According to the latest International Code Council data, only half of the states in the U.S. have enacted the 2012 or 2015 versions of the International Residential Code (IRC). Section R501.3 of the 2012 IRC and Section R302.13 of the 2015 IRC include new requirements for the fire protection of the estimated 60 percent of new single-family homes with unfinished basements.
Until recently, architects and builders who are planning unfinished basements have faced an unpleasant choice: either go ahead and add the drywall needed to finish them or have the construction crew take the time to assemble code-compliant I-joists at the worksite. But now there are ready-to-go solutions that can dramatically reduce construction time and labor costs.
One such solution is the new LP® FlameBlock® Fire-Resistant I-Joist. It’s a ready-to-install solution that protects an LP® SolidStart® joist with a layer of patented, non-combustible Pyrotite®, a cementitious coating that meets 2012/2015 IRC code.
With LP FlameBlock I-Joists, construction crews can cut and drill joists like they always have—plus use standard hangers. The product allows them to easily cut holes in the web for HVAC and plumbing using standard installation instructions, and the cut areas require no additional treatment. Some code-compliant I-joist solutions can be incorrectly installed with the wrong flange up, but the LP FlameBlock I-Joist can be installed properly with either flange up.
Fire-resistant I-joists are great news for architects and builders in the 25 states that require fire protection of floors over unfinished basements. But what about the 25 states that are operating on pre-2012 code?
There’s still a lot of code inconsistency across the nation. For example, Missouri has passed IBC 2012 but is still on the 2000 edition of IRC. Yet, unfinished basements in Kansas City deserve the same fire protection that they’re required to get in Florida and California.
Legislators in code-lagging states need to take a cue from their counterparts in Maryland and South Dakota, who wasted no time in promptly enacting the 2015 code. Nationwide code consistency would make things easier for architectural firms with multi-state projects and would help ensure that floors over unfinished basements are uniformly protected.