Suggest A Wall Covering That Is Non-Combustible (Fireproof)?

johnliu_gwFebruary 17, 2010

I wonder if I can get some design, aesthetic advice. I don't normally ask for such, figuring that taste is personal, but I am a bit stumped here.

The situation is, one wall of my kitchen needs to be non-combustible (fireproof). Odd, but it just does. I can build the structure to meet that need - fireboard and air gaps - but the surface covering needs to be non-combustible as well. I'm going to look for non-combustible paint, but short of spraying the wall in high-temp muffler paint I am rather skeptical. So, I am thinking I will end up covering the wall surface with something non-combustible.

Can you think of anything that will be attractive? I could have the whole wall sheathed in stainless steel. That seems awfully institutional. Maybe another metal? Hmm, sounds expensive (64 sq feet of copper. . .) I could put tile over the wall. Will it look like a giant urinal? Or maybe like the inside of the New York subway? I guess I could use an interesting tilework design. But there's a fine line between interesting and "must rip out" awful, especially after a few years. There's stainless steel tile. Or glass tile. Even thin glass block. Brick veneer is not to my taste.

You see my problem? I'm not creative enough to think of a surface that will be functional and attractive and interesting and not utterly off-putting in it's weirdness.

Does anyone have any good ideas? Or, know of any fireproof wall paint?

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for a true pro range?

Got insurance for that?

Anyhow, tile can be awesome, but I happen to have a stone wall I love.....

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:36AM
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how big is this wall? How would you describe your kitchen style wise? Would stainless steel work?

hmm.. an online search brought up these possibilities... ceramic tiles, stone veneer, hardieplank which can be painted and my favorite cement board. If you type in cement board heat shield or cement board wall, you will find lots of links and hopefully some ideas for your kitchen.

Happy Surfing!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:47AM
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I'd think tile with a subtle texture would be less industrial than SS. Something along the lines of the large format PZazz from Daltile.

Here is a link that might be useful: Textured tile example

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:05AM
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my kitchen-to-be is planned as sort of eclectic. A mix of white-painted pantry and upper cabinets and range hood that echo the built-ins of my house (1911 sort-of-craftsman), free-standing pieces in a variety of painted and wood finishes. Stone tile floor, unless I can afford to replace with wood. Counters undecided - soapstone/slate, stainless steel, or butcher block - probably a mix. Painted walls will be some fairly vivid color - SWMBO wants red or ochre, I want blue. Appliances mostly commercial so already lots of stainless steel (and not really ''pretty'' SS either). The non-combustible wall in question is appx 9 feet long, and will be mostly taken up by a range and larger range hood, plus the tail end of base and upper cabinet on the adjoining wall. So there won't be very large open expanses of this wall showing. I do plan on using cement board, the issue is what to cover the cement board with.

Steel would be the fastest and easiest solution. I just wonder if that is too much steel. Is stainless steel the new boring ''neutral'', will it become the new avocado green.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:56AM
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Plain glossy tile or heavy gauge sheet stainless steel. This is what I've seen in every restaurant kitchen I've ever worked in (waiting, washing dishes or other scut).

Anything textured may get splashed with and absorb grease, and if you get a flash fire (I assume you're talking the wok you've mentioned before) it would be more likely to take hold in that reservoir of grease.

Textured surfaces are difficult to clean day to day too, if you're doing mad-chef, arms-like-an-eggbeater splashing stuff around woking. Which sounds like you on a Saturday night.

Any kind of paint would eventually scrub off. Copper has a fairly low melting point, and specialty "fireproof" glass (if there is a thing -- even pyrex gets thermal shock) would be prohibitively expensive for a whole wall.

There are an almost limitless number of attractive tiles, patterns etc. With the right backing, I'm sure it can be made appropriately safe. (Although restaurants have sprinkler systems, sometimes built into the hood, and other required fire safety devices required by the fire code that go along with the stove that you lack, so even though they can't make you follow the restaurant fire code, I'd follow its advice as closely as it was reasonable to do.)

