The Cigarette & Match Tests BS 5852

The Cigarette & Match Tests BS 5852 are fire retardancy tests for residential upholstery. This document is intended to be read by interior designers and as such you do not need to understand the details of the tests. Interior designers must, however, ensure that they comply with the associated British Standards by ensuring that the fabrics they specify are fit for that purpose.

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  1. If you are sourcing furniture for your client then the vendor of the furniture needs to provide you with appropriate information to prove compliance.
  2. If you are specifying fabric for furniture to be made up, then you need to ask the fabric supplier for the fabric’s compliance to the standards and/or arrange fire treatment.
  3. You will need to ensure that you have specified the appropriate fabrics for the visible and non-visible parts of the furniture.
  4. You will need to liaise with your upholsterer to ensure that any additional materials such as foam and fabric lining are adequate.

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The cigarette and match tests fall under BS 5852. The test(s) involve the fabric being exposed to different ‘ignition sources’ essentially simulating possible real life causes of domestic fires. The ‘ignition sources’ are ways that the fabric could plausibly be burnt. There are 8 different sources/types of combustion but you only normally need to deal with sources 0, 1 and 5.
Source 0 = Cigarette (smouldering cigarette)
Source 1 = Match (simulated match)
Source 5 = Crib. (Wooden crib or Crib 5)

Source 5, or Crib 5 as it is frequently know as, is usually a contract standard for upholstery. In contract upholstery you might also come across BS 7176 which determines specific risk or hazard areas that your fabric is being installed into. In simple terms, BS 7176 covers all 3 of the above tests. Furthermore, whilst Crib 5 is the highest standard of the 3 tests it does not follow that a fabric which passes Crib 5 will also pass the cigarette and match test – even though it is likely to.

Exceptions, Mandates & Exemptions

  • Fabric is exempted if it is 75% by weight of cotton, silk, viscose, wool i.e. 75% natural fibres. A FR inter-liner must also be used to keep the exemption.
  • Furniture MUST IN ALL CASES pass the cigarette test. No exceptions.
  • Cigarette Test will be undertaken using standard foam – this presents a worst-case scenario.
  • For fabrics that do not inherently pass the required test then treatments are usually available, often where the back side of the fabric is coated with a fire resistant substance not affecting the look and feel of the fabric
  • For already made-up furniture, we doubt that it is possible to treat it retrospectively to pass the tests. However it may be possible to prove that the fabrics that have already been used are in fact compliant.

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Vicuna Silk Velvet (Vicugna) – Better Than Cashmere Silk Velvet?

Silk Velvet Fabric Upholstery Fabric Martindale Rub TestCashmere Silk Velvet is one of the world’s most luxurious fabrics. But is it THE most luxurious? Now this is a good question! and a little tricky to answer.

Perhaps the most expensive yarn is from the vicuña (vicuna, vicugna), which is a camel-like animal found in the high alpine areas of the South American Andes. Whilst not an endangered species it is a rare animal and difficult to farm as it tends to escape!

Cashmere yarn comes from the cashmere goat and other goats such as the pashmina goat.

Cashmere and Vicuna have an outer layer of hair which is coarse and rough but protective for the animal. This is the guard hair. Underneath the guard hair is a warm layer of much, much softer hair. This underlayer consists of hollow-fibred hair that is an excellent insulator. The vicuna has the finest of these fibres of any (resultant) wool anywhere in the world.

About 400g of yarn can be produced from one Vicuna compared to 150g from the Cashmere goat, the latter being a smaller animal. There are many more Cashmere goats in the world and I suspect this is why Cashmere is relatively affordable – as it is produced in much larger volumes in a more competitive market.

As an indication, a Vicuna scarf would cost in excess of US$1000. As far as I know, it is not produced in sufficient quantities to be available in a suitable form for interiors use (I could be wrong). But if it were it could be woven with silk to produce THE MOST EXPENSIVE AND BEST woollen silk velvet in the world. A further problem is that the Vicuna fibre can readily be damaged when dyed, again making significant production quantities problematic.

Now, as much of the Cashmere yarn produced comes from China, Australia and other countries…in fact just about anywhere other than Kasmir! it strikes me that is an opportunity waiting to happen for some illustrious, economically-minded, goat breeder out there with friends in the textiles industry. If the production problems could be overcome I could see that there still would be a market for an interiors fabric retailing at in excess of GBP800/m  (US£1300/yard) – albeit a small one.

What is the Martindale Shade Change?

There is not a Martindale Shade Change test as such.

