellent adhesion, you’ll keep structural steel (or any underlying substrate) cool and intact during a fire.

Fire retardant paint keeps steel from reaching dangerous temperatures by insulating the substrate, even in extreme conditions. As flames heat the steel, the substrate loses shape. But fire retardant paint with strong adhesion allows the coating to continue to stick to the steel without flaking off.

While the fire might be burning at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the coating keeps the steel at a safe temperature for as long as possible.

Fire-resistant coatings can’t withstand heat indefinitely, but the aim is to protect the steel long enough so the fire burns out or help arrives.

Furnace fire tests and control burns show that Contego protects steel “extremely well for up to three hours restrained,” says Scott.

For more on the best way to test the adhesion of fire retardant paint and how to pick the perfect fire-resistant coat for your project, download our eBook.


Click here to get the ebook on Adhesion and Intumescent Paint



What’s the Best Way to Test Intumescent Coating Adhesion?

A paramount part of building design and planning, fireproofing improves building safety and longevity. Applied like paint, fire retardant intumescent coatings offer a relatively new option to protect your project. These materials shield steel and other substrates from dangerous flames, while standing up to other elements like weather.

But how can you tell which intumescent coating offers the best protection? A critical, but commonly overlooked measurement of an intumescent coating’s fire protection is its adhesion — or how well it sticks to a substrate — and its cohesion — or strength of the coating itself.

There are two ways to evaluate the adhesion and cohesion of paint: the tape test and pull-off adhesion test.

For the tape test, (ASTM D3359) cross or ribbon cuts are made into a coated surface, and a special tape is used to pull off the paint.

Your intumescent coating will peel if the adhesion isn't good

See what can happen when your coating has poor adhesion? Click the peeling paint to get our free ebook with more information on adhesion and intumescent paint.

During the pull-off adhesion test, (ASTM D4541) which is the industry’s more definitive test, this is what occurs:

• A steel plug, called a dolly, is placed on the coated surface.

• A large amount of pressure is then applied to pull up the plug and the coating.

• Testers then determine if the failure was adhesive or cohesive.

• The amount of pull, measured in pounds per square inch, is increased until the bond eventually fails.

• The higher the number, be better the bond.

“Ideally what you want to see is an adhesive failure because that means you’re getting the maximum strength out of the intumescent coating, and the failure is not within the coating, but rather at the substrate,” explains Tony Scott, Contego International executive vice president.  In both tests, Contego received a perfect score — zero loss or 100 percent adhesion on both the cross cut and ribbon cut variants of ASTM-D3359. “You can’t get better than that,” says Scott. On the ASTM D4541, Contego showed 631 psi of bond strength. The closest competitor demonstrated half the adhesion Contego has, while most had one-third to one-fifteenth of Contego’s strength.

Contego Intumescent Coating Adheres tightly to concrete core sample


Contego adhered tightly to cut concrete core sample.

Fred Stack, president of Boss Construction Group, recently joined Lindsay Construction to test Contego products on a 6-inch concrete core sample. “It was amazing how Contego still adhered to all surfaces, even after the concrete was cut out,” says Stack. The core sample “looked like it was just sprayed,” adding that officials at Lindsay Construction “were very impressed.”

 In a fire, the superior adhesion in Contego’s intumescent acrylic copolymer latex paint keeps steel and other substrates from reaching failure or flashover temperatures.


Click here to get the ebook on Adhesion and Intumescent Paint