Direct Fabrics Blog

  • Fire Retardant Curtain Regulations

    Understanding Fire Retardant Curtain Regulations

    When working in contract curtain environments it is a legal requirement in various countries for the curtains to be certified to fire retardant standards. In this article, we are going to go through the major fire retardant standards and what is required in different countries and applications.

    All of Direct Fabrics flame retardant range is compliant to BS5867 Part2B and some to BS5867 Part 2C.

    You can purchase fire resistant curtains here from our range here.

    This guide is an overview of the various fire retardant curtain regulations and will be added to overtime.


    Included in this Article about fire retardant curtain regulations

    Further information is included for each particular standard can be found in the links below.


    Why do we need flame retardancy regulations

    Regulations are quite simply designed to save lives. By ensuring that fabrics and manufactured products conform to the fire retardancy requirements means that customers are safe knowing that the fire risk is reduced and thus they are safer.



    Fire Retardant Curtain Standards United Kingdom BS5867

    Let's jump in and look at our main market which is the United Kingdom. Domestic curtain fabrics will not normally be flame retardant. Always check the product information to see whether they have the following regulations.

    BS5867 - British standard for drapery including curtains and blinds.

    This standard covers everything that you require for fire retardant curtains in the United Kingdom.

    The standard is broken up into 2 sections;

    Part2B which is 10 washes whilst staying flame retardant.

    Part2C which is 50 washes / inherently flame retardant.


    Areas of use for BS5867

    - Hotels, Care Homes, Schools, Hospitals, Medical Centres, Village Halls, Commercial Offices


    Products Available to Flame Retardant Standards BS5867

    Flame Retardant Curtains

    Flame Retardant Blinds



    Fire retardant Curtains Standard for Europe M1 France B1 Germany

    When working in the European marketplace the fire retardant codes for France and Germany are M1 and B1 respectivly. These flame retardant standards are similar to the United Kingdom BS5867. The main difference is teh M1 standard is a very high level of flame retardancy. Usually but not always a fabric that conforms to BS5867 Part 2C and is inherently flame retardant will pass the higher regulation of France M1.

    Getting fabrics tested to flame retardant standard M1 has to be done in France as the French testing house are the only locations that are certified to perform the M1 Test. This means it can be quite expensive to get this product tested and will involve sending fabrics overseas to get them tested.

    The M1 test is a vertical test to see how the flame spreads across a panel of fabric over a duration of being ignited.

    You can review a more indepth review of the M1 and B1 standard here

    • B1 (DIN 4102 B1)
      German Flame Retardancy Standard for flame retardant building products. Materials that have been finished in accordance with B1 must self extinguish after the ignition source has been removed.
    • M1 (French Flame Retardancy Standard)
      Corresponds approximately to the German DIN 4102 B1.


    Areas of use for M1 B1

    - Hotels, Care Homes, Schools, Hospitals, Medical Centres, Village Halls, Commercial Offices


    Products Available to Flame Retardant Standards M1 B1

    Flame Retardant M1B1 Curtains




    Fire Retardant Curtains Standard EN13773 European Contract Textiles

    The 13773 is a similar regulation to M1 B1 and is a vertical ignition test. It is for the European market

    Read a full guide to EN13773



  • Understanding Acoustic Curtains - Absorption vs Insulation

    Understanding Acoustic Curtains and Which is Best for you Absorption vs Transmission (Insulation)



    Before commencing this article, we are going to be looking at the difference between 2 elements and why buying products on the internet knowledge on a subject assists you in understanding which product is best for you. The 2 different areas when it comes to acoustic curtains. Absorption and the other is insulation.


    Sound Absorption is used to reduce echoes and sound going around a space See part 1

    Sound Insulation this is to stop sound from passing / entering into a space. See Part 2


    Buy Acoustic Curtains here -




    Most curtaining products out there in  the market place are beneficial to sound absorption and will have very little impact on sound insulation.


