Fire Treating Faux Leather and Vinyls For Contract Upholstery Crib 5

Cell Leather
Cell Leather (Photo credit: Filter Forge)

Faux Leather and, indeed, vinyls in general have widely varying compositions. So it is very difficult to generalise about FR treatment.

However, as interior designers know, they are great for contract projects because of the excellent abrasion properties and the excellent ease of ongoing care and maintenance. IE they maintain their appearance relatively easily for extended periods.

Contract projects of course pose flammability requirements for the interior designer to determine and specify.

Typically CRIB5 is required for contract upholstery.

Some faux leathers come pre-treated; perhaps containing silicon/Teflon or other substances within the vinyl that limits or excludes the spread of flame required in a crib 5 test.

However some faux leathers require treating. That’s to be expected to a degree as faux leather is a relatively versatile fabric and can be used for a variety of end uses – but hence the required FR treatment will vary.

We recently treated some black faux leather to pass FR for contract curtains. In that case it was possible to treat the back of the fabric (it had a thin absorbent layer on the back) and that was sufficient to stop the spread of flame.

Another brown faux leather that we make has a speciality foam backing, slightly thicker than normal. Whilst this will take the same kind of chemical as the one for curtains the CRIB5 test has a more tricky flame to deal with. Also of consideration is the adhesive required to fix the backing and vinyl together. This adhesive may not be fire resistant again adding to the difficulty of treatment.

The thicker the backer the more luxurious the feel, perhaps. But the more difficult the treatment can be. Some sort of liner / interliner to the rear may well work to stop the flame spreading in a FR test. However, the thicker the foam backing the further away that interliner might be.

We have some specialist backing layers that themselves once set alight release gases (carbon dioxide) that reduce the spread of flame elsewhere. These backing layers do not noticeably add to the thickness of the faux leather.

 

 

 

 

Silk Velvet – What makes a great upholstery velvet

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Silk Velvet Upholstery with Fine Italian Silk

Silk Velvet really is one of the great upholstery velvets. It looks great, it feels great and it can be up to the job if your upholstery velvet is chosen wisely.

If your last and only experience of a velvet was sitting on one in the cinema then you really haven’t lived!

Firstly let’s look at silk velvet’s suitability for upholstery. It can have a Martindale Rub Test result of over 20,000 – so it CAN be readily suitable for many upholstery uses.

Composition. Just because it is sold as 100% silk can be misleading and not necessarily relevant. Is this 90% silk velvet better than that 100% silk velvet? You just can’t answer that by simply looking at the composition.

A silk velvet that is sold as being 100% silk may in fact be a 100% silk velvet pile and 100% cotton backcloth. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. If it is the look and feel of the silk that you are looking for then maybe it’s best to just consider the pile (assuming the backcloth is up to the job of course). One of our fine silk velvets has a 100% pile and then a backcloth of silk and cotton – with the cotton being added for strength and the overall silk content being 90%. Compare this to our Italian Silk & Cashmere Velvet which has a 70% silk + 30% cashmere pile.

Next look at the silkiness or the shininess. If you are looking for a silk velvet you will usually want a shine.

Consider too the length of the pile. Again, there is nothing inherently good or bad about a long or short pile. A shorter pile may be more rigid and upright and that could be a characteristic that you are looking for. Alternatively a longer pile will probably lay better in one directions – and you may well want that characteristic.

The weight of the fabric in grams per metre is often used as a measure of quality. That is not always true and could, for example, easily be distorted by a heavy and poor quality backcloth.

My personal preference would be to get my hand on a sample; feel it and look at it. What I look for and prefer is a slightly more rigid and consistent pile with a very dense weave. I would look carefully at the country of manufacture. I prefer an Italian velvet (mainly because it sounds better!) but if not Italian then I would certainly only consider a velvet produced in mainland western Europe. But don’t copy me, have the confidence to choose what you like – you are going to have to live with it. I would now choose my upholsterer carefully; many years ago a velvet covered chair came back for me from a local upholsterer and the pile was not running in a consistent direction…it didn’t look great (read ‘awful’). So don’t, like me, assume that all upholsters know what they are doing with velvets, they patently don’t all know. I would then read our guide to upholstering with velvet – a designer’s worksheet and armed with a bit of knowledge quiz your upholsterer carefully.

