Flame Retardant Fabrics


Test and certifications every designer should know

Not all Flame Retardancy tests for fabrics are the same! Identifying the specific application and environment where fabrics are to be used will help determine which FR testing fabrics will need to pass. 

All FR tests measure the flammability of the fabric when exposed to a specific source of flame. FR certification is the assurance via several safety tests that these fabrics pass certain criteria, making them safe to utilize in a variety of environments.


Customers can find the world of FR testing confusing, especially if they do not work with FR criteria often. One of the biggest myths in the FR world involves polyester. Polyester yarns are self-extinguishing, so many assume that all polyester fabrics will pass NFPA 701, which is not the case. Additionally, Trevira is a brand of polyester and is not FR. Only Trevira CS products will pass commercial FR testing.

RM COCO lists all of the test results to our customers that are available for each specific fabric we introduce. Since we do not know the specific end usage we provide all FR testing results for each fabric in our line.


We use the flame symbol on all fabrics that have passed one or more FR tests, but how the end-use of the fabric, and the specific room setting, is the only way to know which test applies to the specific installation. Most often, NFPA 701 or NFPA 260 are the two tests that our customers need, but that is not always the case.


RM COCO offers fabrics that pass Cal 117/SE, Boston Fire, British Standard, Motor Vehicle (FMVSS 302), NFPA 260, and NFPA 701. If a fabric passes any one of these tests we will show a flame symbol on the item, but that does not mean that the fabric will meet all FR requirements for a given project. An NFPA 701 FR certificate is required to pass the building code/Fire Marshall for commercial drapery applications. Furniture manufacturers are required to show that the fabric(s) being used for commercial upholstery applications pass NFPA 260.

FR – Fire Retardant (aka Flame Retardant) 

Fabrics certified FR have been topically treated in an immersion process using a chemical fire retardant after weaving. Cotton and other natural fibers certified as flame-retardant are FR topically treated. Some synthetic fabrics are also topically treated. Since the treatment is topical, it will wear out in time, and repeated cleanings will cause the flame retardancy to dissolve sooner. Most flame-proofing chemicals are water-soluble and will also dissipate through dry cleaning. Draperies made from FR fabrics should be re-tested periodically for flame retardancy, as retreatment may be required. For this reason, “FR” flame retardancy is certified for only one year. A Certificate of Flame Retardancy is furnished to customers upon request.

IFR – Inherently Fire Retardant (aka Inherently Flame Retardant)

PFR – Permanently Fire Retardant (aka Permanently Flame Retardant)
Fabric that has been certified as “IFR” or “PFR” has been woven from fibers that are non-combustible for the life of the fabric. For this reason, the fire retardancy of “IFR” and “PFR” fabrics will last for the life of the fabric and will not dissipate after cleaning. A Certificate of Fire Retardancy is furnished upon request.

NFR – Not Fire Retardant

CBFR – Can Be Made Fire Retardant

CNFR – Cannot Be Made Fire Retardant
Fabric labeled “NFR” is not. If “CBFP” is indicated, that fabric can be treated for fire retardancy. Such treatment would include topical treatment in an immersion process, making the fabric “FR.” Some synthetics can be made fire-retardant. If “CNFR” is indicated, that fabric cannot be treated for fire retardancy and, as such, should not be used in public venues. Among the types of fabrics that cannot be made fire retardant are certain synthetic and/or metallic fabrics.

What is NFPA 701?


Fabrics used in most public spaces (including schools, churches, auditoriums, theatres, and more) are required by law in many states and cities to be certified as flame retardant, according to standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA has various standards depending on how the fabric will be used. In the case of draperies, curtains, and similar hanging textiles, the standard that applies is NFPA 701: Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films. This test measures the flammability of a fabric when it is exposed to specific sources of ignition.


NFPA 701 – Test #1


Purpose: Used to classify fabrics used in curtains, draperies, or other window treatments as well as other hanging textiles. Method: Specimens are subjected to a 4-inch flame for 45 seconds. Test: Observes flame spread, dripping components during the burn, and burn after-flame has been removed. ACT Recommendation: retains 60% of the original weight and max 2 second drip is Passed.


The fabric will pass the test if all samples meet the following criteria:

  • An after-flame that is less than 2.0 seconds
  • A char length of less than 6.5”
  • The specimen does not continue to flame after reaching the floor of the test chamber


Fabric certified as flame retardant is certified to have been tested and passed the NFPA 701 test.


Note: The highest standard covers all ‘vertical hanging textiles’ for drapery treatments, roman shades, and roller shades.

What additional FR tests may be required on a project?

ASTIM E84 – Upholstered Walls

Purpose: Rates flame spread and smoke development of interior finish building materials. Method: As application dictates (wrapped panels, glued fabric, etc.) samples are laid in a 25’ tunnel and lit aflame at one end. Test: Measures how far and fast flames travel and the amount of smoke that develops. Association for Contract Textiles (ACT) Recommendation: Flame-spread of 25 and smoke dev. of 450 or less for Class 1/A

Notes: This is usually considered to include any items that are a part of the ‘structure’.

