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CONTRACT FABRIC SPECIFICATION: A SIMPLE GUIDE

Designers are forging a new path within the Interior Industry, whilst also pioneering new techniques, applications and connections in this ever expanding sector of the Interior Industry...

Designers are forging a new path within the Interior Industry, whilst also pioneering new techniques, applications and connections in this ever expanding sector of the Interior Industry...

How do you navigate your way through the complexities of contract furnishings?

In today’s world so much depends on validation, and it’s critical that the products you supply as a Textile Designer or Interior Designer meet all required regulatory requirements when supplying digitally printed textiles for the contract furnishings Industry.

Today, in the UK, standards for contract furnishing fabrics and Upholstery have never been higher, and in general, conformity to these standards is a passport to new opportunities. As the marketplace expands, we see new, emerging Designer brands selling their fabric collections directly to the Interior Design Industry. But how do you choose the correct base fabric to meet your clients requirements?

Here’s our short guide to get you on the right path to success:

The standards take two forms: Performance which is not a legal (but a commercial requirement) and Regulatory, which are legal standards which have to be met in order that the Interior design project can be certified by the local Fire Officer.

Performance Standards:

Comprise, of various tests that measure the printed fabrics durability under set laboratory conditions. Detailed below and by way of example, are the most common, but not necessarily all the tests that may be required for your project. Required certifications should be agreed with your client before fabrics are specified.

Noted below: Test: British Standard (or accepted test) and the minimum commercial level pass required.

  • Light fastness BS EN-ISO-105B02 Minimum 6

  • Wash fastness BS EN-ISO-105C02 Minimum 5

  • Wet & Dry Rub Fastness BS EN ISO – X12: 2002 Minimum 4

  • Abrasion Martindale (domestic) Minimum 30,000

  • Abrasion Martindale (contract) Minimum 90,000

  • Abrasion BS EN ISO 5470-2 (general) Minimum 50,000

There are other tests, which are helpful, such as tensile strength, tear strength and fastness to perspiration, but the above are the minimum performance requirements that have to be met by your fabric supplier, if you are to be able to consider using his products (subject to use) in your Interior scheme.

Regulatory Requirements:

Flame Resistance Standards where necessary, must apply to your specified digitally printed fabric. Make no mistake, when it comes to these standards, you have to conform, there is no room for error, and your digitally printed fabrics, whether furnishings or upholstery have to be supplied with valid certification. It is a legal requirement if your project is to be certified for public use.

When it comes to these standards, there are two different basic sectors:

The first sector is for “Fabric for General Contract Furnishings”, such as Curtains and Accessories (with the exception of cushions). Here there is one relevant standard:

  • Flame Resistance: BS5867 PART 2 TYPE B & C

If the digitally printed fabric concerned can pass this test, then it can be used in any Contract Installation of Curtains, Drapes and Accessories (cushions excepted).

The second sector is for “Fabric for General Contract Upholstery” (including cushions).

  • Flame Resistance : BS 5852 Ignition Sources 0 & 1 / Crib 5 testing

If the printed fabric specified can pass this test, then it can be used in any Contract Upholstery Installation (including cushions).

The final sector is for “Maritime Use” such as Cruise Liners and Yachts. Here the standards are slightly more severe and use different tests.

Two testing standards apply:

  • Maritime Curtains & Furnishings: IMO A563 (14)

  • Maritime Upholstery IMO A562 (16)

When specifying or producing Contract Fabrics, you have to pay attention to the standards required.

On the face of it, it seems to be a minefield, and yet, all of the standards are well within the normal technical reach of the fabric manufacturer, and the Digital Printer. As long as care is taken in sourcing the correct fabric specification and the correct certification is achieved, both production and manufacture can proceed.

The Contract market place, prior to Digital production was a Trade only sector that relied on an Industry built for Regulation and Durability with limited (by definition only) creative opportunities. With the advent of Digital Print Technologies we have witnessed a reform in Bespoke design for the Contract Interior sector.

Offering incredible creativity at large and small print volumes to architects, Interior designers and specifiers worldwide.

Independent Designers were once excluded by expensive bespoke manufacturing and are now utilising Digital printing technology. Forging a new path whilst also pioneering new techniques, applications and connections in this ever expanding sector of the Interior Industry.