Designer Fabrics & Luxury Wallcoverings 2012 – Latest Collections of Faux Leather & Raffia

British Institute of Interior Design

Interior Design 101. Back to basics.

Minimally patterned, plain and simple patterns matter when you choose designer fabrics for your interior design scheme. It’s not just the ‘important’ stuff you have to worry about; it’s all the stuff.

Design after design. Pattern after pattern. Squashed into corners. Covered ceilings. Hung on walls. Something here, something there… OK you might have certain pieces that take centre stage in your grand design but you also have to set the stage with the backdrops, the reflected light, the subtle blend of auxiliary textures.

To a certain degree, if you must, you can compromise on the backdrops. It’s great having a silk panelled wall, relatively inexpensive and good to the touch. Not so good when it fades at differing rates in the exposed sun-lit areas of the room.

So when you choose designer fabrics yes you should be wowed by the colours, designs and textures BUT you should also be wowed and interested in the technical properties. Your clients might initially thank you for a great looking job. They won’t thank you if it starts to fall apart. they may well have already paid you at that point (so you’re OK right?) but will you then get recommended to their friends…probably not. It is so, so easy to make this kind of mistake.

So try faux silk rather than silk. It looks and feels pretty much the same but can be excellent in terms of non-fading.

So try faux leather. A wide variety of finishes and qualities are available and many are great for wall covering (!) as well as upholstery. Great to cover chairs or a bar in a restaurant but also in your kitchen as they can relatively easily be cared for and cleaned. If you love leather you might find that your upholsterer might not love that choice as you are working with hides of varying sizes, whereas with faux leather you are working with a fabric available by the metre.

Click for faux leather or faux silk designer fabric samples.

Faux Leather in Blue

Fine Faux Leather is available from KOTHEA in several collections reflecting varying degrees of technical properties such as thickness, flame retardancy and abrasion resistance (Martindale, Wyzenbeek). Our collections are typically used for contract applications in the hospitality and marine industries.

Here are  some of the blue colourways that are available, click an image to view a slideshow

A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics

Luxury Silk velvet From KOTHEA
Truly beautiful Cashmere Silk Velvet by KOTHEA

KOTHEA Fabric Picks For A Chilly Winter’s Day
With Verity du Sautoy of KOTHEA.

We love the seasons. All have their beauties and all have touched our senses in memorable ways over the years. Winter is no exception: lower, more balanced light; quietness and chaos with both the shopping and the weather; festive celebrations; the cuddle of a loved one; the hope and expectation of early spring flowers grasping for rare and tiny glimmers of light; and, perhaps, the welcomed warmth of a beautiful fabric.

Some of my best memories are centred on family: a warm fire; a little baby; or a bouncing toddler. Then an old children’s classic on the iPlayer watched on my Mac as it balances precariously on an elegant coffee table. I stroke my children’s hair with one hand and rest my other hand on my sofa. A generous cushion is warm, encapsulating and a bit of fun for the little ones to hide under. The curtains are not yet fully drawn but they smooth the boundary to the cold outside and give us tantalising glimpses of the world beyond – should we venture too close to the sheers that offer the final, soft protection from the elements.

Liberty Art Fabrics Collection £21.00/m
Dominika B Tana Lawn

I work for a fabric company. I love fabric. I can’t pretend that it (fabric) is a be-all and end-all to life and that somehow it will make your life complete. It can’t. But what it clearly can do is complete the sensory experiences in the parts of life that, if you choose, you have control over…the parts of your home. Memories are not just photo-like snapshots in your brain; they are stored, multi-sensory splashes of emotion.

Here are my Winter picks. They are actual ‘picks’ that I’ve recently purchased or are about to purchase.

Take my sofa as an example. My sofa isn’t Continue reading “A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics”

Wyzenbeek – Martindale – Abrasion Testing

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Image via Wikipedia

I would be rich if I were to be given one pound for every time we are asked, “What is the best upholstery fabric to use on my sofa?” Typically the questioner means ‘most durable’ rather than ‘best’.  You could buy a near bullet-proof fabric with a Martindale score of several hundred thousand but could you live with it!

‘Simple’ measures of durability such as Martindale and Wyzenbeek overlay complex structures of the fabric. This covers the construction of the yarns and design of the weave weave as well as the fibre chosen. Furthermore, finishes, sofa/furniture design, maintenance regimes and usage are variables that very significantly affect the life of your fabric.

