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Are Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles Safe?

Posted by Milan Jara on 11th May 2021

 Line Art Glue-up Styrofoam Ceiling Tile 20 in x 20 in – R24

Styrofoam ceiling tiles are an incredibly popular option for ceilings because they come with a variety of benefits, whether from functional purposes or aesthetic ones. If you’re considering the option of having Styrofoam ceiling tiles, then you are on your way to having a valuable investment. However, there have been debates as to whether they are safe for your home, especially when it comes to fire safety. This guide will focus on this underlining question and enlighten you as to how Styrofoam ceiling tiles can make a wonderful addition to your home.

Advantages of Styrofoam Ceiling Tiles

As mentioned, there are multiple reasons as to why a Styrofoam ceiling tile is an asset. Usually, when homeowners have installed them, they find that they’re more than satisfied with their investment. Typical reasons for this include:

  • Good for Insulation: They provide good insulation. Therefore, you may see a reduction on your heating bill. That’s because your home will be kept warmer in the winter yet cooler in the summer. That way, your use for heating and cooling will not be as necessary as without Styrofoam tiles.
  • Cost-Effective: This method is perhaps one of the cheapest ways to spruce up your ceiling at home. What’s even better is that they are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Versatile: Although Styrofoam ceiling tiles tend to come as white, you can paint them to match the color scheme of your home. They can also be installed over most types of ceilings – including plaster, cement, and stucco – and these tiles can hide imperfections remarkably well.

Now that we have some of their pros out of the way, it’s time to discuss the darker side of Styrofoam ceiling tiles. If you’re considering having them installed, it’s only right that you know whether or not they’re safe to have, for you and your family’s sake.

So, are Styrofoam ceiling tiles safe? Generally speaking, these tiles are safe. However, they can be harmful if a fire breaks out. That’s because fire will cause the Styrofoam to burn and melt, which coincides with the release of toxic gasses.

Although this doesn’t sound exactly pleasant, there are ways to manage this so that you can rest assured that your Styrofoam tiles are safe.

Styrofoam Material

 Chestnut Grove Glue-up Styrofoam Ceiling Tile 20 in x 20 in – R 31

Styrofoam is basically the term for extruded polystyrene foam. Therefore, Styrofoam is polystyrene, and it’s what makes up all Styrofoam products.

Without getting into all the scientific properties of polystyrene as a material, it’s safe to say that Styrofoam products are harmless if you focus on the material alone. In fact, evidence can suggest this, as all of us at one stage have had a coffee in a Styrofoam cup or a Styrofoam take-out food container.

So, why do Styrofoam ceiling tiles raise concern when it comes to flammability?

Simply put, when Styrofoam is exposed to fire, it catches the flame immediately and melts considerably quick. Moreover, it can drip while melting in high places like the ceiling. This is why you have to consider this option thoroughly before you invest in it.

Toxic Gasses

When Styrofoam burns, it releases gasses and harmful fumes that might cause long-term effects.

However, technology has enhanced enormously throughout the last couple of decades, including in the decorative industry. Manufacturers now claim to have fire-rated and non-combustible Styrofoam tiles in their stores. But do not take this for granted, it is still essential to check with your seller for this type of information.

For your own benefit, these are the two main toxic gasses that can be released when Styrofoam burns:

  • Carbon Monoxide: Known to cause headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and nausea. If levels are high, then life-threatening consequences can occur.
  • Styrene Gas: Inhaling this type of gas can affect the nervous system. Such effects include changes in color vision, tiredness, slowed reaction time, balance complications, and concentration levels.

These are the worst-case scenarios. Such effects will only develop if you happen to inhale very large volumes of the toxic gasses.

If you are unfortunate enough to have a fire and your Styrofoam ceiling tiles burn, it’s important to extinguish the flame and open your doors and windows to air out your home.

Fire Ratings

A fire rating exists so you can determine how long a fire takes to spread. To get accurate measures, tests are performed on all types of tiles, and each one will end up with a specific score.

If you’re looking for a ceiling tile that takes the longest time to spread a fire, then you’re looking to get a score with a lower number. A Class A rating happens to be the lowest possible score (0-25), making this the best rating available.

How to Manage Styrofoam Tiles’ Fire Risk?

 Romanesque Wreath Glue-up Styrofoam Ceiling Tile 20 in x 20 in – R 47

If you have attained a set of Styrofoam ceiling tiles that aren’t Class A fire rated, then there are certain ways to manage their risk of fire. For instance, there is the option of latex fire-retardant paint, which is known to work wonders. As Styrofoam ceiling tiles are paintable, this shouldn’t affect the outcome of your ceiling’s overall look.

With latex fire-retardant paint, you either use it for added protection (even if you have fire-rated tiles), or you can use it to help your ceiling become fire resistant.

So, are Styrofoam ceiling tiles safe?

For many factors, Styrofoam ceiling tiles are safe, but when it comes to fire safety, then perhaps this can be seen as a certain weakness. Our Styrofoam ceiling tiles are not fire-rated, but we have provided this guide for you on how to work around this particular issue. Latex fire-retardant paint is an option, and it’s an incredibly effective one, too.

Even though there is controversy surrounding Styrofoam ceiling tiles, there shouldn’t be any doubts to having them installed to your ceiling. They provide excellent benefits which includes easy installation and impeccable insulation. However, if you are concerned over their inability to resist fire, then it’s important to exercise due diligence when making this investment. Then, it’s about taking the right precautions thereafter.

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