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Flame Retardant Upholstery Coating

Red flames of fire

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989, 1993, 2010) subsequently referred to as FFR and also known as The UK FR Regulations, were introduced  in 1988 because of a horrific fire in a large furniture store in Manchester in the UK. These regulations gave the UK by far the highest fire safety regulations in the home of anywhere in the world, resulting in a dramatic drop in fatalities. How dramatic? You can see the details on the chart below:

Blue statisticks on white board
Source: Statista


The FFR regulations addressed the use of highly flammable polyurethane foams and filling materials along with flammable cover fabrics. 

Flame Retardant or Fire Retardant coatings for Cover fabrics  Upholstery fabrics or Sofa fabrics is at the core of Nanoflam’s technologies and expertise.

See attached Guide from FIRA for more detailed requirements on FFR!


Link to full UK regulations 


Why have the FFR regulations turned out to be so effective in saving lives?

The main priority of Flame Retardants fabrics is to significantly slow down the propagation of a fire and hence increase escape time. Most of the victims of fires do not die of the flames, but from toxic smoke inhalation, its Carbon monoxide that’s kills. The longer you can suppress this toxic gas formation the better the chance of survival.

Increasing escape time

How exactly do Flame retardants work? They reduce the risk of ignition and fire spread of textile materials which results in more available escape time for occupants.


By using Flame Retardant coatings, time to flashover can increase even up to 3 times - from 5 minutes to 15 minutes! This is a colossal difference that decides about life or death in the situation of a life’s threat.


This is perfectly illustrated by the graphic below:

Source: pinfa.eu

It may seem that 5 minutes is plenty of time to get out of the building...However, remember that the escape time includes the time to discover the fire, alert other people, decide to call the fire brigade, take their own actions to extinguish or choose to evacuate the building. In addition, when people's lives are in danger, they often become paralyzed with fear, which makes it very difficult for them to make a rational decision. This means that 5 minutes is not enough to leave the endangered building without panic.


Fire-retardant materials have effectively solved this problem.

What technologies does Nanoflam use to create Fire Retardants?

Nanoflam’s technical team has been at the forefront of development for coating compounds for Upholstery to meet the FFR since the mid 1980’s.


We have a unique understanding of the relationship between Fabric, Application and Chemical.

We can supply products for:

  • Paste Coating, also known as Knife coating or Direct coating.
  • Foam coating, both Stable foam and non-stable foam.
  • Padding, also known as Dipping, Impregnation or Foulard application.

Our products are based on several different chemistries depending on specific customer requirements:

    • Traditional Bromine/Antimony systems that are suitable for a wide range of fabric types.

        ◦ Our Bromine products are all PBDE free and contain no Deca-BDE.

        ◦ We have Bromine containing systems that are Oeko-tex 100 approved and registered.

    • Halogen Free, also referred to as non-Halogen compounds or environmentally Friendly FR compounds.

        ◦ In our Non-Halogen range, we have 

            ▪ Phosphorous, or phosphate-based products 

            ▪ Phosphorous/Nitrogen system

            ▪ Inorganic based products 

            ▪ Organophosphate 

            ▪ Blends of above 

        ◦ Our Halogen free range are all fully Oeko-tex 100 compliant and are currently in the process of being approved for:- 

            ▪ ZDHC 

            ▪ Oeko-tex passport

    •  Hybrids that contain Halogen and non halogen are also available

Our products can meet the requirements of the following standards
Textile Use Standard Test Method Ignition Source
Domestic Furniture and Furnishings (fire)(safety) regulations 1988 BS5852 Part 1:1979

Source 0- Cigarette

Source 1- Butane flame 

(Match test)

Contract BS7176

BS5852 Part 2:2010

BS/EN 1021/1

BS/EN 1021/2


Source 5 – Wooden Crib

(Crib 5)

Source 0- Cigarette

Source 1- Butane flame 15s (match test)


Domestic/Contract BS5651   Water soak procedure
When it comes to FR upholstery coatings Nanoflam’s expertise is 2nd to non. For more information on how match your fabrics to the best FR compound type, along with industry leading technical service please contact us directly via office@nanoflam.com or use or use the contact form below!

