Insulation Estimators guide for fireproofing estimating and firestopping takeoffs

Insulation estimators before committing to fireproofing estimating and firestopping takeoffs should know which materials are needed for fireproofing of certain building materials and assemblies in residential, commercial, and industrial projects. Fireproofing and fire insulations are some of the most important steps while constructing a unit or a building. It requires a vast knowledge of insulating materials along with the techniques to apply that material for full effectiveness.

In order to make the building fire resistant to some extent, thermal insulation is explored for more options. Insulation estimators must have the required information in order to provide quantifiable insulation estimating.

The information is required for fireproofing estimating as well as the fire stopping estimating. Both of these require extensive knowledge and expertise. Before moving on to the technicalities and nuances, let’s establish the concept of fireproofing and fire stopping for better understanding.

steel structure fireproofing

Difference between fireproofing and firestopping:

Fireproofing is a passive fire protection measure that indicates the process of making a material fire-resistant. It is done through different materials and insulation types.

While fire stopping is also a type of passive fire protection and is not very much different from the concept of fireproofing. The only difference is that it refers to the technique of using materials to seal around the openings and the joints in order to the fireproofing of a wall or a floor. Materials like silicone and firestop pillows etc. are used for air sealing.

Purpose of Insulation:

Insulation is used to maintain energy conservation while keeping the thermal resistance value to a standard of R-38. R-value refers to the thermal resistance “per unit area” where the desired energy is conserved. Different insulation materials have different R-values which decide the usability and effectiveness of the materials.

Various insulation materials like spray foam insulationbatt insulation, and cellulose insulation are used for the purpose of fire proofing whereas there is a range of multiple materials used for the whole insulation purposes.

The process of fireproofing is done while the site work is in progress. It is related to the architecture as well as the electrical work in the building. Electric trays carrying the bulk of wires need to be fireproof so that they may be protected in case of any hazard. Moreover, boilers and HVAC system in the commercial sectors need fireproofing as well. The whole process requires technical knowledge regarding the different types of insulations and caulking. Insulations and costs are discussed and the best options are decided upon when doing firestopping estimating.

Fireproofing and insulation not only require the in-depth knowledge of techniques and materials to be used, it also requires the fireproofing contractors and inspectors to have clear fireproofing estimating.

The Insulation estimator should have presumably knowledge for fireproofing estimating, of reading the plans, and fully equipped with the technical specifications of where and how fireproofing and insulation are applied for specific purposes.

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What needs to be fireproofed?

Before laying out the focused markets and material information is very important to underline which parts require insulation in the process of construction. The units that are required to be fireproofed vary from sector to sector. For example, in the industrial sector, structural steels and process vessels are fireproofed. Similarly, in larger units, HVAC and boilers are to be insulated in order to avoid damage. Similar to structural steels in the industrial sector, wooden structures require insulation in residential sectors. Insulation estimators take into account these details and provide the fireproof estimates.

Electrical circuits and electrical trays are also fireproofed to be kept under 140 degrees. Firewalls and fire barriers are constructed throughout the buildings in order to make them fire-resistant and so that fire will not spread from one unit to another. Thermal insulations are employed in the whole building structure from the floor to the roof. Fire barriers have a smaller scope and usually span to one floor.

Traffic tunnels also require work in terms of fireproofing. Because of exposure to the vehicles carrying flammable materials like petrol and other hydrocarbons.

There is also an important concept of fireproof vaults in order to keep important documents safe and away from hazards.

In the residential sector as well as the commercial sector, basement insulation is an important practice. Since there is a larger use for basements in these areas and it can pose a potential threat in terms of hazards, insulating basement walls seems like a practical idea. Fireproof takeoffs are estimated according to the need.

Now as we have marked up the areas where it is done, let us discuss in detail the components that are fireproofed using insulations.

Components that require fireproofing:

Steel, Beams, and Columns:

The specific components that are fireproofed in structural steels are the beams and columns. Fire stopping estimating is mainly focused on these. Spray foam insulation is commonly used for this purpose however; it is not the only type of insulation to be used for these components. Stainless steels are becoming popular due to their oxidation resistance and strength. Taking the firestopping measure can increase the lifespan of the steel beams and hence the overall unit.