Restaurant-type stainless will always be a neutral, because it just works so well. "Designer" stainless may go in and out, but you don't sound like the kind of guy who gives a rat's about that.

Whether you get sick of it and want a change is another matter, but that's a risk with anything.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 10:30AM
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I just wanted to share my story: I found an awesome Vulcan stove on Craigslist, it was used twice, for $600. Read the manual and got very nervous about the non-combustible materials. I checked everywhere about to use, and nobody wanted the liability to give me advice. I figured this stove had no insulation anywhere on it, and I became worried that someone would get burned if they touched the front of it. Not to mention how unbelievably hot my kitchen would get. Besides the non-combustible material needed, it also said it needed 6" clearance from that material. I decided that this was just crazy, the stove would be way out in the aisle waiting to burn someone if they touched it. I could not go through with the purchase, and the buyer told me that he understood and he was able to sell it later that same day. He told me he would send my deposit right back to me.

I couldn't live with the worry of how hot this range was and what damage it could do to my home, all for the sake of having gotten a real pro range for a steal. I did check with my Home Owners Insurance company, they did some research and told me that if it wasn't being used for commercial purposes, I would be covered--still not enough comfort for me.

And I must just share: the seller did end up screwing us and kept promising me that he would send back my $100 deposit, "It's in the mail", etc. etc... His name is Andrew C----o, lives near Collegeville, PA and he's a contractor--so beware--wonder how he treats his clients. (Of course I'll give you his last name if somebody really needs it)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:06AM
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We just had a local restaurant burn to the ground this weekend. The fire started in the ductwork from the hood over the range. They had the mandated whole structure sprinklers, fireproof surfaces, fire suppression, and everything.

The fire department was 2 blocks away and was there in 4 minutes.

It still burned to the ground.

I don't think your idea of a wood hood is safe. I don't thing even a noncombustible surface around the range is safe without a sprinkler system for the kitchen too. Even then, a commercial range is an accident waiting to happen.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:15AM
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Circus Peanut

If you're so inclined, I don't know that copper is going to be any more expensive than tile, actually. A 4' x 10' sheet at nice thicker 16 gauge costs about $330. You'd only need 2 or 3 to cover the entire wall. Tile for that same area would be $200 - $1500 plus the cost of installation, $3/sf and up.

With tile, I do love the aesthetics of lining a plaster range hood with it on the inside, which is very period-correct, besides making the whole shebang safer. You can hide a real monster of a vent fan up in there, too. (There's a really nice Viking 60" commercial vent hood that's been on our CraigsList for a while now, too bad you're not on this coast.)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:57AM
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I will stay out of the commercial range debate but do have an OT idea. You could use a stainless steel slat wall system or even SS pegboard. That way you can get metal shelving and basktets to hand on the wall or hang pots ala Julia Child. Check out garage storage systems for ideas.

Personally I would do a nice art nouveau inspired tile but you don't seem to keen on it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stainless steel slat wall

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 12:00PM
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Anything you can use withing 12" of a firebox would fit the bill, so think about fireplace surrounds. One option that hasn't been mentioned is plaster.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 12:06PM
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Thanks. I've researched the commercial range route a fair bit, and I'm fine with the pros and cons.

A commercial range has 30K+ BTU/hr burners, which is hot (Bluestar is 22K) but the total BTU/hr output won't be much more than a 48'' or 60'' residential pro-style range. It has less insulation around the oven and gets hot to the touch - but ''too hot to touch'' is 150F, a long way from the >420F ignition temp of wood, paint, etc, and a really long way from anything that would threaten a wall of non-combustible construction. I've used commercial ranges in friends' houses, they aren't fire-breathing monsters.

