30th July, 2018
by Testing Department
Next review: 30th July, 2020
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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