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Considerations for Healthcare Upholstery Selections

There are a number of important considerations when selecting an upholstery for healthcare environments. While the requirements for an exam table may differ from seating in a waiting room, we believe there are some universal elements which need to be considered. The specifics of the end-use application will make some of the following considerations more relevant than others. As an example, selecting an upholstery for a treatment chair, which may require disinfecting between each patient, will weigh chemical resistance more important than considerations. OMNOVA has a full range of vinyl coated fabrics that can deliver on all of these important factors.   

  • Impermeable - providing a barrier against pathogenic fluids is a critical component in infection control. Textiles are not considered an impermeable barrier.
  • Durable - resistance to scuffs, scratches, and cracking is critical. This maintains the fluid barrier and ensures the material remains aesthetically appealing.
  • Soft To The Touch - in addition to being durable, the preferred healthcare upholstery material should be soft to the touch, providing comfort for patients and family alike. Soft polyurethane upholstery materials are not always a suitable choice because they lack sufficient durability.
  • Color Range - a versatile range of upholstery material colors is also important. Color plays a key role in reducing stress and anxiety and giving patients a sense of calmness and security.
  • Cleanable - because it affects hygienics, durability, and aesthetics, cleanability is of utmost importance. Choose a protective finish that is proven to resist stains and requires less effort in cleaning.
  • Minimal Or No Texture - surface texture can increase a coated fabric’s appeal and warmth, but deeply textured surfaces can be more challenging to clean and disinfect.
  • Resistance to Microbial Growth - selecting an upholstery material that offers good resistance to microbes such as mold and mildew serves to help maintain the integrity of the material. However, it should be noted that any upholstery material containing an antimicrobial additive is not offering a safeguard against contamination or claiming a health benefit.
  • Resistance to Damage from Disinfectants - the preferred healthcare upholstery will be compatible with the most commonly used disinfectants in healthcare settings. Excellent chemical resistance across a broad spectrum of disinfectants is important to maintain the integrity of the upholstery material.