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7 upholstery features you should know

Technical details of the upholstery will tell you the story of its functionalities. In this article we would like to explain what each of these features means and how it can add to your everyday experience. 

There is no single data sheet. The bottom line is that this document should clearly and precisely summarise the features of a specific material. 
 
When describing our fabrics, we rely on parameters that refer to European norms (EU) or global standards approved by the European Union (EN ISO). We use research and certificates provided directly by the manufacturers.   
 
How should we interpret the basis parameters in the upholstery data sheets? 

Composition

Our portfolio includes textile materials, knits and leather. The fabrics can be natural, such as wool, or synthetic, e.g. polyester.

Not all upholsteries are made of a single material - they are often a combination or blend of more than one fabric. Manufacturers do it on purpose in order to obtain specific properties: e.g. an addition of polyamide makes wool more durable.

Density

Density is the weight of a piece of fabric sized 1x1m, i.e. 1m2. The more such a square weighs, the greater its density. But higher density doesn’t necessarily mean better quality - it all depends on the desired effect.

A thicker upholstery, e.g. Blazer made of pure wool, makes a piece of furniture more rounded and softer, which we normally associate with cosiness and comfort. A thinner polyester fabric, such as Rivet, softly underlines the lines of a chair or armchair, which accounts for an understated, classic look.

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Resistance to abrasion

The more resistant a piece of furniture is, the more likely it is to retain all its charm for years to come. If you want to choose an upholstery that will last long and maintain its fresh look, look up its durability and see the results of the Martindale test.

This scale defines the results of the abrasion test, when a special machine puts a fixed, high pressure on the fabric until at least two separate threads snap. The whole test may take up to a few days. In our portfolio we also have super-resistant fabrics with a score of more than 50 000 Martindale cycles, which won’t tear even after years of intense use.

Antipilling qualities

Pilling is the formation of tiny knots on the upholstery, which make it look worn. Resistance to pilling is defined on a scale from 1 to 5, where 5 is the greatest resistance. Only leather upholstery and coated fabrics have the highest score, but there are ways to reduce pilling - e.g. you can use the right fibre. 

Resistance to light

During the tests a fabric is exposed to artificial light for a prolonged period. This is an opportunity to see how much of the colour will fade.

A faded fabric necessarily looks much older than it really is. For each upholstery we can define the resistance to light on an 8-point scale. The higher the score, the better the resistance to light, which is especially important in outdoor furniture.

Colour fastness to rubbing

A 5-point scale is also used to define the colour fastness to rubbing. The higher the score, the lower the chance your upholstery will lose the colour and taint your clothes. This property is measured when the fabric is dry and wet, because the same material may behave differently. Each colour responds in a different way because of the specific chemical structure.

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Flammability

Even steel can burn, so you can never say a fabric is 100% resistant to flames. The norms define which conditions and factors should not make the fabric catch fire.

Flammability norms may vary between individual EU countries, but it’s enough if the upholstery conforms to one of them to be regarded as flame-retardant.

A fabric that conforms to the EN 1021-1 norm has passed the cigarette test. You put a smouldering cigarette between the back and the seat, to see the resistance of the upholstery system, which includes the upholstery and the foam filling of the seat. If none of the layers catches fire, the result of the test is positive.

The test for norm EN 1021-2 looks similar, but the source of fire is a gas burner that is kept aflame for 15 seconds, to imitate a lit match.

During the test you observe how the fabrics catch fire: do they glow, smoulder or go up in flames? The result is positive when the flames, smoke or glow disappear after no more than 2 minutes.

Fire resistance under the British BS 5852 Crib 5 norm is confirmed in a test when you set a wooden construction on fire using a linen cloth soaked in a flammable substance. Any signs of burning must disappear within 10 minutes.

Upholsteries may be naturally flame-resistant or they can be made so. A good example in our portfolio is Step or Step Melange - flame-resistance is an inherent property of the fibre, which is used to make the fabric.

You can also make a ready material flame-resistant by soaking it with chemicals. In this case, we can confirm that a fabric is safe to use and does not  contain hazardous substances.

The knowledge of technical parameters comes in handy when you choose the upholstery.

When you know what to look for, you can easily match the fabric to the situation and the user’s needs. Check out the upholstery data sheets now that you know exactly what they mean.

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