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Why does Brutal Ceilings use PVC for its Drop Ceiling Tiles?

First, a little background.

Brutal Ceiling tiles are made with the thermoforming process which is great for making light weight parts with detailed surface textures.  PVC (otherwise known as vinyl) is an ideal plastic for this.  It has great mechanical properties and longevity.  The process basically consists of:

  1. A sheet of plastic is placed in a frame to support the perimeter and clamped in place.

  2. The sheet is heated with a radiant heater (like what is used at restaurants to keep food hot)

  3. Once it reaches a pliable forming temperature, the heater retracts, the mold moves up into the sheet and the frame.

  4. The sheet seals around the edges of the mold and any air between the sheet and mold is sucked out with a vacuum system.

  5. Once the plastic sheet cools down and hardens, the mold is retracted.

  6. Plastic part is removed from the clamping frame and the excess material trimmed from the perimeter.

     

Class A Fire and Smoke rating

There are many plastic formulations that work great with the thermoforming process. Brutal Ceilings uses PVC (vinyl) plastic as it is the only thermoformable plastic that has a Class A fire and smoke rating. Why is that important? Class A means that the material burns similar to paper and wood, and thus tends not to make the fire worse. Other thermoplastics (not Class A) burn like kerosene or jet fuel, as they are basically solid (at room temperatures) kerosene. When they heat up, they become molten and burn with the ferocity of jet fuel, with burning drips raining down towards the floor.

 

This is Polyethylene:

What makes PVC different than other thermoplastics? Plastics are long hydrocarbon chains with a center backbone of carbon with hydrogen molecules to each side of the chain. The length of the chain determines whether the hydrocarbon is a gas or a liquid or a solid. Whether it is a solid or liquid is also temperature dependent. Increase the temperature enough and solid thermoplastics become liquids. What differentiates different plastics is the addition of other molecules that replace some of the hydrogen. What is unique about PVC is the addition of chlorine.

 This is PVC:

When the PVC degrades under heat, it eludes Hydrogen Chloride (HCL) gas. This gas is heavier that air, so it tends to smother the flame. It is possible to get PVC to burn, but it tends to snuff itself out. PVC also does not make the burning drips that other thermoplastics make. The Grenfell Tower high rise fire in London on 14 June 2017 is an example (one of many) of poor choice of thermoplastics in its exterior cladding which burned (with flaming drips) like jet fuel once ignited. This allowed the fire to spread quickly downwards as well as upwards.

An added feature is that the material softens at a temperature that is relatively low.  At above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the tiles begin to soften, loose strength and fall to the floor. When a fire occurs, the heat fills the ceiling area quickly, dropping the ceiling tiles to the relatively cool floor, where they are far less likely to burn and make the fire worse.  This also exposes the sprinkler heads so they can do their job.  Brutal tiles drop before the sprinkler head temperature is reached.  Sprinkler heads activate at between 155 and 164 degrees Fahrenheit.


Tested for your safety:

The material is tested in accordance with the ASTM International fire-test-response standard E84-20, Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials, sometimes referred to as the Steiner tunnel test.

The purpose of this test is to provide only the comparative measurements of surface flame spread and smoke development of materials with that of select grade red oak and fiber-reinforced cement board, Grade II, under specific fire exposure conditions with the smoke area of heptane used to establish the smoke-developed index.

The acceptable range for Class A is: 0-25 Flame Spread Index 0-450 Smoke-Developed Index

Our material tested with a Flame Spread index of 10 and Smoke-developed Index of 125, so well within Class A.  You can read the Test Report here. 

 

Cleanable

Unlike mineral fiber ceiling tiles, Brutal Ceiling tiles are anti-bacterial and non- porous. Since it is an exterior grade PVC, it can be cleaned with any home cleaning product or antiviral disinfectants to ensure surfaces are safe.

 

Brutal Tiles: made better to keep you safe.

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