#78 – Which Fire Sprinkler Escutcheon Do I Need?

How to identify and replace a sprinkler escutcheon

If you’ve landed on this page, it’s probably because you have a fire sprinkler escutcheon in need of replacement. Are you wondering which escutcheon you need? This article is for you!

Any escutcheon with damage, rust, or discoloration should be replaced. Additionally, it’s necessary to replace an escutcheon that has been painted by anyone besides the manufacturer. If you change your ceiling or wall colors, you can definitely change your escutcheons for a more aesthetically-pleasing look. All of the above are perfectly legitimate reasons to need a new fire sprinkler escutcheon.

This article explains what an escutcheon is, what it does, and why they’re necessary. Furthermore, we explore the different types and how to replace them. If you already know which type you need, feel free to jump directly to our huge selection of escutcheons.

What is a fire sprinkler escutcheon and why do I need one?

A fire sprinkler escutcheon is essentially a decorative trim around a fire sprinkler head that covers the gap between the sprinkler head and the drywall or ceiling tile. They are also necessary to ensure that the fire sprinkler head will activate properly.

There are two main types of accessories found with fire sprinkler heads: fire sprinkler cover plates and fire sprinkler escutcheons. Escutcheons are distinctly different from cover plates, the latter of which completely cover a concealed sprinkler head that is set back in the wall or ceiling. Read our previous blog to learn the key differences.

During a fire sprinkler system installation, a hole saw is used to cut a hole in the ceiling tile or drywall to accommodate the sprinkler heads. If the remainder of the hole is left uncovered, the sprinkler head is unable to perform properly, as smoke and heat can escape through the gap and potentially delay the activation and discharge of water. In instances where the activation of the system is dependent on an alarm or smoke detector, the outflow of heat and smoke through the open areas can also create a delay. Escutcheons cover this gap to block heat and smoke.

What are the types of fire sprinkler escutcheon?

There are three primary styles of fire sprinkler escutcheon: recessed, flat, and adjustable. Available styles and colors from QRFS are listed in a table toward the bottom of this post. Click the photos of the escutcheon types to jump to their respective sections in the table.

A flat escutcheon.
Flat Escutcheon

A flat escutcheon is exactly as the name portrays – flat. They are meant to cover the gap for exposed fire sprinkler heads.

Adjustable Escutcheon

Adjustable chrome escutcheon.
An adjustable escutcheon comes in two pieces: a cup and a skirt. The skirt covers the cutout space between the sprinkler and the ceiling. The cup is the part that actually adjusts – anywhere up to 2”– to meet the sprinkler head. If that isn’t enough room, consider an extension.

Adjustable escutcheons work best in fire sprinkler systems where the distance between the ceiling or wall and the branch lines are varied. For example, in an angled ceiling that descends, the sprinklers will be at different distances from the branch line. Branch lines deliver water from the crossmain to the fire sprinkler head. Think of a tree: water flows up into the trunk and out through the branches to hydrate the leaves. A fire sprinkler system works much the same, as water flows up into the water main and out to the branch lines to supply the sprinkler heads.

Recessed Escutcheon

A recessed chrome escutcheon.
A recessed escutcheon has an outer ring and recesses to an inner ring that wraps around the base of the fire sprinkler head. From the floor, it’s nearly impossible to tell that recessed escutcheons are actually two separate parts. The outer ring lies flush against the ceiling or wall and has a base that goes up into the cut-out area of the ceiling. The inner ring is held in place by the sprinkler’s frame and the outer ring. The outer ring is removable, leaving the inner ring connected to the sprinkler.

In the instance that an escutcheon cannot completely cover the hole in the drywall or ceiling tile, you may consider adding a Kydex ring. In addition to filling larger-than-average holes, they can be used to correct improper cuts or as a backing material. Kydex rings are an inexpensive solution to an otherwise expensive problem.

Choosing the correct type of escutcheon is crucial to ensure the proper function of the fire sprinkler head. According to NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, failure to use the correct escutcheon can disrupt the spray pattern or otherwise impair the operation of the sprinkler.

From the 2016 Edition of NFPA 13 Plates, escutcheons, or other devices used to cover the annular space around a sprinkler shall be metallic or shall be listed for use around a sprinkler.* Escutcheons used with recessed, flush-type, or concealed sprinklers shall be part of a listed sprinkler assembly.

A. The use of the wrong type of escutcheon with recessed or flush-type sprinklers can result in severe disruption of the spray pattern, which can destroy the effectiveness of the sprinkler.

Most fire sprinkler manufacturers make escutcheons specific to their sprinkler heads, but many can be used with a generic model. To learn more about the fire sprinkler heads within your system, look at the markings on the deflector (the star shape on top of the head). The deflector is stamped with the model (SIN number), the sprinkler’s response type, its temperature rating, and listings. Once you can identify the manufacturer and model, look up the sprinkler’s data sheet which will show you the expected type of fire sprinkler escutcheon you’ll need. For fire sprinklers sold on QRFS.com, the datasheet is accessible through the product page.

Fire sprinkler head diagram.
Are there different sizes of escutcheon? What size do I need?

Each type of escutcheon comes in two sizes: ½” or ¾.” The size of the escutcheon you need is dependent on the K-Factor (orifice size) of your fire sprinkler head. Escutcheons are available in ½” and ¾” because those correlate to the two most common K-Factors, 5.6 and 8.0, respectively. Fire sprinkler heads with a 5.6 K-Factor have a ½” orifice and sprinkler heads with an 8.0 K-Factor have a ¾” orifice.

