Part 3 – An Introduction to Fabric Standards and Regulations: The Most Riveting Design Topic

Part 3 – An Introduction to Fabric Standards and Regulations: The Most Riveting Design Topic

Part 3 - An Introduction to Fabric Standards and Regulations: The Most Riveting Design Topic

Table of Contents

Standards and Regulations

By now, you have a better understanding of which fabrics to use for certain applications such as upholstery, curtains, and wallcoverings. But maybe you’re wondering, how do these fabrics get tested and against what?
Okay, you’re probably not but understanding this is the key to keeping your textiles maintained. These are some great questions and we’re here to provide some insight!

In part one, we went over common natural fabric types and their best applications and in part two, we went over common synthetic fabric types and their best applications. In this part, we discuss standards and regulations used to identify different fabrics.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to selecting fabrics and it’s not as simple as choosing fabrics based solely on how they look and feel. Below is a general guide outlining some fabric standards and regulations.

Standards and Regulations will vary depending on where you live and some areas will enforce these more than others. Commercial design heavily relies on these fabric guidelines.
At Level Studio, we like to follow and implement these standards.

We have your best interest at heart and we make sure to select with durability and safety in mind. We put together a guide on caring for your new Interior investment post renovation.

Wearability and Durability

When it comes to standards and regulations, there are a few ways in which fabrics are tested for wearability and durability. In the fabric industry, there are a variety of tests in which fabrics are categorized.
On the backs of fabric samples, you’ll usually find a label with identifying information.

This test determines the abrasion resistance of woven textile fabrics and is also known as the ‘double rub’ test. 
The Wyzenbeek machine uses a back-and-forth motion, one back-and-forth motion is one double rub.

Torn fabrics

The test mimics normal wear & tear based on friction and measures how well fabric withstands use.

Fabrics with higher double rubs, such as 15,000+ can offer a higher level of durability and quality.
In commercial design, 30,000+ double rubs are considered commercial grade.

Below is a chart illustrating the rating systems and their best applications.

Thread count simply refers to the measure of how many threads are woven into one square inch of fabric. Generally, it is understood that the higher a fabric’s thread count, the higher its quality is. 
However, this is not always the case. While thread count should be taken into consideration, the more important aspects are the characteristics and classifications of fabrics. Thread count is not essential when it comes to fabric standards and regulations. 

It’s no secret that the sun is powerful. Specific types of fabrics can degrade and fade more easily than others.
The good news is there are a few ways to combat this! A simple way to prevent fading is by not placing pieces in direct sunlight or under prolonged sun exposure.

Specific fabrics like a polyester blend are more resistant to discoloration.

Fabric Standards and Regulations

Additionally, there are specific manufacturers like Sunbrella who produce and sell outdoor fabrics.

At Level Studio, when sourcing patio and balcony furniture, we make sure to select appropriate and durable fabric suitable for the outdoor environment. Note: It’s important to note that when furniture is not in use or is raining/snowing, furniture covers are best. At the end of the day, no matter how much money you spend, nothing is more powerful than the sun.

Accidents happen! Luckily, some fabrics are more stain-resistant and water-repellent than others.
Note: Water-repellent fabrics are not waterproof nor are they water resistant. 

Usually, stain-resistant and water-repellent fabrics are treated with a spray but for some folks, this isn’t always enough. Since sprays are temporary and can be worn off with continuous cleaning, you’ll need to treat them again. An alternative would be to select a performance fabric.

Performance fabrics are synthetic fabrics specifically manufactured to withstand daily wear and tear and are easy to clean. These fabrics are best suited for folks with children, pets, or those more prone to accidents or areas with high traffic. Performance fabrics can be used indoors, outdoors, or a combination of both.

Flammability and Safety

Similarly to durability, flammability is another important aspect to consider when selecting fabrics.
This is more commonly used and seen in commercial design, however, it’s beneficial to understand the importance of these characteristics as fires happen in homes too. 

Flammability standards and regulations will vary by location but it’s great to be familiar with these guidelines.

Fabrics are tested and rated against their resistance to ignition, resistance to flame spread, resistance to ignition, resistance to smoldering, prevention of smoke development, prevention of heat contribution to the growth of the fire, and prevention of toxic gas release. 

Below is a chart illustrating the fabrics (in alphabetical order) least resistant to fire when untreated.

Fabric Fire Rating Chart


Have you ever walked into a restaurant or a lobby only to realize it was distractingly loud?
This tends to happen in spaces with mainly hard surfaces such as tile.

Did you know
soft surfaces like fabrics help to absorb sounds?  Fabrics are highly versatile. 
But, why would this matter? 

It’s important to control noise levels and maintain a healthy auditory environment.

Bedroom with Blue Headboard

Acoustic solutions tend to include curtains, acoustic panels/tiles, upholstered furniture, carpets and rugs, and ceiling, wall, and floor treatments. Acoustic standards and regulations are essential in commercial spaces. 
However, if you implement these standards, you can relax knowing you’re safe at home.

Apart from maintaining comfortable noise levels, certain applications like curtains and acoustic panels/tiles can help delineate spaces, block light out and act as decorative design elements. 

Final Thoughts

Durability, wearability, and flammability are some of the most important criteria for fabric selection. Standards and regulations are important yet often overlooked, specifically in residential applications. Take note of these rating systems and make the best choice for yourself.

We understand that’s a lot of information! Who knew how there was so much to it?!
If you’re confused, reach out to us. We’d love to hear about your projects!

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