Specification guidelines

The following contract fabric guidelines are there to help with fabric specification to assure that the fabrics you specify perform up to contract standards and pass all applicable testing. The categories describe performance features as measured by specified methods under standard laboratory conditions.

These guidelines are based on recommendations by the Association of Contract Textiles (ACT) and are for information purposes only and are made available to help assist specifiers and end-users in evaluating certain characteristics of contract textiles.

1. Abrasion

The surface wear of upholstery fabric caused by rubbing and contact with another fabric.

The Martindale abrasion test ASTM D4966-98 is the method commonly used to predict wearability. This is an oscillating test. Fabric samples are mounted flat and rubbed in a figure eight like motion using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the abradant. The number of cycles that the fabric endures before it shows objectionable change in appearance (yarn breaks, pilling, holes) is counted. Number of cycles (rubs) determines abrasion rating.

Upholstery fabrics for heavy-duty use are rated at 30,000 rubs – these are appropriate for corporate offices, hotel rooms, conference rooms, waiting areas, lounges, dining areas, etc. There are extreme wear situations that may require higher levels of abrasion resistance, such as airport waiting areas, train & bus seating and such public places as theaters, hospitals, lecture halls and fast food restaurants. It is suggested that higher than 60,000 rubs are not meaningful in providing additional value in use. Adorn upholstery fabrics are tested to > 70,000 rubs.

Actual performance is determined by many factors such as fiber content, type of weave, furniture design and upholstery workmanship, cleaning and usage. The durability of an upholstery fabric also depends on its other features like color fastness, wet & dry crocking, stain resistance, cleanability etc.

2. Colorfastness to light

A fabric’s degree of resistance to the fading effect of light.

Colorfastness to light is a measure of how permanent a color is on fabric after exposure to light. Both natural and synthetic fabrics are subject to discoloration under UV rays (sunlight) and fluorescent light.

In the test method ISO-105-B02 the tested sample is exposed to the influence of the light of a xenon lamp under certain conditions. Lightfastness grading is determined by comparing the level of color loss of the tested sample with blue standards. For example, grade 5 means that the characteristics of color fastness of the tested sample are similar to the characteristics of the blue standard 5.

Grade 5 – no fading
Grade 4 – slight fading
Grade 1 – high degree of fading

Upholstery fabrics should have a minimum rating of 4 regardless of end use. Adorn upholstery fabrics have a rating of 4-5.

3. Colorfastness to wet and dry crocking /rubbing

Transfer of color from the surface of a colored fabric onto another surface by rubbing or repeated contact.

Test method ISO-105×12:2001 uses a standard white cotton fabric in both dry and wet state that is rubbed against the surface of the test fabric. After rubbing under controlled pressure for a specific number of times the amount of color transferred to the white test squares is compared to a color chart and a rating is established.

Grade 5 – no color transfer
Grade 1 – high degree of color transfer

For upholstery fabrics ACT guidelines recommend dry crocking Grade 4 minimum and wet crocking Grade 3 minimum. Adorn upholstery fabrics have a rating of 4-5 for both dry and wet crocking /rubbing.

4. Pilling

Pilling is the formation of fuzzy balls of fiber on the surface of a fabric that remain attached to the fabric.

ISO-12945-2:2000 Martindale Method with 415g loading mass, 200 cycles:
Grade 5 – no change
Grade 4 – slight surface fuzzing
Grade 3 – moderate surface pilling. Pills of varying size and density partially covering the surface
Grade 2 – distinct surface piling. Pills of various size and density covering a large proportion of the surface
Grade 1 – severe pilling covering whole of the fabric surface

Most upholstery fabrics pill to varying degrees. For contract applications fabric should meet grade 4 minimum. Adorn upholstery fabrics have a pilling rating of 4-5.

5. Colorfastness to perspiration

Resistance to color change due to perspiration.

ISO-105-E104:1994 determines resistance to color change due to acidic or alkaline perspiration.
Grade 5 – no color change
Grade 1 – high degree of color change

Adorn upholstery fabrics have a rating of 4-5.

6. Flammability

A fabric’s performance when it is exposed to specific source of ignition.

ACT guidelines specify different flammability tests dictated by the intended end use of the fabric. The NFPA 701-89 measures ignition resistance of a fabric after it is exposed to a flame for 12 seconds. The flame, char length and flaming residue are recorded. The test is repeated a number of times and all test samples have to pass the test (if even one sample fails, the fabric fails).

ACT guidelines recommend Class 1 for upholstery and panels. Adorn upholstery fabrics meet this recommendation.

Higher fire-resistant property is required in high risk areas with little means of escape, for example in prison cells and on offshore oil installations. Adorn fabrics can be made to meet high hazard applications by incorporation of additives to inhibit or prevent the combustion process.

It must be appreciated that fire hazard presented by any textile is very dependent on its construction, type of fiber and the circumstances at the time. A fabric cannot be described as non-flammable under all conceivable circumstances.