Can I Upgrade Existing Doorsets To Enhance Their Fire Resistance?

Can I Upgrade Existing Doorsets To Enhance Their Fire Resistance?

If you are responsible for the safety and maintenance of fire doorsets within a commercial or residential building, you may have considered your options around upgrading your existing doorsets, or replacing them entirely with new fire-resistant doorsets.

In most cases, it is preferable to replace existing doors, rather than upgrade them. Despite common misconception, replacing a doorset is a more cost-effective solution. And – by selecting a reputable manufacture and installation package –  you will gain an added safety assurance; one that you cannot always guarantee through upgrading alone.

In this post, we explore the notion of upgrading your existing fire doorset, what you should be aware of and, ultimately, whether it’s worth it.

We’ll also be taking this opportunity to reference RW Maintain – our Nationwide maintenance and passive fire doorset installation package.

Read on…

When Might You Consider Upgrading, Rather Than Replacing Your Doorset?

Listed buildings. Put simply, some buildings of historical importance may be listed and therefore may place limitations around the removal and replacement of doors. This will likely be due for preservation reasons.

In this situation, it will be necessary to perform the upgrading works whilst maintaining compliance with relevant fire safety and standards. This, however, is a challenge and one is commercially expensive.

Fire Door guide CTA

Your responsibilities: What the law says about fire doorsets

If you’re an employer, building operator, building owner (or even the building owner’s agent), you will be classified as the ‘Responsible Person’ and therefore it is your duty to ensure the safety of occupants and users, taking relevant precautions to maintain the premises’ safety.

As the Responsible Person, you should be familiar with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order, 2005 (PRO). It is a document which covers public buildings, places of employment, entertainment, leisure – as well as common areas of buildings that contain individual flats. The Reform highlights all possible areas that are required to have a fire door.

Not only this, but the reform also places ownership on the Responsible Person to ensure a suitable system of maintenance for fire doors. This means they should be in an efficient state, in good working order and in good repair.

Minimum Standards

It’s important to note that there is a benchmark for fire performance tests BS 476-22:1987 or BS EN1634-1:2014, and adding to that, other critical characteristics of a fire door, e.g. smoke control, should also comply with the relevant performance test BS 476-31.1.

How to upgrade fire doors

If the original door is made from timber, and your fire door inspector has deemed it suitable, it may be possible to upgrade it to a fire door. This is due to the fact that timber reacts relatively well in a fire situation – as in it burns at a predictable rate according to density. In theory, added protection, such as intumescent and/or smoke seals can be added.

At this stage, it’s important to mention, however, that upgrading works is not just simply a case of adding more material; you’re relying on a high level of expertise, and this cannot always be guaranteed.

This also has significant cost implications, and you may find that replacing a doorset is a far more cost-effective choice.

Times have changed

Today, proof of performance is fully reliant upon documentation such as evidence-based reports and certification, rather than the prescriptive method that may have been acceptable a decade ago. That’s why guidance from Fire & Rescue Services often note that ‘increasing the fire resistance [of existing doors] is not normally acceptable.’

An example of this can be found in West Yorkshire’s FR&S document here.

What products can be used in a fire door upgrade?

The industry as a whole has invested heavily in product performance, so it instances where an upgrade is required, there is access to a wide variety of materials to ensure safety. These include:

-Intumescent edge seals

-Smoke seals

-Intumescent paints and varnishes

-Intumescent sheet materials

-Laminate boards

-Fire protection boards

However, ensuring the door itself is suitable for upgrading will be your first step. Doors made with thin timber panels, a small frame dimension or a hollow internal core, for example, will cause warping issues in a fire situation, and will likely result in a failure.  As will door frame clearance gaps exceeding 3 or 4mm. These should be in accordance with the required 2mm to 4mm.

Correct product choice is extremely important, and the door’s construction will determine what types of intumescent protection are needed. Other components, such as whether it’s a single leaf or double leaf, latched or unlatched should also be taken into consideration.

Fire Door guide CTA

Conclusion: Should I upgrade or replace my fire door?

There are very few instances where upgrading an existing door is the only option available. In most cases, a replacement is the most sensible, safe and economical option.

Upgrading a fire door is costly, timely and requires a specialist skillset.

Maintain your doorsets

RW Maintain provide regular pro-active maintenance on timber doorsets, either supplied by RW Doorsets or supply and installed by RW Install within a pre-agreed maintenance period and with fixed costs, utilising genuine replacement doorsets and ironmongery from RW Doorsets. They will also service and maintain doorsets from other manufacturers .

For buildings in disrepair, RW Maintain will remove existing failed doorsets and replace with fully certified new manufactured and installed doorsets. (This is passive fire doorset replacement) Doorsets ending their useful life and doorsets that are unable to assure fire certification or compliance will need replacement.

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