How are Flame Retardants different from Flame Resistant? These terms are used to describe fabrics or materials that do not readily ignite and/or continue to burn when exposed to fire. However, there are significant differences between them that may affect the safety of you and your co-workers. That is why it’s so important to distinguish them properly


Flame Resistant fabrics are made of inherently non-flammable materials. Examples of such materials are polyester, metal or glass. The fire resistance of these materials comes from their chemical structure. Flame Resistant fabrics are designed to prevent the spread of fire and don’t melt under very high temperatures. Since such fabrics are not usually made of 100% fire retardant materials, they may burn, but they do it very slowly and often self-extinguishing. They are often used in safety gear such as firefighter uniforms.


Flame Retardant fabrics are not inherently flame retardant. This changes when they undergo special chemical treatment. They only acquire unique properties: they burn very slowly and self-extinguish when exposed to fire. These fabrics can be made of any material - only after treating them with special chemicals can they qualify as a flame retardant. They are used in various applications such as upholstery, curtains, and bedding.


As you can see, the main difference between Flame Retardants and Flame Resistant fabrics is how they are made. In stores and wholesalers, flame retardant fabrics are the most common. They are cheaper and easier to manufacture than Flame Resistant fabrics and are often made of treated polyester or cotton.

This article will give you comprehensive knowledge and advice on choosing Flame Resistant Materials and when Flame Retardant Fabrics will prove to be a more beneficial choice.


In both cases, we must ensure that flame retardant fabrics we use will be certified and meet the regulations of the sector where they will be used. You will find a straightforward explanation of all rules in the next parts of this article and here.

Fire protective equipment and materials are especially useful in industries such as healthcare, emergency work, construction, and the military. Fireproof fabrics are also widely used in public places where many people gather at the same time, especially schools, hotels, entertainment facilities, airports, hospitals or other similar places. They are also increasingly used in residential industry.

Of course, FR materials are not only found in buildings. Also, the interiors of cars and airplanes (upholstery) often have to be made of them.

To sum up; Fire Retardant/Resistant fabrics may be used on:

  • Vertical blinds
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Leather upholstery or wall coverings
  • Wallpaper
  • Partitions
  • Paper/Cardboard
  • Table linens
  • Various textiles
  • Automotive or airline interiors
  • Other Fabric Items
  • Professional clothing
  • Upholstery and cushions
  • Drapery
  • Tarps
  • Tents
  • Curtains

How do Flame Retardants work? Do they save lives?

How to choose the most suited FR fabrics for your workplace?

1. Estimate the risk. Analyze the possible dangers

The first thing you should do is assess the workplace threats - they all need to be detected. For this purpose, you can hire an external company that will carry out a detailed examination of your workplace. In particular, you need to remember that risks associated with high temperature, fire explosion, or splashing with molten metal should be considered.


It would be best to analyse these fundamental factors to ensure that the FR workwear you are buying offers adequate protection against all of them. Remember that it is the job of safety professionals and employers to identify all kinds of potential physical or environmental threats associated with the workplace and to which workers may be exposed. Once this is done, you will choose the most suitable FR clothing/fabrics for them.

2. Define Industrial Climate

Industrial Climate, or workplace conditions, is one of the most important factors to consider. The type of protective clothing you choose for your employees will to some extent, depend on whether you are working in cold or hot weather conditions. The risk of heat stress or frost damage requires a different type of FR garment to achieve the optimal combination of protection and comfort. Therefore, make sure you have pre-determined the workplace climate before choosing any FR fabric workwear.

3. Type of FR Workwear fabric

There are plenty of FR workwear fabrics on the market. Depending on the requirements of the law and your industry, you can choose suitable materials. Some will be inherently fireproof, while others will be chemically treated. Indeed, one of the most critical factors in selecting a fabric is its ability to breathe.

This is especially important for people working at elevated temperatures.


The second important factor is the strength of the material. While some jobs require lightweight materials, durability may be more important for others. All the desired effects can be obtained thanks to the skilful mix of the appropriate fibres.


