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Understanding Fire-Retardant Fabrics: What You Need to Know

Fire-retardant textiles have revolutionised the way people live. When a property burns down, any curtains inside it are usually the main spreaders of fire because of their ignitability. However, the development of fire curtains made from flame-retardant fabrics has helped lessen the frequency of property fires. These fabrics help keep fires at bay longer and make buildings safer. 

This article will tell you more about this wonderful fabric. 

What Is Fire-Retardant Fabric?

The first thing you need to know is the difference between fire-resistant and fire-retardant textiles. Fire-resistant means that the material is naturally made from non-flammable materials. They can resist flames because of their chemical composition. 

On the other hand, fire-retardant fabrics are designed to self-extinguish when exposed to an open flame. They are chemically treated to slow down the burning process or to never burn at all. A fabric is considered flame-retardant if it takes a long time before it burns compared to other types of similar materials.

Two Types of Fire-Retardant Fabric

A flame-retardant fabric is a textile that is retardant to burning. There are two types of fire retardant fabrics you can purchase in the market nowadays: inherently and chemically treated fabrics. 

  • Inherent Flame-Retardant Fabric - These fabrics have FR properties intrinsic to them. No flame-retardant properties were added to the fibres when they were engineered. They are resistant from the start and do not undergo additional treatment. Fabrics such as wool and Kevlar can resist flames longer than cotton or linen because of how their fibres are naturally structured. These are excellent textiles to protect your home from a fire. 
  • Chemically-Treated Fabric - Textiles under this category are originally flammable materials treated with chemicals to make them flame-retardant. They are treated with flame-resistant chemicals through different methods. They can prevent the start of a fire, suppress it, or slow down its spread. 

How Are Flame-Retardant Fabrics Made?

Under chemically-treated fabrics, there are two common ways to treat and make them fire-retardant:

  • Chemical Dipping Technique - As the name suggests, the textile is dipped into a chemical solution. When absorbed into the fibres, the chemical substance acts as a shield against flames. These chemicals activate when excessive heat is present, and a chemical reaction takes place. The process is similar to how fire extinguishers put out a fire. This technique is best used for fabrics made from natural material.  
  • Coating Technique - In this method, textile manufacturers apply a fire-retardant back-coating to the fabric instead of soaking it. However, this process makes the textile firm and inflexible, resulting in a less natural-looking draping. 

All flame-retardant fabrics need to undergo a series of laboratory testing before they are approved for public use. Here are some of the processes they go through:

  • Assessment of the fire-retardant properties’ strength
  • Testing the speed at which the textiles catch fire through different burning methods, such as using a gas burner, gas flame, a cigarette, or burning a stack of dry wood


Using flame-retardant fabrics for properties can serve as another layer of protection. They can decrease the risk of fire or injury. Now that you know what fire-retardant fabrics are, make sure to get your flame-retardant products from a supplier you trust. 

If you need flame-retardant curtains, whether for school, hospitals, or hotels, in the UK, send us a message today. Direct Fabrics is an all-in-one supplier and service provider. We manufacture, supply, and install soft furnishings wherever you are in the UK and Europe. We also make customised orders to provide you with exactly what you need. Contact us today to learn more about our service.