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Domestic mattresses and upholstered bed bases

Beds or mattresses need to pass ignition resistance tests before furniture makers and suppliers can sell them in the UK.

In the UK there are two pieces of legislation specifying flammability requirements that are demanded by UK law. Anyone wishing to sell beds or mattresses in the UK should be aware of these requirements, especially if products are sourced from outside the UK.


Both of these requirements must be satisfied:

There are a number of flammability tests for mattresses and bed bases which are specified in BS 7177:2008+A1:2011 – 'Specification for resistance to ignition of mattresses, mattress pads, divans and bed bases'. These test a product’s ignition resistance to smokers’ materials including cigarettes and matches. Products that require testing include mattresses, divans and bed bases.

To demonstrate the product is safe (and thereby satisfy the EU General Product Safety Directive) the complete construction should pass the Low Hazard rating of BS 7177:2008+A1:2011. Fillings must comply with the requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended).

Details of the tests – BS 7177:2008+A1:2011

Figure 1: The label design specified in BS 7177:2008+A1:2011

Ignition resistance tests are carried out using a standard smouldering cigarette and simulated match flame. The tests are described in EN 597:1994 – 'Furniture – Assessment of the ignitability of mattresses and upholstered bed bases', parts 1 and 2 respectively. Although there is later version, it is the 1994 version of EN 597 that is cited in BS 7177:2008+A1:2011.

All of these tests are carried out on a section of mattress/bed base that replicates the make-up of the unit and the surface properties such as tufting, quilt lines and tape edges. Testing involves placing the sources of ignition on all of these surface features. Both sides of a mattress should be tested, unless they are identical.

Fillings used in mattresses and bed bases must meet the same requirements as upholstered furniture. The actual requirements depend on whether it is a single filling or a composite filling.

Where there are single fillings in beds and mattresses these should pass the relevant ignition resistance tests in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended). Polyurethane foam block should meet Schedule 1 Part I. Polyurethane foam crumb should meet Schedule 1 Part II. Rubber latex foam should meet Schedule 1 Part III.

Composite fillings in beds and mattresses should either be tested so that every layer of filling meets the requirement for a single filling or the total composite meets Schedule 2 Part IV. Any foam within a composite filling must also meet the single foam filling requirement.

Table 1: Frequency of repeat tests specified in BS 7177:2008+A1:2011
Number of units produced per month Number of units tested
More than 2,400 1 per month
Between 400 and 2,400 1 per 2,400 units
Fewer than 400 1 every 6 months
Note: Full compliance with BS 7177:2008+A1:2011 at all levels involves labelling and repeat testing at set intervals during production.

Figure 2: Example of a display label for a headboard (left – front, right – reverse)


Beds and mattresses must be correctly labelled. The label content, format and design is specified in BS 7177:2008+A1:2011. The label should, therefore, look like the example in figure 1. Labels should be positioned so that they are easily seen.

Frequency of testing

BS 7177:2008+A1:2011 recommends repeat testing at suitable intervals. Table 1 provides guidance on frequency of testing.

Upholstered headboards, footboards and side rails

These should be regarded exactly the same as upholstered furniture and therefore the cover and the fillings should meet the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended).

​ Figure 3: Example of a permanent label on a headboard ​

Neither the fabric on the reverse side of a headboard nor the fabric on the inner face of side rails are regarded as a ‘non-visible part’ of the cover and must be tested as a ‘visible cover’.

Upholstered headboards, footboards and side rails must carry both the display label – 90mm x 90mm in size (figure 2) – and the permanent label (figure 3) specified in the regulations. These should be attached to each item rather than one label per set in order to maintain traceability of each material used.

How can we help?


Please click here for information on SATRA's furniture testing services. SATRA can test individual materials or complete items for compliance with the regulations. In addition, advice is available on labelling and if necessary a structured training package for furniture sales staff who wish to increase their knowledge of this topic. Email to discuss how SATRA can help your company.