Buyer's Guide


Fabric Information
Leather Information
Fire Ratings Explained

Fabric Types

A fabric chair can be used for dramatic effect in any room of the home when upholstered in the right fabric. Fabric chairs also see frequent use in schools, offices, studios and receptions up and down the country. Below we have listed some of the most common fabric types upholstered on our chairs.

Chenille Fabric

Chenille Fabric Chenille Fabric is a strong upholstery fabric with a woven texture, perfect for use on chairs. Chenille fabrics add a heavy-weight depth and richness to any furniture, and coupled with the soft texture of the fabric ensures it is a popular choice to coordinate any room. Chenille yarn is manufactured by placing short lengths of yarn, called the pile, between two core yarns and then twisting the yarn together. The edges of these piles then stand at right angles from the yarn’s core, giving Chenille fabric both its softness and its characteristic look.

Chenille will look different in one direction compared to another, as the fibres catch and reflect the light differently, this is a perfectly normal characteristic of the fabric.


Velvet Fabric

Velvet Fabric Velvet is plush and soft, and tends to be popular in deep, rich colours. Velvet production results in piles on the face of the fabric, which can be dealt with in various manners to create different looks. The pile can be cut into shapes, creating cut velvet patterns that are popular with drapery and cushion covers, or it can be twisted while wet to form crushed velvet, which is popular in home furnishings. The pile can also be directionally compressed, even in multiple directions on the same piece of cloth, to create interesting looks depending on the point of view.

Velvet can be a particularly tricky material to maintain, as prolonged compression or folding can permanently affect the pile. Creases can be removed through the use of a velvet board or a steamer, and most velvet pieces are recommended to be dry cleaned.


Flat Weave Fabric

Flat Weave Fabric A flat weave fabric is a woven fabric, consisting of a single warp thread crossing over and under subsequent individual weft threads. Flat weave fabrics do not have any stretch to them, except on the bias, or diagonal, of the fabric. Because of the simple construction of flat weave fabrics, they do not have a pile or nap, but can be somewhat nubby, if the threads used are uneven in size. Examples of flat weave fabrics are twill and tweed.

Due to the lack of pile, flat weave fabrics are immune to pile shading, which keeps them looking better for longer.


Plain Textured Fabric

Textured Fabric Our chairs are available in many plain styles and textures. We use the term textured fabrics to describe any fabric that has a textured look or feel to it. As a general rule our textured fabrics are plain but feature detailing making them stand out from most other plain fabrics.

For instance if a fabric has a small repeatable pattern to it but is all the same colour, we would class that as a textured fabric.


Leather Types

A leather chair is a fashion statement. Compact, stylish and affordable. We have a large choice of leather chairs available at a great range of prices. However we understand that buying a leather product can be quite daunting, especially if you know absolutely nothing about leather. To make your life a little easier we have compiled the following list of terms commonly found throughout the industry and on our site and what they actually mean.

Faux Leather

Faux Leather Faux leather is a catch all term generally used to describe any non genuine leather. Faux means made in imitation or artificial.

Our faux leather chairs are mainly upholstered in PU Leather. PU Leather is a man made leather produced from the inner splits of the hide and finished with a polyurethane coating. PU Leather is water resistant and has a high fade resistance, making it easy to clean and ideal for chairs in every day use situations. In addition to being hard wearing it is also very good value for money usually coming in at a much cheaper price than genuine leather.

PU leather is used extensively throughout manufacturing industries including; upholstery (sofas & chairs) shoes, clothing, bags, purses, and even car seat covers. With good tactile feel, breathability and good durability it's not difficult to see why it's in such widespread use. Other types of faux leather chairs include PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) and even fabrics that have a faux suede/rubbed through antique leather look. All of these faux leathers amount to the same thing, a cheaper more affordable option to genuine leather.

Be careful when you're shopping online, many companies will list a product as leather or real leather when in reality it's actually a faux leather of some kind, or a bonded or bycast leather, none of which are the real thing. If you're after the real deal, make sure it's stated as "genuine leather" and is priced accordingly. Expect the vast majority of genuine leather chairs to be fairly expensive. If you find a chair somewhere that is stated as real leather and it seems very cheaply priced, unless it's an ex display or clearance line from a legitimate retailer you trust, chances are it's not genuine leather.


