Fact or Fiction: Can Concrete Burn in a Fire?

August 26, 2021 7:22 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If we learned anything from the story of the Three Little Pigs, it’s that a house made of stone is the strongest house you can build. Sure, there’s also that whole moral about work ethic, but the takeaway is really that stone homes are the safest you can build. In that tale, the stone house was able to withstand the mighty blows of a terrorizing, big, bad wolf.

Spoiler alert: In the original story, there was a fire involved in the end that helped the pigs defeat the wolf and leave the stone house standing strong. The fact that the pigs were able to light a fire in the stone chimney to defeat the wolf as he tried to sneak in brings up another point: Stone doesn’t burn. Concrete is made of crushed stone and dirt (usually limestone, clay and gypsum). So that makes concrete fire resistant, too, right? Naturally, it does.

But wait, what about lava? Hot lava is just melted rock, and it’s hotter than just about any other naturally-occurring solid material. Does that mean concrete can melt, too?

Here’s some information about concrete and fires to help judge if concrete is fire resistant.

Concrete and fire

Concrete walls are indeed fire resistant. If you’re ever seen the aftermath of a fire, often, all that’s left will be steel beams and concrete walls. Concrete walls can even help slow or stop flames from passing from one side of a wall to another in the event of a fire in the building.

But this doesn’t mean homes made of concrete are fireproof. Other construction materials like wood will burn, as will flammable objects inside the home. Concrete walls may not burn, but they can get extremely hot, which creates radiating heat that can linger for hours after a fire is passed.

Concrete and other masonry products must be tested for fire resistance before being declared fire resistant. Tests have continuously shown that concrete is the most fire resistant of commonly used building materials.

This is due to the fact that the materials that comprise concrete are chemically inert. That means they are naturally resistant to catching on fire. As a material, concrete has a slow heat-transfer rate. This makes it a good material to keep a space climate-controlled, but it also helps control the spread of flames in the event of a fire.

Concrete is a more expensive material to build with than wood, which is one reason why it’s not seen in the majority of home construction. It is on the rise, however, with about 17 percent of new home construction being made with concrete framing, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

With more than 40 years of experience, Kwiatkowski Construction Co., Inc. is your best bet for any and all types of concrete work, including framing new homes with concrete. Contact us today to get started on the home construction project of your dreams. We look forward to providing an initial consultation and estimate for your project!

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