Flame Retardant Inherently Flame Retardant Curtain Fabric

FR vs. IFR for Stage Curtain Fabric

What Is The Difference Between Flame Retardant And Inherently Flame Retardant Theatre Fabric?

Fabrics are an important element in theatre and arts. However, determining the proper type of fabric can sometimes be challenging, especially when it comes to differentiating between Flame Retardant and Inherently Flame Retardant.  While they only differ by a few letters, there is a definite difference between the two.


Flame Retardant (Flame Resistant or FR)

Pro: More options available

Pro: Lower price point

Con: Can’t be washed

Con: 1 year life expectancy


Flame retardant fabrics are created by applying flame retardant chemicals. Flame retardant chemicals are dissolved in water and then applied to the fabric through dipping or spraying. When the fabric becomes dry from this process of application, flame retardant chemicals adhere to the fabric fibers which make the fabric Flame Retardant on an impermanent basis. Flame retardant chemicals will be removed when exposed to water, making machine washing or dry cleaning problematic. Humidity and airborne dust and oils can also diminish the endurance and effectiveness of the flame retardant chemical.


Inherently Flame Retardant (IFR)

Pro: Safest; Self-extinguishing

Pro: Can be washed

Con: Higher price point


Inherently Flame Retardant materials have flame retardants built into the fibers so that they become permanently fixed to the material’s structure.  By the protection being built into the fiber itself, the flame retardant will not wear or wash away.


In many cases, Flame Retardant Theater Drapes are a great solution.  Often times they are used on a short term basis and are not being exposed to flammable objects. However, in those situations where the theatre drapes need to uphold their fire resistant integrity long term and will require washing from time to time, investing a little more with IFR theatre curtains is the way to go. If you need assistance in determining which option is best for your production needs, contact Chicago Canvas’ experienced team.

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