Fire-rated pull-down stairs into attic above garage

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Mikey, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    While rummaging around the Web, I found a home inspection forum where the subject of pull-down stairs into the attic above a garage was being discussed. Bottom line: just about every such stair anyone had ever seen installed would seem to be in violation of national codes requiring fire-rated barriers between the garage and the living space.

    I've got two of these things in my garage, both from Memphis Folding Stairs (http://www.memphisfoldingstairs.com/). MFS advertises a "Firegard" option:

    The fire retardant plywood door panel is chemically treated to provide slower ignition, low flame spread, lower smoke production, and has self extinguishing features (burning ceases when ignition source is removed or exhausted.) Class A, or 1, pressure treated plywood is approved by building codes throughout the US for specific applications within fire resistant buildings as an equal alternative to non-combustible construction.

    ...but neither of my doors has that option, as far as I can see, nor does any similar door I've seen around here, even in very high-end homes.

    I'd like to fix this -- can I just screw on a piece of 5/8 drywall to the plywood door? I was going to use a piece of 1/4" drywall anyway to provide a finish to match the ceiling, and what's another 3/8" among friends? Not sure what it will do to the balance of the door, but there's one way to find out :D. Or, is there some magic coating I can paint on to make 3/8" plywood a fire-rated barrier?

    There is a better door out there, but it's a little pricey:

    http://www.rainbowatticstair.com/attic-stairs-products/protech-escape-fire-ladder.cfm

    ...make that a LOT pricey ($1050 plus postage).
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    door

    Most them around here just have the sheetrock fastened to the underside.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    I would be interested to see how the inspectors handle this issue. The door into the house must be self closing. The stairs wouldn't really meet that spec.

    On the other hand, most finished garages I have seen are finished just cosmetically. The gargage/house fire barrier wall extends all the way to the peak of the roof, so in that case, the door in the ceiling of the garage does not need to be fire rated, because it does not penetrate a fire barrier, and does not open into living space.
  4. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    It just dawned on me that all the ceilings are 5/8" gyp board; maybe the ceiling is the barrier in my house...
  5. AZ Contractor

    AZ Contractor In the Trades

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    Most good contractors install 5/8" drywall on ceilings to help prevent sag and not for fire rating purposes.
  6. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

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    I'm sure your door is trimmed. If you're that concerned, add the 5/8" drywall and then fur out the trim. Just cut down some pine to the same dimension as the trim + 1/4" then put it in. Re-Trim leaving a 1/4" reveal. Paint.

    BTW - I think you're nuts!

    Tom
  7. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    You're not the first person to say that, but at my age the correct term is "eccentric".
  8. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

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