We cover our windows and glazing systems for a number of reasons. Light control, privacy and thermal protection are the three crucial factors that must be considered when determining if a fabric is suitable for your application. Specific requirements will vary depending on the room location, geographical climate and also the façade aspect.
When selecting what fabric to use on your furnishings, it's important to ensure your chosen fabric is going to achieve the desired results for which you intend it. It's advisable to seek professional advice from a company like ours or an interior designer familiar with available fabrics in the marketplace and their solar shading coefficients.
It's also important to ensure your furnishings meet your design intent without compromising on performance.
This article is intended to give you some guidance as to what to consider when selecting fabrics for your furnishings. Of course, please feel free to contact us should you require any further advice.
Before you start looking at colours, you'll need to firstly determine what type of fabric you will be using in the location. Fabrics for most window furnishings are available in three different densities. Screen, translucent and blockout.
Screen fabrics are great at performing. They are available in differing openness factors which determine the amount of solar protection they provide. The most common openness factor of 5% keeps out 90-95% of UV and up to 60% of heat (when applied internally) depending on your colour choice.
In most cases, screen fabrics are manufactured with a mixture of PVC, polyester and glass fibre. This composition makes them relatively easy to clean and highly durable. There are also plenty of non PVC screens available which are manufactured using polyester, recycled plastics and even bamboo!
Although screen fabrics appear transparent they are also excellent at providing thermal insulation keeping the heat out during summer and retaining it in winter.
Screen fabrics will not provide privacy of an evening. Generally, if you can see through it during the day when the light levels are higher outside, the same situation will reverse of an evening when it is dark outside and you have your lights on inside. Because of this, the most common applications for screen fabrics are living rooms or any areas where privacy is not a concern.
As there are many advantages to using screen fabrics during the day, it is not uncommon to apply two layers of furnishings allowing you to pull down a blockout layer of an evening to provide you with the privacy you are not getting from the screen fabric. This can be achieved most neatly by utilising a double roller blind setup. Alternatively, you could add a curtain to the room to achieve your preferred properties.
When choosing colours, be aware that although you are selecting from the same range with the same openness factor, darker colours are much easier to see through as they have a lower VLT (Visible Light Transmission). This relates to the amount of light entering through the fabric and in turn the amount of glare produced.
Although a darker colour will provide you with the best transparency allowing you to maintain your views, the trade off is that it will draw more heat into the room as opposed to a lighter colour like white. If heat is a major concern in the area of consideration, we can combat this issue by providing a screen fabric with an aluminium backing.
The aluminium backing can achieve an SR (solar reflectance) of up to 86% which will greatly reduce the heat in comparison to a 6% SR which is more likely the percentage of solar reflectance when using a standard dark screen fabric.
Translucent fabrics are both versatile and sophisticated, providing you with privacy whilst not completely darkening the room. They provide you with solar protection, glare reduction, thermal protection and a degree of privacy. The degree of privacy will vary depending on a number of factors including colour selection. This range is ideal for any instance where privacy is required yet room darkening is not, bathrooms are a prime example of this.
Depending on lighting in the room, you may see shadows of an evening so a further review would be required when considering this product for bedrooms or any area where full privacy is of concern.
Manufactured in most cases with 100% polyester, these fabrics are a little more delicate than the PVC coated screens but also soften the room creating a more homely feel.
Translucent fabrics can often be more versatile and in some instances you can use the same fabric for both roller blinds and soft furnishings, allowing you to maintain uniformity across different types of products.
Translucent fabrics are available in numerous different weights which affect the light transmission. They are also available in a much larger colour range than most screen fabrics.
When using translucent fabrics on particular products that have overlapping components such as the Silent Gliss Vertical Wave, the overlapping layers create varying degrees of transparency with an almost mesmerising effect.
Lastly, blockout fabrics are the highest form of defence on all fronts. They provide room darkening (complete in some instances depending on chosen product), the highest protection from solar energy, thermal insulation and of course privacy.
In most cases, they are manufactured using polyester with an acrylic foam backing. This backing is generally white in colour providing the highest solar reflectance however are available with dark backings when you are not wanting to compromise a dark façade from an external view.
Although complete block out fabrics do not allow light to penetrate through the fabric itself, it's important to realise that in most cases there will be some light seepage into the room. Roller blinds for instance have a distance of between 15-30mm from the outer edge of the bracket to the start of the cloth. This is required to allow for chain housings and motor heads.
To achieve complete room darkening, you would need to combine a blockout fabric with a particular product. We offer side channels and head boxes as an optional extra on our roller blind systems which eliminate the light leakage you get from a standard roller blind. This is ideal for any instance where complete room darkening is required, such as home theatres, laboratories and your teenage son's bedroom. Another option to achieve complete room darkening would be a floor-ceiling curtain.
For further information on fabric selection or if you require assistance on you project, please contact us.