Bonded Leather

Bonded Leather Bonded Leather or reconstituted leather is a material with varying degrees of genuine leather combined with other substances to give the look and feel of genuine leather but at a lower cost. Most Bonded leather chairs made today are a polyurethane or a vinyl product, this is backed with fabric and then a layer of latex or other material mixed with a small percentage of leather fibers in the product's backing material. The actual leather content percentage varies according to quality.

The characteristics of bonded leather are that it's decently hard wearing and easy to care for, and can be a fair compromise to genuine leather in some cases, however it can still be quite expensive. In most cases a PU faux leather is probably a better value for money proposition for the budget conscious.

At present we don't offer any Bonded leather chairs for sale, as we feel our contract specification faux leathers are a much better value proposition as they are less expensive and harder wearing.


Bycast Leather

Bycast Leather Chairs Bycast leather chairs (also known as bicast leather) are made from a split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed. Bycast was originally made for the shoe industry for glossy shoes, and has been adopted by the furniture industry since.

Bycast leather has an artificial texture and comes with a glossy finish, this makes it easy to keep a consistent finish without the scars and marks that sometimes appear on real leather. Although it does look like leather it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise improve with age, it is however easy to clean and maintain.

At present we don't offer any Bycast leather chairs for sale, as we feel our contract specification faux leathers are a much better value proposition as they are less expensive and harder wearing.


Genuine Leather

Genuine leather chairs are somewhat of a rarity these days, with cheaper imported faux and imitation leather alternatives dominating the market at the entry level price points. Genuine leather normally means high prices, quality craftsmanship and special order lead times, but if you don't mind the cost and the waiting there are some great options to choose from.

Genuine leather is extremely varied in types and finishes and is beyond the scope of this article to cover completely. However we will cover the main types of genuine leather used in upholstery and found on our website. The most common genuine leather types used in upholstery (from most expensive to least expensive) are Aniline Leather (which includes Pull Up Leather and Nubuck Leather), Semi-aniline Leather and Smooth Pigmented/Corrected Leather.


Aniline Leather

Aniline Leather Aniline leather is the most natural-looking leather type, with the unique surface characteristics of the hide remaining visible and is coloured only with soluble aniline dyes. Because it doesn't have a pigment based surface finish, aniline leather is a porous and very sensitive smooth leather. The natural texture of the skin is clearly visible and so aniline leather is usually classed as high-grade and with a price to match its status. The lack of a pigmented colour layer on the surface means that aniline leather feels natural, soft and warm to touch. A light surface coating may be applied to enhance its appearance and offer slight protection against spillages and soiling.

Aniline leather that is completely porous and without any finish is classed as pure aniline leather or just pure aniline. Soft aniline leather can also be called napa leather. In addition, leathers with velvet-like surfaces, such as suede and nubuck are included.

Aniline leather whilst beautiful and soft, is susceptible to scratches and staining, due to these characteristics we wouldn't recommended Aniline Leather for households with small children and/or pets.


Pull Up Leather

Pull Up Leather Pull-up leather is aniline dyed in the drum to create deep, vibrant colors, it is then finished with a combination of oils and waxes giving the leather a lovely soft finish. Pull Up leathers are designed to become distressed looking through time and use.

Its properties are similar to full aniline but in places of heavy use, the oils will be pushed away leaving lighter areas - particularly on the seating areas. As a pure aniline leather, marks, scratches, and signs of wear will show and a rich patina, or shine, will increase over time. This gives each peice of furniture it's own unique history, full of character.

If you're looking for a leather that will change and age with use, then this is what you want.


Semi-aniline Leather

Semi-Aniline Leather Semi-aniline Leather is more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance. The increased durability is provided by the application of a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent colour and imparts some stain resistance. Semi-aniline leather is soft and warm and feels very natural due to the less intense coating and the absence of compression of the leather fibres by a strong embossing.

In contrast to aniline leather, which is completely porous and very sensitive, semi-anilines have better protection. The protection is by no means as strong as for pigmented smooth leather, where the pigment layer acts as a barrier and the hair pores are no longer recognisable. Such leathers are mostly firmer and feel colder than semi-aniline leathers. The advantage of semi-aniline leather is a warm feel and naturalness and the main disadvantage is the sensitivity.