Another type of insulation other than intumescent coatings is the rigid board fireproofing that is quick and easy and can be employed while employing the steel decks and beams. Other methods include blanket systems and autoclaved aerated concrete which works efficiently especially around steel columns.

Pipes, pipelines, and pipe joints:

Piping is something that is not essentially fireproofed. Pipe racks are at greater risk if not fireproofed properly. It is important to have fire-resistant casings for pipes. Guniting is the most popular method for this. This requires the pipes to be sprayed with a mixture of concrete or mortar. Pipe insulation of pipe bridges is also done through intumescent coatings.

Fireproofing, firestopping and insulation estimating

Pipe joints require the technique of caulking to be employed. It is to seal the joint in order to avoid any leakage and to avoid a fire hazard. Common types include acrylic latex and vinyl latex. Firestop takeoffs include all these items that are required for fireproofing as well as fireproofing estimating.

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Floor, walls, roofs, ceilings:

Floor, walls, and roofs are essentially fireproofed while constructing a unit. The cavities are filled with the insulation material between the framing walls and ceilingsBatt insulation is one of the most common types of insulation used for this purpose. There are different applications for these insulating materials for different purposes. Liquid foam insulation is also a common material used. The insulation estimators, according to their usage estimate all these materials.

Vessels, tanks, piping & supports:

The decision for fireproofing of these units requires a careful analysis of risk at first. It is a good practice to first analyze the threat level for vessels, piping, and supports, etc. and then analyze the time for which the insulation is required.  The position of this equipment is important to locate. Vessel skirts and pipe bridges also require insulation to be kept under the 540 degrees. Estimators need to know this for doing fire stopping estimating as well as fireproofing estimating.

Flanges/valves, ducts, metal stud framing:

Flanges are the method of connecting pipes and equipment to form a piping system. These are usually welded and hence are not fire-resistant. These require fireproofing as well. Also, metal stud framings are combustible to some extent. These are regarded as non-combustible according to the IBC. Ducts and HVAC ducts require fireproofing as these are highly prone to catch fire. Ductwork insulation is essential in order to ensure the overall fire safety of the building. Rigid fireboard insulation is used to fireproof these ducts, which will be affected, by high temperatures. HVAC contractors usually install these. Flexible ductwork requires expertise and suitable materials.

The insulation of valves requires either the fireproof weather bags or insulated steels.

Field Joints are usually fireproofed through spray fireproofing to avoid the failure of steel structures. These joints require insulation in order to avoid the collapse in case of high temperatures. This can help in avoiding the potential damage to the completely constructed unit.

Cable trays, control panels, actuators:

Fireproofing of cable trays and control panels is important in order to ensure that these operate long enough to perform a system shutdown in case of fire. This should also be done in order to eliminate the risk of short circuits and grounding for electrical continuity.

The most common passive fire protection methods for trays and actuators are intumescent coatings and rigid enclosures. Flexible thermal blankets are also used for fireproofing the actuators.

Controls & Instrumentation also require insulation. The instruments are to be coated with insulation materials to avoid hazards and instrument failures. Insulation contractors use the services of insulation estimators to get the estimations and fireproof takeoffs.

LPG Containers:

Gas and LPG containers are at the highest risk of destroying everything in case of a fire eruption. Exposed to high temperature, this can cause an explosion which can result in the increase in damage and intensity of the fire. A sublimation coating is usually done for insulation.

Types of Fireproofing:

As we have enlisted the areas and components that require fireproofing, the types of insulating material must be discussed in detail in order to have a better understanding of fireproofing. There are many competent brands that provide quality material for insulation. These include; ISOLATEK, Carboline which deals majorly in industrial fireproofing, Rockwool, BASF, and DuraSystems barriers, Inc. Others include Holdrite, 3M, and Cemco.


There are different types of fireproofing the use of which depends on the application and nature of the unit that requires insulation. The utility if different types of insulation are best under risk-based analysis and controlled environment. The type of insulation to be used is decided after a very careful evaluation of the project. Fireproofing contractors and inspectors must be aware of all the factors involved. The details of different types of fireproofing are listed below in detail for an in-depth knowledge for fire protection engineers and architects.

