Why all the excitement about Flak Jacket™ protection?

Building codes change.  It’s a fact of life most of us begrudgingly accept because we have little control over it.  Most changes are minor tweaks and we adjust and move on, but occasionally a major shift occurs causing builders and designers to scramble to find economical ways to comply.  Energy code issues aside, in the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) the addition of fire protection requirements for residential floors was one such change.  Since each jurisdiction (city, county, state, etc.) adopts codes on their own schedule, and often with local modifications, the change has not had a nationwide impact yet. However, for those of you from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Maine and Tennessee where the 2012 IRC fire protection requirements have been adopted or the handful of states where adoption is eminent, it’s a game changer forcing you to either frame floors with 2×10 sawn or structural composite lumber or apply a 1/2″ gypsum ceiling instead of offering an unfinished basement. 

Last month, I had the opportunity to work the Weyerhaeuser booth at the International Builder’s Show and TJI® joists with Flak Jacket™ protection were, pardon the pun, the hot topic (read more about Flak Jacket protection features/benefits and FAQs or watch a YouTube clip to see how it works).  Why all the excitement?  Our innovative factory-applied coating is listed in ICC ES ESR-1153 as being an equivalent alternative to 2×10 dimension lumber, but the real talking point is that, aside from buying a pre-coated TJI joist, builders don’t have to change to comply with the new code.  The added cost and hassle of installing a ceiling can be avoided, basements can be left unfinished. It spans the same distance, doesn’t need any special tools, fasteners, hangers or detailing.  You can drill holes in it and in nearly every other way treat it just like an uncoated TJI joist (one notable exception being that you need to pay attention to the “top” arrow and orient the product correctly).  Bottom line, if you have been impacted by the 2012 IRC and value the benefits of framing with TJI joists, using TJI joists with Flak Jacket protection is the most economical and hassle free way of complying with the codes today.  Very rarely is a code change of this significance met with so simple a solution, and that’s why we’re excited. 

If multi-family projects are your thing, Flak Jacket protection has something to offer you as well.  TJI joists with Flak Jacket protection achieve a 1-hour floor/ceiling assembly with a single layer of 5/8″ gypsum Instead of the typical 2-layer gypsum ceiling or 2×4 flange and mineral wool options.  Look for Assembly H in our code report or our Fire and Sprinkler guide.

Finally, if you have a few minutes to spare, keep an eye on our YouTube channel to see what happens when our marketing staff takes some Flak Jacket coating, various household items and a bunsen burner and answers the question “will it burn?”.

Chris Brandt
Chris Brandt
Chris is a licensed professional engineer with 10+ years experience in product testing and development, providing technical support for Trus Joist and Weyerhaeuser products, and developing codes and standards for the wood products industry.