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Discussion | Fabric Grades

GSA has had multiple discussions with industry and government on the definition of fabric levels.  It is our understanding that entry level, mid-grade and high level fabrics have different meanings to both industry and government.  As we research this topic more, we would like to hear your response to the below questions to support seating standard configurations.


  • How should fabric grades for seating be defined in the government’s office furniture standard configurations?


  • How are fabric grades for upholstered seating products typically defined across the furniture industry?

    • Our preliminary research shows a categorization of fabrics into entry-level, mid-level, and high-level fabrics based on a fabric’s ability to withstand wear and tear defined by the number of double rubs

      • General Contract Upholstery – 30,000 to 50,000 double rubs

      • Heavy Duty Upholstery – 55,000 – 75,000 double rubs

      • Extreme Wear Upholstery – 80,000 to 100,000 double rubs


  • Is this definition common across industry with regard to upholstered office seating products?


  • What other criteria factor into the definition of fabric grades?


  • Which fabric grades are commonly purchased by commercial customers in regular office settings?  


  • Which fabric grades are commonly purchased in extensive-use type settings?


  • What fabric grades are commonly purchased by commercial customers in healthcare (lounge seating, offices, multi-use seating, patient chairs, bariatric chairs, etc.)?

*Please provide responses by Wednesday, July 16, 2014.


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<p>In our small manufacturing company, grades are determined by our cost to buy the textile.</p><p>Textiles that are purchased in rolls from the mill are less expensive than &quot;cuts&quot; which are usually purchased from a secondary supplier. &nbsp;</p><p>Cost is also impacted by &quot;partnerships&quot; (ie commitment to purchase sample cards) with suppliers. &nbsp;Smaller manufacturers are likely to be able to invest in fewer partnerships, so their published prices for &quot;graded in&quot; textiles are likely to be higher than those from a larger manufacturer who is able to invest in more partnerships.</p><p>Cost is impacted by where the fabric is made. &nbsp;American textiles are generally more expensive than imported fabrics.</p><p>Cost is impacted by special properties. &nbsp;For instance, antimicrobial vinyl is more expensive than &quot;regular&quot; vinyl. ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) textiles are more expensive than standard, Special backing or coatings cost more too.</p><p>In my opinion, grade is NOT an indicator of quality or durability. &nbsp;&quot;Designer&quot; fabrics which are beautiful, different and often colorful are expensive, but are often LESS durable than lower grade fabrics.</p><p>In my small company, the best value in fabrics are grade one &quot;carded&quot; American textiles that we buy and stock in rolls. &nbsp;Several offer a ten year warranty and most offer very high abrasion values. &nbsp;However, pattern and color selection is limited because there is a limit to what we can stock.</p><p>If we do get an opportunity to quote on a large order for chairs covered in a textile from a mill that we are able to purchase from, (and provided there is adequate lead time) &nbsp;we can often negotiate and offer an better price than our published &quot;graded in&quot; fabric price, and we would use the improved price to prepare our bid..</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
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