How to fireproof a shop
RSS | Subscribe | Contact Us | Advertise | About Us
Results 1 to 24 of 24
  1. #1

    How to fireproof a shop

    Getting back into welding after not doing much for decades. Have an old barn, and was going to convert 4 of the stalls into a welding shop. Barn has all wood walls. Part of the floors are thick oak boards, part dirt/concrete.

    Was wondering what people suggest for fireproofing the area. Going to be doing mig, plasma cutting/ oxy/acetylene, and am worried about the sparks flying.

    Should I rip up the wood floor and try to pour some sort of concrete slab? Should I cover the walls with something like cement board they use behind bathroom tiles? Some other covering comonly used? How high up the walls do you have to go?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    SW Az
    Posts
    2,210

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Weld outside maybe? keep your gear in that nice old barn as is, make some rolling tables, tool carriers, carts etc. etc... just a thought? We don't know where UR? some places outside won't do, Az, sure.

    good luck
    Lincoln Power MIG 215
    Lincoln WeldPak 3200HD
    Lincon ProCut 25
    Lincoln WeldanPower 225 AC/DC

    If all else fails... buy more tools

  3. #3

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Sorry. Live in New England. November-March it is pretty cold and wet outside.

    I have been opening the barn door and stick welding outside sporadically with an old buzz box, but the type of stuff I am planning to work on (large mobile metal sculptures) kind of have to be set up and worked on in place over a couple week period of time. I like the barn space because i can get something in there almost 3 stories tall, and then work on it getting the balancing right. Outside with the snow/ice/wind, it would be a little hard/dangerous to work on the stuff. Once a half ton of steel starts spinning in the wind, you want to get out of the way! I was hoping to set up a nice, well-lit shop, maybe even with a little heat, with all the gear in easy reach.

    All the other shops I had any training in were giant concrete pits. Don't know how to keep the wood barn safe. Just got a shinny new millermatic 211, and want to fire that puppy up.
    Last edited by spamz; 09-29-2010 at 03:08 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Long Island
    Posts
    2,996

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Maybe cover the walls with corrugated galvanized steel (the stuff used for roofing). Not sure what you'd do about the floor though.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    7,634

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    5/8" Drywall is 1 hour Fire rated.
    Ed Conley
    http://www.screamingbroccoli.com/
    MM252
    MM211 (Sold)
    Passport Plus & Spool gun
    Lincoln SP135 Plus- (Gone to a good home)
    Miller 125c Plasma 120v
    SO 2020 bender
    Beer in the fridge

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Victoria, BC
    Posts
    2,096

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    This is just my two bits and nothing more....
    Walls: If you're not directing the spray from a grinder at it for a solid hour or dopey enough to lay your torch down on the bench flame to the wall, yer probably OK with just the wood. If your chop saw is against the wall, some tin roofing,as mentioned would be good. If the wall boards are old and there are lots of gaps or any type of hay dust or debris jammed in them, then I'd cover the walls. Again, tin roof or painted 3/8" plywood, drywall(painted) or, like you said, cheapest cement board you can get. You can always build some screens to surround yourself and contain sparks. Easy and cheaper than doing the whole room and portable.
    Floor: If it's dirt under the boards, take them up and put down concrete patio stones. Might be cheaper than pouring. Or, if the floor boards are level and in decent shape, you could nail down plywood then cement board sheets. Off set the seams and make them tight. These are just kinda dirty fixes. If your really going to get back at it and you have the money, pour 6" of concrete or over lay the wood floor with 10ga. steel sheets.
    It's the little, tinder like stuff, and oil/thinner soiled rags that you have to watch out for. I'm thinking of doing an experiment when my shop is back together. Take a piece of plywood and see how long, if at all, it takes to burn it enough to ignite by aiming a grinder at it at a foot or two away. Give it say a half to a full hour. Just for interest sake. My new shop is all 3/8" plywood walls, painted.
    Anyhoo, I've babbled enough.....time for dinner!
    200amp Air Liquide MIG, Hypertherm Plasma, Harris torches, Optrel helmet, Makita angle grinders, Pre-China Delta chop saw and belt sander, Miller leathers, shop made jigs etc, North- welders backpack.

  7. #7

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    It was a working barn at one point, so there are probably hay and combustible dusts in the walls. The fire department guy who gave me my gas storage permit suggested sheetrock with tape/mud and a thin plaster coat over the surface. But it gets pretty damp in there, and I think the sheetrock will just turn to mush after a year or so. So I am thinking a cement type board with the seams taped with mud. Corrogated metal--I'll have to trade off the price, not sure which is cheaper. One benefit to the cement board is that I can probably find a board that is fire-rated.

