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#14 - Can I paint my fire sprinkler cover plates?

Posted by Jason Hugo on 3/12/2013 to Fire Sprinkler Systems
A fresh coat of paint on the walls can spruce up a home or business. During the painting process, it is natural to wonder if you can also paint the cover plate of your concealed fire sprinklers. After all, what’s the point of painting a white ceiling another color if the sprinkler’s concealer is still bright white?

But before you prepare your roller and paint brush you must know: painting a cover plate voids your fire sprinkler’s manufacturer warranty and endangers your life.

Fire sprinkler cover plate installed
How a fire sprinkler cover plate should look in the ceiling.

Let me take a moment and provide some background information. A cover plate is a thin piece of decorative metal connected to a frame using temperature-responsive solder, similar to the image above. A fire sprinkler cover plate is designed to react to a very specific temperature. As ceiling temperatures rise at or above a cover plate's specifications, the solder melts releasing the plate and exposing the concealed sprinkler. More specifically, most common concealed fire sprinkler cover plates are designed to release at 135°F (57°C) freeing the sprinkler's glass bulb to activate at 155°F (68°C). Other temperatures are available but operate similarly.

Common paint, on the other hand, is not designed to respond to a specific temperature and dries like glue; both detrimental to a cover plate’s temperature responsiveness. By painting a cover plate, you are putting a dangerous roadblock in the way of your sprinkler's normal operation.

In addition to life-safety implications, painting a cover plate voids the warranty on your fire sprinklers. Victaulic’s warranty, as an example, states, “This warranty shall not apply to any product which has been altered in any manner outside of Victaulic’s factory.”

Warning: DO NOT paint or in any other way modify your fire sprinklers or their cover plates!

Click Here to Tweet: DO NOT paint or in any other way modify your fire sprinklers or their cover plates! Read more: http://bit.ly/14FWb21 #QRFS

However, that doesn't mean you are stuck with an unflattering cover plate color.

Senju Sprinkler Cover Plates Match Most Residential Ceilings
Senju Sprinkler Creatively Matches Their Cover Plate to Your Ceiling

While each manufacturer is different, some have more out-of-the-box color options than others. The big five (Tyco, Viking, Victaulic, Reliable, and Globe) follow the pattern mentioned above: White and Chrome are standard, Black is available, and custom colors only upon request. But another manufacturer we proudly stock, Senju Sprinkler, offers a plethora of cover plate options as standard. Additionally, they go out of their way to provide residential cover plates that match the ceiling perfectly, as demonstrated by the image above.

Because of the difference between manufacturers, the first and most important step if you want to spruce up your fire sprinkler cover plates is to determine the manufacturer of your fire sprinkler. The easiest way to do this is to look at the sticker located on the inside of the cover plate. It is usually on the backside of the cover plate itself, as shown in the image below, or on the base of the cover plate's frame. It is important to note: cover plates are NOT interchangeable between brands. You MUST purchase cover plates that are the same brand, size, and temperature as the original.

Victaulic Cover Plate Inside
Victaulic Cover Plate Inside

But be careful, removing the cover plate can potentially damage the sprinkler. Usually, cover plates screw out but occasionally they have tabs that hold them in place and require a gentle, but firm tug to remove them. It is always better to be safe than sorry. A sprinkler contractor can help you if you run into trouble. If your sprinkler brand is listed below, we can help with the next step:

Tyco Cover Plates from QRFSVictaulic Fire Sprinkler Cover Plates Available at QRFS
Senju Sprinkler Cover Plates Available at QRFS

After locating your sprinkler's brand, next determine your color preference. Go to your favorite hardware store where you purchase paint and pick up a paint swatch that matches your wall or ceiling. Then, if your sprinkler matches the brands listed above give QRFS a call otherwise, contact a local sprinkler contractor or the manufacturer directly. The manufacturer, through us or otherwise, will provide pricing and a lead time. Each custom color usually requires a paint set-up fee and the actual cost of paint and production.