1. Spray Fireproofing

Technically, this type is known as Sprayed Fire Resistive Material or SFRM. This type of fireproofing controls condensation. The composition of SFRMs consists of cement or gypsum and often contains minerals like quartz and perlite. Cement or gypsum is used due to its property of getting hard after drying. However, modern formulas do not contain asbestos and hence do not pose a threat to health.

2. Fiberglass

The composition of fiberglass, as the name predicts, consists of fibers made from glass. These are then combined with plastic polymers. This makes this type of insulation naturally fire-resistant. Different industrial sectors use fiberglass because of this intrinsic property and combine it with batt insulation. Batt, however, requires careful evaluation.

3. Mineral Wool

The composition of mineral wool consists of recycles iron and steel byproducts. Actual mineral rocks are also used. This makes the material fire-resistant. This makes it a great fit for use in various industries and various equipment like HVAC ducts and control panels.

4. Cellulose insulation:

The cellulose is composed of foam materials, which are non-combustible to a higher extent. However, fire-resistant chemicals are added to cellulose insulation in order to enhance its capacity of withstanding the higher temperatures. This is mainly used in walls and roof cavities. Different types of cellulose are used for the purpose that includes dry cellulose, as well as spray, applied cellulose.

5. Cementitious foam insulation:

It is cement-based insulation that has an R-value similar to that of fiberglass. It is applied in the form of spray foam and is nonflammable. It is used for insulating pipes and wiring. It is different from concrete and is not very good for application in open cavities. Procreate is cementitious insulation that provide hydrocarbon and cellulosic fire protection for structural steel.  Fendolite and interkote are also the types of cementitious based foam insulations that provide jet fire resistance.

6. Guniting

It is the process of applying a mixture of mortar or concrete on a surface. It is also known as shotcrete. Since it uses cement or mortar, it makes a non-combustible surface and is good for insulating. Valves and pipes are insulated through this process.

7. Asbestos Fireproofing

This type of insulation is commonly used in old houses or buildings for hot water piping insulation and furnace insulation. Asbestos is quite dangerous to be used in insulation and poses great threats. It is composed of silicate materials which are known to be expanding in case of fire. This type of fire prevention was used in the textile industry and construction. But the practice has now been updated due to the health risk involved.

8. Metal Foam insulation (Open cell foam, Close Cell Foam):

This type of insulation consists of metals which are porous and contain large fractions of gas. These pores can be sealed, commonly known as close cell foam. Alternatively, they can form an interconnected network known as open-cell foam. Due to its porosity which is linked with its density, it can penetrate the higher temperatures and hence can prove to be quite effective when used for insulation.

9. Intumescent Fireproofing

Epoxy, Acrylic, Primer, Epoxy, Tie-Coats, Polyurethane, Seal Coat, Vinyl Esters are all the types of intumescent fireproofing. Intumescent coatings are mainly used for fire resistance of steel structures. These are great in terms of expansion as they will expand up to 100 times the thickness of the structure when exposed to high temperatures. This is applied as a paint. Layers upon layers are added which increases the overall thickness of the product. These are also great for wooden structures. Many of these products are used in caulking and fire stopping. As these are great at filling the cavities and hence air sealing is achieved through this.

10. Welding Blanket

Welding blanket is the type of insulation used in the welding process. It is designed to protect the welder as well as the equipment. It is composed of vermiculite and inorganic fibrous material. It is also made of leather, which is naturally fire resistant.

Fireproof takeoffs consist of these various types of insulations and are done keeping in view the utility of the respective type.

Markets of Fireproofing

1. Residential:

While building houses, people look for materials that will not burn. They usually find the answer in ICFs. This term stands for Insulated concrete forms that fit together to make a shell for the house. Along with this, roof insulation is also done by using suitable materials. Since ICFs do not include roofing and siding hence, the owners have to explore other wall insulations in order to fireproof the building. Insulating basement walls is also a priority and hence concrete along with intumescent coatings are used to achieve that purpose. The coatings are applied just like paint and are good for both structural steel and structural woods. The residential sector is included in fireproofing estimating.

