A safe bet for aesthetics and efficiency

With efficiency and aesthetics and well as safety being top priorities in domestic settings, Mark Lester of Hörmann UK discusses the key features fire doors need to have for residential projects

The safety and security of property and its occupants is obviously high on the list of priorities when choosing building materials, fixtures, and finishes, while not compromising on practicality and style. With UK Government statistics showing that in 2018/19 there were over 29,000 fires in domestic dwellings, the fitting of modern and effective fire doors will help provide peace of mind, and protect property and people.

A fire door plays an important role in not only in protecting against flame and heat, but also in preventing the penetration of smoke through the door. Today the most common fire door type fitted in domestic settings is a FD30, which will provide protection of at least 30 minutes. However, there are doors on the market that can offer protection of 60, 90 and 120 minutes, if required.

The specification of fire doors for domestic dwellings is covered by Building Regulations – Part B. Compliance with the regulations means that for buildings of more than two levels, a fire door should be fitted on any doorway of a habitable room leading onto a stairwell or escape route but excluding bathrooms and toilets. Also, in the case of an integral or attached garage, a fire door should always be fitted between the main house and garage; and with the increase of mixed use buildings they should be fitted between the residential and business elements.

Industry bodies such as the Door and Hardware Federation recommend the use of fire resisting door sets, which are supplied complete with all essential parts from a single source. The benefit of using a door set is that it is supplied as a whole system, including door leaf, frame, intumescent seals, smoke seals, hinges, hardware etc. It is designed and manufactured to perform as a single unit and tested and certified as such.

Testing and certification of fire doors sets is to BS EN 16034, which sets out the product standards and performance criteria which must be met for the door to be used for either fire resistance or smoke control. Door sets which comply with this standard require a certificate of consistency of performance which is issued by a notified product certification body, along with a declaration of performance and the application of a CE mark. However, with the imminent withdrawal of the UK from the EU, following the Brexit transition period, some changes in product accreditation will come into effect. The new UKCA mark will become effective from 1 January 2021 and will coexist with the CE mark for 12 months. From 1 January 2022 the CE mark will cease to be recognised in the UK and will be fully replaced by the UKCA mark.

With this in mind, architects should ensure door sets are compliant with the above, and that due diligence is taken throughout the specification process.

Fire doors that are supplied as complete door sets shorten installation time, as the frame, architrave and door are all supplied together. This enables the installer to fit the door quickly and easily to various wall sizes, while also making maintenance simple and easy, diminishing any potential disruption for the homeowner. Fire doors should be fitted by a fully qualified, professional installer to ensure that the integrity of the door is not compromised in any way during the fitting process.

It is also important that the internal door selected is not only fit for purpose, but also complements the overall design scheme. While importance has traditionally been placed on the functionality of internal doors, manufacturers are now focusing on supplying a wide range of door styles which meet both the practical and aesthetic requirements of individual projects. From elegant, classic styling to more contemporary modern designs, fire doors are offered in a wide choice of colours such as modern greys, traditional woodgrains and on-trend colours such as Taupe.

The latest advancements in aesthetics are also placing greater importance on texture, with decorative surfaces such as slate, linen, and horizontal woodgrains being a popular choice, particularly when available in a range of shades and finishes. A particularly fun choice for kitchens, children’s bedrooms and playrooms is the ultra-matt contemporary surface which can be written on with chalk.

When choosing modern fire doors for a domestic project today, it is now easy to satisfy all the required safety and security aspects, without having to compromise when considering the overall design and finish of the property.

Mark Lester is internal door manager at Hörmann UK