To identify your sprinkler’s K-Factor, find the SIN and look up the datasheet. There is no easy visual identifier besides the diameter of the threads, which are likely hidden if the sprinkler is installed. If you have issues, contact us – we can help!

How do I replace my fire sprinkler escutcheon?

The best way to replace a damaged, rusty, discolored, or painted fire sprinkler escutcheon is with a “split” (aka “retrofit”) escutcheon of the same type that was originally used in the system. However, it’s important to remember that maintenance work should be performed by a licensed sprinkler fitter.

Split escutcheons are available in recessed, adjustable, and flat. They come in ½” and ¾,” too. Their only difference from other escutcheons is that they are split in half, giving you the ability to detach and fasten the two halves back together without removing the fire sprinkler or draining the system.

Traditional fire sprinkler escutcheons are fitted during the system installation process by screwing onto the sprinkler’s frame. Therefore, they are not replaceable without removing the sprinkler to screw on a new escutcheon. Split escutcheons allow you to forego the hassle of taking the sprinkler system offline, draining it, removing the sprinkler head to install the new escutcheon, and returning everything to normal. To install a split escutcheon, begin by cutting one side of the faulty escutcheon, remove it, and then fasten the new split escutcheon around the sprinkler.

Why should I buy an escutcheon from QRFS?

At QRFS, we have a full selection of flat, adjustable, and recessed escutcheons – most with split options. When you purchase from us, you receive quality products at our competitive prices. Because we are keen on getting your order to you as quickly as possible, we begin processing your order the day we receive it, allowing for a speedy standard delivery that generally hits your doorstep within 2-3 business days. Check out the table below to find what you need:

Flat escutcheon in white finish.

Flat Escutcheon | 1/2″ Sprinkler – Chrome or White

Flat Escutcheon | 3/4″ Sprinkler – Chrome or White

Chrome Split Ring Flat Escutcheon – 1/2″ Sprinkler

Chrome Split Ring Flat Escutcheon – 3/4″ Sprinkler
More options coming soon! More options coming soon!

Adjustable escutcheon in white finish.

Adjustable Two Piece Escutcheon | 1/2″Sprinklers – 1″ Adjustment – White or Chrome

Adjustable Two Piece Escutcheon | 3/4″Sprinklers – 1″ Adjustment – White or Chrome

Split Cup Adjustable Two Piece Escutcheon | 1/2″ Cup And Skirt

Recessed escutcheon in white finish.

Recessed Two Piece Escutcheon – 1/2″Sprinkler – Chrome, White, and Black

Recessed Two Piece Escutcheon – 3/4″Sprinkler – Chrome, White, and Black

Split Ring Recessed Two Piece Escutcheon in Chrome – 1/2″ Sprinkler

Split Ring Recessed Two Piece Escutcheon White – 1/2″ Sprinkler

Split Ring Recessed Two Piece Escutcheon in Chrome – 3/4″ Sprinkler
More options coming soon!

Click here to view our full selection of fire sprinkler escutcheons.

Have a question? Email support@qrfs.com or call 888-361-6662.

This blog was originally posted by Jason Hugo and Anna Hartenbach at blog.qrfs.com on October 12, 2017, and updated on January 21, 2019. If this article helped you select the right escutcheon, check us out at Facebook.com/QuickResponseFireSupply or on Twitter @QuickResponseFS.

8 thoughts on “#78 – Which Fire Sprinkler Escutcheon Do I Need?”

  1. Looking for a replacement escutcheon ring for a 3/4” sprinkler heads. Current ones are installed in exterior hallways in a salt air environment and are rusting. A plastic escutcheon ring would probably be best. Thank you!

  2. i am installing a large system at a plant that has a couple of different style pendants 1 1/2″ we are using rigid piping and the pendants penetrate through an IMP ceiling . there is maintenance foot traffic on this ceiling and the ceiling deflects pushing the escutcheons down on the pendants and this causes an unsanitary situation , and an air gap. i need to find a solution if you can help please contact me. heath 903-658-7084

    • Heath — Possible solutions for gaps created by “ceiling creep,” which it sounds like could be the case here, is the placement of flexible sprinkler drops between sprinklers and the pipes or the use of escutcheon extension tubes. But we’re unsure if that will solve your specific issue without knowing more about the setup and how much and why “foot traffic” is causing ceiling deflection.

      In any case, you can’t have gaps between the escutcheons and the sprinkler or hole in the ceiling. Your best bet is to contact a qualified sprinkler installer/maintainer in your area and have them take a look at the situation in person to devise a solution.

    • Jun — You can visit our online selection of escutcheons, choose the appropriate size in the filters on the left side of the page, and match the sprinkler’s size, K-Factor, and brand (you can find this info through the sprinkler ID number (SIN)) to its compatible escutcheon. If you’d like to send us a picture of the sprinkler, we can help if you have difficulty. Just email QRFS customer service!

  3. I am installing sprinklers in a cold storage warehouse where temperature will be below freezing.

    The escutcheon will also prevent condensation traveling along the pipe.

    What type of escutcheon is recommended for this application?

    • Roger — Apologies, we are not familiar with the application of an escutcheon “preventing condensation traveling along the pipe.” Thanks for reading!


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