More Martindale links here and here and here

There is a close link between fiber strength and yarn strength. Yarns are twisted to add strength – generally a tighter twist gives a stronger yarn. This is measured in Twists Per Inch or Meter (TPI or TPM). Tightly twisted yarns are generally smooth and dense. This brings us to weave design. Weaves can be extremely complicated and difficult to structurally model and understand. Just knowing the fibers, yarn and weave construction still doesn’t answer the basic question – an objective measurement is needed. Test were developed to determine wear. They are better known as abrasion tests and many Interior Designers today refer to these test results as THE way to measure fabric durability. Abrasion test are supposed to forecast how well a fabric will wear in upholstery applications.

There are two tests: Martindale in Europe and Wyzenbeek in the USA. The tests are different and there is no correlation between the two. With Wyzenbeek (ASTM D4157-02): a piece of cotton duck fabric or wire mesh is rubbed in a straight back and forth motion on a piece of fabric until “noticeable wear” or thread break is evident. One back and forth motion is called a “double rub” (dbl rub). Whereas with Martindale (ASTM D4966-98): the abradant in this test is worsted wool or wire screen, the fabric specimen is a circle or round shape and the rubbing is undertaken in a figure 8, unlike the straight line of the Wyzenbeek. One figure 8 is a cycle – hence the terms Martindale cycles.

Contract fabrics would normally meet these criteria:

General contract: Wyzenbeek 15,000 Martindale 20,000

Heavy duty contract Wyzenbeek 30,000 Martindale 40,000

Whereas for domestic applications:

Light residential Wyzenbeek 6,000, Martindale 9,000

Medium use residential Wyzenbeek 9,000 Martindale 15,000

Heavy use residential 15,000 Martindale 30,000 or higher

The higher the result the more likely the fabric is to be more durable. (Source of the above figures can be provided on request to the author)

With figures over 100,000 then there may be an issue with the applicability of the results and certainly how the fabrics’ care regime is implemented will have more of an influence on its longevity.

Some commentators question the validity of test results. In my experience in the UK, test houses are independent and are strictly monitored by British Standards and no one fabric company is big enough to be able to ‘ask for’ results to be skewed. Nor, I’m sure, would any fabric company want to put a supplier in that position if only for the reason that it is in no-one’s interests to undermine the authority of independent industry bodies that, in general, regulate for the greater good of all.

Raffia Wallcovering

Tatami Wallcovering And Upholstery Fabric TextileRaffia adds texture as a wallcovering. As a natural product it has many benefits for the interior designer including a degree of thermal insulation and the ability to be adhered directly to wall surfaces or fastened to wall surfaces or ceiling when wrapped around wooden panels.

With Wyzenbeek rubs of 40,000 KOTHEA’s 2011 Raffia (Raphia) are also eminently suitable for a wide range of upholstery uses.

Raffias can usually be fire treated to meet a wide range of contract requirements including hotels and marine installations.

This type of raffia weave has been used for thousands of years perhaps most famously as Japanese Tatami mats. They are of course one of today’s modern day design staples for a clean, modern look.

Links:

Contract Upholstery Fabric – How to Specify It

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.

Black Velvet – Even Better Italian Silk Velvet In Black

Black Velvet – only to be enjoyed by those who appreciate that black is the new black! KOTHEA have a range of velvets with shades of black colourways in most of those velvet collections.

Black Diamond” is the colourway name for the Italian Silk Velvet (100% Silk Pile) with the code 777-108-900.

You can get black silk velvet samples here from KOTHEA if you are a trade professional. Just click the link.

KOTHEA velvets are the best in the market. We only sell top market fabrics, mostly to top European Interior Designers and Architects. Here are some more bits of technical information on our black Italian Silk velvet fabric:

Width: 140cm

Composition: 100% Silk Pile

No repeat, plain.

Abrasion: Martindale 20,000.

Available from stock, normal delivery within 5 days.

Minimum Order length: 2m

Moleskin Upholstery Fabric

Moleskin Upholstery FabricMoleskin Fabric is an unusual fabric for upholstery, usually associated with clothing. KOTHEA moleskin is a premium moleskin specifically designed for upholstery with Martindale Rubs between 20,000 and 30,000. Moleskin is often a blend of cotton and linen; however KOTHEA‘s 100% cotton moleskin is extremely tightly woven ensuring that a luxurious look and feel is guaranteed. The overall look is similar to suede yet more exclusive and durable.