BFDIX1 – City of Boston Fire Code

Purpose: Used to classify draperies and decorative materials used within the city of Boston. Method: Specimens are subjected to a 6-inch propane torch flame for 10 seconds. Test: Measures char length and continuation of burn after the flame source has been removed. Strictly designed for materials within the City of Boston. ACT Recommendation: PASS      

Note: A very specific Fire Rating needs to make note of the specific property geography.

CAL/TB 117 – California Technical Bulletin

Purpose: Performed to classify upholstery fabrics used within the state of California. Method: Specimens are subjected to a 5/8” flame for 1 second. Test: Measures the amount of time for the flame to spread upwards and burn a stop cord placed at the top of the sample. Typically, the easiest of all ratings to achieve. ACT Recommendation: PASS

Note: A very specific Fire Rating needs to make note of the specific property geography.

NFPA 260 – Upholstered Seating

Purpose: Measures the ability of upholstery fabric to resist ignition by a smoldering cigarette when the specimen is tested in combination with polyurethane foam cushioning. Method: Wrap test fabric around a cushion and leave a lighted unfiltered cigarette on top of the cushion seat. Test: Measures the char length. ACT Recommendation: Char length less than 1.75” and no foam ignition is Passed. Note: This is the rating also needed for decorative pillows and bedding items, it is a slightly lower standard than NFPA 701.

FAR 25.853 (b) – Federal Aviation Regulation

Aircraft: floor covering, draperies, seat cushions, upholstery, padding, decorative, and non-decorative coated fabrics, etc.

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

MVSS 302 – Motor Vehicle Safety Standard

This protocol is currently used by the automotive industry for fabrics used in motor vehicles. The test fabric is placed horizontally 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 of 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.

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 its 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.

British Standard Tests

BS5867 Part 2 B & 2C – This standard detail the requirements for flame retardant curtains and blinds fabrics

Part 2 B means that an item can be washed 12 times and still pass the fire retardancy test.

Part 2C relates to inherently flame retardant fabrics which can be washed up to 50 times and continue to be fire-resistant.

BS7175 – Effecting Bedding. The fabrics will need to be polyester to pass as they need to be inherent for the continued washing.

BS5852 – Upholstery fabrics – Crib and match test used to ensure they will not burn with a cigarette and a match against them

Wyzenbeek vs. Martindale Abrasion Testing


Both Wyzenbeek and Martindale are abrasion, or rub tests. They are however different tests which test different properties and success in one test does not infer success in the other. Wyzenbeek involves rubbing along the warp and weft of the fabric whereas Martindale is a figure-8 rub.


The Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests are the two methods commonly used to predict durability. Actual performance is determined by many factors such as fiber content, weaves, finishes, furniture design, maintenance, cleaning, and usage. Durability of an upholstery fabric is a complex combination of a number of performance tests that, in addition to abrasion, includes seam slippage, piling, tensile strength, and usage.


There is no correlation between the Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests so it is not possible to estimate the number of cycles that would be achieved on one test if the results from the other test were known.

Test Methods


A Wyzenbeek machine is used for this test allowing sample of the test fabric to be pulled tight in a frame and held stationary. Individual test specimens cut from the warp and weft direction are then rubbed back and forth using an approved fabric as the abradant. The number of double rub cycles achieved before two yarn breaks occur, or noticeable wear is observed, is recorded as the fabric’s abrasion rating. RM COCO supplies the test results for its fabrics that are tested using the Wyzenbeek test method, but determining the suitability of a specific fabric for a specific application rests with the designer, architect and their client.

Industry Standards for Wyzenbeek Testing

  • Passes 3,000 double rubs = Light- Duty Usage (residential)
  • Passes 9,000 double rubs = Medium-Duty Usage (residential)
  • Passes 15,000 double rubs = Heavy-Duty Usage (residential)
  • Depending on end usage, items passing 20,000 and higher are considered contract fabrics



A Martindale test 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 can endure before fabric shows objectionable change in appearance (yarn breaks, piling, holes) is counted. Number of cycles determines abrasion rating. RM COCO supplies the test results for its fabrics that are tested using the Martindale test method, but determining the suitability of a specific fabric for a specific application rests with the designer, architect and their client.


Industry Standards for Martindale Testing


  • Passes 6,000 cycles = Occasional domestic usage
  • Passes 15,000 cycles = Light domestic usage
  • Passes 20,000 cycles = General usage (residential)
  • Passes 25,000 cycles = Heavy usage (residential)
  • Passes 30,000 cycles = Severe usage (residential)
  • Depending on end usage, items passing 40,00 cycles and higher are considered contract fabrics

Equivalents Between the Two Tests

Simply stated you cannot infer a Wyzenbeek score from a Martindale score, or vice versa. Many will say that Martindale results rate about a third higher compared to Wyzenbeek testing, but that is not correct.  This is a “rule-of-thumb” that some use, but this is not a guarantee. The only way to really know is to test the fabric.

