Intumescent coating systems

Swart & Sons are one of Australia's leading experts in the passive fire protection of structural steel with the specification and application of intumescent coating systems.

This is a highly-specialised field far more involved than merely painting steelwork for aesthetic purposes.


Intumescent coatings are paint-like materials that are inert at low temperatures, but which provide insulation from extreme heat as a result of a complex chemical reaction at temperatures of around 200‑250°C.

As a result the coatings swell and provide an expanded layer of low conductivity char. Steelwork with correctly-applied intumescent coatings will not be affected by the high temperatures normally encountered in structural fires.

Put simply, intumescent coatings are used for the protection of structural steel from the effects of fire.

  • Steel loses strength immediately upon heating. This becomes critical from a structutal adequacy point of view when temperatures reach 300˚C.
  • At a temperature of 550˚C steel will retain about 50% of its room-temperature load capacity.
  • 550˚C is considered to be the failure point for structural steel columns that are exposed on all four sides.
  • 620˚C is considered to be the failure point for structural steel beams.
  • 700˚C is considered to be the failure point for structural steel supporting roof loads.
  • Failure temperatures can be as high as 750˚C for partially-exposed structural members and/or under loaded sections.

Intumescent coatings, when correctly applied, are able to prevent the collapse of the steel structure of a building for a prescribed period of time, ensuring that the necessary fire ratings levels (FRLs) are achieved.

Intumescent coatings provide a means of achieving the required FRLs without having to encase structural steel components in concrete, vermiculite or fire-rated boards.

Apart from potential cost savings, this allows structural steel components to become an architectural feature of a building's design.

what is an intumescent coating system comprised of?

Intumescent coating systems generally have three components:

  • A primer
  • The intumescent coating or basecoat
  • A sealer or topcoat

Of these three it is the basecoat that is the most important (in terms of passive fire protection)... this is the component that reacts to a fire.

What types of intumescent coatings are there?

There are many types of intumescent coatings available from many different manufacturers, all with varying specifications, uses, properties and abilities.

Generally, however, they can be broken down into three broad types of product...

  • Thin film, water-based intumescent coatings
  • Advanced, hybrid technology intumescent coatings
  • Epoxy‑based intumescent coatings

Each of these coating types has their own strengths and weakness. With our intimate knowledge of intumescent coating systems we are in an ideal position to advise you on the best product for your needs and provide expert, trained consultants to apply them.

who should specify and apply intumescent coating systems?

The integrity and the safety of a structure's occupants depends on the correct specification and application of its ICS. Don't leave it to chance, leave it to the experts... Swart & Sons.

Intumescent coating products

Swart & Sons utilise a range of intumescent coatings from highly reputable manufacturers with a proven track record of success and reliability.

International by akzonobel

International by AkzoNobel Intumescent Paints deliver anticorrosive and fire protection, fouling control technologies and aesthetic solutions for on and offshore.

Supported by high quality customer service and in-field support around the globe, the technologically-advanced International by AkzoNobel Intumescent Paints product range strives to satisfy customers’ needs now and in the future.

learn about international fire paints
jotun cellulosic fire protection

Jotun protect property by providing solutions that not only enhance the appearance of assets but ensures long-lasting durability. Their range of paints and coatings are inspired by technology, designed to meet the latest industry standards and developed with sustainability in mind.

Their specialties include premium decorative paints for long-lasting and beautiful finishes and coatings for corrosion and fouling protection of metal substrates and - most importantly - the passive fire protection of steel.

learn about jotun cellulosic fire protection

Learn more about intumescent coating systems

The Intumescent Coating Systems website is a wealth of information on this highly specialised field.

With information for architects, engineers, builders and property managers - experts and novices alike - it's the go-to website for all things intumescent.

visit the intumescent coating systems website
call us today on 08 8262 6226 for expert, reliable advice