<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=887677744666506&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Treating Fabric To Crib 5 For Hospitality Use

treating fabric to crib

Making sure upholstery conforms to fire safety standards is particularly complex but it's a legal requirement if you are creating a commercial space of any kind.

For hospitality venues such as hotels, restaurants, bars and casinos, fabric must be able to pass three fire tests.

  • BSEN1021-1 - Cigarette test - Fabric has the equivalent of a smouldering cigarette applied to it
  • BSEN1021-2 - Match test - Fabric has the equivalent of a burning match applied to it
  • BS5852:1990 Sect 4 IS5 - Crib 5 test, A wooden stack called a crib is placed on the fabric and ignited. 

What does a Crib 5 test look like?
hand holding a wooden crib 5 stack

A Crib 5 stack is made of wood and resembles Jenga blocks. It needs to be 5 tiers high to pass a Crib 5 or 7 tiers high to pass the larger Crib 7 test required for prison cells. A Crib 5 stack is specially made to keep test conditions fair.


Crib 5 testing is done by wrapping the fabric over CMHR foam - it resembles a miniature replication of a sofa. To pass the test the flames must extinguish themselves before 10 minutes and the never burn to the end of the material or through the foam behind. Turn your sound on for a walk-through of the tests and what must happen for the fabric to pass.

HubSpot Video

Video of fabric passing a Match Test because the fabric has been treated.

This fabric could be suitable for domestic use as residential fabrics don't need to pass the further Crib 5 test. 

HubSpot Video

Video of fabric failing a Crib 5 test because the fabric has not been treated

Note that if the test is passed, it doesn't automatically make the fabric Crib 5 under any circumstances. It only means it passes Crib 5 under the conditions of the test. So if the fabric is then upholstered with glue between the fabric and CMHR foam, the fabric will not guarantee the passing of Crib 5 test as the conditions have changed (adding glue which may be flammable). The same is true if a different type of foam is used underneath.

Treating fabrics to Crib 5 standard

The composition of fabrics differ and their inherent fire resistance varies wildly as a result. Many fabrics can be treated - sprayed on the back with a rubbery chemical - which will stop the fire spreading and help it to burn itself out. Remember that the fabric will always burn, because only the back of the fabric is treated, and acts as a kind of firewall extinguishing the flames when the fabric burns through to it.

HubSpot Video

Video of fabric being sprayed with fire retardant chemical

However, not all fabrics are suitable for spraying on the reverse and may require the use of felt interliners, or a clear coat of other chemicals on the top of the fabric to make sure it passes the test and can be used in a hospitality setting.

As a general rule of thumb, the less natural fibres that a fabric contains, the less fireproof and harder to treat it will be. Acrylic & polyester upholstery is particularly difficult to treat. Fabric that consists of 70% or more acrylic or polyester will require spraying with a specialist chemical.

Some fabric may have the right composition that is treatable to Crib 5 but may not have the right structure. If the fabric has a lumpy surface - ie a textured or patterned pile - it may cause an increase of the flammability. The fire literally hides in the pile and will continue to burn; it will therefore not pass the Crib 5 test.

Treating Velvet

Velvets are problematic when it comes to treating. The issue is that they can quite often get damaged during the flameproofing process. They have a tenancy to crease - where the pile ruffles up and can't be smoothed out. The only way to avoid damaging during the treatment is by them knowing how the velvet will react. If the velvet has not been treated before, you should supply a sample for testing first.

How do you know that treating the fabric will work?

You don't. Each fabric has a different composition, so it's not possible to know in advance whether it can be treated and if the treatment will work, even if a similar fabric has previously been tested successfully. Treating fabric is a trial and error process and every fabric will need to be tested under the conditions set to find out the results.


Some fabric will only pass the cigarette and match test and not the Crib 5. Fabric like this needs to be used with a Felt Crib 5 Interliner underneath. The reasons for the fabric failing the test can vary - the fabric will change colour or structure if treated to Crib 5; the fabric is lumpy and increases the flame rather then retaining it; the fabric is inherently cigarette and match but it is not suitable for treatment. The Crib 5 interliner only works if the fabric has passed a cigarette and match test.

Fabric treatment machine

Fabric is fed through a machine for treatment with an FR chemical

Velvet rolling machine

Velvet is carefully rolled on a machine to prevent damage

A roll of felt interliner

Felt interliners may be used between to increase FR.

Crib 5 stack before test

Crib 5 stack before test

Fabric that has passed Crib 5

Fabric that has passed Crib 5

Fabric that has failed Crib 5

Fabric that has failed Crib 5

contract furniture bs7176 fire regulations-table

Topics: Contract upholstery

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 01/10/18 11:30
Share this post on:    
hospitality-furniture-knowledge-754364-edited arrow

Hospitality Furniture Knowledge book

Searching for table sizes, wood finishes, researching chair materials or simply wondering what furniture will work best in a restaurant or hotel space? This book is packed with over 10 years of knowledge from the contract furniture industry.

What you'll learn:

  • Furniture specification tips
  • Space planning
  • Materials & considerations
  • Table top finishes & edge profiles
  • Chair robustness, testing & more

Related Articles