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.
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!
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However, that doesn't mean you are stuck with an unflattering cover plate color.
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
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:
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.
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 qrfs.com/blog to read more.