Turn Up The Heat: Comparing the Flammability of Residential Siding Materials

Junior High Engineering Science Fair ProjectEver wonder about the fire rating of housing materials? After a wildfire nearly devastated her neighborhood, California junior-high school student, Avery Hunker, got to thinking about the various products that had been used to construct her how and how they would have fared against the blaze - specifically how the old cedar shingles on the front of her home might have compared to other siding choices. With the help of her parents, she devised an experiment to test the flammability of common residential siding materials; cedar shingles {both new and aged samples}, composite siding, stucco siding, and pine siding.

A few suggestions...

  • Be sure to include the most common siding choices in your neighborhood or community {if they differ from Avery's selections}.
  • Avery came to some interesting conclusions in testing both a new and aged sample of cedar shingles. To extend the project, you might consider collecting samples of each shingle type in varying stages of wear, comparing tests between samples at each benchmark - i.e. new, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, etc.
  • Be sure to compare the performance of each siding sample to their published fire rating.
  • If you have an interest in another type of material or want your project to be a bit more original, test the performance of a different building material!

Be sure to follow the link to Avery's project summary for inspiration in completing your own flammability tests!