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dwolfe@uteck.com


 

Backboards are the Backbone of Telecom and Datacom Rooms

U-TECK’s Fire Retardant Backboard Product page

The fire retardant, wood backboards used in many telcom and datacom rooms to mount ONTs (optical network terminals), NIDs (network interface devices), power supply, and other equipment are used for a very good reason. These backboards provide a protective barrier between the wall and the installed equipment by diffusing the heat (generated by the equipment) and greatly reducing fire hazards. Many states’ building codes require a fire retardant backboard with each installation. Local code dictates, so always check with the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) usually the fire marshal or building inspector when doing an installation.

There are two options available for fire retardant backboards; treated plywood and standard plywood painted with fire retardant paint. The disadvantages to using treated plywood is that it is not readily available in all lumber yards. Also, the fire retardant stamp on the plywood must be in full view for inspection. Unfortunately, many times the stamp is on the back or “rough” side. There are work arounds that can be done in these cases but permission must be received from the AHJ and be well documented.

An alternative to using treated plywood is applying fire retardant, intumescent paint to non-rated, standard plywood. This paint needs to meet federal, state, and local building and fire codes as well as, be applied by a certified technician. The fire-retardant paint coating needs to be a specific mil thick to pass the ASTM E-84/UL 723 “Test for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials.” This test measures the relative rate at which flame spreads over a given surface and the degree of smoke development and toxicity.

When painting your own backboard with fire retardant paint, a supply certificate must be obtained from the paint manufacturer. The certificate is then submitted to your insurance company, Fire and Building Control Authority, and client records. If the certificate is not obtained, in the event of a fire, you may be held liable.

A much easier and cost effective option to painting your own backboard is purchasing from a supplier that manufactures readymade backboards coated with fire retardant paint. Each backboard includes a label that authenticates that they are certified ASTM E-84/UL 723 Class A compliant and safe to use.

U-TECK offers a full-line of painted, fire retardant backboards for contractor use. Every backboard is coated with fire retardant, intumescent paint, which insulates the wall surface from the heat by swelling up and expanding when exposed to flame, producing a heat resistant charred surface. Every backboard that U-TECK produces includes a label that authenticates that they are certified Class A compliant and safe to use. In addition to being products of the highest quality, U-TECK’s backboards are made from urea-formaldehyde free plywood from renewable plantation forests and are certified as compliant with the sustainable forest management standard.

U-TECK offers Exterior Backboards for outdoor use as well. These backboards are used on cell towers, multiple family dwellings, etc. Made from 3/4″ impact resistant plastic, the Exterior Backboards are strong and moisture proof. Available in any size configuration, this backboard will never rot, split or crack, yet can be drilled and painted like wood.

To view U-TECK’s full-array of standard industry sized backboards, as well as a large selection of our specialty sizes, please visit our website or contact U-TECK’s customer service for more information at (800) 542-7011.

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