Top 5 Q&A: Upholstery Fabrics 101

Upholstery fabrics are specifically designed to be used for furniture upholstery, providing durability, strength, and aesthetic appeal. Over the last little while I’ve been keeping track of the TOP FIVE questions I get asked about UPHOLSTERY FABRICS and without further ado, here they are…

The TOP 5 Questions I get asked about Upholstery Fabrics...

#5 Which makes an upholstery fabric different than other fabric?

#4 How can I tell if an Upholstery Fabric is a good quality and going to hold up?

#3 What are the most popular types and patterns of upholstery fabrics?

#2 What are some budget friendly options for Fabrics?

#1 Where can I buy Upholstery Fabrics if I’m not a designer with a wholesale account?

 

So today I’m going to answer the first 2 questions…

Which makes an upholstery fabric different than other fabric?

and

How can I tell if an Upholstery Fabric is a good quality and going to hold up?

Most Upholstery will be tested and given a “rub-rate”.  An upholstery fabric rub rate refers to a measure of the durability of a fabric used for upholstery. It indicates how well the fabric can withstand repeated rubbing or abrasion without showing signs of wear or damage.

 

The rub rate is typically determined through a standardized testing method known as the Wyzenbeekor Martindale test.

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WYZENBEEK & MARTINDALE TEST?

 

The Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests are two different methods used to measure the abrasion resistance of upholstery fabrics.

 

TESTING PROCEDURES

While they both assess the fabric's durability, there are some differences between them:

  1. Testing Procedure: The Wyzenbeek test involves rubbing a piece of cotton or wire mesh back and forth in a straight line over the fabric, while the Martindale test uses a circular rubbing motion with a piece of worsted wool or wire mesh.
  2. Test Equipment: The Wyzenbeek test typically employs a mechanical arm that moves the rubbing material in a linear motion, while the Martindale test utilizes a circular rubbing motion with a rotating circular plate.
  3. Units of Measurement: The Wyzenbeek test measures the fabric's durability in terms of double rub cycles, which refers to one back-and-forth motion. The Martindale test measures durability in terms of rub counts, which represent one complete circular motion.
  4. Regional Usage: The Wyzenbeek test is commonly used and referenced in the United States, while the Martindale test is more prevalent in Europe and other regions.

 

To break it down simply, during both tests, a piece of fabric is attached to a machine that moves it back and forth, or in circular rubbing motion. A specific type of abrasive material, such as cotton duck or fine wire mesh, is used to simulate the friction caused by everyday use. The test continues until the fabric shows noticeable signs of wear, such as thread breakage or visible surface damage and once it does the number is recorded and charted.

 

For example, if a fabric is Wyzenbeek rated at 30,000 double rubs, it means it was able to withstand 30,000 back-and-forth motions before showing wear.

 

The rub rate is expressed as a number and both the Wyzenbeek & Martindale testing systems have their own charting systems. Wyzenbeek is more commonly used in the US so let’s start with that one…

 

Wyzenbeek chart:

  • Light Duty: 6,000-9,000 double rubs
  • Fabrics in this range are suitable for decorative purposes or light use in areas with minimal traffic, such as formal living rooms or bedrooms.
  • Medium Duty: 9,000-15,000 double rubs
  • Fabrics in this range are suitable for everyday use in residential settings and can withstand moderate traffic, including areas like family rooms or dining areas.
  • Heavy Duty: 15,000-30,000 double rubs
  • Fabrics in this range are highly durable and suitable for high-traffic areas in residential spaces or commercial settings. They can withstand frequent use and are appropriate for spaces like offices, restaurants, or public seating areas.
  • Extra Heavy Duty: 30,000+ double rubs
  • Fabrics in this range are extremely durable and can withstand heavy use and high-traffic environments. They are often used in commercial spaces with significant wear and tear, such as hotels, airports, or healthcare facilities.

 

Martindale Chart:

  • Light Duty: 6,000-9,000 Martindale cycles
  • Fabrics in this range are suitable for light use and decorative purposes. They are best suited for areas with minimal traffic or occasional seating, such as formal living rooms or bedrooms.
  • Medium Duty: 9,000-15,000 Martindale cycles
  • Fabrics in this range are suitable for everyday use in residential settings. They can withstand moderate traffic and are appropriate for areas like family rooms, dining areas, or home offices.
  • Heavy Duty: 15,000-30,000 Martindale cycles
  • Fabrics in this range are highly durable and suitable for high-traffic areas in residential spaces or commercial settings. They can withstand frequent use and are commonly used in spaces like offices, restaurants, or public seating areas.
  • Extra Heavy Duty: 30,000+ Martindale cycles
  • Fabrics in this range are extremely durable and can withstand heavy use and high-traffic environments. They are often used in commercial spaces with significant wear and tear, such as hotels, airports, or healthcare facilities.

 

It's important to note that rub rate alone does not determine the overall quality or suitability of a fabric for upholstery. Other factors like fiber content, construction, and finish also play a role in determining the fabric's performance and whether or not it is a good choice for the project at hand.

 

READY FOR MORE?

Next up in my TOP FIVE Upholstery Questions: What are the most popular fabric types and patterns for upholstery and home decor.

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Comments

Vardhman
23 days ago

Upholstery Fabric Wholesale
Upholstery fabric is a crucial component in the furniture and interior design industries. It not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of furniture but also contributes to its durability and comfort. Buying upholstery fabric wholesale can offer significant cost savings and a wide range of options for businesses. This article provides an in-depth look at the upholstery fabric wholesale market, covering the types of fabrics available, benefits of buying wholesale, considerations for buyers, and tips for sellers.

Vardhman
17 days ago

Vardhman Enterprises India
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