2. Commercial

In commercial sectors, fire proofing techniques are applied to the structural steels that make the basic architecture of the building. Since the exposure to the public is greater here, structural steel must be fireproof in order to ensure the strength. For maintaining the integrity of the steel, a number of insulation measures are practiced. Structural steel is encased in concrete, which is fireproof in itself and reduces the risk to temperature exposure. Steel beams are coasted with gypsum board and also the SFRMs. Insulation estimators provide the estimates of materials to be used for beam and ceilings insulation. For example, the quantity required for a beam having spray insulation W 8×10 will be 3,580 with a waste margin of 5%. In addition, the quantity required for a beam having spray insulation W 12×26 is 16 with a waste margin of 5% as well. These kinds of estimates make it easy for contractors to decide on the quantities of insulating materials. Insulation estimators are aware of the firestop takeoffs in these sectors and hence provide the quantifiable insulation estimating.

3. Industrial

Industrial construction requires fireproofing as well. Passive fire protection, measures are taken to ensure fire safety in the industries. This includes the insulation of equipment, cable trays, and ductwork insulationThe parts of buildings that are most focused on in the industries are the basements and ceilings. Batt insulation or spray foam insulation is the most widely used in the industries. Process Industry like Oil & Gas Refinery and Hydrocarbon processing are more prone to fire hazards. Thermal insulation is done through different processes, types, and materials. It is also done to increase the mechanical strength of the structure. Corrosion of substructures can affect the strength, which makes it weaker, and in case of a fire hazard or temperature, increase the structure is likely to fail. Vapor barrier and waterproof spray foam are necessary for the fireproofing of industrial structures. The massive scope of insulation in the industrial sector helps the insulation estimators with a clear fireproof estimating and fire stopping estimating.

4. Marine and Offshore oil and gas:

Fireproofing is of equal value where marines and offshore oil and gas are concerned. At sea, a ship requires as much fire protection as an industry. Catching fire in the middle of a huge water body even with the protective measures can cause great damage. Marine fireproofing requires a thorough evaluation of multiple risk-based scenarios. There are many consultants for this including naval architects, marine authorities, and ship designers. Different waterproof materials are used for this purpose. Waterproof spray foams other types of thermal insulations are used.

5. Mining Operations and Tunnel Concrete:

Unprepared mines hold great dangers in terms of fire hazards. It can be a serious threat. The complex operations like mining require the installation of large scale fire systems. Fire can occur in draglines as well as substations and workshops. Non-gaseous systems are used for mobile units. Other structures like control panels and steelworks are fireproofed using different types of thermal insulation like radiant barriers and reflective insulation. Fireproofing estimating is done in mining operations keeping in view the dire need of fireproofing underwater.

Tunnel concretes are tested on various standards to make them fireproofed. The air sealing properties and moisture content in the concrete are checked. The rate of heating and temperature rising is noted through different trials. Concrete is one of the most effective fireproofing material and hence is widely used across different industries. The applications of fireproofing are required in these areas. Tunnels are prone to catching fire and high temperatures because of the vehicles carrying hydrocarbons and highly combustible elements.

6. Welding and Drilling Platforms

In work fields like welding, fire is essentially a necessity and a hazard at the same time. A massive amount of heat is generated in both the process of welding and drilling. Drilling produces heat energy and thus the temperature is likely to rise in enormous steel structures. Both the process are essential processes in the construction process. For the purpose of fireproofing, a welding blanket is used as an insulating material. Refractories are essentially prone to fire and hence the threat of fire hazard can be eliminated during drilling by using these hard and heat-resistant materials in construction. These refractories include cement and bricks.

7. High Rise Building

High-rise buildings have a unique kind of challenges in terms of fire safety. The factors that require attention are the ways of evacuation and response time of the fire department along with the smoke movement. Hence, the fireproofing of high-rise buildings require multiple measures. The fireproofing of pipes and vents along with the flanges and valves of the building are important to look at in this regard. The whole building structure and steel structure must be fireproofed by using insulation materials like concrete and batt insulations. There should be thermal insulation for the basement walls in order to avoid collusion.

We have listed all the important information that you are going to need in order to understand fireproofing and fire stopping. Thermal insulation is required to be done in every field and particular knowledge is required for doing so. Fireproof takeoffs and fire stopping estimating are of immense importance and insulation estimators and contractors work accordingly. This is everything that the fireproofing contractors and fire protection engineers need to know about the fireproofing and insulation estimating and fireproofing estimating.

Stay safe and build safely.

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