28 Feb 2014

Choose Fire Resistant Curtains And Be Aware Of Hazards

When choosing curtains, one factor that many people pay little attention to is the fabric’s fire resistance. Choosing a flame retardant material can be extremely useful in the event of an emergency, especially because a window could be the only means of escape from the home. The next time you are shopping for curtains, make sure that you are aware of the fire resistance of the fabric and that you have chosen the safest possible option for your home.

Did you know that it is generally not the flames that cause fatalities? More often than not, death is caused by smoke inhalation and the body is burnt after the fatality has occurred.


Some curtain fabrics are coated with an array of chemicals that are used as a flame retardant. These chemicals are known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (or PBDEs). It is important to be aware of the fact that this is not a ‘green’ solution and that, because the chemicals don’t bind to the fabric, they can be released as dust and inhaled. Studies are, as of yet, inconclusive in regards to the damage this does to our bodies.


Flame Retardants

It is important to understand that all curtain fabrics will actually burn – some are just more combustible than others. Untreated materials (such as cotton, linen and silk) will burn more easily than treated ones (such as wool).

Did you know that the weave and weight of the fabric will affect how readily it will ignite and burn? The most recommended curtains are those with a tight weave, as they will burn slower than those with a loose weave – even if made up of the same material. Did you know that the texture can also affect the flammability? Fabrics with loose, fluffy pile or brushed nap will also ignite much easier than those with a tight, hard surface.


Most people opt for synthetic curtain fabrics (such as nylon, acrylic or polyester) because they resist ignition. If they do catch fire, however, these materials will melt and have been known to cause localised and very severe burns.

The fabric with the worst burning rate would probable have to be silk. It’s flammability can actually be increased due to the dyes and other additives that are used for the colour. Linen and cotton come in a close second for the worst burning rate, but the risk can be decreased through the application of flame retardant chemicals. Third place goes to triacetate and acetate, which can also be decreased with chemical treatment.

Polyester, nylon and acrylic have a reasonably good burning rate but, as already mentioned, will melt when they are ignited. Wool, on the other hand, is actually quite flame retardant – it has been known to extinguish itself.

When choosing curtains for your home, it is important to remember that people’s lives could be at stake, especially if you live in a high bushfire risk area or regularly use a fireplace for warmth. This is why it is imperative that you consider the fabric options available and choose the one that you believe will be safest for your home. If you are looking for the most flame retardant curtains available, we recommend that you consider wool.