Ultimately, we spend a good bit of our lives surrounded in fabric, sitting on fabric and touching fabric. It is a standard feature of our lives and as such, it can be put through quite a lot. While certain fabrics come with a durable design, they are still susceptible to stains and odors. Just go take a sniff of your dog’s bed and you will see what I mean. Often times, these stains go beyond simply being visually unappealing and actually harbor germs, bacteria and even bugs.
Full Disclaimer: We are an office furniture dealer and sell some of the products we review. To learn more about the products we sell, our review process and why you can trust us, please visit: Why we’re different. Who is BTOD.com and The Breakroom Blog?
While this does present a certain gross-out factor if you start thinking too hard about your microscopic neighbors, it can also cause health complications, especially in areas like hospital waiting rooms and busy offices. In order to prevent stains and create a more sterile environment for those why may be sensitive to allergens and bacteria, engineers went to work trying to create more resilient textiles that wouldn’t sacrifice too much when it came to offering soft comfort and good looks.
As a result, today’s consumers can choose between healthcare grade vinyl and Crypton upholstery, which both offer a range of safety and health benefits. Both these products come with antimicrobial compounds, germicides and stain-resistant properties. To learn which option is best for new medical office waiting room chairs, keep reading.
What is Crypton?
Based on the name, it should come as no surprise that Crypton is often referred to as a super fabric. This product was developed in 1993 by two brothers, Craig and Randy Rubin, from Michigan. Since those first prototypes, the fabric has seen continued improvements and over 150 million yards of the product have been manufactured and used to upholster furniture and create drapes and pillow for hospitals, residences and even American’s most famous residence, the White House.
How is Crypton Fabric Made?
Unlike other protective fabric coatings that are applied after a ream of fabric is woven, each thread that is used in the manufacturing of a Crypton fabric is individually covered in their special, patented formula. The coating includes a variety of specially mixed materials. The current composition has been perfected over the years and includes water-based antimicrobial and fluorochemical agents that fight bacteria and create a water and stain resistant surface.
In addition, UV stabilizers and flame retardant materials are also added to the mixture to ensure that the fabric color doesn’t fade and provides extra protection against fire. Other resins and thickeners also work to create an even distribution of color and strengthen the final product.
Is Crypton Safe and Sustainble?
One of the big benefits of Crypton is that is doesn’t use any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are commonly used in the manufacturing process. These chemicals can cause a variety of health symptoms that range from eye, nose and through irritation, to kidney and liver damage. Products that are manufactured using these chemicals actually emit VOCs into the air. An entire hospital full of waiting room furniture that is emitting VOCs can be enough to create poor indoor air quality and negatively affect an already vulnerable portion of the population.
Recently, there has been more of a push by consumers and oversight agencies to remove these chemicals from the manufacturing process. You can look for products that are labeled as low or no VOCs. The good news is that Crypton super fabrics have never contained VOCs and will not emit any chemicals into the air.
Crypton Green Product Line
The Crypton company is also making an effort to ensure that their products are both environmentally and people friendly. By creating a long-lasting product, they are already preventing furniture from requiring frequent replacement and ending up in the landfill. They are also conscious about the chemicals they use and they make an effort to incorporate recycled materials and threads into their production process. When you purchase Crypton fabric and furniture that is upholstered using this material, you can feel good about where your money is going.
Pros and Cons of Crypton Fabric
This super fabric comes with a variety of other advantages that has helped it become a popular choice for a wide range of applications.
- Water resistant: Crypton fabric is unique in that is creates a water-resistant surface that also allows air to pass through and provide proper ventilation. Each thread is coated with this protective covering, so that the entire surface will not breakdown over time or due to frequent use.
- Stain resistant: In most cases, if there is a spill, you can simply wipe away any moisture and the antimicrobial properties of the fabric will go to work. If you need to really scrub the surface with soap and water, you can do so without worrying about water penetrating the cushion and causing mold and bacteria.
