Fire Regs FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Standard for the Flammability of Upholstered Furniture - 16 CFR 1640:

As a reupholsterer, do I need to comply with the new standard?

Where can I find the upholstered furniture requirements?

What is the definition of Upholstered Furniture under 16 CFR Part 1640?

How do I know if a fabric or material is in compliance with the law?

If a fabric doesn’t pass, does the label just need to say that the fabric doesn’t pass?

Is every layer of fabric and materials required to meet the requirements, or just the top fabric? Or does just one layer need to be compliant?

Can I still use my fabric and/or material if it is not in compliance? If so, what do I need to do?

Are antiques reupholstered in traditional materials (e.g. horsehair, cotton, straw, excelsior, etc.) required to meet the new requirements?

Do upholstery trims (welt, gimp, etc.) also need to be compliant?

What does it mean to have a compliant fabric or material? Does it mean it’s coated in chemicals?

Does an upholsterer need to wear a respirator when handling coated fabrics?

As a small furniture reupholsterer, what am I required to do to be in compliance with this new law?

As a reupholsterer, how do I ensure compliance when our customer brings their own?

How about my current inventory? Can I use up the materials I have in stock, even if they are not compliant with the new law (or if I don’t know if they are compliant)?

As a reupholsterer, do I need to keep any records in order to prove compliance? Will I ever be audited?

I use non-traditional textiles in upholstery like mud cloth, grain sacks, etc. Can I use a barrier fabric that meets the flammability code and still be able to use these non-traditional textiles?

Is Dacron an acceptable barrier if my top fabric and/or materials are not compliant? If so, how thick does the Dacron need to be in order to be compliant? 

What materials are adequate barriers?

Does a compliant barrier need to cover all sides or just the top?

I’ve heard I need to label all reupholstered furniture. Do I need the full label with the California TB-117-2013 language, or can I use a smaller label? 

Do loose cushions need to be compliant with this new law? How about a detached cushions that sits on a banquette? 

Do decorative throw pillows (purchased separately from the upholstered piece) need to be compliant?

Is boat upholstery (including covers and interiors) included in this new law?

As a reupholsterer, do I need to comply with the new standard?

The National Upholstery Association asked the CPSC for clarification about how the new regulation specifically applies to reupholstery - to include replacement of filling materials and cover fabric on previously-upholstered pieces.

The CPSC confirmed that this new regulation applies to reupholstery only in the case that the reupholstered item changes ownership (e.g. is sold, gifted, or traded) after reupholstery is complete. It does NOT apply to furniture that retains ownership before and after the upholstery process. This is true for both residential and commercial reupholstery.

Examples where the regulation DOES NOT apply:

  • A customer has a piece reupholstered and the customer retains ownership of that piece following reupholstery

  • A restaurant has its booths reupholstered during a remodel or upgrade

  • An upholsterer reupholsters a personal item and retains ownership of that item after reupholstery

  • A customer purchases a piece, then brings it to an upholsterer to reupholster before putting it in their own home

Examples where the regulation DOES apply

  • An upholsterer reupholsters an item with the intent to resell it

  • An upholsterer reupholsters an item which the customer then intends to resell

  • An upholsterer reupholsters an item for an Auction House, who will then sell the upholstered furniture at auction

This is a non-exhaustive list of examples for illustrative purposes only. If you are unsure whether your application applies to the law, you are encouraged to reach out to the CPSC’s Small Business Ombudsman at SBO@cpsc.gov for direction. Be sure to include a description of your product and its use, as well as photos, if available.

If you’ve determined that your upholstered piece does not need to comply with 16 CFR part 1640, then no other action is required on your part. You do not need to certify or label reupholstered pieces that are not covered by the regulation.

If your upholstered piece will change ownership or is otherwise required to comply with the new law, then read on for further information.

Where can I find the upholstered furniture requirements?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a direct final rule to codify in the Code of Federal Regulations the statutory requirements for the flammability of upholstered furniture under the COVID–19 Regulatory Relief and Work From Home Safety Act (“the Act”). The CPSC codified the Standard for the Flammability of Upholstered Furniture under 16 CFR part 1640.

The CPSC, in an effort to educate the public and clarify the requirements, created a website with Frequently Asked Questions. This site is updated regularly, so check back for more information.

What is the definition of Upholstered Furniture under 16 CFR Part 1640?