You have probably been referred to the Martindale Rub test by someone looking to know how durable your chosen fabric is to abrasion. the Martindale rub test result is particularly useful in indicating if your chosen fabric is suitable for the intended use. An indispensible indicator for interior designers.

The Shade Change is something different. Martindale tests are routinely undertaken on fabrics especially in the UK. In other countries there are different tests like the Wyzenbeek in the USA. However it is becoming more common in the UK that as part of the Martindale test a Shade Change test is also undertaken.

When a fabric has been ‘rubbed’ by a machine 3,000 times the Martindale test is paused and the fabric is examined to see how the shade of the fabric has changed. It is then given a mark out of 5 with 5 being the best result (least change).

A natural property of fabrics is that they wear with use. I guess one way of looking at the shade change test is to determine how much of that wear will be visible after a reasonable amount of use. With 3,000 rubs being classed as reasonable. It does not mean that your fabric will wear out after 3000 rubs, it has nothing to do with wearing out!

If your fabric has a Martindale result of 50,000 rubs this means that the structure of the fabric starts to break down after 50,000 rubs. Essentially the ‘rubs’ simulate to varying degrees how people will sit down repeatedly.


Velvets have become increasingly popular over the last 5 years. Both residential and contract usage of velvets have increased tremendously. Having been produced for hundreds of years velvets never seem to have lost the attention of discerning designers.

Interior Designers are often interested in the properties and manufacture of velvet – the two being necessarily related. The depth of the pile, the durability of the finish, the ease of maintaining the beautiful finish.

Velvet is made in one of two ways – cut or uncut:

1. Cut pile

a. Here the loom is configured to Continue reading “Velvet”

Upholstery Curtain Cushion Domestic Textured Weave

LONDON, England. 02-NOVEMBER-2009 11.30 AM: KOTHEA today announced it has expanded its collections of residential textured weaves to include KOSHAZAM. KOSHAZAM has a striking and complex design which challenges the aesthetic intellect of the most discerning designers.

Reference: 03-037-262
Colour Shown: Red Flower
Other colourways: 4
Width: 138cm
Repeat: 72cm
Composition: Mix
Primary Usage: Domestic curtains and
Type of fabric: Textured weave


KOTHEA are a top-market fabric house based in Continue reading “Upholstery Curtain Cushion Domestic Textured Weave”

Martindale vs Wyzenbeek – Rub Test By Abrasion Explained


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 video clip shows a testing machine in action…not very exciting stuff. This article continues and gives summary information to assist Interior Designers to specify the right levels of abrasion resistance – usually for upholstery.

In more detail then:

For Heavy Duty Usage you should specify:
30,000 double rubs Wyzenbeek method; or

40,000 cycles Martindale method.

End use examples of heavy-duty installations, where upholstery fabrics rated at 30,000 double rubs, should be appropriate are: single shift corporate, hotel rooms/suites; conference rooms; and dining area usage.

There are extreme wear situations that may require higher levels of abrasion resistance. End use examples that may require higher than 30,000 double rubs include: 24 hours transportation terminals, 24 hour telemarketing, 24 hour healthcare emergency rooms, 24 hour casino gambling areas, and such public gathering places as theatres, stadiums, lecture halls and fast food restaurants.

It is strongly suggested that double rubs exceeding 100,000 are not meaningful in providing additional value in use. Higher abrasion resistance does not necessarily indicate a significant extension of the service life of the fabric.

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The Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests are the two methods commonly used to predict wear-ability. 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 interaction (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.

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.

This 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.

Inferring one result from another:

Despite what you will read on other web sites including the sites of some of the best known fabric houses in the world you simply cannot infer a Wyzenbeek score from a Martindale score or vice versa. However as said earlier for Heavy Duty usage you might specify: 30,000 double rubs Wyzenbeek method OR 40,000 cycles Martindale method. So in that sense you can say that for a certain level of usage the Martindale result needs to be 33% higher than the Wyzenbeek. But you CANNOT say that if a fabric scores 100,000 Wyzenbeek then there is no point in undertaking a Martindale test as you “know” its result would be 133,333 – that would simply be wrong; the Martindale could be higher or lower, you have to test it.

If this post does supply you with enough information please comment below or email us and we will expand it.

For more information on luxury cashmere throws or to request cuttings please visit  For black faux leather upholstery fabrics try <here> and for mohair velvet and mohair velvet upholstery fabric please follow the links.  Upholstery Linen is also one of our specialities as are luxury  silk velvet  fabrics.