What I'm Seeing Now


FRT Plywood That Needs Further Investigation

This is the case of FRT plywood that needs further investigation.

FRT plywood (Fire Retardant Treated) came into use in the 80s when masonry firewalls between townhouses were replaced with a thick, fire-resistant drywall fire barrier wall.  This material is intended to resist or impede the spread of a fire for a prescribed period of time, about 2 hours.

In addition to the fire barrier wall between the units, roofing was fitted with a special sheathing treated to resist the spread of a fire.   The wood is treated with forms of salts intended to get the sheathing to char and not burn rapidly.

The plywood in this photo is different. 

It was covered with a layer of something, and I have never seen this before.

This something was cracking and peeling in many places.

Sending a photo to a couple of home inspector friends, none had any idea what it was. 

Charlie Buell asked, "Are you sure it's FRT?"

My answer - the house was built in 2000 so it would have passed fire codes then in place and the county would have approved it.

Typically fire codes require that the stamps need to be legible, but in this case the townhouse was an end unit and the one side of the attic where the FRT was located was not possible to get to, so I had to take this telephoto.  I could not read any label, though I saw a couple of stamps that looked like they had information.

The Realtor asked me what to do here.  All I could say was that I thought that it should be investigated by a roofer.

My recommendation:  obviously this will have to be investigated further by a roofer familiar with this form of FRT.  It's best to refer this circumstance along to a specialist.  It surely looks odd to me! 



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 7 commentsJay Markanich • June 15 2017 10:05AM


Interesting stuff here, I learn something​ new everytime I read your blog, thanks.

Posted by Peter Mohylsky. Beach Expert, THE BEACH IS OPEN (PrimeSouth Properties) over 3 years ago

Hmmm. Whatever it is, it won't help stop fire if it's cracked. 

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay. Never seen this either, or if I have, it was not cracked so I did not know! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 3 years ago

This is not something we are familiar with in Oklahoma City but I would like to get a follow up on this one.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 3 years ago

I am assuming it's an open beam vaulted ceiling, with OSB as a sheathing. Looks like some sort of plaster material that is cracking/peeling by the pics... doesn't look like FRT to me!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 3 years ago

I'm glad you do, Peter!  Thanks!

My thinking exactly, Kat.  I expect this product is not working as advertised.

I'm not either, Joe, and I have asked to be kept informed.

I think the sheathing was treated with this stuff, Fred, and it has become compromised from heat or whatever.  But don't know!  Further investigation, please...


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

I thought they stopped using FRT plywood around here a long time ago.  My townhouse which was built in 1984 had it.  The roofs where the townhouse met sagged so much, they looked like bath tubs.  The builder paid for 1/2 of the replacement cost, but it still wasn't cheap.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 3 years ago

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