    Sound Absorption – Acoustic Curtains

    When working with loud echoes in spaces it can be incredibly frustrating to stop sound reverberating around the room. This is where acoustic curtain come in. Depending on the fabric it will have a varying effect on the amount of absorption that It takes and effects the sound passing back around the room.

    To see how good a fabric or product is at absorbing sound in a room then you need to complete the

    Sound absorption test EN ISO 354. This grades a product between A – E based on how absorbent a material is. When sound is projected into a room it will hit the surfaces and then it will either be transmitted through things like ceilings and walls or it will be reflected back into the room. So in a basic form the test is how much sound is sent out will return.

    Example Imagine. 100 units of sound are sent into a room, 80 units are transmitted out of the room and then 20 are recorded back in to the space.

    Thus the sound absorption coefficient is 0,8.


    Α = converted Energy +  transmitted energy in relation to the incident.

    Incident is the sound initially sent out.

    The main aim of materials hung around rooms like recording studios and theatres is to stop the sound reflecting back around and ruining the transmission of the direct sound.

    By having fabrics that are highly graded like black wool serge and expression dimout fabric you are limiting the amount reverberation back into the room. This is extremely important for recording studios and also quiet spaces like offices.

    Imagine being in a large gymnasium with concrete blocks all the way around the room. If you shout you will get a large amount of echo

    Here are some example reports for our best selling acoustic fabrics.


    Buy Acoustic Curtains here -

    Which Fabric is Best for Sound Absorption.

    Overview Direct fabrics will continue to add to the testing list. Direct Fabrics will add additional fabrics as demand for fashion products increases. However the expression product testing has a gorgeous herringbone running through the fabric and the team feel this is a perfect example of

    Working with a variety of suppliers we have tested some fashion dimout products aswell as wool serge materials.

    The core product for theatres, exhibition centre and performance centres is black wool serge material. This is a chosen due to being cost effective and performance grading of A / B depending on fullness.



    Direct Fabrics is now recommending a designer fabric called Expression which is dimout so 90+% light stopping, this means that you get the highest sound absorption and also a beautiful finish with a herringbone effect for a price lower than a coloured wool serge.


    Prices at time at writing this article may vary compared date when reading


    Fabric Application Fullness Weight Sound Class Test AW
    Expression Dimout 100% 360gms A 100mm 0.95
    Coloured Wool Std Shade 100% 565gms A 100mm 0.85
    Atmosphere Dimout 100% 320gms B 100mm 0.8
    Standard Wool Serge Std Shade 100% 400gms B 100mm 0.85
    Standard Wool Serge Std Shade 50% 400gms C 100mm 0.75
    Coloured Wool Black Std Shade 50% 565gms B 100mm 0.8
    Enigma Dimout 100% 298gms C 100mm 0.7
    Venus Dimout 100% 255gmd C 100mm 0.65
    Luxe Dimout 100% 250gms C 100mm 0.75
    Kilo Wool Serge Std Shade 100% 800gms C 100mm 0.65


    The most common standard absorption wool serge.


    Deciding which fabric to purchase

    Very simply you have a choice of a low cost black wool serge for a quick and effective drape to reduce the transmission of sound around a space at different frequencies. Or you can use a decorative product that is slightly more expensive that will give you even more than the standard wool



    Sound Insulation Curtains – To be complete 2019

    This subject is particularly difficult to quantify, and all environments will differ.

    A particularly good analogy I like to use when thinking about partitions and blocking sound is when you are driving in your car. You have the windows closed and it is quite quiet but as soon as you open the window even as much enough to slide an envelope through you can hear a large amount of sound. This is because sound is like a liquid and flows to wherever there is a gap. It will bounce off surfaces until it finds a route to go.

    When deciding to look for a sound insulation fabric it all comes down to the mass of the product and that it is tightly woven and doesn’t allow anything to pass through it. A common product is mass loaded vinyl. BUT when making curtains from this product you will have a gap around the curtain so although you will see a reduction you will not


    What is mass loaded vinyl

    Mass loaded vinyl is a heavy weight vinyl product that has a weight generally of between 5kg and 10kg and is ideally suited for stopping airborne sound. It has a greater weight than lead and will be perfectly suited to stop sound passing between spaces when full enclosed between objects. It is usually used a floating wall barrier between stud work and pasteboard for cinema rooms, but Direct fabrics has been trialling this in curtain form. As a barrier it is shown to reduce sound transmission by circa 20db and 30db.


