12 Things to Consider when Choosing Fabric for your Restaurant Seating

January 5th, 2012


Choosing Fabrics for Restaurant Seating

When it comes to choosing fabrics for your restaurant furniture and contract seating there is a lot more to consider than just the colour and pattern.

1. Consider the durability: fabrics used for contract use need to meet certain industry regulations. This includes the Martindale test, more commonly known as the ‘rub test’. For contract use a minimum rub test of 40,000 is recommended. Certain high traffic fabrics undergo a 100,000 rub test, consider your venue type. If the use is still contract but light use, i.e. an occasional tub chair in a hotel bedroom, you could consider a fabric with a rub test of just 30,000.

2. Consider Crib 5 fire rating: when choosing fabric ensure your fabric is Crib 5 fire rated which is required by law for all contract fabrics. This is a higher flammability test than domestic fabric testing. Some more elaborate fabrics are only held in stock in the non Crib 5 state, meaning that it is necessary to get it back coated which can take up to a fortnight and can incur additional costs per meter. Please note: some fabrics cannot be back coated and others can actually shrink in the process and sometimes leave marks.



3. Consider the weave: small weave fabrics are better and more durable for high traffic areas. The smaller the weave the tighter it is, large weaves can be easily ‘caught’ causing damage, especially by studs on jeans.

4. Consider the pile height: high velvet pile fabric is very fashionable for seating, but when choosing patterned high pile fabrics, consider the depth. In high traffic venues popular areas of the seating will be left flattened, making your seating look quickly worn.

5. Consider stains: inevitably spillages will happen. If this is of some concern, then choose a two-colour or multiple-coloured weave. Remember when it comes to spillages suede’s, small piles and flat colours will stain more easily and if left will become difficult, if not impossible to remove. Faux leathers are often a great alternative which can be wiped down and cleaned easily as well as being highly durable for high traffic venues.

6. Consider colours: light coloured fabrics are always a big risk. Clothes dye, specifically dark coloured jeans, still remains a huge problem with staining. Scotch guarding isn’t the answer, choosing appropriate colours as well as fabric s to suit your customer base and business type is crucial.

7. Always ask for samples: when looking for fabrics online or in brochures, samples are important. Colour will always differ, as well as texture. Samples are useful to tie all other elements together within the interior.

8. Consider the pattern: when opting for a large patterned fabric, you will often pay a premium, particularly for those with high piles. When budgeting for patterned fabric keep in mind greater quantities will be needed in relation to the size of the pattern, allow up to 1 meter extra for standard patterns per chair in your budget.

9. the quantity: When it comes to upholstering your seating consider how much fabric will be needed. For a fully upholstered standard chair we would recommend on average a minimum of one metre per chair and two metres for tub chairs, whereas a seating pad would usually need a minimum of 0.4 meters for all standard plain fabrics.

10. Consider buying new vs. re-upholstering: here at Hill Cross Furniture we often find reupholstering seating can at times be just as expensive as buying new furniture. Consider the time it will take to remove the old fabric and foam and the labour involved in not only reupholstering, but purchasing and upholstering new foam padding, as well as down-time within your venue whilst your furniture is out of the building.

11. Consider upgrading a standard chair: It is always possible to upgrade a less expensive plain wooden chair with a padded upholstered seat. This is a great way to save on a budget and creating a truly unique chair in the process.

Consider the time scale: If you are choosing a fabric from a different supplier yourself allow enough time (and order enough fabric). We work closely with fabric suppliers, so there’s no need to order separately and will order all your fabric to be sent to the correct places while keeping track of the time scale, so it’s one less thing to worry about.

We have so many fabric samples at Hill Cross, we simply can’t display them all, but visit our fabric section, if they’re something you are looking for we’d be happy to help.

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