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How to Label Fire Rated Walls and Barriers

Labeling Fire rated walls is a critical aspect of building construction and maintenance. Whether the wall is a one or two hour fire rated wall or smoke barrier, it is a legal requirement that the fire wall is appropriately marked. While there are multiple ways for the walls to be marked.  Using stencils with water based ink is an extremely cost effective, simple and fast way to make these markings. 

How can you Label a Fire Rated Wall

There are many ways to mark a fire rated wall and all have their pros and cons>

  1. Using adhesive labels to mark the walls. A very common and easy way to mark the walls. No special equipment is required, there are no fumes.  The down side of this is expense the legal requirements for the lettering has made the signs ever larger.  You might need a number of these stickers as the walls must be marked every 15 feet. And you must have the appropriate rating. The biggest downside is that they can be easily removed.  Some Fire inspectors will not accept them.
  2. Signs: Tend to be very expensive must be mounted and can be removed.
  3. Stenciling: Stencils can be used hundreds of times, so they are the cheapest if you are doing this regularly. (this is not true of paper stencils which are usually only good for a few uses.) Downside is that they require the use of paint or ink which can be messy.  Spray paint can be quicker but creates a fume problem and you have the risk of over spray. Therefore, we recommend using a contained Ink roller so the mess and set up of paint is avoided. 

The process we explain below is as fast and easy as using a sticky label and gives the permanence that you can only get with a painted solution.  It also happens to be the most cost-effective way. 

Tools that you Need to label a Fire Rated Wall: 

  1. Stencil: The National Fire Protection Association NFP 5000 ( see standard Below) recommends marking which is permanent that has lettering at least 3 inches in Height and 3/8th inch stroke in contrasting color identify the wall type.    We recommend stencils made of 10 mil Mylar which are inexpensive, durable, light and very easy to use.  ( See picture)
  2. Repositionable Adhesive Spray: Like our Stencil Ease branded spray.  This spray will make the stencil stick to the wall during the marking process.  Can be easily moved and replicated as required every 30 feet. 
  3. Ink Roller System: Like the One Shot system, this water based system does not have the flammability issues of spray, can be used in most environments, makes a very clean and crisp marking, is self-contained so there is no mess or clean up, is permanent and will adhere to most building surfaces including wood, concrete, metal and plastic.

How to Steps:

  1. Select the appropriately rated stencil: please check with local fire inspection regulations as this can be specific to local regulatory codes.  (we have made over 100 different wordings for fire rated walls. We carry as stock a range of wordings and sizes based upon NRPA recommendations however you can request any specific wording through our custom AP and we can provide that for you.)
  2. Prepare the Stencil: Spray the back of the stencil with Repositionable Adhesive Spray. This will make it tacky and easy to apply to the walls.  The stencil will stick to the walls during ink application and then can be easily peeled off and placed at the next location with no incremental application of adhesive.
  3. Place stencil on the wall:
  4. If necessary prime the ink roller( the ink roller has a priming button which must be pushed about 10 times and then rolled on a scrap piece of paper to get the ink primed around the entire roller.  Once the roller is primed it is set for many applications.
  5. Roll the ink on the stencil. Roll until you get appropriate coverage on the letters.
  6. Once done peel up the stencil partially to check the marking. IF ok move to the next location. 

 Governing Standard First Revision No. 3501- National Fire Protection Association 5000-2015

8.1.2.3* Wall Marking and Identification. For other than existing assemblies, where there is an accessible concealed floor, floor/ceiling, or attic space, fire walls, fire barriers, smoke barriers, and smoke partitions shall be permanently identified with signs or stenciling in the concealed space and shall comply with all of the following: (1) Be located in accessible concealed floor, floor/ceiling, or attic spaces (2) Be located within 15 ft (4572 mm) of the end of each wall and at intervals not exceeding 30 ft (9144 mm) measured horizontally along the wall or partition (3) Include lettering not less than 3 in. (76 mm) in height with a minimum 3 ⁄8 in. (9.5 mm) stroke in a contrasting color (4) Identify the wall type and its fire resistive rating as applicable