There are many components to consider while choosing compatible fabrics for your commercial window treatments. Unfortunately, not all fabrics work for window treatments. Below you will find three main points to consider when selecting:

1.       Flammability Codes: NFPA 701 (#1 Test), NFPA 260 (Upholstered Seating), ASTIM E84 (Upholstered Walls), CAL/TB 117 (California Technical Bulletin) and BFDIX1 (City of Boston Fire Code). All regulate fire resistance to some degree and fabric that is used in hospitality and healthcare window treatments must pass these various FR fire code standards where and when applicable. For more on fire codes, see our blog titled “5 Flammability Ratings.”

2.       Thickness: not all fabrics are suitable for all styles of drapery. If the fabric is too thick, it could look like cardboard for some pleat styles. This is also the reason some upholstery fabric cannot be used for draperies. Some upholstery fabric is too thick to sew due to its coating or backing and may not hang well.

3.       Stability: open-case fabrics are constructed with a larger woven pattern that causes them to stretch or prevent them from being stitched (seamed together). Communicate well with the manufacturer if your fabric is open-cased. More than likely you will want to purposefully shorten the drapery in preparation for the drapery to stretch. Read our blog, “Does Fabric Stretch? How to Avoid the Ill Effects” for more details and case-studies.


Note: Shades and drapes are made differently, thus their fabric is also different. Fabric for shades must be stiff so it can roll up smoothly without wrinkling and span the opening width with stability. There are three types of roller shade fabric: sheer, blackout and basket weave. Sheer is best used provide light transparency while still allowing some degree of privacy. Blackout is impenetrable to light, which is needed for light fastness. Basket weave refers to PVC coated fiberglass yarns woven to create various “sheer weave” patterns. Click here to learn more about when to use what type of roller shade fabric!