Frequently Asked Questions
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From where do all of the ingredients come?
• The FSC Certified wood is solid kiln-dried maple from the U.S. Maple is a plentiful hardwood that is non-aromatic, or doesn’t have much of an odor and doesn’t develop one over time. It is not treated with anything.
• The cushion cores are natural rubber. Natural rubber is a renewable resource. It is the milk or sap tapped from the Hevea Brasiliensis – the common rubber tree, grown mainly on Malaysian, Sri Lankan and Indian plantations, especially selected for their high quality product. We currently use rubber from Sri Lanka for our cushions.
• The eco wool is from California and is of the highest quality and cleanest wool available. It is naturally almost white in color. The sheep are raised in an open mountainous setting.
• The certified organic cotton is certified by The Texas Department of Agriculture and is grown in the state of Texas. Why organic? No pesticides. No herbicides. No fertilizers. No defoliants.
• All of the no VOC stains are from the U.S. We use AFM Safecoat as our primary brand, but we are also open to using Bioshield.
• The glues are non-toxic water-based glues.
• The certified organic cotton barriercloth fabric is woven in the United States from Texas certified cotton.
• All of the cover fabrics are made from natural fibers that are certified as organic (cottons), naturally organic (hemps), Oeketex certified (wools) or rapidly renewable fibers (bamboos and hemps). Our certified organic cotton fabrics are woven in the U.S. Our hemps are woven in Romania and China since the U.S. has regulations that restrict hemp processing. Our certified wools are from South America and some of the hemp/bamboo blends are woven in China.
Why natural rubber?
It is an extremely durable elastic material characterized by its ability to retain its shape and original firmness. Because the product is manufactured where the sap is harvested, we are helping to sustain the local economy and provide jobs without depleting the natural resources of the country of origin. Natural rubber is mold, mildew and dust mite resistant. Rubber producing plants grow best within 10 degrees of the Equator, where the climate is hot and moist, and the soil is deep and rich. For this reason, the area of about 700 miles on each side of the Equator is known as the "Rubber Belt."
Natural latex, for example, does not depress, form body impressions, or rut over time, because of its high elasticity quality, its open celled structure, and its stability. Urethane or oil based foams eventually turn yellow, become brittle, and begin to bucket or rut, even very early on.
Natural latex, made using the Dunlop method, is rinse processed after the vulcanization process is complete, (vulcanization is the “slow cooking” process which turns the raw liquid latex into a solid) utilizes pure, drinkable quality water, which removes proteins and other dusty residuals which eliminate allergens. Therefore, people who have latex allergies can safely enjoy the comfort of a natural latex. Latex allergies also develop from direct contact to skin over long periods of time.
What is Dunlop versus Natural Talalay Latex?
There’s a lot of confusion about what Dunlop and Talalay mean. They are neither types of latex nor types of rubber trees, but types of processing. Dunlop is a process that’s been around since 1929 and involves the traditional manufacturing method. Talalay is the name of a newer process. Here’s how they differ.
When Dunlop latex is made, the serum is frothed in a centrifuge, poured into a mold, covered and baked at a low temperature. The natural sediments in the latex settle to the bottom of the mold, which yields a layer that is slightly firmer on the bottom side.
In the Talalay process, after the latex is poured, the mold is sealed and air is vacuumed out. Then the mold is flash-frozen to stabilize the material. This produces a more consistent cell structure, as some of the weaker air bubbles are vacuumed out. Due to the added steps, Talalay latex is more expensive than Dunlop. Latex International is the major company that manufactures and distributes Natural Talalay in the United States. .
Which is better?
Having worked with both Dunlop and Talalay latex, we can say with confidence that neither is superior to the other. What matters more is how it is handled out of the mold, how it is packaged, shipped, and ultimately, what is in the end product.
What other variables are there? Some companies add “fillers” such as clay to make the latex go further. Ammonia is often added in the Talalay process. Companies selling Natural Talalay say it’s superior and more pure than Natural Dunlop, and vice versa. Both materials make a great mattress or cushion core and are extremely pure relative to most commercial mattresses. More marketing money has gone into the promotion of the Talalay method since its one producer, Latex International, is here in the U.S.
The key is to continually obtain independent lab test results showing the purity of the product and its VOC emissions. If a company cannot provide you with that then caution is on order.
While it is true that Talalay has a wider range of ILDs, or firmness grades, in our experience Dunlop is heavier and more durable. Another downside to the Talalay is that the CO2 used in Talalay processing is very harmful to the environment as it off-gasses.
Natural or synthetic blend?
In the Talalay process, synthetic chemicals are usually added to make Talalay latex, but not always. It is possible to make natural Talalay, synthetic Talalay, natural Dunlop, and synthetic Dunlop. Unfortunately, there is no law that prohibits manufacturers from saying their products contain “natural” latex—even if in actuality that’s only the 20% in an 80%-20% blend, for example.
