Questions & Answers
Candid answers to your questions about furniture and design.
How is fabric durability measured?
Hi there, I'm Chris and I'm here to give you tips on finding the perfect piece of furniture for your home.
Alright, let's talk about fabric durability, specifically abrasion resistance of fabric. Your first experience with fabric abrasion was probably when you were like seven years old and you wore holes in the knees of your jeans by jumping and landing on them a lot. Your second with fabric abrasion possibly was when you were like 27 years old and paid somebody else about 300 dollars to wear those same holes in your jeans for you.
The fabric abrasion thing, may not seem like a big deal but it makes actually a huge difference in the durability of your furniture. When fabric comes into contact with anything else like you sitting on it it's gonna cause friction and stress on those fibers and over time they will start to break down. You're going to see things like pilling, balding, even holes appear. The more resistance the fabric is to that the longer it's going to stay looking new.
So, is there some sort of metric for measuring the abrasion resistance of fabric? No, there are two. The Wyzenbeek double-rub test, sounds vaguely dirty, and definitely silly but it's probably the most widely sided test. It consists of this mechanical finger thing rubbing back and forth on the piece of fabric until that fabric starts to show some sort of wear. The other test which is a little bit less common called Martindale, is the same thing basically. Only instead of going back and forth it goes in like this figure eight pattern.
Lets focus on Wyzenbeek, it's just a little bit more common. So a standard grade of upholstery fabric, something you might get a Pottery Barn or whatever. Starts at around 10,000 double rubs. Now what we would consider heavy duty kicks in around 30,000. Now heres where it gets kind of crazy though we now carry a whole bunch of performacne fabrics that are rated in excess of 100,000 double rubs. That's 10 times what a standard upholstry fabric would be. If you're looking for something that's going to stand up to your kids, your pets, adults who are irresponsible with furniture, this is it. It's also great for commercial environments.
If the fabric that you're looking at only shows a Martindale rating, instead of a Wyzenbeeker or both, just know that Martindale is usually about 30-40% lower in number wise. So just take that 100,000 number or 30,000 number and subtract a little bit. It'll give you a good idea.
Now the toughest fabrics, you might think would be natural fibers, but they are actually going to be the synthetics or synthetic blends. Acrylic fibers particularity good because it doesn't pill. Pilling if you haven't run across this is when the fabric gets a little wear on it and it twists those fibers into little balls that kinda collect on it. It's generally harmless, but it's kinda unsightly and a pain in the butt to take care of.
Now, another great type of fabric for durability is gonna be velvet. Because velvet is made a little bit differently. Instead of a woven pile, it's actually cut. So the fibers just kind of stand up. They just really don't wear out the same way and they're gonna be super super durable as a result.
Now, if for some reason, 100,000 double rubs is not enough for you. It's enough for you. We have faux leathers that's are up to 500,000 double rubs. And again, these are crazy numbers. I don't even know how they test this. I honestly think they just turn the machine on, go home overnight, come back the next day, and just say "call it good".
When shopping for fabrics for your furniture, look for a rub count number, if you don't see it, if you don't see it on our website, it's probably my fault because I forgot to add the number. Just call me and I'll tell ya. Now, it's definitely not the only factor to consider with fabric. Because you have to worry about stain resistance, and fade resistance, and all that other stuff. But this is a good starting point, to find that fabric, that's gonna make for a sofa that's gonna look great fore years.