Is the drapery in your theatre starting to look dingy or dirty?  Are you concerned that the drapes may no longer be flame retardant? Are you confused as to whether to repair, replace, or re-treat your drapes? Here are a few quick tricks……… tricks of the “drapery-trade” that is.

In order to make the best decision regarding your drapery maintenance, there are a few questions you need to answer…..

1) Gather together all the dimensions of the various items, including whether or not they are flat or pleated with fullness.

2) What type of textile is it? Cotton, Polyester or Nylon?

3) Are the drapes dirty – do they need washing?

4) When were the drapes made? Are they over a year old?

SO – what does all that mean – and why does it matter?

1) Gather together all the dimensions of the various items, including whether or not they are flat or pleated with fullness.

Here is a great place to start! Get a quote to replace your drapes. This will come in handy as you begin looking at the bigger picture of repairing, washing, re-flameproofing or replacing. Supply all the required info in order to get a real “apples to apples” comparison for replacement costs. Consider all the costs, such as shipping and taxes that might be applicable – that is your ground zero as a price point comparison.

2) What type of textile is it? Cotton, Polyester or Nylon?

Cottons can fade – so doing a repair, a wash or a retreat of FR can be problematic.  If you need to replace or patch large areas of drape, you will more than likely see the color variance with a cotton.

Polyester washes well, doesn’t fade and is fairly easy to re-treat, dries nicely and doesn’t spot too much. Poly textiles are good candidates for repairing and retreating. Many of the poly weaves and velours make super durable draperies and some are even Inherently Flame Retardant.

Beware of Nylon drapes – while they may have been treated initially, if they are washed the topical treatment will be immediately stripped. Many nylons can’t be effectively treated. Often with a nylon you might find you have to trash it and start over.

3) Are the drapes dirty – do they need washing?

Spot cleaning can be viable sometimes – but be cautious, as many cleaning products are flammable and will impact the flame retardancy. Overall washing is only viable for polyesters – as cottons will shrink drastically and won’t fit in height or width upon return to you. As mentioned earlier, nylons are usually a no go for washing as you can’t effectively re-spray them for FR.

Bear in mind – once you wash a drape ($), you usually will then have to retreat it for flame retardancy as well ($$). With our rental inventory, we usually only wash white drapes that are poly and made of IFR materials – so that we know for the most part they will need only washing and won’t need to be retreated. We test ALL items after washing to make sure they pass the FR requirements. You should do the same thing, too!

Ask the supplier for a quote to include washing, flameproofing as applicable and also any taxes or service fees for pick ups and return of your drapes. Be sure to get a firm time frame too.

4) When were the drapes made? Are they over a year old?

Most venues or Fire Marshals are looking for certificates that are dated within the last 12 months – so even with an “Inherently Fire Retardant” fabric that is hypothetically flame retardant for the life of the fabric – they may still be looking for an up to date certificate. SO – if your drapes are old – you might want to get a quote for testing (a NFPA705 field test) and from there you can decide, based on whether they pass or fail, whether you want to pay to retreat them or not. Heads up – it can cost AS MUCH to retreat certain items as to replace them!

The FR treatment facility will need to know specific information on the drapery– sizes, fullness, number of pieces and fabric content, as well as your time frame. Beware of rush fees.  As you have to have “drying time” when items are being sprayed topically, it’s hard to retreat “quickly”.

Last but not least – compare costs and finished product with your available time frame and budget. Much like patching a pair of jeans – repairing tears and holes in drapes can leave you looking a little bit scrappy – so just be sure you are going to be happy with the finished product.