Open ceiling design for single-family home basements is certainly popular if you judge by its coverage on the web or the number of tips you can find on how to create a more open-looking basement space.
This trendy “industrial look” in single-family homes has definitely caught on. For builders, however, safety considerations naturally come before aesthetics. The floor system first needs to help protect occupants and firefighters from structural failure if a fire occurs.
The 2015 International Residential Code® has provision for fire protection of floors. Before offering your customer an open basement ceiling design, make sure to check section R302.13 of the IRC, as well as local code requirements.
For example, in areas where automatic sprinkler systems are mandatory, you should be able to offer your customer an open ceiling. Floor systems over areas protected by sprinklers don’t require additional protection.
In most localities, however, sprinklers aren’t mandatory in single-family homes.
Consequently, builders using engineered wood joists such as I-joists need to approach the fire compliance differently. They must install 1/2 inch gypsum or 5/8 inch structural panel or an equivalent on the floor’s underside. That pretty well shuts down the open ceiling option altogether.
When using dimensional lumber or structural composite lumber that’s equal to or greater than 2 x 10, no extra paneling should be required. Refer to exception 4 of section R302.13. This makes an open ceiling design possible but most if not all HVAC, plumbing and electricals will have to run below the floor structure. This is less than ideal in a basement if your clearance is the minimum 7 feet.
Using a fire resistant solution for your floor system
TRIFORCE® open joist has been evaluated for equivalent fire-resistant construction to 2-inch-by-10-inch nominal dimension lumber in accordance with Exception 4 to Section R302.13 of the 2015/2018 International Residential Code® when installed as follow:
They are an excellent alternative to nominal dimension lumber or I-joists for open ceiling design.
- Their open web design allows you to run HVAC, plumbing, and electricity within the floor structure. This way, you can maintain maximum clearance throughout the basement.
- They require minimal alteration. Simply add 1/2″ gypsum or 19/32″ structural panel to each side of the OSB on the joist’s adjustable end.
Ideal joists for single-family homes with unfinished ceiling!
You won’t find another floor system on the market with this combination of characteristics. Find out more about this exceptional product by downloading our Spec Guide!
If you want to learn more about TRIFORCE®‘s fire-resistance characteristics, download our fire-resistant solutions brochure.