Knowledge Hub Article
30th July, 2018
by Testing Department
Next review: 30th July, 2020
Reduce upholstery fabric complaints through testing
Upholstery fabrics are required to be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.This means they are expected to be free of manufacturing faults and reasonably durable.
When designing or selecting upholstery fabrics performance requirements should not be an afterthought but a first consideration, and if suitable levels are not achievable the fabric is not suitable for use no matter how attractive it may be.
Problems have been identified on several occasions during fault investigations at FIRA and premature fabric deterioration is commonly seen as the cause.
This is supported by the latest figures published by The Furniture Ombudsman 'the sign of fair trading in the furniture industry' which reveal 50% of upholstery complaints received relate to consumer dissatisfaction with cover performance.
The sensible course of action is to evaluate the fabric prior to use to minimise premature breakdown and customer complaint.
Which fabric properties are key to performance?
Fabric properties can be divided into three sections
There are many different ways of measuring these properties but the characteristics considered important regarding upholstery fabric are:
- Martindale abrasion resistance
- Colour fastness to light
- Pilling resistance
- Colour fastness to rubbing (dry)
- Colour fastness to rubbing (wet)
- Seam slippage
- Colour fastness to water
How do I know what performance levels are needed?
British Standard BS 2543:2004 ‘Upholstery fabrics for end use applications – Classification’ classifies covering fabric for domestic and contract use. Fabric is classified via a product profile consisting of a twin letter grouping indicating a technical description for suitable end-use applications.
- LD light domestic - suitable for upholstery intended for occasional or very light usage
- GD general domestic - suitable for most styles of upholstery for general use
- HD heavy domestic - suitable for upholstery where increased durability and enhanced performance are required to counter heavy use
- GC general contract - suitable for upholstery likely to be subject to general contract use such as environments where the furniture is likely to be used throughout the day
- SC severe contract -suitable for all types of upholstery use
Performance levels for different upholstery applications are provided in the standard. The fabric evaluation protocols and values are extracted from BS EN 14465:2003 ‘Textiles – Upholstery fabrics – specification and method of test.
The two standards are inter-linked and both need to be used to evaluate and grade fabric for upholstery use.
Reduce complaints and see a cost benefit
The true cost of complaint incorporates not only the value of replacement, repair or refund but also staff time, transport, telephone calls, possible loss of goodwill and future business.
Ensuring the performance of a fabric through testing, using the classification in BS 2543:2004, will reduce complaints and demonstrate that it is of suitable quality for upholstery applications.
Need some help?Contact us
FIRA International continues expansion programme
Members receive preferential rates on FIRA International testing
New standard for office furniture published
ANSI-BIFMA X5.9: 2019 Storage units
UKAS accredited flammability testing
Our service provider, FIRA International, has expanded their facilities
California TB 133 Flammability Test Procedure for Seating Furniture for Use in Public Occupancies
California TB 133 has been repealed effective January 22
Interim policy for mattresses and mattress pads
Policy for mattresses subject to 16 CFR part 1632
Electrical accessories incorporated into furniture - a guide to the UK Regulations
For designers and manufacturers of furniture with electrical features, covering applicable EU Directives and CE marking ...
Electrically actuated furniture for the domestic market - a guide to the UK Regulations
Guide to the Application of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, Edition 2.1 in relation to domestic furniture
Electrically powered office furniture - a guide to the UK Regulations
The 62 page guide identifies the relationship with powered office furniture products such as sit / stand desking and oth...
Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the contract and non-domestic sectors - a guide to the U...
The fire safety of upholstered furniture supplied into the non-domestic market is more complex. It is heavily influenced...
Guide to Health and safety management for the woodworking and furniture industries
Fulfilling the legal requirements, implementing processes and maintaining documented systems
The Furniture Retail Quality Group best practice guide - flammability testing
Advice for upholstery component manufacturers and suppliers to help identify the requirements for different upholstery c...
Testing all types of furniture and related products at our UKAS accredited labs
Product testing videos
A selection of video showing how our experts test various products
Furniture arm testing video
See how our experts test arms to BS EN 12520:2015. Furniture. Strength, durability and safety. Requirements for domestic...
Adhesive testing video
See how our experts test adhesives to BS EN 204:2016 Classification of thermoplastic wood adhesives for non-structural a...
Flammability testing video
What happens when a product passes a flammability test, compared to when one fails
Overview of our product testing services
American Standards (ANSI/BIFMA)
ANSI/BIFMA Standards differ from British and European Standards, defining specific tests, equipment to be used, conditio...
Balustrade testing is required in order to meet domestic and commercial building regulations
Bed and mattress testing
Our experts test all types of domestic and contract beds and mattresses alongside flammability testing, and component te...
Chair and seating testing
We can test all types of domestic and contract seating including upholstery, office chairs, high chairs, stadium chairs ...
Childcare products testing
Childcare product testing including pushchairs high chairs, changing units, cots and beds.
UKAS accredited flammability testing on all types of upholstery, fabrics, foams, feathers and fillings
FIRA International test a wide variety of foams which are subject to light use to heavy duty usage – such as arm rests f...
Childcare product classification
Identifying the difference between a toy and an item of furniture correctly, as the standards and test methods applicabl...
Storage furniture testing
Leather types, characteristics and maintenance
Leather types and characteristics, the benefits of testing and care and maintenance of leather upholstery
Surface finish testing
Surface Finish Testing for Furniture
Table and desk testing
test all types of domestic and contract tables including desks, dining tables, coffee tables, side tables, outdoor table...
Performance of furniture finishes and surfaces
Standards for testing furniture finishes and their performance requirements
Wood based materials testing
tests on raw materials used in the manufacture of furniture and related items, with specific expertise in the testing of...
Standards applicable to the sale of childcare (furniture) products in the UK
A summary of some of the products and standards relating to the manufacture, specification and sale of furniture and rel...
Our testing team have a wealth of expertise in designing and building testing equipment for you to use in-house
What do I need to know to sell highchairs in the UK?
Summary of highchair testing and specification requirements taking account of the current standards and possible introdu...
BFC Proposal for updating UK Flammability Regulations - June 2017
Summary of the British Furniture Confederation’s Proposed Revision of Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regula...