What Is a Fire Rated 093V Expansion Bead?

Creating a wall assembly that’s fully code compliant is full of hoops you’ll have to jump through, some simple and some terribly tedious. If you’re a commercial drywaller working in huge spaces with wide-open floorplans, you’re probably already familiar with the headaches code-compliant control joints can cause. Traditionally, to make these control joints fire rated, you’ll need a wealth of backing materials to prevent the spread of smoke and fire, in addition to an expansion bead that can handle the stresses of expansion and contraction within the wall system — in total, this process can be both costly and time-consuming. So, what is a Fire Rated 093V Expansion Bead? It’s our solution to satisfy both these requirements in a single step; it’s manufactured to move along with the structure, while saving you time, money and frustration on firestopping. It’s a win-win-win.

To answer this question more fully, let’s take a closer look at what control joints are, and how the Fire Rated 093V Expansion Bead (also known as 093X-V) revolutionizes the traditional process for installing them.

control joint

Why do we need control joints?

According to building code GA-216, control joints need to be installed where a wall, ceiling or partition runs in an uninterrupted straight plane exceeding 30 linear feet. Why? Slight building movement is bound to happen, especially for large drywall runs, and can cause serious damage to wall joints without some flexible protection built in between sections of drywall. (This also applies to areas where an addition is joined to an existing structure, as the two sections of the building will tend to move differently.) A control joint can accommodate this kind of movement with no cracking, leaving a cosmetically pleasing finish.

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For a non-fire rated control joint, you’ll need two things: additional framing along the joint with a properly sized gap between drywall sheets to allow for movement, and an expansion bead. An expansion bead can be made of vinyl, metal or zinc, with a flexible “V” groove in the center and flanges that are attached to the edges of the drywall ceiling or wall surface.

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We’re always going to recommend going vinyl here, like our own non-fire rated 093V Expansion, as it’s rust-proof, provides superior expansion control (up to ⅜” of building movement) and can easily bend to conform to curved joints (to pull off a similar trick with metal beads, you’d need to special-order pre-curved beads with an extended lead time). Plus, the vinyl 093V expansion comes with tear-off strips on either side of the “V” groove, protecting the flexible inner component from drywall compound that can harden and aesthetically damage it.

(Note: Our 093V Expansion Bead is also available in a low-profile alternative, the Hideaway Expansion.)

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How can control joints prevent the passage of fire and smoke?

Given how far-reaching control joints can be on large drywall runs, for many projects, adding firestop materials in these areas is going to be absolutely crucial to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.

Before Trim-Tex started manufacturing our own solution to this problem, the best way to approach this would be to use a non-fire rated 093V Expansion, and to fill the cavity with mineral wool or, better yet, install two layers of type X gypsum strips attached to the web of the stud. Here’s what that would look like for a one-hour fire rated wall assembly:

expansion joint traditional

This approach worked well enough for firestopping crews for a long time, but the problems here will be obvious to most — it’s complicated, time-consuming and, most importantly, leaves a lot of room for error. Without the right amount of mineral wool or a slight inaccuracy when installing the fire-shield drywall strips, your assembly’s not going to pass inspection, and you’ll have to do it all again.

The fire rated 093X-V overhauls this whole process, making it simpler and reducing the chance for user error down to almost zero. No need for drywall rips, mineral wool or fire caulks — this single solution will do all the work to halt fire and smoke from passing through these gaps. Here’s how that will look on a two-hour rated wall, though it will also work on a one-hour rated assembly:

expansion joint 093X-V

The vinyl firestopping solution works like this: Each length of the Fire Rate 093V Expansion Bead comes equipped with a strip of highly advanced intumescent tape along one outer side of that “V” groove. This tape expands to more than 30 times its size when exposed to intense heat, creating a powerful blockade against fire and smoke. Because the correct dosage of this firestopping material has already been factory-applied, you know every control joint you’ve got is properly equipped to take on a fire, having been rigorously tested according to UL standards.

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Inspections will be easier too — the control joint will be ready to inspect right after installation. And inspectors will be able to instantly spot the Fire Rated 093V Expansion Bead by its pink color, and know that it has been outfitted with the right amount of firestopping materials. Once the bead is painted, visitors will never know the difference.

Add up all these newer, faster advancements in control-joint firestopping — plus the ⅜” of expansion and contraction allowed by the bead’s flexible PVC center — and you’ll never go back to the old way of doing things. So, what is a Fire Rated 093V Expansion Bead? It’s a one-stop-shop, the total package for fire rated control joints that won’t sustain damage due to building movement.

Want to get a look at the Fire Rated 093V Expansion for yourself? Hit the button below to request a free commercial sample kit (just select "commercial" at the top of the form), which includes this bead along with the rest of our family of groundbreaking code compliance solutions!

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