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Demonstration of an all-in-one solution for fire safe upholstery furniture: A benign backcoating for smoldering and flame-resistant cover fabrics



Ickchan Kim, Andre Thompson, Sung Chan Kim, Anthony Hamins, Matthew Bundy, Shonali Nazare, Rick D. Davis, Mauro Zammarano


The development of fire prevention and mitigation technologies with a benign toxicological and environmental profile has become of particular interest in the USA due to the recent adoption of state regulations that severely restrict the use of flame retardants in certain products, like residential upholstered furniture (RUF). Herein, the effectiveness of a backcoating technology in RUF is demonstrated. The backcoating is a silicone-based elastomer, filled with vinyl-silane modified aluminum-hydroxide that was applied to the back side of an upholstery fabric to generate a flexible and effective fire barrier. Chair mock-ups were assembled using either an uncoated cotton fabric (UCF) or a backcoated cotton fabric (BCF) as cover fabric. The fire performance of the chair mock-ups incorporating the UCF and BCF was compared in an open-burning calorimeter after exposure to either a flaming ignition source or a smoldering ignition source. In the flaming ignition tests, the chair mock-ups with BCF showed a reduction in the peak heat release rate and the total heat released by factors of about 6 and 45, respectively, as compared to the chair mock-ups with UCF. In the smoldering ignition tests, the chair mock-ups with UCF showed intense smoldering, which eventually transitioned to open flaming, whereas, the BCF chair mock-ups showed no sign of foam or fabric smoldering. The backcoating also offered a durable fire protection solution, with an abrasion resistance of BCF roughly doubled compared to UCF. Ultimately, the backcoating provided an unusual combination of smoldering and flaming ignition resistance while complying with several recently enacted or pending U.S. state regulations.
Fire and Materials


backcoating, flammability, residential upholstered furniture, smoldering


Kim, I. , Thompson, A. , Kim, S. , Hamins, A. , Bundy, M. , Nazare, S. , Davis, R. and Zammarano, M. (2021), Demonstration of an all-in-one solution for fire safe upholstery furniture: A benign backcoating for smoldering and flame-resistant cover fabrics, Fire and Materials, [online], (Accessed May 27, 2024)


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Created August 15, 2021, Updated May 1, 2024