Fireproofing coatings are a crucial solution to mitigate the effects of a fire within a building but they can also bring a sense of beauty to a space. Also known as intumescent or fire-retardant paint, these specially formulated fire protection coatings have many benefits, including the fact that they can be applied on or offsite, internally and externally and offer up to 120 minutes of fire protection and can take up less space than a board or vermiculite solution. In this article, we’ll look at all the benefits of having intumescents available on-site, and how they transform and safeguard buildings.

What is intumescent paint?

Fireproofing coatings not only enhance aesthetics with a wide range of colours but also act as a protective barrier, delaying the onset of fire to the surfaces to which they are applied. Professional fire protection coatings look like traditional paints and varnishes but have a slightly textured surface when viewed up close, and comply with AS 1530.4 – 2014 and r.

An intumescent coating includes three components – a primer for adhesion and resistance, the intumescent coating itself, and a topcoat or sealer, which is available in custom colours. Intumescents are usually applied as a spray. The thickness that is applied depends on the fire rating required and the thickness of the material the intumescent is being sprayed onto.

There are three common types of intumescent paint –

Solvent-based Intumescent

Solvent-based coatings are effectively resistant to changing weather conditions as well as significant temperature changes and even humidity. This is why they are most commonly used in semi-exposed environments. Solvent-based coatings dry faster and have a smoother finish than other intumescents.

Epoxy-based Intumescent

Epoxy-based intumescents are the most heavy-duty and are used in harsh environments, offering excellent corrosion resistance. Epoxy-based intumescent comes in two parts which, when combined by an expert, form a thick and durable film that insulates and fireproofs steel and other heavy-duty materials.

Water-based Intumescent

These paints and coatings are more eco-friendly, and have less of an odour. Water-based intumescents are less tolerant to humidity and low temperatures, resulting in them usually taking longer to dry (cure).

How do intumescents work?

Intumescent paint and coatings work by creating a protective barrier over surfaces that slow down the steel heating up to a temperature where it loses its load-bearing capacity. When exposed to heat, intumescents react by forming a carbonaceous char layer that insulates the underlying substrate and reduces heat penetration.

What are the benefits of having intumescents on site?


Because applying intumescents is an efficient process for a passive fire expert and can be low-odour, intumescents are non-obtrusive and can be applied on-site, although many prefer off-site preparation for its many benefits. Intumescent paints are also suitable for both interior and exterior use, meaning that their application can be carried out in conjunction with other trades, whether within or outside of the building.


One of the most significant advantages of having intumescents on site is their versatility and compatibility with various substrates and surfaces. Intumescents can be applied to steel structures, concrete surfaces and timber, seamlessly adhering to them and providing a layer of protection on structures of any shape.


Intumescents are available in a range of topcoat options and colours, creating a finish that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is effective at fireproofing. To many clients, having the fireproofing of their building designed to match the desired colour scheme is a significant benefit.


When applied by experts, intumescent installations meet all safety regulations and building codes. By trusting a professional fireproofing team that ensures adherence to prescribed guidelines and legal specifications, project managers can rest assured that their projects are adequately protected against fire risks from a legal and compliance perspective.

Intumescents Experts

Having a professional fire protection coatings team on site has several benefits. From compliance and effective installation to flexible and versatile applications, and aesthetically appealing finishes, intumescents play a significantly beneficial role on site.

Intumescents are only effective when they are effectively installed. The application of intumescent requires specialised knowledge, expertise, and adherence to industry standards. It is always recommended that professional passive fireproofing experts are engaged for all intumescent installations.

PROFINISH is an expert in intumescent installations, having recently been entrusted to fireproof Australia’s largest Regional Arts Centre. We work with you in the design phase to determine the optimum time frame, quantity and colour of intumescent materials your project requires, to ensure that the installation process is seamless. We are also able to apply intumescent paints and coatings on and off-site, depending on your project requirements. Get in touch with a member of the PROFINISH team today.