In-scope “upholstered furniture,” excluding specific exemptions in the Act, includes general-use and children’s seating furniture that meets the specifications below:

  • is intended for indoor use;

  • is movable or stationary;

  • is constructed with an upholstered seat, back, or arm;

  • is—(I) made or sold with a cushion or pillow, without regard to whether that cushion or pillow, as applicable, is attached or detached with respect to the article of furniture; or (II) stuffed or filled, or able to be stuffed or filled, in whole or in part, with any material, including a substance or material that is hidden or concealed by fabric or another covering, including a cushion or pillow belonging to, or forming a part of, the article of furniture; and

  • together with the structural units of the article of furniture, any filling material, and the container and covering with respect to those structural units and that filling material, can be used as a support for the body of an individual, or the limbs and feet of an individual, when the individual sits in an upright or reclining position.

Items that are NOT covered by this regulation include:

  • Bedding products

  • Mattresses / mattress pads

  • Mattress foundations

  • Outdoor furniture

  • Furniture used exclusively for physical fitness and exercise

  • Products obtained by a written prescription from a healthcare professional

Please note that while the upholstered furniture flammability standard (16 CFR part 1640) does not apply to these products, they may be held to different standards by federal, state, or municipal law.

How do I know if a fabric or material is in compliance with the law?

A specific test exists to measure the components’ resistance to combustion after exposure to smoldering cigarettes under specific conditions - this testing is defined under the 2013 version of California Technical Bulletin 117 (CA TB 117-2013). It is up to the manufacturer or vendor of these components to certify that the components they sell pass the flammability test. Many vendors identify compliant materials on their websites and product pages. If you are unsure if a component has been appropriately tested for flammability, check with your vendor. 

When looking for products that pass the smolder test, look for those that have been tested to meet the CA TB 117-2013 standard; this is the regulation upon which 16 CFR part 1640 is based. Note that the product MUST meet CA TB 117-2013 (or the 2019 update) to comply; if a product is advertised to meet other flammability requirements, it may not necessarily comply with this upholstered furniture flammability standard (16 CFR part 1640).

The upholstered furniture flammability standard (16 CFR part 1640) applies to the overall piece of furniture, not each individual component. In order for your upholstered furniture to be in compliance with the new regulation, you must first determine if the individual components comply in conjunction with each other. 

To test compliance, the regulation looks at four main components of the upholstery:

  1. cover fabric

  2. barrier (interliner) material

  3. resilient filling material, and

  4. decking material (if the upholstered piece has a removable or flippable cushion).

The National Upholstery Association developed a printable Compliance Quick Reference Guide based on guidance provided by the CPSC. This guide is based on a February 2022 CPSC webinar outlining the regulation (skip to 23:46 of the linked YouTube video for a description of compliant constructions). Please note that the guide is non-exhaustive and offered for illustrative purposes only.

The easiest way to comply with 16 CFR part 1640 is to find a barrier material that meets the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements and install it between the cover fabric and the filling material. If your other components fail the testing requirements (or aren’t tested at all), your upholstered piece can still be compliant with 16 CFR part 1640 provided that you have an appropriately-installed barrier layer that passes.

If a fabric doesn’t pass, does the label just need to say that the fabric doesn’t pass?

No. If your upholstered piece is subject to the new law, you must ensure that it is in compliance with 16 CFR part 1640. You can do this by adding a barrier layer that passes the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements as outlined in the regulation.

Is every layer of fabric and materials required to meet the requirements, or just the top fabric? Or does just one layer need to be compliant?

16 CFR part 1640 offers a detailed explanation of compliant constructions. Compliance depends on a number of factors.

The CPSC held a webinar in February 2022 addressing various compliant constructions (skip to 23:46 of the linked YouTube video for the relevant section). The National Upholstery Association also created a printable Compliance Quick Reference Guide based on this guidance provided by the CPSC. We hope that this guide will help our members determine whether their upholstered piece meets the upholstered furniture flammability standard (16 CFR part 1640).

Can I still use my fabric and/or material if it is not in compliance? If so, what do I need to do?

Yes. Find a barrier material that meets the CA TB 117-2013 testing requirements and install it between the cover fabric and the filling material. If your other components fail the testing requirements (or aren’t tested at all), your upholstered piece can still be compliant with 16 CFR part 1640 provided that you have an appropriately-installed barrier layer that passes.

Are antiques reupholstered in traditional materials (e.g. horsehair, cotton, straw, excelsior, etc.) required to meet the new requirements?

Materials that are reused do not apply to 16 CFR part 1640. Any added components must comply, even traditional materials.

