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What Are ACT Symbols and What Are They Useful For?

Posted by Guilford of Maine on July 31, 2015

As a designer or specifier, you've probably seen these symbols around while browsing textile websites, but do you know what they stand for and how can they make your job easier? Read on to find out.

The Association for Contract Textiles (ACT) Performance Guidelines help make the specification of woven textiles easier. The purpose of the symbols is to quickly and easily convey various performance information.  Basically, if you see the symbols, you know that they pass the tests associated with the symbol, and the fabric should perform well in a commercial interior setting.

ACT is a trade association comprised of companies who sell or produce textiles for commercial interiors. Textile manufacturers and distributors as well as furniture companies participate in using the ACT symbols, so regardless of whose textiles you are looking at, you see the same information, and you can feel confident that the upholstery, cubicle or panel fabric has been tested using the same methods. In order for a textile to display the below ACT symbols, it must pass the test(s) associated with it. If it doesn't pass, the symbol may not be used.


This symbol refers to abrasion which tests how well a fabric withstands rubbing against another fabric. When a fabric exceeds 30,000 Wyzenbeek double rubs, this symbol may be displayed in the specifications of a fabric. If the abrasion exceeds 15,000 double rubs, but is less than 30,000, a lower case "a" is used. Note that having more double rubs doesn't necessarily equal better performance.


Colorfastness to Light

Measures the materials degree of resistance to the fading effects of light. While there is no direct correlation between the test and actual use, it can give you confidence it won't fade unexpectedly fast.



The measurement of a fabric's performance when it's exposed to specific sources of ignition. This covers tests like California Tech Bulletin 117-2013 Section 1 for upholstery, ASTM E84 for panels and NFPA 701 for drapery.


Wet & Dry Crocking

This test measures the transfer of dye from the surface of a dyed or printed fabric onto another surface by rubbing. This test answers the question: If you are wearing white pants, will color of the chair you sit on rub off on to your pants?


Physical Properties

Covers multiple tests that assess the overall durability of a fabric depending on the fabric construction. Breaking Strength (how much force does it take to pull it apart), Pilling (If rubbed, do fuzzy balls form?), Seam Slippage (when sewn together, how much force does it take to pull apart?) and Tear (how much force to rip the fabric).



This symbol recognizes fabrics that meet the multi-attribute sustainability standard NSF/ANSI 336 and are third party certified. Once a fabric is deemed Compliant, it can be designated as Facts Silver, Gold or Platinum by earning points based on eight sustainability attributes. The eight sustainability attributes measured are fiber sourcing, safety of materials, water conservation, water quality, energy, air quality, recycling practices and social accountability.

Testing and performance guidelines can be a difficult and technical task to get your mind wrapped around, but hopefully the above information helps you. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!

To learn more about the ACT Performance Guidelines, and ACT itself, click here.


Topics: Upholstery Fabric Textiles 101 Testing