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The A-Z of Contract Furniture Terms

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This is our glossary of furniture terms that are frequently used in the contract furniture industry. New terms often appear with new trends or innovative production methods and will be added to the list when we encounter them.

Aris: Sharp edge or corner

Basket-weave: Criss-cross woven pattern

Balloon back: Circular-backed seat

Bariatric: Seat for the weighty

Bentwood:Wood steam-softened then bent


Button back:Upholstery studded for a ‘rolling hill’ effect

Chamfer: A symmetrical sloping surface at an edge or corner

Club chair: Short-backed, armed and upholstered comfortable chair

CMHR foam: Fire-shunning foam (Combustion Modified High Resilient)

COL: Customer’s Own Leather

COM: Customer’s Own Material

Contract furniture: Designed and manufactured for commercial installation

Corner blocks: Small wood blocks glued in place strengthening a chair seat

Cantilever: L or Z-shaped leg championed by Marcel Breuer

Carriage: Transportation from to supplier

Case goods: Wooden furniture designed for storage, such as cupboards, chests of drawers, etc.

Casters: Wheels under chair legs

Crib 5/7: Levels of flammability testing for commercial furniture

Crumb gap: The gap below a back rest

Dowel: Round wood pin joining wooden pieces

Drop-edge: Deeper edge to a table top

Edge profile: Table edge’s size, angle, finish

Factory gate price: Price of product excluding logistical costs

Fire backing: Fire-resistant coating applied to back of fabric

FOB ‘Free On Board’: Factory price inc transport from the factory to a nearby port or railway station

Frame: Basic structure of furniture

Gas lift: Chair height-adjustment mechanism

Glide: Protective leg sole

Herringbone: Chequered fabric style

Inox: Italian for stainless steel

In the raw: Unfinished wooden state of furniture

KD: ‘Knock Down’ - flat-packed furniture

Lacquer: A synthetic, durable fast finish which protects wood

Laminate: Laminate Layed sheet material, typically plywood

Martindale rub test: Measure of a fabric’s durability

MDF: Medium-Density Fibreboard, a ubiquitous building product. ‘Green’ MDF is weather-resistant

Nap: A fabric with a secondary weave or ‘pile’, sticking out – often appears as a different hue from a different direction

Ogee: A widely-used moulding profile

Ottoman: Upholstered low stool or footrest

Piping: Jutting out seam in furniture upholstery

Plastic laminate: Sheet material with a man-made polymer core (aka solid ore laminate)

Plywood: Series of alternating thin layers of wood glued together

Polyethylene: Most common plastic, used in water bottles etc and some chairs

Polycarbonate: Tough, transparent, brittler plastic

Poser table: High table, for use when standing or with stools

Powder coat: Paint coating applied as dry powder

Quarter sawn: Timber planks cut from a quartered trunk

Repeat Pattern: A pattern recurrent throughout a fabric design

Saddle stitch:  Distinctive ‘dashed’ sewing stitch, used particularly with leather

Shell: Combined seat and back of chair as one feature

Show wood: Wood used as a design feature on an otherwise upholstered chair

Solid core laminate: Sheet material with a man-made polymer core (aka plastic laminate)

Spider: Top of a table base, an X piece, connecting table bases to the underside of table tops

Spindle: A thin piece of wood, typically turned, stretching between a seat and top rail of a chair

Splat: Central vertical element of a chair’s back

Studding rod: A threaded metal rod connecting the top and bottom of a table base, running down the middle of the column

Stretcher: Strengthening rail running perpendicular to a chair’s legs

Swatch: A sample of upholstery fabric

Veneer: A thin slice of decorative wood glued to an inferior wood core

Waterfall front: Ergonomic seating wrap-over front of chair seat

Webbing: Strips of elastic or woven fabric used to provide support for upholstered chair backs and seats

Wing back: High-back chair with protrusions extending above the arms

Wood stain: Protective wood finish that is absorbed into surface pores often to change the appearance of the wood

Topics: Contract furniture, Furniture knowledge

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 11/12/17 10:58
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