Wyzenbeek Tested Fabrics

Martindale Tested Fabrics

Caring for Crypton

Caring for Crypton Fabric

RM COCO is proud to offer a wide selection of Crypton fabrics. These amazing fabrics have a permanent stain-resistant technology, which makes cleaning up spills incredibly easy. The silver-ion technology fends off micro-organisms, safeguarding your furniture against odor-causing bacteria and prolonging the life of your textiles. Homes and high-traffic environments can be messy. And life’s messes require cleaning, so when it’s time to care for your Crypton fabrics, the process can be as easy and pain-free, especially since most liquids simply roll off of Crypton fabrics, or they can be quickly blotted off the surface with a dry towel or sponge. Overall, we can help you get your Crypton fabrics looking good as new —just follow these few easy steps!


Spot Cleaning Your Crypton

The spot cleaning method of stain removal can be used for most light to medium stains, such as coffee, red wine, crayon, and ketchup. Be careful to brush lightly since fibers can be broken or matted in the cleaning process.

  1. Blot any excess liquid; wipe away excess mess with a dry, clean towel.
  2. Mix together a simple soap and water solution. We recommend mixing 1/4 teaspoon enzyme laundry or dish detergent, like Tide®, Cheer® or Dawn®, with 1 cup warm water. 
  3. Apply the solution and agitate with a soft bristle brush. Make sure to brush lightly and work from the outside of the stain inward so as not to spread the stain. Rinse your sponge or brush frequently.
  4. Blot with a clean towel and rinse. Repeat if necessary.
  5. And remember, soap attracts dirt so make sure to rinse thoroughly. 
  6. Allow fabric to air dry

Extraction Crypton Cleaning

The extraction cleaning method of stain removal can be used for most medium or ground-in stains.

  1. Before extraction cleaning, blot up liquids on the surface with a clean, soft towel and vacuum the upholstery.
  2. Prepare a cleaning solution of 1/4 tsp mild, enzyme detergent, such as Tide® or Dawn® dishwashing liquid, per 1 cup of lukewarm water.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution using a misting spray bottle.
  4. Work the solution into the affected area by lightly scrubbing the area with a sponge or soft bristle brush. Make sure to work from the outside of the stain inward so as not to spread the stain and rinse your sponge or brush frequently.
  5. Allow cleaning solution to soak into the fabric.
  6. Wet-vacuum or blot excess moisture with a clean, soft towel. Be sure to extract the entire surface of the upholstered furniture to achieve uniform cleanliness.
  7. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residues, as residues will attract dirt.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 as needed.
  9. Allow fabric to air dry.

Translating Textile Talk: Double Rubs Explained

Translating Textile Talk: Double Rubs Explained

Wyzenbeek what? Martindale who?

As a beginner in the designer industry, I was mystified by the seemingly meaningless jumble of letters and numbers listed on the back of my new fabric samples. All I knew was that I was looking at the results of an unknown durability test my fabrics had been put through, and maybe passed? What exactly did those numbers mean?


Now, I am happy to help clarify for you what these test results mean, and how they can be vital for picking out the perfect fabric your project! 


The Martindale and Wyzenbeek tests refer to the measurement of a fabrics abrasion resistance and durability. The Martindale test rubs an abrasive cloth along the fabric in a figure eight motion to measure the endurance of the fabric before there is a change in appearance (such as pilling, holes, or yarn breaks), while the Wyzenbeek rubs back and forth along both the warp and weft of the fabric.

A double rub is one back and forth motion, and is considered to mimic daily “wear and tear.” So, those numbers on your sample? It’s the number of double rubs the fabric endured before breaking down, and is a good testament to the usage and durability of the fabric!

More than a Numbers Game! Understand Fabric Usage Based on Double Rubs


15,000+ Double Rubs 


– Perfect for upholstery, and heavy-duty, multi-purpose projects
– Great for heavy traffic furniture, in both residential and industrial environments
– Commercial grade standard is 30,000+ double rubs (in addition to compliance with fire codes!)


12,000 to 14,999 Double Rubs

– Multi-purpose, medium-weight
– Makes for great pillows, bedding, and lightly used couches, chairs, and ottomans
– Can also be used for some window treatments and décor, like bed skirts


9,000 to 11,999 Double Rubs


– Multi-purpose, light-weight
– Perfect for areas that don’t see much wear and tear, as well as pillows and bedding
– Can also be used for valences, roman shades, and other window treatments


9,000 Double Rubs and under


– Best for draperies only, including sheers

Hopefully this helped you to understand exactly what those durability tests mean, and you can better choose a fabric to suit your project! Do you need to find a fabric with a specific durability rating? With our newly improved search filters, you can find fabrics that fit your need quickly and easily, so you can get back to your project knowing your fabric will pass the test!