Here is a VERY quick guide to specifying contract fabrics. Contract Fabrics 101 if you like. It shows you the main areas you need to consider.

1. Determine Use

Is it panelling or seating? for the latter you will need to consider flammability (cigarette, match and crib 5) and abrasion (Martindale)

2. Fabric Composition

The composition of the fabric including the yarn and weave will affect the fabric’s long term wear, appearance and technical performance.

Natural fabrics such as wool can be more expensive but generally offer good feel and technical characteristics such as natural flame retardancy.

Man-made fabrics usually are more easily cared for but can look cheap if not properly chosen.

3. Flammability

The single standard for contract seating which is acceptable throughout the EU is EN 1021 Parts 1 and 2 (cigarette and match). Higher level standards in the UK are BS 5852 and BS 7176.

The standard which applies to vertical surface fabrics is BS 476 Part 7.

4. Abrasion

You should be looking at the Martindale properties of the fabric. <Here> is more information on the Martindale rub test.

5. Environmental Considerations

Generally natural fibres like wool are good. And man-made ones less so, NYLON is not great.

6. Care and maintenance

Generally contract fabrics will look bad because of dirt rather than because they wear out. So follow the manufacturers instructions on care and maintenance.  Basically wipe away stains quickly and vacuum clean regularly.

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