    As far as cement board on the floor, I thought of that, but the weight of the projects will probably just punch thru. Same problem with putting ceramic tiles on the floor, they will crack from the weight or something heavy dropping on them. I do have some cement 1x1' pavers in one of the stalls now, I guess that would be a cheap way to go at the start. Pavers with sand in between the joints.

    There will be a lot of grinding in there. A friend I had on a fire department warned me to be especially careful of grinding sparks! So, yeah, I will do a good job making sure sparks can not get inside of any cracks anywhere.
    Last edited by spamz; 09-30-2010 at 08:56 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Long Island
    Posts
    2,996

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Paint can go a long way to increase wood's fire resistance.
    Better than that, you can get additives to add to latex paint that slow flame spread even more.

    I suggested the corrugated metal because the seams require no treatment (just the open tops), and it stands up to more abuse than cement board. It should be faster to install too.
    If sparks get into the enclosed wall space, they can smolder (there's ALWAYS dust in there) and you'd never even notice. So you either want to seal that space up REALLY well, or fill it with a fire retardant insulation (like blown cellulose).

    Grinding won't likely ignite solid wood, but the concern is dust, and thin fibers that make kindling. Keep your trash in a covered metal garbage can and keeping flammable debris away is critical.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Goochland, Va.
    Posts
    649

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    I suspect that the biggest risks are in the cracks where dust has collected. It is hard to light a piece of lumber or plywood with grinding sparks unless they get into a crack and start some dust simmering.

    For the floor, you mentioned that you need to roll heavy stuff around - I don't think pavers, even large ones, are really what you want. Consider getting one of the 4cuft cement mixers from Northern Tool and pouring a slab in your work area. I spent $280 on the mixer and have used it for a number of slabs - you just can't beat being able to mix your own concrete! It is work, but it is well worth the effort - the money in concrete is all in the finishing, do it yourself and consider it a decent hourly rate for your trouble.

    For the walls, the key will be to seal the cracks in your welding/grinding area. Laying some 1/4" plywood over the walls up to 8' and sealing the bottom with silicon caulk will probably be good enough. And cheap. A coat of paint on the plywood will yield significant improvements in fire resistance by reducing the places sparks can rest and smolder.

    Keep the work area swept so that sparks can't camp in a crack on your plywood and I don't think you will have any problem if you are grinding say 4' away. In a barn that size I doubt that you need to be very close to the walls, you are more worried about berries bouncing into a corner.
    Hobart LX235
    Victor 250 Oxy-Acetylene Rig (welding and cutting)
    Bobcat 773
    F-350, 1999, 4x4, 16' 10K# trailer
    Outdoor Wood Burner - 10 cords/year

  10. #10

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Quote Originally Posted by Broccoli1 View Post
    5/8" Drywall is 1 hour Fire rated.
    No it isn't.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Long Island
    Posts
    2,996

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Groh View Post
    No it isn't.
    You're right of course. A Type X 5/8 drywall wall with a layer of drywall on each side is one hour fire rated, but a single layer is not.
    Still, it took you 77,950 hours to respond to that factually incorrect post. It would take a little over a mile and a half thick plaster wall to get THAT sort of fire rating.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    3,992

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    rlitman, LMAO but you are correct.

    I'm bidding a job for two hour walls for some new wino parlor. One of the walls uses h studs and two layers of one inch core board. Same as used in elevator shafts. This not practicable because of space. I suggested fire sprinklers. Cuts out some of my bid but it's what I would do. The owner is going to let me know this afternoon if we go two hour walls or sprinklers. Here's a pic of h stud wall. Fire sprinklers aren't cheap.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    2,440

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    deleted
    F-225 amp Forney AC Stick
    230 amp Sears AC Stick
    Lincoln 180C MIG
    Victor Medalist 350 O/A

    Les

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Aynor SC
    Posts
    3,941

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Here ya go. Fire PROOF !Name:  P2231561.jpg
Views: 419
Size:  105.4 KB

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    625

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Steel may not burn but fire can affect it, so I'd say just REALLY really fire resistant, bonzoo, haha. The jungle all around you is less fire resistant - ask brazil.

  16. #16

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonzoo View Post
    Here ya go. Fire PROOF !Name:  P2231561.jpg
Views: 419
Size:  105.4 KB
    Well, it seems to be anything not only interesting but useful, as well. So what is the other variants to be used for?

