It’s easy when starting a new upholstery project to be swayed by the prints and the colours of the fabrics on offer. But it’s important to take a few more practical points into consideration. Arguably the most important factor to consider is the uses for the fabric: will it be used for occasional decorative purposes or do you need something more hardwearing that will be used frequently?
Based on the intended use you can use the Martindale rub test scale to determine the best fabric for your upholstery project.
A Martindale rub test, in layman’s terms, is the process of finding out the durability of fabric by testing for abrasion resistance. This is most commonly known as a rub test. Many people think the durability of a fabric is determined by weight. Therefore, they assume that heavier weight fabrics are the most durable options for upholstery; but this is not the case! Be sure to use the rub test for upholstery projects to ensure that you are using the optimal fabrics.
HOW DOES THE RUB TEST WORK?
The upholstery fabric rub test begins by loading the selected fabric onto the lower plates of the Martindale fabric strength testing machine and pulling taut. The machine then rubs two small discs of worsted wool or wire mesh against the fabric in a circular motion.
Throughout the test, the fabric is inspected continually for signs of wear and tear. The fabric durability test ends when there are noticeable signs of distress. The number of times the discs oscillate before the fabric tears is the rub score.
WHAT DO THE RUB TEST SCORES MEAN?
No matter what level you are at with upholstery, the Martindale test results are simple enough to understand. They are given as rub counts of 1000’s: the higher the score, the higher the strength of the fabric. Refer to the rub test score breakdown below to determine the count you should look for when it comes to your upholstery project.
Decorative - Less than 10,000 rubs
Fabrics with a rub count of under 10,000 are recommended for decorative uses only. For instance, cushions or accents may be better suited for something delicate such as silk fabric. You should look to avoid this rub count for heavily used furniture as it is prone to wear and tear.
Light Domestic - 10,000 - 15,000 rubs
You should look for this rub count when it comes to furniture that is only occasionally used or for a short period of time. This could include bedroom furniture or dining room chairs.
General Domestic - 15,000 - 25,000 rubs
This rub count is suitable for domestic use upholstery i.e furniture in the home that is used every day like curtains or bed linens. For instance, wool fabric would be suitable here but not for heavy-duty furniture with a fixed back.
Heavy Domestic - 25,000 - 30,000 rubs
Opt for something hard-wearing like woven fabric when it comes to domestic furniture intended for heavy use or for light commercial use. This rub count is also suitable for motion furniture like recliners.
Commercial Grade - 30,000+ rubs
This is suitable for commercial use upholstery. This includes any furniture in a public building that gets a lot of usage. It is always best to choose a fabric with this rub score when it comes to heavy duty upholstery projects to ensure maximum longevity.
If you are unsure of what rub count is best for your upholstery project, you can generally find the answer in the product description. Not all of our upholstery fabrics have the rubbing test for fabric count in the description. If you’re unsure about the durability, please get in touch with our expert team.
All of our upholstery fabrics can be found on our online shop and our team are always on hand to help! Don’t hesitate to contact us at the-millshop-online.