With the rise of professional window cleaning early in the last century, scrim, along with ladders, chamois leather and a bucket, became the staple of traditional window cleaning. With its soft woven texture, excellent absorption and smear free benefits, scrim has continued to be extremely popular in the UK and across Europe holding its market share against modern microfibers. In the US and Australia, the preferred cloth is the recycled cotton surgical towel or ‘Huck’.
But what of the history of scrim and what other uses has it had?
Scrim is a lightly woven, natural textile that can be made from cotton flax or jute, which when washed to remove the natural oils, becomes a soft absorbent cleaning cloth. But its earliest use in the 17th century, was as a reinforcing material. It was stretched over and glued to, internal wall boards providing a stable and rigid base for wallpaper. This process was known as ‘scrim & sarking’.
More recently, scrim has continued to be used in construction. To prevent cracking, scrim tape is pasted over joints in plaster board/wall board prior to plastering.
In book binding scrim is glued over the sewing tapes on the spine of the book to provide a smooth level surface and for added strength.
One of the most popular uses of scrim is in the theatre. As scrim will both absorb and reflect light, a variety of special effects can be created by lighting the scrim in different ways. The scrim will appear almost transparent if the scene behind it is lit. But if lit from the front, scrim appears opaque, dulling the scene and creating a greater depth of field. Scrim is also used to diffuse the light in film and television lamps.
During WWII scrim tape was applied to shop windows as a protection against flying glass. Camouflage scrim (overpainted with green and brown swirls) was issued to troops in 1942 as a means of concealment with camouflage scarves and face veils effectively allowing a soldier to see out without revealing his face.
We supply two grades of scrim. Grade B or grade 2 scrim has a light translucent open weave, easily softened to provide a fine finishing cloth. The thicker and move heavily woven grade A or grade 1 scrim is longer lasting, has better water absorption but does require additional washing to achieve top performance.