How to Build a Fireproof Home for Wildfire Areas

Protection With ICFs, Flame-Resistant Roofs, and Cement Fiber Siding

While it’s true that no home can be truly fireproof, measures can be taken that will come close to reaching that ideal. Even structural steel beams will turn to spaghetti when exposed to sufficient heat. As an analogy, a water-resistant diver’s watch can’t survive the Mariana Trench but no damage is sustained during a normal dive.

Building a Fireproof Exterior

Fireproof Exterior

Put simply, a fireproof exterior is simply one that isn’t combustible. Typical residential wood framing (“stick framing” in the industry) won’t stand up to a blaze. Even what’s referred to as a brick home is almost always a brick veneer home with wood studs behind the masonry.

Concrete is the most logical and inexpensive construction material to go with. There are two popular ways to go about this. The first is insulated concrete forms (ICFs). This is also a green, sustainable building practice that contributes to a LEED certification.

ICFs will withstand fires for up to 4 hours

The second exterior building material is the cinder block. These blocks are simply built up from the ground up by masons, in a manner similar to laying brick.

Both of these building practices also lend themselves to areas that are susceptible to hurricanes and tornadoes.

Flame-Resistant Roofing Materials

flame-resistant roof

Roofing material is classified with fire ratings of Class A, Class B, and Class C, with A being the best. So what materials are good candidates in a fire? It depends. Some composition 3-tab shingles get a Class A rating with an estimated 30-year lifespan.

Clay and concrete barrel shingles (think Mediterranean-style) also have a Class A rating and are great for curb appeal and home resale value, but are more expensive. But, their lifespan far exceeds composition shingles.

Metal roofs also do well in fires, and like clay shingles, have a long lifespan. They can also reap a savings on homeowners insurance for protection both from fires and hail damage.

Flame-Resistant Siding

flame-resistant siding

Although cinder block homes are sometimes simply primes and painted, ICF homes need siding. A good bet is a cement fiber product like those produced by Certain Teed and JamesHardie. Cement fiber products are also termite proof and rot proof.

This siding is also considered by the industry to be a green and sustainable building material and counts towards LEED certification. A major benefit is that it comes pre-primed, which eliminates the overhead and time taken to prepare for painting.

Building a fire and wind resistant home just makes good sense. Nobody wants to re-build from the ground up after a natural disaster.