    Understanding Sound Transference / Sound Blocking

    It is a common misconception that having foam egg carton shapes on the wall will stop sound coming into a wall. This is simply incorrectly. Imagine sound as water, if you made a wall of sponge do you think that it will stop the water passing through. No it wont. Then imagine an aquarium tank made of thick glass, sound will work in the same way as glass and it will stay within the tank. This is the same with sound passing between spaces.

    From Direct Fabrics investigation and speaking with sound labs. We have discovered that the best product for reducing sound transmission is a product that acts as a ridgid barrier.

    So using an MLV combined with an absorbtion fabric will give an excellent sound reducing curtain. However it should be known that even having a super thick layer of MLV or similar fabric will still let sound pass through any air gaps.

    Please speak to the direct fabrics team for specalist products that will work for you windows for a complete sound solution.

    Buy Acoustic Curtains here -




  • 6 Steps to Choosing Hotel Curtains

    6 Important Steps to Choosing & Installing Curtains in Hotel


    Quick Overview to 6 steps to buying hotel curtains for your hotel project

    In this post we are going to go through the various options to hotel owners that are looking to improve the window furnishings in their hotels and what the most important steps are in ensuring the hotel has the best finish

    From working with clients in various hotels from 2 star bed and breakfasts all the way up to prestigious 5* hotels including the Sheraton / Marriott and Hilton. Direct Fabrics comes across various stumbling blocks that need to be covered before purchasing.

    STEP 1. Ensure you get the correct measurements of the windows

    Check Measuring and PlanningA huge mistake time and time again is that the house keeping or management team don’t take the time to get a quality site survey taken. The old saying “Measure Twice Cut Once” this is imperative here. Ensure that you measure all the various options and document the information clearly.

    Before you begin you can download our site survey form and this can help you with ensuring everything is document clearly.

    Measuring is usually the downfall of most projects and this is usually only found out once the items that have been purchased or manufactured are ready for installation. It is common to have to remake or even adjust products that have been measured incorrectly.

    Curtains have an added benefit when being measured for a track, if you measure too big, curtains have a tolerance as there will be fullness in the curtains. This means you can pull up the curtain tapes more or when using eyelet curtains just have more pleats on the track or poll.

    With a drop for blinds or curtains, there will be little to no tolerance, always better to be slightly too long as the puddled look of curtains will look more decadent, however in a modern room may look odd.

    Rule of thumb when measuring a window.

    ***** Go 15cm past on each side of the window recess – therefore 30cm total

    *** Go 15cm above the window and then finish at the desired length.


    Step 2. Selecting the Look for the rooms

    Go through various room shots that you find appealing and understand which treatments are required for the best finish and what is expected for your level of accommodation. For instance a 4 starInterior Design Choices hotel is expected to have a very high level blackout. There for you need to ensure that the curtains have a 3 pass blackout lining and minimal light seepage around the application whether it is a blind or curtains or a mixture of both. For the most blackout a curtain will provide a significant increase over a roman blind.

    Note that roman blinds by design will ware a lot quicker than curtains as the rods and stitching endue a significant amount of pressure and can eventually break particularly on larger roman blinds. When using roman blinds Direct Fabrics only supply child safe chain operated mechanism.

    Also be aware of the robustness of different applications using curtain tracks spreads the weight across the window where as a curtain pole will mean by design there are less brackets than a track and also because they have an angle to the bracket that if pulled on an angle they will loosen and come out of the wall.

    Step 3 – Ensure you are buying Flame Retardant Soft Furnishings

    Flame-Retardant-Curtains-BlindsIn the United Kingdom / Europe / America commercial spaces are required to have flame retardant fabrics that are certified to the required standards. This means that you need to work with a contract furnishings company that has market knowledge and can supply curtains and fabrics to BS5867 in the UK, NFPA for America and M1 and B1 for Europe.

