When painting or changing hardware on a fire rated door/frame, there are a few things consider before starting. Otherwise, you could compromise that fire rated door or frame’s integrity and void the rating. Kristi Dietz (LaForce Engineering Training Manager) has outlined some important maintenance considerations for updating these types of doors and frames:
(1) Do not paint over the fire label. Per NFPA 80, labels must be readily visible, and if a fire rated label is painted over, the door/frame is no longer compliant until the label is again legible. Since it is difficult to remove paint from a label, it is a good idea to first cover the label with painters tape. After painting is complete, you can just peel off the tape.
Exception: If the label is embossed directly into a door or frame, you may be allowed to paint over it. Both SDI 118 & SDI 122 allow embossed labels to be painted over as long as all of the information is still legible after painting is complete.
(2) Do not fill holes with body filler (Bondo) or fire stop material. If holes are left in a fire rated hollow metal door/frame due to the removal of hardware, NFPA 80 states that those existing holes can only be filled with: (1) like material of the door or frame, or (2) a steel fastener that completely fills the holes. Bondo can still play a part in the repair, but in the following way: Fill the hole with a steel screw and, if desired, grind off the head. Then use Bondo to smooth out the door surface before painting.
Note: You cannot weld over the steel screw and then grind the area smooth. Welding the door surface is considered a field modification and would require a field inspection and recertification of the door when complete.
For wood doors with holes that are left due to the removal of hardware, the same options mentioned above apply. But if you are looking for a way to fill the hole without seeing a steel screw, there is another option: You can use a fire door caulk specifically tested to fill holes on fire rated wood doors. This product, made by Fire Door Solutions, is approved to fill up to ¾” diameter hole in a fire rated wood door.
(3) Before installing surface applied products (such as signage), consider the requirements of NFPA 80. Many people do not realize the following:
Signage on a fire door is limited to no more 5% of the door surface and must be attached by use of an adhesive (not screws or nails). Also, signage is not to be installed directly on glass in a fire door.
Protection plates, such as kickplates, that are mounted higher than, or extend higher than 16” from the bottom of the door, must be labeled for use on fire doors. Labeled protection plates are not required if the plate remains within the bottom 16” of the door.
(4) When adding new hardware to an existing fire rated door or frame, there are very few preps that can be added in the field without voiding the label. Per NFPA 80, unless you have permission to modify the door/frame from the laboratory who originally listed them, the most you can do in is add holes up to 1” diameter for surface applied hardware, function holes for mortise locks, or labeled door viewers. Larger than 1” diameter holes are allowed but only for cylinders. All other modifications to the door/frame will require field inspection and recertification of the opening.
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