Radiant Barrier Fire Testing Results – ASTM E84 & ASTM E2599

What’s the deal with fire test requirements ASTM E84 and ASTM E2599? Is one product better than the other?

Recently, we have heard a lot of talk about fire codes and what is right for a commercial building. This talk has caused a lot of confusion among people researching radiant barrier and so we hope to help give you the info you need, so you can make the choice that is best for your situation.

 

First, as is true with any sort of construction project, you should confirm with local building codes to know what the rules are regarding adding insulation to a structure. Codes are regularly updated and changed, so this is the best place to start.

 

Second, the ASTM E84 is a test that measures burn characteristics of the tested material and the ASTM E2599 is simply the standard of how the product being tested should be mounted, when it is tested. Some companies have tossed these terms around to gain credibility, when really they offer little more than just telling you their product was tested under the normal standard guidelines that are in place for radiant barriers.

 

Third, pretty much all radiant barrier products can burn. How quickly they burn or how much smoke is created when they burn can vary from product to product, but don’t think that a waving endorsement of E84 or E2599 means you’re getting a fireproof material – that simply is not true. If you still need convincing, go to the ASTM website and you can read summary pages of each standard, so don’t just take our word for it – go straight to the source! Furthermore, as of now, most buildings codes have chosen not to adopt the new ASTM tests regarding burn characteristics of a radiant barrier.

 

WareHouseFoil™ is the best radiant barrier product available. Period. You don’t just have to take our word for it either, we recommend you read some of the 1,500+ customer reviews on our radiant barrier reviews page. The difference between our product and most products claiming these tests is that ours is a pure aluminum product and the others are metalized films. This film is the exact same product used to make silver potato chip bag liners, which as you can imagine, it’s not an easy product to work with on a large scale install.

 

Burn Test Procedure

Another thing to consider with all this hype and misinformation is the actual burn test. Having a Class A/Class 1 fire rating does not mean the product will not burn; all radiant barrier type products will burn, the metalized product is not fireproof.

 

Aluminum covered radiant barrier products (like WareHouseFoil™) are pretty difficult to start burning, but once they flash (catch fire) the polyethylene scrim inside will continue to burn at a relatively slow rate. Ironically, the metalized film Mylar radiant barrier product starts burning very easily and burns very quickly. Truthfully, that is the reason that the film can “pass” the mounting test. The metalized film products burn up faster and therefore produce less total smoke than other products when compared in an E84 burn tunnel test. So what should you do? We encourage you to get samples of both products and put them to the test! Compare how they burn when a flame is exposed to both the surface and to the edges.

 

Which Product Is Best For You?

This is where your research and reasoning comes in, because we cannot make the right decision for you – every situation and set of circumstances is different! To recap, both products are strong, offer reflectivity above 90% and both products should achieve Class A/Class 1 fire ratings. Beyond that, they are different to work with, they burn differently and one has a history of issues with oxidation. The best recommendation we can offer you is to ask for samples, test the samples, and then determine which one you feel better about putting in your building.