For many specifiers and people in general, some of the terms used in the building code are difficult to understand at first glance. One of these terms that people have asked me about recently is “Group 1”, what is it.
Well, the classification Group 1, is used in relation to a product’s fire hazard properties. Due to the various fire risks associated in different building types, the building code of Australia has set out minimum requirements for materials to be used in sprinkled or un-sprinkled buildings and various areas within the buildings.
In order to meet the building code of Australia’s guidelines, suppliers are required to have the materials tested using either the ISO 9705 full-scale room test or the test in accordance with AS/NZS 3837 (method of test for heat and smoke release rates for materials and products using an oxygen consumption calorimeter, commonly referred to as a cone test). The results of either of these methods, provide the group number of a material. The group number is an indication of the materials’ fire hazard properties with Group 1 being the highest (best) classification and Group 4 being the poorest performing classification.
It’s important to recognise at this point, although high pressure laminates may look similar, their performance characteristics can differ greatly, due to the factors such as, the manufacturing technique (including curing process) and the quality of the raw materials used to manufacture the laminate. Unfortunately, most of the high pressure laminate on the market in Australia comes from Asian sources, in particular China and Malaysia and the group rating for the majority of these laminates is Group 3 or Group 2.
Fortunately, Lamicolor Duropal provide high quality HPL from Germany and Italy that is fully cured and achieves a Group 1 rating making it an ideal option for many applications including internal door leaf options for high performance environments (see OPTIMUM HPL Doors). As well as the Group 1 classification, the high pressure laminates are also chemical resistant, antibacterial and anti static, making them a long lasting high performance material that also enhances the aesthetic beauty of the indoor environment.