    This doesn’t have to limit the range on offer it just means that “Safety is First”. It is paramount when running a hotel to know that you are operating within the law and you can abide by your insurances. There is nothing worse than thinking you may be operating with inferior window furnishings, particularly with so many high coverage events that have ended in tragedy.

    Flame retardant soft furnishings have thousands of fabric options, varying from Dimouts, Blackouts / Prints / Wovens / Voiles and more.

    Direct Fabrics offers a large range and can source and supply fabrics from around the world. If you have seen a designer fabric then

    If you want more information on the various flame retardant standards then you can read them at the links below.

    Step 4 – Choosing a colour palette and design

    When choosing the design for a hotel room it can become quite complex, at Direct Fabrics we are finding time and again that hotels are preferring to use a plain curtains and bring colour to the room with accessories. This means that the rooms do not date quickly. Modern grey colours are extremely popular presently for hotel interior design.

    Decorative Hotel Funishings












    Sewing ManufacturerSTEP 5 – Choosing the right manufactures and price point

    The old saying you get what you pay for means that you will have a huge variety of prices and for those you will get varying amounts of services.

    Highest – Full Interior Design service including manufacture and installation

    Middle – Online Contract Furnisher with local coverage. Choose your fabrics online and get samples, Manufactured and installed as necessary. Perfect example is

    Low – You choose a fabric and put all the pieces together, using a seamstress and fabric suppliers being direct from the contract furnishing supplier or from a local retailer. NOTE – ensure that your fabrics are compliant to the required laws.

    STEP 6 – Installing and Dressing

    When it comes to installing in a commercial environment it is imperative that your curtains and soft furnishings are fitted and dresses to the highest standard. The fixings of the curtains, poles and blinds needs to be secure and strong enough for residents of the hotel / guest house to abuse daily. The residents in a hotel expect everything to work without issue or there is a potential for the guest to requests discounts or refunds. So the hardware needs to work perfectly without issue.

    Ensure that the fixings are strong and secure. In an ideal world go through the plaster into the block behind. Use hardened drill bits to drill into the toughest blocks and steel.

    Once the hardware is up and operations and good idea is to use a SILICON SPRAY to lubricate them so the glider move beautifully and with the gentles of touches.

    Dressing curtains ensure that you use metal hooks, Direct Fabrics pre pull and hook all taped curtains. This means that you can unfold and then clip into the glider on a curtain track or on to the rings of a pole.

  • Suspended Ceiling Curtain Track Options

    When faced with an awkward space it is always best to plan your approach for fitting curtain tracks and other hanging elements. A particularly difficult space to fit to is suspended ceilings. Lets go through the various information to try and assist you in your decision in buying a curtain track for your suspended ceiling.

    What is a Suspended Ceiling

    Suspended CeilingA suspended ceiling is a ceiling that has been installed below the standard ceiling for a space. The void created is usually used for services including air conditioning, wiring, plumbing and other elements that are needed usually in commercial sites for quick and easy access. Usually these suspended ceiling are created from a grid system that is made from a metal aluminium frame that is durable and sufficiently strong to hold the tiles plus any additional weighting.







    The framework is the crucial part of whether it is possible to suspended additional weight from the tiling sections. 

    Main Suppliers and Manufactuers




    British Gypsom

    A standard weight tolerance for these is 10kg per metre squared.  Remember that when the curtain is pulled along the track it weight will be evenly distributed across the track.

    Direct Fabrics recommendation is to use our cubicle curtain track for a hand drawn option. This is so that you can put the majority of the weight of the curtain on the wall shoes when the curtain is drawn back.

    U Shaped Room DividerAreas to Consider when fixing to a suspended ceiling

    The weight tolerance of the ceiling grid is the main area of risk when fitting to a ceiling grid. The grid must have been installed correctly to enable it to hold the required wait of additional fixtures and fittings.

