CHOOSING FABRICS FOR A COMMERCIAL SETTING – USEFUL THINGS TO LOOK FOR
Choosing the right types of fabrics for a commercial setting can be confusing.
Whether it’s for a restaurant, club, child care centre, medical room, hair salon, food court, retail shop or something similar, the choice will demand using a certain type of fabric.
Here’s some useful things to look for which might help make the right choices:
Look for ratings that say something like one of these uses: “Suitable for Light, Medium or Heavy Duty Use”.
There’s a Rub Test called the “Martindale Test” which sets an industry standard for the amount of abrasion cycles which lead to the material being worn to a specified degree.
The higher the value, the more resistant the material is to abrasion.
Look for at least 30,000 rubs for commercial grade upholstery in hospitality, retail, education and health care.
FR (Fire rated) fabrics must be used for health and child care environments. They’re also mostly required for restaurants, conference rooms, theatres, clubs, motels and hotels.
Check all the differing requirements and compliances with your designers, architects or fabric suppliers or refer to the Australian Standards for fabric use.
Fabrics undergo stringent laboratory tests to make sure they meet all industry standards for fire protection.
So check: Do I need to choose FR fabrics?
How do they stand up under fire testing?
Are FR ratings required in the situation I need to use these fabrics?
Questions are important these days about how fabrics have evolved from the environment and where they’re heading after use.
Try to use products which undergo less manufacturing and processing and/or have a significant amount of recyclable content.
Find out from the supplier:
Have they been manufactured in an environmentally sustainable way?
Do they have the properties of low VOC’s?
Are they recyclable after use?
All fabrics are composed of one or more fibres. They fall into two categories, natural and synthetic fibres and are sometimes a combination of both.
Naturals like cottons and wools are famous for their “breathability” and fairly easy care and speak for themselves.
Wool, for instance, is wrinkle, mildew, fade and abrasion resistant. It’s extremely durable and well suited to seating upholstery due to its natural ability to regulate temperature.
You might also come across synthetic fabric names like Crypton which acts as a moisture barrier, while still allowing air to pass through.
It’s stain resistant and impervious which makes it great for healthcare and hospitality uses.
Olefin is another - a synthetic material made from Polyolefin which is extremely durable and usable for office screening.
Check out the varying types from your commercial fabric suppliers.
Knowing what to look for and which questions to ask will not only help make the right choice, but keep your fitout compliant with standards.
A win win!