A component need not be synthetic to pass the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirement. Many natural materials may pass as well. Ask your vendor if the material passes the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirement. If not, you can still bring your upholstered piece into compliance by adding an appropriately-installed barrier layer that passes.

Do upholstery trims (welt, gimp, etc.) also need to be compliant?

If your decorative trim comprises a relatively small portion of the total surface area, it would not fall within the four outlined testing categories of CA TB 117-2013 and would therefore be excluded from this standard.

However, substantial coverage (for example, a large fringe trim) may alter flammability, and that product would need to be examined further to assess how the CA TB 117-2013 flammability test might apply.

If you are unsure whether your specific material requires testing, you are encouraged to reach out to the CPSC’s Small Business Ombudsman at SBO@cpsc.gov for direction. Be sure to include a description of your product and its use, as well as photos, if available.

What does it mean to have a compliant fabric or material? Does it mean it’s coated in chemicals?

Not necessarily. There are many materials that meet the flammability requirements without the use of fire retardant chemicals. The upholstered furniture flammability standard (16 CFR part 1640) is a performance standard, not a design standard. If a material passes the CA TB 117-2013 flammability test, then it is a compliant material, regardless of how it's made. 

Does an upholsterer need to wear a respirator when handling coated fabrics?

Neither CA TB 117-2013 nor 16 CFR part 1640 address fire retardant chemicals, nor are FR fabrics required to meet the standard. The upholstered furniture flammability standard (16 CFR part 1640) addresses the safety of upholstered products, not the handling of those products.

The National Upholstery Association always recommends using best practices when handling caustic or dangerous materials. We encourage the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety glasses, and respirators, even during common upholstery practices.

If you have questions about a specific product or chemical, contact your municipal or state safety commission for guidance.

As a small furniture reupholsterer, what am I required to do to be in compliance with this new law?

There are a couple of things that you, as a reupholsterer, are required to do under this new law:

First, ensure that the combination of your upholstery components result in an overall compliant piece.  Ask your vendor if your component materials meet the CA TB 117-2013 flammability test. The easiest way to be in compliance with 16 CFR part 1640 is to find a barrier material that passes the flammability test and install it between the cover fabric and the filling material. If your other components fail the testing requirements (or aren’t tested at all), your upholstered piece can still be compliant with 16 CFR part 1640 provided that you have an appropriately-installed barrier layer that passes. Check out our Compliance Quick Reference Guide for some examples of compliant constructions.

Once you are certain that your upholstered piece meets the upholstered furniture flammability standard (16 CFR part 1640), you must certify your upholstered piece by labeling it. The label must read: “Complies with U.S. CPSC requirements for upholstered furniture flammability” and it must be affixed to the furniture in a place that is conspicuous and permanent. See the CPSC’s FAQ page for more information about labeling requirements.

Enforcement of the labeling requirement will begin on June 25, 2022 and applies to upholstered furniture manufactured, imported, or reupholstered on or after that date.

As a reupholsterer, how do I ensure compliance when our customer brings their own fabric? I don’t know what it’s made of or if it meets the requirements.

The easiest way to comply with 16 CFR part 1640 is to find a barrier material that meets the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements and install it between the cover fabric and the filling material. If your other components fail the testing requirements (or aren’t tested at all), your upholstered piece can still be compliant with 16 CFR part 1640 provided that you have an appropriately-installed barrier layer that passes.

How about my current inventory? Can I use up the materials I have in stock, even if they are not compliant with the new law (or if I don’t know if they are compliant)?

The upholstered furniture flammability standard (16 CFR part 1640) became effective on June 25, 2021. All upholstered pieces must be compliant with the new law after this date.

The easiest way to comply with 16 CFR part 1640 is to find a barrier material that meets the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements and install it between the cover fabric and the filling material. If your other components fail the testing requirements (or aren’t tested at all), your upholstered piece can still be compliant with 16 CFR part 1640 provided that you have an appropriately-installed barrier layer that passes.

As a reupholsterer, do I need to keep any records in order to prove compliance? Will I ever be audited?

The label that you install on the upholstered piece is the certification that the piece complies with 16 CFR part 1640.

The label must read: “Complies with U.S. CPSC requirements for upholstered furniture flammability” and it must be affixed to the furniture in a place that is conspicuous and permanent. See the CPSC’s FAQ page for more information about labeling requirements.