In a restaurant environment, all burners are going 12 hours a day 7 days a week, plus the deep fryers and griddles and grills and ovens, pumping pounds of grease into the ductwork. In a home environment, the amount of heat and grease involved will be a tiny fraction of that. That restaurant kitchen cooked, what, 400 grease-generating meals a day? How long will it take me to cook 400 meals - a year? (Microwaved leftovers don't count.)

I think the main difficulty/expense is going to be the makeup air and fire suppression. But SWMBO wants to set up a pottery studio including kiln in the basement. Kilns run at >2000F for 8-12 hours, usually overnight and unattended, and they vent stuff you wouldn't want to breathe (pottery glazes are pretty toxic before firing). We'll want some real ventilation and fire safety for that, so I'm headed down an expensive path anyway.

live_wire, your point about the hood material is well-taken. I'd ideally have it ''look like'' wood but it might end up as fabricated and powder-coated steel. I just hope to avoid the massive-lump-of-steel-on-the-ceiling look.

Anyway, back to the wall - growlery's point about cleaning makes sense. I guess that suggests stainless steel or glossy tile.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 12:13PM
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"Personally I would do a nice art nouveau inspired tile but you don't seem to keen on it."

Well, it probably should be glossy tile, but it doesn't have to be plain tile . . .

I was thinking about what interesting tilework I could do. SWMBO would probably love to do some embossed fleur-de-lis or some Gaudi-esque mosaic. Three practical considerations: having to fit a pattern into the parts of the wall that will not be covered by ''stuff'', lengthening the time that the kitchen is torn up, and making the project more work. (Also, the horror on the faces of future real estate agents.)

Thanks for giving me many ideas to mull over.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 5:47PM
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I don't have a suggestion for you, but just wanted to pipe in and say that "SWMBO" took me a while. SWMBO = She Who Must Be Obeyed? I wish my DH would finally realize that's what my title is. :)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:23PM
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I wondered about a sheet of zinc with some patina instead of stainless. A warmer, softer gray.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:55PM
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If you can afford it (I can't), what about Bisazza mosaics with a pattern ? It would look stellar. There is also a nice collection of mosaic patterns from Casamood which are cheaper.

Here is a link that might be useful: Casamood Vetro Decori

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 10:21PM
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Wow, some of those Casamood mosaics are beautiful. I was afraid to find out how much they cost. I really liked the Metalli collection.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:36PM
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Hi John, If you go with a material that needs to be grouted, I suggest a confetti, splattered, multicolored in earth tones, grout. Because, man, you really cook.

Sure there will be a sealer. And every time the backsplash is wiped or sprayed, a bit of sealer goes. And I'd worry that in 4 or 6 years, all the red and green and yellow colored sauces would muck up the grout.

Sometimes I just don't get it. What does the word 'backsplash' sound like? To me, it sounds like something is splashing on the back----as in, on the back wall. I love tile. I have a lot of tile. But on a place where stuff splashes? I'd sure stick to a solid, easily maintained surface, like glass, metal, paint.

Hey, how's this? SWMBO could make a great mosaic mural out of her pottery shards or pottery pieces? It would be personal, meaningful, the right colors? Ok, she could color the grout---even different colored grout.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:00AM
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Ah, I'm an idiot. I looked at the working sketch and realized that there won't be much of that wall showing, after all. Probably not enough to make much of a design statement.

But I'm still into this idea of a mosaic mural. Just, on a different wall, that isn't covered up by so much stuff. That would actually work better, as we could work on that at leisure instead of rushing it in order to get the kitchen back online. I will talk to SWMBO. We'll bargain - you get to channel Gaudi, I get the cerulean blue walls.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:17AM
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John, Something that SWMBO needs to be aware of is that a kiln must be on cement slab or cement board or a non-combustible surface. Mine is a Skutt and they were extremely clear about that when I was talking with their technical dept before I ordered it.

