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building safety — why a wooden home is more fireproof than you think

We understand the concern. If you throw a brick in a fire, nothing spectacular happens. If you throw a block of wood in a fire, it burns up. So the mental leap to "wooden houses are unsafe in the event of a fire" is quickly made. But a wooden home is much more fireproof than you might think.

it's not your house that burns

First, it's not normally the structure that causes the fire. Furniture, textiles and other household items are often the material that the fire feeds on and, of course, in a brick house those are also present. So in that respect you are not safer with brick.

carbonized layer

But even if the fire reaches the structure, your house will not go up in smoke immediately. The outer layer of the wood carbonizes, so the wood protects itself from the fire. 

You can see how well this natural protection works in forests recovering from severe fires. As soon as peace has returned, you see little shoots of green breaking through the charred bark. The wood is not only intact, the tree is even alive. The latter is, of course, not the case with a wooden house - that would be pretty creepy too.

To show you what that looks like in practice, we did a little test and filmed it at Skilpod. Sales & Marketing Manager Toon-Bert got the lead role as a pyromaniac and fireman:

As you can see, in 12 minutes (the time it takes the fire department to get to your home), just under an inch of wood from the beam was charred. The wood in a Skilpod, as in most quality wooden homes, is "oversized." That is, it contains more wood than is strictly necessary for strength, precisely to make it safer. The structure does not deform and thus remains safe, allowing you to escape and firefighters to put out fires without the risk of collapse.

protective plates

Finally, it is unlikely that the fire will ever touch your timber frame. After all, around that skeleton are a number of layers of other material. The first thing the fire reaches is a Fermacell sheet. This is fire resistant for at least half an hour and, as we mentioned earlier, by then the fire department is long at the scene.

Published: 22 March 2022

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