When specifying fabrics for the commercial environment it is important to understand that there are regulations and to follow them.

Furniture made for the commercial sector is built differently to furniture made for the residential market in that it is made to stand up to the rigorous environment that it is likely to be used in and also it is usually stressed to take a higher weight of user.

The first thing to think of is what your fabric is being used for, fabric that is being used for window treatments and panels needs different  considerations to upholstery fabric.

There are two categories: Natural fabrics and Manmade
fabrics.

Wool – from nature and used extensively in the contract upholstery industry, there is nothing to compare to it but it is more expensive than other fabrics but I would suggest its use as it is naturally flame retardant and inherently soil hiding, and, of course, wool is beautiful.

Manmade – tend to be made from polyester or polypropylene,
they do not absorb liquids very well so resist staining. They are easy to clean and cost effective but they don’t wear as well as wool and not as aesthetically beautiful as wool fabric.

There are requirements for fire safety depending on where the furniture is to be installed and should be adhered to:

Regulations to be taken into consideration are;

  • Resistant to ignition source: smouldering cigarette of BS EN 1021-1- 2006.
  • Resistant to ignition source: match flame equivalent of BS EN 1021-2-2006.
  • Resistant to ignition source 5 in section 4 of BS 5852-2006.

A lot will depend on where the furniture is going to be in a low or high  hazard environment.

A Martindale or abrasion test is also very important to consider, even
for residential upholstery.

During the test a machine ‘rubs’ the fabric until the fabric threads
start to break down. For commercial use fabric, a Martindale test of 40,000.00 should be the minimum considered. This is double what a residential fabric would typically be.

There are many enhancements available on the market now such
as anti-microbial and are worth checking out if you are looking for furniture for a healthcare environment for example.

If you require fabric for window treatments then the following codes will need to be adhered to;

  • BS 5867 Part 2 B & C, a British Standard.
  • Other relevant UK standards include BS 5815-12005, BS 7175, Crib 5, IMO A563 and NFPA 701.

If you would like to find out about Koubou Interiors and our commercial fabrics and furniture, please contact us 01344 779 323

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