The late December Marshall Fire destroyed nearly one thousand homes and structures, and upended hundreds of lives. Since the cleanup began, building officials and homeowners are looking for ways to keep that devastation from happening again. Many of the answers can be found on homes that are still standing while their neighbors are gone – namely in fire-resistant building products like roofing.

“You know you look at the flames where they came up to the stones. It makes you think that it kind of stopped there,” said Superior resident Glenn Mansfield. The Mansfield home was built with cement board siding and stayed standing while the Mansfield’s neighbors’ homes were destroyed.

After the initial periods of shock and reflection the next step is rebuilding. Early reports indicate the day’s heavy winds, close proximity of housing, and lack of fireproof-rated materials as the three main factors in the fire’s fast spread. There is nothing builders can do about heavy winds, but they can do something about home proximity and fire-rated materials.

If you’re building a home, moving, or want to make updates to keep your current home safer, let’s learn more about fire resistant building materials.

Types of Fire-Resistant Siding

  • Cement Board – Cement board is one of the most affordable and efficient types of fire-resistant siding. Cement board isn’t fire-proof, but it can slow the spread of fire and can stay hot for several hours before losing its structure.
  • Brick and Stone – Brick and stone are non-combustible, so they make excellent siding for fire-prone areas. It’s expensive to replace traditional siding with brick or stone but if you’re home shopping consider making a brick exterior a priority.
  • Stucco – Stucco is popular in Colorado for the southwestern feel, but it also makes for fire-resistant siding. It’s an expensive process to transform a home with siding into a stucco home but it might be worth it for those in wildfire prone areas.
  • Wood Siding – You don’t often imagine wood as fire-resistant, but it does exist. Before installation the siding is coated or implanted with fire-resistant compounds giving it much more resistance than traditional wood siding.

Types of Fire-Resistant Roofing

  • Class-A Rated Materials – There are several types of roofing that may not appear fire-resistant on the surface but come backed with a Class A fire rating. Class A materials include stone and metal materials but also asphalt shingles and even wood shake. Class A asphalt shingles and wood shake are installed with a fire-resistant underlayment and impregnated with special fire-resistant compounds.
  • Non-Combustible Materials – Non-combustible materials aren’t only fire-resistant – they’re fireproof. By its very nature a material that can’t ignite will do much better at resisting fire. Non-combustible materials include clay and concrete tile.

Building in the Future

According to Colorado homebuilder Cottonwood Builders, fire-resistant materials aren’t normally much more expensive than traditional building materials. Cottonwood has a show home in Boulder that’s built entirely with Class A siding and roofing.

Colorado doesn’t have any statewide mandates on fire resistant roofing but some jurisdictions like the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department have already demanded Class A materials on certain homes. More Colorado counties and jurisdictions are expected to amend their building codes to mandate fire-resistant requirements after the Marshall Fire, especially in new build neighborhoods.

If you’re moving to a wildfire prone area, consider reducing your risk of a total loss by choosing a home with fire-resistant materials or by modifying your current home to better weather any potential danger.

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