    First Question that need to be asked. What is the weight capacity per metre squared of the grid?

    Curtain Weight Calculations

    What is the weight of my curtains. This can be calculated by knowing the full length of the curtain and doing some calculations. eg. Curtain width 400cm x Drop 200cm = 8sqm. Then knowing the fabric weight. Eg Venus fabric 280gms plus lining 200gms = 480gms. Then multiple the 2. 8 x 0.48kg = 3.84kg for the curtain.

    In the picture to the left it is not a suspended ceiling but you can see that the curtains are drawn back to the wall where the wall shoes are located this means that the weight is passing through the wall not the ceiling brackets.


    Fixing Curtain Tracks to Suspended Ceilings


    How to instrall curtain tracks to suspended ceilings

    When fixing to a suspended ceiling there are 2 options to consider.

    Should i fix to a noggin above the ceiling tile?

    or should i fix all the way up to the concrete or solid sealing above?

    It all comes down to the weight that is going to be going through the wall and the ceiling tiles. If the weight of the curtains is our standard cubicle curtains then a standard setup will be fine using the noggin as the curtains have been chosen due to their construction of 220gms curtain fabric.






    Which Tracks are Compatible with Suspended Ceilings

    The majority of top fix curtain tracks are compatible with suspended ceilings. If there is considerably more weight going through the track it is advisable to use a track that can also be mounted the wall shoes on each end in order to distribute the weight more effectively across the track.

    The curtain track that we recommend is the cubicle curtain track as it can have long expanses without many brackets and takes the majority of its support from each end. The cubicle track can have upto 3m without any central supports at all. It is hand operated and can be purchased here



  • School Hall Curtains

    Introduction to the Client



    Work Requested for School

    The client is a prestigious school. They have decided to upgrade the school hall curtains. Previously fitted was very old vertical blinds and roller blinds to provide a standardised shading solution. However by nature blinds as a solid structure are not very good for acoustics. It was decided to use a flame retardant velvet material that was a tiviera, this meant that it could be washed and continue to be flame retardant.

    The tracking needed to be installed on the high slit windows all the way around the assembly hall of the school.



    Products Required

    The curtains were manufactured with a robust 3" pencil pleat heading, the curtain tracks installed were a combination of corded tracks that were child safe for the high windows and hand drawn heavy duty tracks for the lower windows.

    Flame Retardant Curtains

    Hand Drawn Curtain Track

    Cord Drawn Curtain Track


    Photos from the Project


    Conclusion to Project

    The client was extremly happy with the service provided by Direct Fabrics ans now is looking to replace the stage curtains.

  • Marriott Hotel Testimonial - Function Room Wave Curtains

    Introduction to the Client


    Work Requested

    Initially, the products requested we flame retardant Roman Blinds in a Creation Baumann fabric that had been specified by the group's architect. However, when evaluating the suitability of using full-length roman blinds over 350cm, it was decided that they would have issues over time due to the inherent defects caused by using roman blinds. Roman blinds on long length put too much strain on to the stitching. Also having chain mechanisms in a high traffic area gives the opportunity for misuse. Based on this the decision was made to use a simple tracking system with draw rods and a wave heading option for a clean finish.



    Products Required

    Flame Retardant Curtains

     Hotel Contract Curtains

    The curtains used were made with a Creation Baumann curtain fabric with a wave heading attached to a heavy-duty top fix curtain track

    Photos from the Project



    Conclusion to Project

    An excellent project to be part of and to come in 50% lower in price

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  • Understanding Flame Retardant Standard European EN 13773

    Flame Retardant Standard EN 13773 - European Flame Retardant Standard


    Standards Across Europe

    EN 13773 = Class 1,2 or 3 European Standard Textile burning behaviour for curtains and drapes.