Regarding your wall... while you won't be seeing a great deal of it, you will still need to do the entire wall for that non-combustible issue! My new vote is for stainless steel which will be a nice contrast to your strong paint colors!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 3:50AM
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I love the fire extinguisher in your image, just in case the mad beast goes postal. Even with a stainless panel directly behind, a quarry tile floor, no uppers, a commercial hood, and fully tiled walls, my commercial range still had to be installed 6" away from the wall in my house to pass inspection. As a result, the counters were 36" deep.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:01AM
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The wall shown in red needs to be non-combustible (fireproof):
1. Use a cement type of backerboard instead of drywall. Some are available in 4' by 8' . Some are available in 1/4" thickness. Some are warranteed by the manufacturer to resist fires of thousands of degrees. Some are not tested that way and have no associated corporate statement.
2. Cover that substrate as you wish in different areas of the wall.
- plaster it (drywall compound) it and paint it, near the counter
- tile or steel thinsetted onto it near the heat source

johnliu, please send me email thru my user profile if you want to know how to ensure no cracks get transferred through to your tile or paint, at the seams where the cement sheets (panels) meet.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:29AM
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Ah-didn't realize this was concerning a commercial range before. I can't make suggestions-I don't have any experience with these. But feel I must point out that your logic of "total BTU/hr output won't be much more than a 48'' or 60'' residential pro-style range" is flawed. The critical factor is if temperature at any single point on adjacent materials could reach high enough for combustion.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:42AM
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What about doing portstone brick veneer tiles? I'm considering them for behind a woodstove and think they could easily work in an ecletic-modern space. Since you won't see much of it, just a straight running block or herringbone might look really nice, and could be enough red for SWMBO.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:57AM
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earth_pal, I would appreciate a chance to ask you about your kiln installation. You don't have an email link on GW, but could you possibly send me an email via my GW email link? Alternatively, I'm going to start a thread in the pottery forum in the next day, in case you ever check in there.

davidro1, I've sent you an email. Thanks.

riverspots, I've looked at the total BTU output because that matters for venting and heating up the room. I see your point that the temperature of each adjacent combustible object matters for ignition. Those temps won't get anywhere near that high as there will be nothing combustible within at least a couple of feet (other than my legs). The nearest cabinet will be appx 24'' away. If I did put a ''landing space'' counter next to the range, it would be a small steel filler table. For reference, ignition temp of wood is >420F and of grease/oil is appx 700F.

brickton, growlery's point that smooth surfaces are easier to keep grease-free makes a lot of sense to me. The brick would work for a woodstove, but (from the research I've done) you still need concrete board/fire board and an air gap behind that.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 11:15AM
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If you really want to make a statement, check out Bisazza. They have some interesting stuff. Not really my style, but could be cool in the right setting.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 11:35AM
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Copper might be nice for a Craftsman house & it shouldn't be nearly as expensive as some of the other suggestions; it could be a DIY project. I have it as a backsplash & it's as maintenance free as anything out there, plus it looks good with stainless. After it ages/darkens, the color seems to blend with everything.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:15PM
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Not sure how "stylish" this fireproof material has to be, but you might look into the plastic wall sheeting they use in fast food restaurants called FRP (fire resistant plastic). It has an orange peel type surface, and is very easy to clean.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 1:54PM
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Just a correction to Bill's suggestion. Although Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic is wonderfully cleanable, (we have it in our shop behind the milling machine and lathe) it is NOT fire resistant.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 5:42PM
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I'm staying at a hotel whose restaurant has an open kitchen. The back wall of that kitchen is completely sheathed in glorious shining copper. Dented, worn, but polished weekly - and non-combustible. It looks great. I am just obsessive enough that I might put up with the polishing.

I'll try to post a picture later.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 10:59AM
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Voila. My beating heart won't still.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 8:26PM
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Stunning, absolutely stunning - but just remember that the restaurant probably has a herd of minion to do the polishing in their spare time..... Personally, I think the polishing part would get old when the newness wore off.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 1:00AM
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