My living room ceilings were a mess, so I ordered new 2.4m x 1.2m panels and tore it the old stuff down a few hours ahead of delivery. What fun!

Not fun was finding that the steel beam in the ceiling/floor space has no fire proofing. I'm in the UK and there's regulations about this - steel beams must survive 30 mins of fire. Your insurance is invalidated without that. Who knows when this misdeed was committed, but I have to remedy it.


beam viewed from below

beam viewed from below - second angle

There is loads of advice online about new builds and new home-improvement work that put in new beams. Nothing that I can find from UK-GOV about old/existing houses. If there had been something there before, even it was shitty by today's standard, I would have been able to leave it in.

The beam is not exposed. If it was I could have used intumescent paint. I think I could do if it wasn't exposed, but it would still need 5cm expansion space before the regular plasterboard (drywall or sheetrock depending on your local language) layer, but it only a 15mm gap

Here's a guy who knows what he's doing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGhHn6ULAJM (fast forward to 7m 30s) - putting on double-thickness of regular plasterboard. Is that to regulation? People ask him questions in the youtube comments but he does not answer them. I could do this, but it is very intricate.

There's also "Glasroc F MULTIBOARD" that's for fire proofing - this can be single layer, I think. Videos of people cutting that make it look consumer safe. Three sides of this, then the regular plasterboard below that. Or Just the bottom in Glasroc - a whole 1.2m wide - instead of the regular plasterboard for that section of the ceiling?

More videos:

After I'm done do I need an official inspection? Do I record my own video of my work for any purpose including if we were to sell the house?

  • 1
    Might just be misleading pictures, but that sure does not look like a beam. Looks like ordinary wooden framing and some sort of small metal tube, very "not beam like" to me from these pictures. In any case, to the best of my knowledge standard steel framing protection in hidden spaces tends to be an adhesive layer of fireproofed cellulose insulation, or similar. Could it actually be an electrical conduit or plumbing?
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 13, 2020 at 15:16
  • 3
    @Ecnerwal Look at the bottom of the photos. An I cross section steel beam. Sep 13, 2020 at 15:41
  • 2
    It is an H beam (RSJ) The joists for the upstairs floors have been shaped to wedge in, and dwangs/noggins keep them separated. The H beam was galvanized to some degree before installation, and sits on concrete lintels atop brickwork on each side. The beam still shows original builder's footprints in places! The builders gift to time was a rolled up £5 note from back then. Sep 13, 2020 at 16:21
  • 3
    I get how conversations with the authorities can make a person nervous, but the ultimate answer to this question is with your local building permit people. Sep 13, 2020 at 17:26
  • 1
    Are you certain that the fireproofing regulations aren't grandfathered? Yes it's better to be fireproofed, and for that matter, coating 95% of the beam is way better than zero %, but make sure of your legal standing (both for insurance and for future sales) before diving into a rather expensive rework proposition. Sep 14, 2020 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


Adjacent houses had one of the nastier asbestos boards in the groove seen between the joists and under the metal. Then the regular plasterboard layer. Fireboard is what we put up in the same position, then plasterboard. "Grandfathered in" being the position re regulations.

Legally, we need fireproofing to regulations for steel beams as:

  1. in the case of a small fire, the dwelling should no collapse beyond what would be expected. This is to protect people (say firemen/women) who may be there at the time, or in the aftermath. The fire protection for beams allow them to survive longer without collapsing and perhaps benefit from a water via a fire hose (say) 30 mins after the fire started.

  2. Your insurance claim could be invalidated if there was no fire protection for beams, or the fire protection was inadequate given regulations. This reinforces the home owners willingness to attend to #1 above.

  • If everything is burnt to ash we still want the beam in place? or is it the gaps around the beam that needs to be addressed? What is the reason for the code on this? Perhaps this can be addressed in your answer.
    – Alaska Man
    Sep 21, 2020 at 17:54
  • @AlaskaMan - rationale added Sep 23, 2020 at 11:53
  • 1
    @AlaskaMan because in the heat of a fire, wood chars on the outside forming a natural heat insulating layer that allows the wood to maintain structural integrity for a time, while steel simply heats, transfers the heat throughout the beam (steel is a good conductor of heat), until the entire beam collapses. Steel will collapse before an equivalent wooden beam will fail. The 30- or 60- minute requirement will protect the beam from collapsing while rescue crews may be in the building looking for survivors. After that time, all bets are off. Nobody cares about a beam once it's all ashes...
    – FreeMan
    Sep 23, 2020 at 12:10
  • Learned something, That's one of the reasons I am here,
    – Alaska Man
    Sep 23, 2020 at 17:49

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