Smooth Pigmented/Corrected Leather

Pigmented Leather To make leather more durable, more stain-resistant and permanently water-repellent, a layer of a binder-pigment-mixture is applied to the surface of pigmented smooth leather that has already been completely pre-coloured with aniline dyes. This colour coat is also called finish or pigmentation. These leathers are then referred to as pigmented leather or finished leather.

Smooth Pigmented/Corrected grain leather presents as a solid colour with very little natural variation, making it perfect if you want the hard wearing characteristics of genuine leather but don't want the natural variation, patina and scarring that can be found in more expensive and unfinished leathers.

Pigmented leather feels cooler and firmer to the touch than more expensive leathers, but is significantly easier to clean and care for and less sensitive. Pigmented leathers also have lower breathability properties than porous leather. Smooth pigmented leather is by far the easiest to maintain for those with small children or pets.


Fire Ratings Explained

All our products come with fire ratings for use in different environments, from suitable for use in the home and domestic dwellings to commercial specification crib 5 and crib 7 covers for the hospitality, healthcare and commercial sectors. Here we explain what all that means and set your mind at ease that the furniture you're buying is up to the standard you need.

Fire Ratings For Domestic UK Use

Tested to BS5852 Source 0 & 1 (Cigarette & Match)

All of the chairs and sofas listed on our site conform to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations or FFFSR for short, this covers furniture for domestic use in the UK. If you are purchasing a product for normal domestic use in the home or a domestic dwelling in the UK then everything listed on our website is suitable and you don't need to concern yourself any further.

Fire Ratings For Commercial and Public Use - British Standard BS7176

The legal requirements for the fire resistance of furniture supplied for commercial use in the UK is contained in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order or RRFSO for short. The RRFSO states that every building needs a responsible person who is responsible for deciding furniture ignition-resistance. These decisions are made as part of a wider-reaching fire risk assessment, covering:

  • Construction & materials used
  • Provision of fire escape routes
  • Fire detection
  • Fire fighting systems
  • The building contents (which includes furniture)
This all-encompassing approach means that the RRFSO does not actually specify precise ignition resistance requirements for furniture.

British Standard BS7176 is available to guide the Responsible Person (who is often the owner of a building or business). BS7176 is a UK-only testing standard (it has no EN in the title) which is used to test the ignition-resistance of seats in commercial and public premises. Our commercial products are made up-to the following specifications depending on where the product will be used.

Tested to BS5852 Source 0 & 1 (Cigarette & Match)
Tested to Crib 5 (BS5852)
or Tested to Crib 7 (BS5852)

The second and third of these is tested using small stacks of wood - eg. a Crib 5 or a Crib 7 stack. If a product passes a particular test, it is categorised according to the section below.

BS7176 groups types of commercial premises, categorising them by the level of fire hazard (how high the fire risk is perceived to be), again set out below. The following list of locations is a reasonable guide for the responsible person of a commerical premise.

Performance Standard BS7176 - Low Hazard

Products tested to BS5852 Source 0 & 1 (Cigarette & Match)

Low Hazard commercial locations include;

  • Offices
  • Receptions
  • Schools
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Museums
  • Exhibitions
  • Day Centres
Performance Standard BS7176 - Medium Hazard

Products tested to BS5852 Source 0 & 1 (Cigarette & Match)
Also tested to Crib 5 (BS5852)

Medium Hazard commercial locations include;

  • Hotels
  • Hotel Bedrooms
  • Restaurants
  • Pubs
  • Bars
  • Casinos
  • Hospitals
  • Hostels
  • Public Buildings
  • Public Entertainment Venues
  • Public Halls
  • Services' Messes
  • Doctors Waiting Rooms
  • Dentist Waiting Areas
  • Golf Clubs
  • Airports
Performance Standard BS7176 - High Hazard

Products tested to BS5852 Source 0 & 1 (Cigarette & Match)
Also tested to Crib 7 (BS5852)

High Hazard commercial locations include;

  • Some specific hospital and hostel locations
  • Prisons
  • Offshore locations such as oil rigs

If you are unsure of your suitability requirements please don't hesitate to contact us.

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