  17. #17

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Quote Originally Posted by rlitman View Post
    You're right of course. A Type X 5/8 drywall wall with a layer of drywall on each side is one hour fire rated, but a single layer is not.
    Still, it took you 77,950 hours to respond to that factually incorrect post. It would take a little over a mile and a half thick plaster wall to get THAT sort of fire rating.
    Thanks for doing the math! Actually, an hourly rated wall is intended to protect occupants for a period of time to allow egress from the space or adjacent spaces. Here I think this guy is trying to avoid setting his shop on fire, so a thin veneer is probably adequate. Could be steel, block, brick, concrete, stone - anything non-combustible. Type X Drywall may work, but won't be very durable. If the shop is connected to his office or residence, then an hourly rated wall may be required by code.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2,243

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Quote Originally Posted by SlowBlues View Post
    Steel may not burn but fire can affect it, so I'd say just REALLY really fire resistant, bonzoo, haha.
    And in many cases, from a structural standpoint, wood is more fire-resistant than steel. There was a fire at my dad's old paper mill, most of which was built in the early 1800s. In the part of the plant that was framed with steel, the fire weakened the steel enough that it sagged and collapsed. In the older part of the plant, the big old yellow pine beams just charred by the time the fire was extinguished, and that part of the mill withstood the fire. I don't think they even replaced the charred wood in many areas -- it was still structurally sound.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Long Island
    Posts
    2,996

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Groh View Post
    Thanks for doing the math! Actually, an hourly rated wall is intended to protect occupants for a period of time to allow egress from the space or adjacent spaces. Here I think this guy is trying to avoid setting his shop on fire, so a thin veneer is probably adequate. Could be steel, block, brick, concrete, stone - anything non-combustible. Type X Drywall may work, but won't be very durable. If the shop is connected to his office or residence, then an hourly rated wall may be required by code.
    Agreed, but for the record, a timed fire rating is not strictly to protect occupants. Fire ratings are often used to hedge against firefighter response time to protect things that need to be protected from fire. One odd-ball example would be to protect control wiring in a nuclear power plant.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlowBlues View Post
    Steel may not burn but fire can affect it...
    Steel certainly burns, as anyone who owns an oxy-acetylene torch can attest to. Heck, steel wool and a 9 volt battery make for a great demonstration.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    1,741

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Don't know what the budget is but moisture resistant sheet rock may help. Fire code X board is great but even regular sheetrock will protect wood from sparks. However over time if you direct sparks on any sheet rock directly the paper will begin to fail. As for the floor, only real solution is concrete or metal. Don't know if you are over earth or the structural floor framing of the barn, weight is a big issue.
    certainly welders curtains and screens can be hung and fashioned on home made racks, these go a long way in blocking and containing sparks to a manageable area for short money.
    if you do go wall coverings, pay close attention to areas where the coverings meet the floor and other surfaces. Its the small sparks that work there way into some crevice that you don't see in your final check of the shop before bed that come back to haunt in the middle of the night.
    "Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum"

    Lincoln Idealarc 250 AC/DC
    Millermatic 251 Syncrowave 300 30A spoolgun
    Lincoln MP210
    Hypertherm 45
    (2) LN 25
    (2) Lincoln Weldanpower 225 CV
    (4) SA200 1 short hood SA250 SAM 400

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Minneapolis MN
    Posts
    390

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    concrete floor (leveled) and pole barn metal for walls - show some of your work please

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    MN/WI
    Posts
    295

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Seems like a bunch of time, effort and expense to remodel that old barn. Would be safer (maybe even easier and cheaper) to have a steel shed for your welding and cutting. Some of the WW members use a shipping container. I need to come up with something like that myself. Have been doing everything outside up to this point. I will probably build a small metal pole building (the poles will be steel) on skids or wheels. Something I can move around or bring it in the heated shop in the winter. Then out again at the end of the day or weekend or project.
    Century buzzbox that I learned on 40+ years ago (was Dad's)
    Crappy Century 110volt mig 70 amp pigeon pooper.
    Lincoln Idealarc TIG-300

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    4,274

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    I'd build a new structure, likely a pair of 40' High Cube shipping containers (I have three, two welded together as a shop) spanned by a kit from Steelmaster or similar. (Examples are plentiful on the internet.) I have a 20x20 Steelmaster (not a container roof system but the panels etc are identical) and would buy another. You could also fab your own steel trusses and roof over those. Containers protect my equipment and I put welder panel connectors through one wall (cheap and easy) so I don't have to open end doors and drag cable. Study military and industrial container shops. The Sea Box website is full of ideas any weldor could copy. My bro uses a split AC to cool his High Cube machine shop. Cheap and effective even in SC heat. I may do the same but am satisfied with the weatherproof gasketed storage.

    BTW there are many ways to control steel outdoors or no ships would be built. There are many ways to move structures in and out of shelter. Modular sculptures could be assembled outdoors, broken down then shipped to site. A boom truck could handle the parts.

    Wood is for bonfires and furniture. I wouldn't use an old barn for anything but traditional barn uses and would not build next to it. My structures are separated to reduce fratricide.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Mn / Tx
    Posts
    531

    Re: How to fireproof a shop

    Alternating layers of durarock would take care of the floor. Single layer for the lower wall sections.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
RSS | Home | Penton Media | Contact Us | Subscribe | For Advertisers | Terms of Use | Privacy Statement