A Note About Fabric Durability…

I was able to catch up on about 10 pages of fun posts over at Apartment Therapy this weekend, when I scrolled and clicked on the most useful article! I thought I’d share with you this nugget of golden information by Stephanie Strickland. Her article, “Durable Beauty: What You Should Know About The Martindale & Wyzenbeek Fabric Rub Tests” is sure to come in handy to those shopping upholstery fabrics.

Fabric for blog

As some of you may know from patronizing a house of upholstery or being one of our customers, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a fabric for your piece. One of my most frequent talking points and cornerstones of consumer education has to do with the durability of upholstery fabrics. Questions I hear from 9 out of 10 clients are: “How long will this fabric last? What is the durability of this fabric? Is this textile suitable for my household with children, dogs, and cavalier adults? What is the fiber content, and does that factor into durability?”

Taking a peek at the back of a fabric sample is very enlightening! It can tell you the fiber content of the fabric, country of origin, cleaning codes, and in most cases will provide a durability rating in the form of a Martindale or Wyzenbeek durability rating. In a nutshell, there is a number related to a mechanical abrasion test on each fabric. The higher the number the more durable the fabric (Of course, this all depends on how you treat it! We haven’t found a cat or squirrel-proof fabric to date.).

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You’ll notice that the fabric above lists a 12,ooo double rub via the Wyzenbeek method. The fabric is a print on a linen/rayon blend. Fabrics that describe this idea (a print on a natural fiber ranging from 9,000 – 20,000 double rubs) are suitable for light to medium duty upholstery, and would work very well on pillows, bedding, or draperies. Low to medium impact residential applications are best for these types of textiles.

double rub blog

The velvet sample above lists a resistance to a whopping 100,000 double rubs! On durability alone, this strong cotton velvet wins. It can stand up to almost 8 times the traffic compared to the sample above! As a general rule of thumb, 45,000 double rubs and above describe a fabric that can withstand a lot of friction, and may even be suitable for commercial interiors. The challenge when shopping is to find the cloth with a great hand feel coupled with the look and design you’re after, as well as being cost effective. I say it daily: it’s like research in a library. Just more fun!

If yours is a household that requires some performance fabrics, your challenge will be finding a durable fabric that can stand up to the abuse! You may want to add another layer of stain and soil resistance to the mix, too. I think I’ll post another blog that addresses these issues alone. Come on in and and I’ll be happy to walk you through the options. Next time, we’ll discuss stains! Yipppeee!

Talk soon, y’all!

Interested in a little more information, check out Fabric: How to Pick it and Keep it Looking Great!