Over the last several decades, advanced plastics materials used in upholstered furniture and furnishings have transformed modern day offices and homes. Most consumers take for granted the broad range of choices in furniture and furnishings—from upholstered couches and chairs, and washable curtains to foam-filled pillows and mattresses, and carpeting options. These newer synthetic materials have a number of advantages over natural fibers (cotton, wool and silk), including better durability, greater versatility and lower production costs. They also meet the practical needs of today’s busier lifestyles because they are easier to clean and show less wear and tear over the life of the product.
However, materials used in furnishings also must meet fire safety standards. The addition of flame retardants to both natural and synthetic material fillings and fibers used in furnishings in homes, offices and public buildings helps products meet important fire safety requirements, providing individuals with an extra layer of fire protection and potentially increasing critical escape time should a fire start.
The choice of which flame retardant solution to use depends on the application because different classes of flame retardants work to reduce the threat of fire hazards in different ways. Flame retardants can affect the technical properties of the materials being used. Therefore, specific flame retardant solutions are matched to the material and the performance requirements of the final product (i.e. foam mattresses versus carpeting).