What your fire sprinklers should NOT look like!
Fire hazard! Notice the bulb is completely covered in paint.

If you are painting your walls, make sure to carefully tape off the cover plates and fire sprinklers. If paint mistakenly gets on the sprinkler or cover plate, you should promptly call a local, licensed fire sprinkler contractor to replace.

Now you know why you cannot paint your fire sprinkler cover plate and what your options are for matching your sprinkler system and ceiling aesthetically. If you're in the market for new cover plates, please click the link below to get started.



This article was written by Jason Hugo and originally appeared on QRFS.com. It was updated on February 5th, 2016. Please visit here  to read more.

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Date 8/11/2014
Raleigh Wood
If a cover plate has been painted, can a solvent be used to remove the paint?
Date 11/11/2014
james
No solvent , tsp, cleaner of any type is allowed per nfpa and ifc. Loaded heads which are heads close to vents and some kitchen areas collect dust and grease, nicotene(casino's) are considered loaded and must be replaced.
Date 11/11/2014
james
No solvent , tsp, cleaner of any type is allowed per nfpa and ifc. Loaded heads which are heads close to vents and some kitchen areas collect dust and grease, nicotene(casino's) are considered loaded and must be replaced.
Date 1/29/2015
QRFS
Thank you for your question, Lisa. The short answer is yes, this is possible. What you need to do is identify the brand of sprinkler you have (ie, Victaulic, Globe, Tyco, etc.) and contact a sales representative from a distributor or the manufacturer directly (try their website). Provide them with the color swatch code and the quantity of covers you need and they can special order them. I will caution you, there is likely a paint-setup fee which can range from $100-300 dollars plus the cost of the cover plates and the paint. To identify the type of sprinkler you have, it is best to have a sprinkler contractor come out as removing the cover plates can damage the sprinkler or the cover. If you're inclined to do it yourself, the cover usually screws in or pushes in and can be unscrewed or pulled out. But BE CAREFUL - damaging the sprinkler can result in flooding or worse, an ineffective sprinkler in a time of emergency. If you determine your sprinklers are Victaulic or Senju, we can help with the special paint. Contact us at 888-361-6662.
Date 1/29/2015
Lisa Martin
Hi - I just painted my ceiling and now would like to get the 6 sprinkler cover plates painted in the same color, Benjamin Moore "Davenport Tan" 50% HC-76. Is this possible, and if so how do I go about it and what is the cost? Thank you, Lisa 415-246-2260
Date 3/25/2015
Kenneth Miller
Hi, I work at Mercer County College and we have a Sprinkler system and I need some covers for the heads, The covers are a central 135F/57C cover - use with 155 - 162F, 68 - 72C sprinkler. Face is 3 - 5/8"OD and the back is 2 - 5/16" OD, The hight is 7/8" Please contact me by phone 609-570-3553 or email. Thank you Ken
Date 3/30/2015
wayne Somerfeldt
I want to replace the ceiling tile where a sprinkler cover is located. Can you manually remove the cover without setting off the sprinkler and replace the ceiling tile?
Date 7/31/2015
Gardens
I live in a large HOA that is 30 years old. We recently had a 5 year inspection performed on our fire system. The inspection called out about 500 covers plates that they say need to be replaced due to corrosion. The plates are factory colored white and are generally protected from any weather. Many of them have a mild green tinge or streak. In no place is there any peeling of the pain. The sprinkler head beneath is in good condition. Does regulation require these to be replaced - if so can you specify the code. Secondly is it possible to clean the corrosion without replacement.
Date 10/2/2015
Betty Woolf
Can you paint the cup and the shirt of a sprinkler. I understand u can't paint the flat covers but what about the other. QRFS Response - Great question! The short answer is no, you cannot paint the escutcheons either. If the paint on those escutcheons were to start melting at a temperature lower than the sprinkler's activation temperature then it could impact your sprinkler's operation. We'll follow up with a new blog on this topic soon.

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