We use only natural Dunlop rubber/latex. We are comfortable with this for two reasons. First, this process has not changed since 1929, and the harmful chemicals available today were not available then. Second, since our natural latex is from an area in the rubber belt, close to the equator, we know that is of the highest quality available.
What are the Benefits of Wool?
• Wool harmonizes with the body’s temperature changes ~ warms you without overheating and keeps you cool and comfortable in the heat of the summer
• Wool is fast drying and completely mildew resistant ~ keeps you dry and comfortable, not clammy
• Wool is mold and dust mite resistant
• Wool is naturally resilient, providing relief to pressure points
• Wool is naturally flame resistant ~ safe for the family
• Wool Is ecologically and domestically grown
• Wool helps to reduce the heart rate while you sleep
• Wool batting is superior to most other fibers for individuals with allergies and sensitivities
• Wool helps to relieve everyday back pains and arthritic symptoms
• Wool is biodegradable (unlike synthetic fibers)
• Wool is the greatest insulator ~ it has been used for thousands of years in the walls of homes, as clothing, as rugs and as bedding.
What are the benefits of organic cotton?
• No synthetic pesticides
• No synthetic herbicides
• No preservatives or additives
• No Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s or GE)
• No Irradiation
• Better for the environment and its workers
Why AFM Safecoat stains over all of the others on the market?
We generally do not like to speak directly about other specific brands, but every big paint company has a "zero voc" paint they tout as "environmental", and they are essentially all the same. There are a few simple points worth noting:
Zero voc does not mean zero emissions, or even zero voc. This is because the government allows the use of many chemicals which are actually voc's (technical definition of a volatile organic compound is simply the presence of a carbon atom in the chain), but which do not cause smog. These are called "exempt compounds" - they are voc's which do not count against the manufacturer as voc's, allowing the product to be marketed as "zero" voc. Note that government regulation of voc is not concerned with toxicity or health; it is based simply on the fact that some voc's react with nitrous oxides and ultra violet light to form low level ozone, or smog. If the voc's don't participate in this reaction, the government doesn't really care if they are toxic or not, and so they can be exempted from the voc calculation.
How does AFM's Safecoat line compare to other popular brands?
Even though the popular brand was marketed as zero voc, or close thereto, it actually registered very high levels of emissions (in this case 246 grams per liter, 2.05 pounds per gallon), because the tests did not screen for exempt compounds. The Safecoat paint registered a true zero.
It is not enough simply to take regular paint and remove the voc so you can have a product that can be marketed as environmental. To make a paint that works from a health and reduced toxicity standpoint, you have to build it from the ground up. This is what AFM has been doing for over 20 years.
All AFM Safecoats material safety data sheets are posted on its website.
Why don’t you use recycled polyester batting and fabrics?
Quite simply, our primary goal is to produce furniture that is more healthful for humans and the environment. Polyester is a petroleum-based fiber. Petroleum off-gasses and is scarce natural resource.
Does your furniture have flame retardants?
We use no chemical flame retardants. We use wool, which is naturally flame retardant to meet all federal and state requirements for flame retardancy of residential furniture.
If I am allergic to wool, can you substitute it with organic cotton batting?
Yes we can if you supply a doctor’s prescription showing that no wool can be used for medical reasons. We need this because we are then producing a piece that does not comply with federal and state flame retardancy standards for residential upholstered furniture. This absolves us from liability.
Does the upholstered furniture come with any warranties?
The pieces come with a 25 year frame warranty and 10 year natural rubber cushion filler warranty.
Do all of the fabrics meet durability standards for frequent use?
Yes, all of the fabrics that we use in our collections are tested for overall durability and rate as heavy duty for residential usage. Some rate as heavy duty for Contract usage as well (all wools and some cottons and hemps)
How are the fabrics cleaned?
Obviously, dry cleaning the fabrics or cushion covers using conventional solvents defeats the purpose of using non-toxic, untreated fabrics. Conventional steam cleaning of cushions is the best method. Spot cleaning specific areas with baking soda and water is highly effective.
Is this furniture able to be returned?
All pieces are custom hand made pieces that are commissioned for the individual client. We assume all responsibility for any pieces that are damaged in transit or defective for some reason and will repair or replace such pieces. Unfortunately, we do not accept returns of pieces if they have no inherent problems and just do not look right in a room. We always work with clients to satisfy them in terms of comfort.
What is the lead time to produce the furniture?
Ten weeks is the standard lead time. If it is shortened or lengthened, we will notify you. It will also be on the order confirmation. We are working to shorten the length of the lead time.
What happens if I am allergic to any ingredient?
We always recommend for people who have multiple sensitivities that they request and test each individual ingredient prior to placing an order, which we will gladly supply.
Can I customize the pieces?
Aside from fabric and stain finish choice, customizations are sometimes available. Give us your request and we will assess the feasibility and cost of it and determine the upcharge, if any, for doing so.