ACP (Aluminium Composite Panel) cladding has become an increasingly popular construction material due to its sleek and modern appearance. However, after several high-profile fires caused by non-fire-resistant ACP cladding, many have raised the importance of using fire-resistant ACP cladding in buildings. In this article, we will explore what makes ACP cladding fire-resistant and why it is crucial to use fire-resistant ACP cladding in construction.
What is ACP Cladding?
ACP cladding consists of two aluminium skins that sandwich a core made of polyethylene, mineral-filled core or fire-retardant material. This material is commonly used to provide a decorative finish to the external walls of buildings. It can also be used for interior walls, ceilings, and signage.
Why is Fire-Resistant ACP Cladding Important?
In the past few years, there have been many high-profile fires caused by non-fire-resistant ACP cladding, including the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, which killed 72 people. In response to these incidents, many governments have tightened their regulations regarding the use of ACP cladding in construction. For example, in Australia, new regulations stipulate that all cladding must be fire-resistant, and any non-compliant ACP cladding must be removed.
To minimize the risk of fires caused by ACP cladding, it is essential to understand what makes ACP cladding fire-resistant.
5 Factors that Make ACP Cladding Fire-Resistant
1. Fire-Retardant Core Material
The core material of the ACP cladding is what determines its fire-resistant properties. A fire-retardant core material is one that has been treated with special additives that help to resist flames. For example, mineral-filled core panels use inorganic materials that can withstand heat without burning. These materials do not produce any flammable gases, which means they are less likely to spread fires quickly.
2. High Fire-Retardant Coating
The outer layer of the ACP cladding should be treated with a high fire-retardant coating to provide an extra layer of protection. This coating should be applied evenly to ensure that there are no weak spots that could be penetrated by flames. High fire-retardant coatings typically consist of a blend of fire-retardant chemicals that are designed to stop fires from spreading.
3. Non-Combustible Metal Skins
The metal skins of ACP cladding can be made out of different types of metal, including aluminium, zinc and copper. However, to classify as fire-resistant, the metal skins must be non-combustible. This means that they should not ignite or contribute to the spread of flames. Aluminium is a common choice for ACP cladding as it is more fire-resistant than other metals.
4. Minimizing Air Gaps
Air gaps between the cladding and the building can provide a path for fires to travel. The smaller the air gap, the less likely it is that fires will spread in this manner. To ensure fire-resistance, ACP cladding should be fitted tightly against the building with no air gaps. In other words, the ACP cladding should be installed as a continuous surface.
5. Complying with Fire Safety Regulations
Finally, to ensure that ACP cladding is fire-resistant, it must comply with relevant fire safety regulations. Different countries have different regulations, so it is essential to check with local authorities before installing ACP cladding. Compliance with fire safety regulations ensures that all components of the building, including ACP cladding, have passed rigorous tests for fire resistance.
Fire-resistant ACP cladding is a crucial component of modern building design. It has the potential to save lives and protect property by reducing the risk of fires caused by non-fire-resistant ACP cladding. By using fire-resistant ACP cladding, you can ensure that your building is as safe as possible from the threat of fire. The five factors - fire-retardant core material, high fire-retardant coating, non-combustible metal skins, minimizing air gaps, and complying with fire safety regulations - are all elements that contribute to making ACP cladding fire-resistant and ultimately, safe..