These are some of the commonly used fibres with properties that serve as the raw material for producing FR fabric. See what suits you best for your workplace requirements.


Cotton - provides natural comfort, is versatile, durable and quite efficient. It resists high temperatures and insulates well against both heat and cold. It absorbs water and sweat, is breathable and has good antistatic properties. Cotton fibres combine well with synthetic fibres and can be dyed in almost any colour. Cotton is also cheap and readily available compared to other fibres.


Polyester - is a durable material with very low absorbency, making it stain resistant. It is not fire retardant in itself, but it works well as an additive to FR fibres because it gives them very low shrinkage during washing. It improves the abrasion resistance of the fabric. It can be dyed in all kinds of colours.


Polyamide - is exceptionally durable and water-resistant. It is stain-resistant because it does not absorb oil and similar chemicals. It is not fire retardant on its own, but it provides strength and durability of the FR fabric and excellent abrasion resistance.


Aramids (aromatic polyamides) - are the fibres of choice in the production of fireproof clothing. They are inherently resistant to fire, abrasion and organic solvents. Are widely used in FR garments. They are fire-resistant in nature. Para-aramids can give fabric incredible physical strength.


Modacrylic - It is fireproof and also soft, stable and durable. Easily dyes and dries quickly. In addition, it is distinguished by high resistance to solvents and chemicals. It is moderately resistant to abrasion but naturally self-extinguishing anti-allergic. It is typically used in blends with other fibres to improve FR performance.


Lyocell - it is soft and firm, with good heat resistance. It can insulate against both heat and cold. It is even more absorbent than cotton wool, thanks to which it has excellent antistatic properties. Lyocell can be dyed almost any colour.


Carbon/steel fibres - are used in FR fabrics because of their antistatic properties.

4. Find out which Safety Standards & Certifications are must-have for your workplace.

Whichever FR garment you choose, it must meet your industry certifications and local safety standards set by the laws of the country in which the work is performed.


To better understand the requirements of your industry and workforce, we have summarized some of the most commonly used FR-related standards as follows:

ISO 11612

Clothing protecting against heat and flame. For fabrics’ protection against flame A1, including no melts and drips from the fabric, and against at least one other type of heat, B, C, D, or F. (Meaning of marks: B-convective heat, C-radiant heat, D-molten aluminum, E-molten Iron, F-contact heat.

ISO 11611

This type of clothing is used for welding and related work. In addition to welding protection, it also protects against metal splashes, heat transfer (radiation) and electric current. It is also resistant to tearing, stretching and cracking.

NFPA 2112 Standard

Provides security against flash fire. Clothing protected in this way reduces the severity of burns resulting from short-term exposure to flash fires.

NFPA 70E Standard

Such materials protect against electrical hazards. They help companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and deaths due to shock, electrocution, arc flash and arc blast.

EN 61482-1 -2

Protects against the thermal hazards of an electric arc.

EN 1149-3

This certificate determines to what extent the fabric can get rid of (dissipate) the electric charge.

5. Durability

Your main goal should be to provide better protection to your workers, make full use of the service life of your fireproof garment, and reduce replacement costs. So choose durable materials made of blends of fibres with above-average durability.

6. Check the resistance of the FR fabric to detergents

Even though FR fabrics perform well in harsh conditions, they have one significant disadvantage. After a few or a dozen washes, they often lose their fireproofing properties and can burn very quickly. Avoid such clothing. Choose only those protective fabrics that can document FR certifications and guarantee to remain flame resistant throughout the garment's lifetime. This way, you will not risk the life and health of your employees.

7. Choose materials that comply with the regulations of your industry

Deaths cause by house fires in Great Britain since 1981

The FFFSR regulations addressed the use of highly flammable polyurethane foams and filling materials along with flammable cover fabrics. 


By clicking here, you will find a comprehensive, well-designed Guide from FIRA, which will easily explain all the requirements related to FFFSR. Use the table of contents to quickly find answers to your questions!

How did we use this knowledge to create our own solutions?

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For more information please contact us at office@nanoflam.com