Your supplier should provide you with copies of the results from their testing or their reasonable testing program, along with a written copy of their reasonable testing program for your records. If they did not test the material, ask them to get a copy from their supplier. If their products are untested, encourage them to submit their materials to an approved lab for testing.

For individual components, the CPSC recommends that you keep any documentation showing compliance with CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements for as long as you use those components in your workroom.

The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) gives CPSC Investigators the authority to conduct inspections to ensure compliance. For more information about this process, please see the FAQs for business contacted by a CPSC investigator.

I use non-traditional textiles in upholstery like mud cloth, grain sacks, etc. Can I use a barrier fabric that meets the flammability code and still be able to use these non-traditional textiles?

The easiest way to comply with 16 CFR part 1640 is to find a barrier material that meets the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements and install it between the cover fabric and the filling material. If your other components fail the testing requirements (or aren’t tested at all), your upholstered piece can still be compliant with 16 CFR part 1640 provided that you have an appropriately-installed barrier layer that passes.

It is possible to find a barrier layer made of all-natural materials, though you may need to do your research. For example, wool is a naturally flame-resistant material, as are some tightly woven twill fabrics of appropriate weight and thickness. In order to meet the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements, materials must be lab tested, so talk to your vendor to ensure that the natural barrier you want to use has been tested.

Is Dacron an acceptable barrier if my top fabric and/or materials are not compliant? If so, how thick does the Dacron need to be in order to be compliant? 

In order to meet the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements, materials must be lab tested, therefore compliance will depend on the specific product. Ask your vendor if they sell any Dacron products that have been tested to comply with CA TB 117-2013.

What materials are adequate barriers?

In order to meet the CA TB 117-2013 flammability requirements, materials must be lab tested, therefore compliance will depend on the specific product. Ask your vendor if they sell any barrier layers that have been tested to comply with CA TB 117-2013.

Does a compliant barrier need to cover all sides or just the top?

If the cushion/filling materials are attached to the furniture, then the compliant barrier, installed between the cover fabric and the filling material, needs to cover the sides and the surface/top.

If the cushion is detachable or reversible, then the compliant barrier, installed between the cover fabric and the filling material, needs to cover ALL sides of the cushion, including top, bottom, and sides. In this instance, the decking must also comply with testing requirements.

I’ve heard I need to label all reupholstered furniture. Do I need the full label with the California TB-117-2013 language, or can I use a smaller label?

If your state or municipality has its own labeling requirements, then be sure to follow them. 

If you are already including a label, for example a CA TB 117-2013 label, then you may either combine the 16 CFR part 1640 statement with that label, or affix a separate label.

If neither your state or municipality has a labeling requirement, then you may use the “short” label with the 16 CFR part 1640 statement “Complies with U.S. CPSC requirements for upholstered furniture flammability." Labels must be conspicuous and permanently attached to the upholstered piece.

Do loose cushions need to be compliant with this new law? How about a detached cushion that sits on a banquette?

If the cushion meets the definition of upholstered furniture in 16 CFR part 1640 section 3e, then the regulation applies. Loose indoor seating such as banquette cushions likely fall under the regulation. 

If you are unsure whether your application applies to the law, you are encouraged to reach out to the CPSC’s Small Business Ombudsman at SBO@cpsc.gov for direction. Be sure to include a description of your product and its use, as well as photos, if available.

Do decorative throw pillows (purchased separately from the upholstered piece) need to be compliant?

If a decorative throw pillow is sold separately and is not intended for use as seating, then it would not be covered under 16 CFR part 1640.

However, a pillow with primary use as seating, such as a floor pillow, would be covered under 16 CFR part 1640 and thus should follow the outlined certification and labeling requirement.

If you are unsure whether your application applies to the law, you are encouraged to reach out to the CPSC’s Small Business Ombudsman at SBO@cpsc.gov for direction. Be sure to include a description of your product and its use, as well as photos, if available.

Is boat upholstery (including covers and interiors) included in this new law?

Certain upholstered items on a boat may be covered under 16 CFR part 1640; others may not.

Protective covers that go over furniture does not meet the definition of upholstered furniture in 16 CFR part 1640 section 3e and therefore would not be covered under this regulation

Upholstered furniture or seat cushions on the interior of a boat may be covered by 16 CFR part 1640, or it may be under the Coast Guard’s jurisdiction. It depends.

If you are unsure whether your application applies to the law, you are encouraged to reach out to the CPSC’s Small Business Ombudsman at SBO@cpsc.gov for direction. Be sure to include a description of your product and its use, as well as photos, if available.


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