Have questions about terms or descriptions? This resource guide can help!
Railroading refers to the way a fabric, usually a pattern, is milled. Normally a bolt of fabric features the top of a pattern going up the roll. However, a railroaded fabric will have the top of the pattern going across the roll. This provides a continuous roll of the pattern, making it possible to upholster a large sofa, headboard or cushion without having seams.
DOUBLE RUBS:Double rubs are a way to measure the abrasion resistance and durability of a fabric. One back and forth motion counts as one double rub. This testing method is meant to mimic the “wear and tear” of everyday use. As a general rule of thumb, a fabric’s double rub count is a good testament to the recommended usage and application but make sure to ask about the specific job and make recommendations accordingly.
9,000 double rubs and under:
- Drapery only, including sheers
- Not ideal for anything other than window treatments
9,0000 to 11,999 double rubs:
- Light-weight multipurpose
- Ideal for pillows, bedding, and areas that do not see a lot of wear and tear
- Also suitable for window treatments, roman shades, valences, and tabletop accessories
2,000 to 14,999 rubs:
- Medium-weight multipurpose
- Suitable for pillows, bedding, and some couches, chairs, or ottomans
- Also suitable for some window treatments and décor such as bed skirts
15,000+ double rubs:
- Heavy duty multipurpose and upholstery
- Suitable for furniture in heavy traffic areas, including home and industrial use
- 30,000+ double rubs reaches commercial grade standards (must still comply with necessary fire codes)
“W”—Code W stands for ‘Water based cleaner’ and these are the easiest fabrics to clean. This is not the same as being machine washable, however. This code means that you can spot clean your fabric with a water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. You can use a brush to agitate the cleaner or even an upholstery attachment on a carpet cleaner. Be careful to avoid over-wetting the stain.
“S”—Fabrics that are Code S must be cleaned with solvents (dry clean only). You can spot treat stains with a water-free solvent or dry-cleaning product. Use solvent cleaners in a well-ventilated room and keep away from open flames. Avoid using cleaning products containing carbon tetrachloride, as it is highly toxic.
“W/S”—A W/S code, as you might expect, means that a combination of dry cleaning solvents and water-based cleaners may be used. These fabrics can be spot cleaned with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent, or a mild dry cleaning solvent. This is a case where the pre-test is especially important. For overall dirt, call a professional to clean these fabrics.
“X”—If you have fabrics with Code X, they can only be cleaned by vacuuming or light brushing. A Code X means the fabric is not cleanable with water or solvent cleaners.
FABRIC FIRE CODES:
Please check with your local fire marshal if needed, for your specific fire code needs.
BIFMA, Class A - Business and Industrial Furniture Manufacturing Association
The Business and Industrial Furniture Manufacturing Association is also accredited by ANSI to be the administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO Technical Committee TC-136 Furniture. ANSI/BIFMA X5.1-2011 general purpose office chairs, ANSI/BIFMA X7.1-2011 standard for formaldehyde and TVOC emissions of low-emitting office furniture and seating, ANSI/BIFMA M7.1-2011 standard test method for determining VOC emissions from office furniture systems
CAL 117 - California Technical Bulletin 117, Section E (CS 191-53)
The California Technical Bulletin 117, Section E requires testing in accordance with the same procedure as CS 191-53. Using this method, a 2” x 6” specimen is placed into the tester situated at a 45 degree angle. The surface of the test specimen is touched by a 5/8” long pencil-thin flame for a period of 1 second. The rating criteria are either “Pass” (Did Not Ignite) or “Fail” (Ignites).
FAR 25.853 (b) – Federal Aviation Regulation
Aircraft: floor covering, draperies, seat cushions, upholstery, padding, decorative, and non-decorative coated fabrics, etc.
MVSS 302 - Motor Vehicle Safety Standard
This protocol is currently in use by the automotive industry for fabrics used in vehicles. The fabric is placed in a horizontal position and allows the test flame to burn at one end. As the fabric burns away from the test flame it is gradually relieved of the heat and combustion front until within a distance of 1.5 inches from the flame. The test measures flame spread from a point 1.5 inches from the flame to 11.5 inches from the flame. Any flame spread that is 4 inches per minute or less is acceptable.
MVSS 302 – Horizontal Burn
Sample sizes 4” x 14”, maximum 4 inches per minute burn rate.
NFPA 260 – Cigarette Ignition Resistance
Standard methods of tests and classification system for cigarette ignition resistance of components of upholstered furniture.
NFPA 701 - Small Scale Standard for Flame Tests of Textiles
Draperies, blankets, bedspreads, quilts, mattress ticking, sheets, upholstery fabrics, wall hangings, outside coverings. This recently revised test places the fabric specimen in a vertical position while a test flame is held to the lower edge for 12 seconds before the flame is removed. The test requires that any after-flame must be extinguished within 2 seconds of the removal of the test flame, that no flaming drippings touch the test chamber floor, and that the char length be limited according to the weight of the fabric.
NFPA 701 - Vertical Burn
12 second ignition, sample sizes 3.5” x 10”, maximum flame time 2 seconds, maximum burn length specified, no drop to floor.
UFAC 1 - Upholstered Furniture Action Council
This test is often referred to as the (Cigarette Test) because the purpose is to classify the fabric on it’s propensity to resist cigarette ignition when tested in combination with a standard foam cushioning material. The candidate fabric is used to cover small pieces of a standard foam cushioning material. The test pieces (fabric over the foam) are placed on a small test rig, simulating a chair back and seat. A lighted cigarette is placed in the crevice where the back and the seat of the chair meet. To intensify the heat, the cigarette is covered by a piece of cotton sheeting fabric. This test records the extent of vertical burning (char length) on the back section of the seat assembly and whether or not ignition occurred.