Can I paint my fire sprinkler cover plates?
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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 wall 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
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! 

However, that doesn't mean you are stuck with an unflattering cover plate color. Fire sprinkler manufacturers offer various cover plate color options. Most common are white and chrome, however black and custom colors are available. 

To purchase custom color cover plates the first step is to determine the color needed. Go to your favorite hardware store where you purchased your paint and pick up the matching paint swatch. Then give QRFS or your local contractor a call. Using the color swatch we’re able to contact the manufacturer and inquire into pricing and lead time. Each custom color 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.
Raleigh Wood Date 8/11/2014
If a cover plate has been painted, can a solvent be used to remove the paint?
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