By Vanessa Kutchurian

Toughening an entry door against fire is a method of making a home safer by helping contain a dangerous fire and preventing its rapid spread. Two methods are often used to do this by people engaged in front door designs. One is to apply a surface coat that retards the burning of the body of the door. Another is to fortify the door itself by changing the properties of the wood through soaking in a mineral solution.

The first way is accomplished through the use of an organic agent known as an intumescent which inhibits burning. Historically there are have been other agents like endothermic resins but recently have fallen out of favor as they produce excess smoke that compounds the difficulty of seeing during a fire emergency.

Light intumescents help make the door more flame resistant but do not make it entirely fire proof because it is merely a surface coating. The way intumescents are applied is like paint, brushed over the surface until a fairly thick layer is formed. Moisture damages the integrity of the coating and should be avoided.

The other way of increasing fire resistance throughout the door and not just at the surface is to soak it in a zinc salt solution. The solution changes the molecular structure of the wood, making it tougher with a higher flammability point. The second method requires a lot more time and effort to carry out.

A very new kind of door is the fiberglass door. Strands of glass are bonded with a resin-like compound in a door-shaped mold. The finished product is a door that's solidly constructed with hardened glass but still contains the flexibility of resin.

The surface of fiberglass could be made to look like traditional wooden doors, but without the disadvantages of warp-age and cracking. Fiberglass doors are also known to be very tough and have warranties that go until 30 years. One downside is that fiberglass doors are hard to fix other than for the most minor of damages.

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