A Tasmanian builder has begun working with a new home cladding material that can withstand temperatures of up to 1000 degrees, which could help in the fight against bushfire damage.
Rick Leighton, the managing director of Leighton Building and Construction in Hobart, said the material looked like standard cement sheeting, but was much more heat resistant.
Called magnesium oxide board, Mr Leighton said using the material in fire-prone areas could save lives and property by allowing people to securely gather their belongings before fleeing a fire, and give the house a better chance of withstanding a blaze.
He said the board had been heated to 1000 degrees for 150 minutes in laboratory tests and the temperature on the non-fire side (internal) wall was 77 degrees.
Mr Leighton said this was critical, as timber framing did not ignite until reaching about 300 degrees, meaning a house had a much better chance of surviving a fire.
He said the material was also water resistant, so would not be affected by ``super charged'' steam that could blow out buildings during a fire.
The material is also highly energy efficient - he said a South Hobart house he was building with the material had a thermal rating above nine stars, making it 7.5 times more energy efficient than the state's minimum standard.
Mr Leighton said the material costs about 20 per cent more than standard home sheeting, and said while he had seen it used in Scandinavia, he had not seen it before in Tasmania.
It had been used in Queensland, but mainly because it kept buildings cooler and was termite-resistant, he said.