- Microbe resistant: The chemicals used in the manufacturing process will prevent bacteria from spreading. This is just one reason why it is a popular choice in offices, hospital and other areas that experience a large amount of traffic.
- 5-Year Warranty: The moisture barrier associated with Crypton comes with a five-year guarantee.
- Superior look and feel: Crypton fabrics have the look and feel of cotton, velvet or any other fabric you might like to incorporate into your design. It is just as soft, colorful and attractive as any other material on the market. You can enjoy protection and durability without having to put up with furniture that has a plastic feel.
- Not green: If you want a truly “green” materials, Crypton does contain chemicals that you may not want to be exposed to.
- More expensive: Compared to vinyl options that provide many of the same stain-resistant and anti-microbial properties, Crypton is significantly more expensive.
What is Healthcare Grade Vinyl?
Vinyl was actually created by accident during a series of experiments designed to create an adhesive product that would provide a stronger bond between metal and rubber. By combining a variety of chemicals, Waldo Semon ending up with polyvinyl chloride, which we know by its more common name, PVC. From 1926 to the 1990s, vinyl was used as a less expensive alternative to cloth coverings. During the 1990s, manufacturers added other chemicals to improve the antimicrobial and flame-retardant properties of the material and create a healthcare grade vinyl.
Over time, vinyl and other synthetic fabrics became more stylish and offered clear performance advantages that made them a cost-effective option. Today, the healthcare community is beginning to question the safety of many of these fabrics because there has been so little testing done on the long-term effects of human exposure to the over 80,000 chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process. That being said, not all vinyl products are manufactured the same and the material does offer a host of benefits that make it an attractive option.
Pros and Cons of Healthcare Grade Vinyl
- Easy to clean: Unlike cotton or leather upholstery fabrics, vinyl can be easily wiped clean and you don’t have to worry about having to purchase special cleaning products. Even simple soap and water is enough to clean up spills and remove dirt.
- Vinyl materials are built to last: As long as they aren’t exposed to too much heat and become dry, the material will remain supple and continue to provide a strong, stain-resistant surface.
- Cost-effective: Vinyl is an affordable option, especially if you need to purchase dozens of pieces of office furniture or equip a busy hospital waiting room with enough chairs.
- Fortified germs and microbes: Today’s vinyl materials contain germicides and anti-microbial chemicals that prevent the build-up of potentially harmful mold and bacteria. Unlike cotton and other natural fabrics that tend to absorb moisture and created a breeding ground for moisture and germs, vinyl provides a sanitary surface.
- Increasing sustainability: While the level of sustainability varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, there is a clear trend among vinyl textile companies to create better products, reduce the use of natural resources and prevent any harmful byproducts from entering the environment.
- Aesthetics: today’s designers are more conscious of the connotations that vinyl fabrics can convey to visitors. Vinyl as the tendency to create an institutional feel that doesn’t do much to put people at ease. There are simply more comforting and comfortable options that can be used.
- Chemical emissions: Traditional PVC based vinyl materials are regarded as the least desirable and most toxic. Other plastics that have been developed over the years and have been used in upholstery are less toxic, but still may emit harmful chemicals and there is much that scientists still don’t know about the effects of long-term exposure to certain chemicals.
- Difficult to repair: If your vinyl furniture does experience a tear, a patch will need to be applied in order to prevent further damage. There is no way to hide the patch or make it blend into the existing upholstery. This may not provide the most attractive solution.
- Poor ventilation: Vinyl isn’t as porous as other materials, which means that it can feel stiff and tend to stick to bare skin.
When it comes down to it, the decision between Crypton fabric and vinyl often comes down to cost and concerns over chemicals. Some argue that vinyl has been safely used for decades and offers far more health benefits than disadvantages. Based on evidence, this is certainly a valid perspective, which means that for many, the choice comes down to budget. Crypton is a great product, but it is also significantly more expensive than vinyl. There is no obvious choice. Consumers must weigh the pros and cons for themselves.