    Click this image to buy m1 b1 curtains

    EN13773 Buy Fr Curtains

    What is EN 13773 - 1,2,3 Flame Retardant Standards – European FR Standards for Curtains

    EN13773  is the European flame retardant standard for contract drapery. This is the latest flame retardant standard for drapery and links in with old tests such as BS5867, M1 B1 and other drapery flame retardant tests. It has been introduce


    Test standard Flammability class Country
    DIN 4102 B1 ("Brandschacht") Germany
    EN 13501 B-s1, d0 Europe
    EN 13772 and EN 13773 Class 1 Europe
    NF P 92-503 to 92-505,
    M1 France
    BS 5867, 5438 Part 2, Type C Great Britain
    NFPA 701 Passed USA
    Credit to

    By using the EN 13773, this interlinks and unifies the results across Europe for testing purposes for 1 market.


    Composition of Fabrics – Flame Retardant Standards Europe

    Understanding which fabrics pass which tests is important as you can have inherently flame retardant fabrics such as Trevira which are polyester fabrics with the flame retardant yarn so they do not need to be treated. This means they can be washed and they will keep their flame retardancy. Some fabrics that are treated will need to be retreated if they are not inherently flame retardant. Therefore a user needs to be mindful that after dry cleaning they may no longer be flame retardant.


    Areas Used

    The European flame retardant standards will be required in any commercial environment, a hotel will require EN13773,  M1 B1 standards in Europe and BS5867 in the UK. They are all similar tests but it is required for insurance requirements to ensure that they are certified to avoid any legal risks.


    Understanding Different Fabric Flame Retardancy

    Durably Flame Retardant

    Again these fabric have been chemically treated and will be suitable for washing.

    Inherently flame retardant

    An inherently flame retardant fabric is made from a yarn that has the flame retardancy already within the yarn like a Trevira. This means it can be washed multiple times and not loose its flame retardancy.



  • Recording Studio Acoustic Drapes

    Introduction to the Client

    From the company website " BIG JAM STUDIOS

    Big Jam is a Music, Video, Photography, rehearsal and recording studio  founded by producer Kevin Thorpe in 2012. We are the only studio in Kent to be visited by ITV’s X Factor in 2016, and we’re regularly producing potential hits.

    Big Jam Studios is fast becoming hailed as the most comfortable yet professional recording studio to get big results on your music no matter what genre you perform. Our music rehearsal and recording studio boasts some of the best facilities in the area."

    Work Requested

    To supply black wool serge surround drapes for the studio with a low cost tracking that could be self mounted around bends

    Products Required

    Acousting Black Wool Serge Curtains


    Photos from the Project

    Big Jam Studios Black Wool


    Brilliant Curtains and they look great and reduce the sound significantly passing to other spaces in the centre.

    Conclusion to Project

    A successful project using our black wool serge flame retardant fabric. This can be purchased as our client above in a made to measure format, or by the metre see the link here. Black Wool Serge Fabric

  • Village Hall Bifold Door Curtains

    Introduction to the Client

    The client was a community village hall that had been freshly renovated with a modern finish and to complete the work they contacted Direct Fabrics looking for curtains

    Work Requested

    To supply and install 2 large curtain tracks and pencil pleat curtains across the total expanse.

    Products Used

    The curtains were manufactured using our venus flame retardant curtains

    Heavy Duty G5600 curtain track

    Photos from the Project

    Bifold Door Curtains French Door Curtains


    We couldn't be happier with the service from start to finish. The installation team were excellent and fitted the curtains beautifully. We would recommend them to anyone looking for community hall curtains.

    Conclusion to Project

    A pleasure to work on, the finish to the room was superb and our curtains have left the modern room feeling warm and looking beautiful.

  • Public Health England Blackout Area

    Introduction to the Client

    Public Health England

    Work Requested

    To create a blackout area with a curtain surrounding a booth for medical testing that would react badly to light.

    Products Required

    A light weight blackout curtain that could be washed and easily maintained. The main element was for the curtain to be black in colour and also have flame retardant properties and be totally blackout.

    Direct Fabrics recommend odyssey blackout material made into a curtain as it is a 3pass flame retardant blackout and very light weight



    Photos from the Project


    The client was very pleased with the project

    Conclusion to Project

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