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  1. #1

    Default Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    Single family 1 story home with an attached garage & a standard access ladder has been installed in the ceiling. Question: Since the 1/2" drywall has been cut out to allow for the access ladder, shouldn't the access ladder be fire rated/treated? Builder claims this is not required. Current IRC details would be appreciated Thanks in advance for your responses.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    The access ladder door should have 1/2" sheetrock over it that extends past the frame of the ladder and overlaps the ceiling rock.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    Another option to what Fred said is to construct a 5-sided box (drywall enclosure) above the ceiling ... If done correctly - and it is real easy to do it incorrectly.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Another option to what Fred said is to construct a 5-sided box (drywall enclosure) above the ceiling ... If done correctly - and it is real easy to do it incorrectly.
    Do you have a diagram handy?

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    Check with your local AHJ, since not all areas have the same requirements.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    Do you have a diagram handy?
    No, but I think it will be easy to describe:

    The ceiling extends to inside of the truss bottom chords/ceiling joists, this surface is covered with 1/2" drywall which extends down to level with the ceiling and up to the top of the bottom chords/ceiling joists, then another piece of 1/2" drywall is laid over that wrapped opening.

    An easy addition to keep the top cover in place is to attach a from to the underside of the top which keeps the top centered in the wrapped opening.

    Naturally, the wrapped opening needs to be high enough so the top is above the height of the stairs when closed and during its opening/closing.

    The incorrect way is the easy way - install the 1/2" drywall on the outside surface of the bottom chords/ceiling joists, but that does nothing to protect the wood of the bottom chords/ceiling joists.

    The reason for this option is that installing 1/2" drywall on some stairs makes the stairs too heavy for their springs and the stairs no longer stays fully closed.

    Of course, one could install rated pull down stairs ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    When you enter the attic area over the garage, does this area continue to the living area? Or, does the wall between home and garage extend above into attic area, continuing separation between the living / garage areas?

    Builder was quick to reply that wooden pull down was OK, and I'd hope they would know better between wooden stairs and rated access..


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    Yes, in my opinion, attic access doors in garage ceilings need to meet the opening protection requirement for garage separation.

    The attic stair unit in the garage is required to be fire rated or improved to meet the minimal separation requirements set forth in IRC R309.1 and R309.2:
    R309.1 Opening protection.
    Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted. Other openings between the garage and residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1-3/8 inches (35 mm) in thickness, solid or honeycomb core steel doors not less than 1-3/8 inches (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.
    R309.2 Separation required.
    The garage shall be separated from the residence and its attic area by not less than ½-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board applied to the garage side. Garages beneath habitable rooms shall be separated from all habitable rooms above by not less than 5/8-inch (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum board or equivalent. Where the separation is a floor-ceiling assembly, the structure supporting the separation shall also be protected by not less than ½-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board or equivalent.

    Built-in folding ladders provide a convenient means of access to attic areas and are becoming increasingly popular for utilizing (unintended) storage space above garages. Unfortunately, people who install these ladders are generally unaware of fire separation requirements. Thus, with almost all of these installations, fire safety standards are inadvertently violated.

    The partition wall between a house and an adjoining garage is typically covered with 5/8 inch drywall, to slow the spread of a garage fire to the dwelling. If the garage attic and house attic are not also divided by a firewall, then the garage ceiling becomes part of the fire separation and must also be finished with 5/8 inch drywall. The access cover on a folding ladder is a mere sheet of ¼ inch plywood. When installed in a garage ceiling, this thin wood membrane replaces a portion of the fire-resistant drywall board, thereby breaching the required fire separation.

    Acceptable alternates:
    1. Extend the drywall separation on the wall between house and garage all the way to roof deck so that ceiling 1/2” sheetrock is not required (house and garage attics are separated)

    2. Cover thin pull down stair door with 1/2” sheetrock or minimum 3/8” fire treated plywood adequately attached to garage side (Note: door must close completely and additional weight of sheetrock/plywood may require some type of lock, barrel bolt or other closure device to hold shut). Fire treated plywood must be factory stamped similar to what is used on townhouse roof decking at party walls. Note: some pull down stair manufacturers have stairs with a fire treated plywood door cover. WARNING: The addition of any other materials to any manufacturer’s pull down stair may void their warranty.

    3. Non-combustible metal door openings or non-combustible pull down stairs

    4. Scuttle hole lids will need to be trimmed out with 2X material, no thin profile door or window trim/casing, to hold in place during a fire event. Other non-combustible attachments like barrel bolts, hinge and hasp could be used.

    5. Cover scuttle hole lids or pull down stairs doors with adequately attached 24 gage (0.48mm) sheet steel as allowed for duct penetrations listed under R309.1.1.

    6. A framed enclosure shall be constructed above and around the folding stair rough opening. Minimum ½” gypsum board shall be installed on the garage side of the enclosure. A framed ½” or ¾” plywood access door with ½” gypsum board on the garage side shall be equipped with hinge and latching device. The door shall be positioned to self-close (less than 90 degrees opening). Edges around the stairway gypsum covering shall be tight to the surrounding ceiling.

    7. If approved by the AHJ it may be acceptable to paint the door panel with intumescent (fire-proof) paint.

    See: http://www.texasinspector.com/ICC%20...%20Opinion.pdf
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    7. If approved by the AHJ it may be acceptable to paint the door panel with intumescent (fire-proof) paint.
    Intumescent paint is not fire-proof. Intumescent paint (and other intumescent products and material) swell when heated, they also char when heated. As they swell, they become thicker but less dense, thereby slowing down the transfer of heat - the charring effect of its surface provides and additional slowing of the transfer of heat.

    Intumescenty paint must be applied to the required thickness to obtain the proper rating, and some intumescent paints used in some areas require a top coating as high humidity can affect they to a minor degree or to such a degree that they lose their intumescent properties, providing little or not protection.

    Intumescent material is used in firestop systems and fire caulk, but I would not call them "fire-proof" ... "fire-resistant" would be a better choice of words.

    ... just sayin' ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Intumescent paint is not fire-proof ... just sayin' ...
    Yes, even though the term was properly used according to some dictionaries, I suppose that nothing is fire-proof if provided with enough heat. Fire-retardant or fire-resistant would have been more accurately descriptive choices.


    • fire·proof
      ˈfīrˌpro͞of
      adjective
      1.
      able to withstand fire or great heat.
      "a fireproof dish"
      synonyms: nonflammable, incombustible, fire resistant, flame resistant, flame retardant, heatproof
      "fireproof coveralls"


    In the interest of being precise, I will change it just for you, Herr Peck.

    Last edited by Aaron Miller; 09-09-2014 at 11:11 AM. Reason: Clarity
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Single family home with an attached garage (Texas)

    I find the pull down stairs in many garages, most are not fire rated and have a thin plywood cover. It voids the fire rating/separation between garage and attic. As others have said it needs minimum 1/2 inch sheetrock installed over the cover and should not have gaps around it.


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