The Fabric Rub Test
When choosing your fabric, ask an Urban Rhythm sales expert to show you the rub test ratings on your chosen fabric.
These are called the Martindale and/or Wyzenbeek Ratings. These rub tests measure the durability of a fabric. To test a fabric on a Martindale or Wyzenbeek machine, metal discs rub the fabric samples repeatedly until two threads of yarn are broken. At this point, the testing is complete.
A fabric with a Martindale rating of 20,000 rubs is good for residential use. 30,000+ rubs is commercial-grade.
A fabric with a Wyzenbeek rating of 15,000 - 20,000 double rubs is good for residential use. 40,000+ double rubs is commercial-grade.
What is the Martindale Test?
The Martindale (abrasion) test is a widely recognised method for measuring fabric durability, specifically its resistance to abrasion and pilling (little clumps of lint that appear on the surface of fabric). The Martindale test is predominantly utilised throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The Martindale Test begins with a sample of the fabric placed under a rotating disc with a specific weight applied to it. The disc moves in an elliptical (oval-shaped) motion across the surface of the material until signs of wear become visible or when two yarns break. The number of cycles it can withstand is known as the fabric's Martindale rating.
A higher Martindale rating indicates better resistance to abrasion and longer-lasting fabric performance. For example, fabrics with ratings above 20,000 cycles are considered suitable for general domestic use while those exceeding 30,000 cycles are ideal for heavy-duty applications such as commercial settings, outdoor fabric applications, or homes with pets and children.
What is the Wyzenbeek Test?
The Wyzenbeek Test, also known as the Wyzenbeek Method, is another approach used to measure fabric durability. Originating in the United States, this test assesses a fabric's ability to withstand abrasion by simulating everyday wear and tear on furniture. In the Wyzenbeek Test, a piece of tightly-woven cotton duck cloth or wire mesh is rubbed back and forth against the control fabric. This motion replicates normal use conditions that fabrics experience when upholstered onto furniture. The number of double rubs (one back-and-forth movement) it takes for signs of wear or damage to appear on the sample determines its durability rating.
- Light Use: 3,000 - 9,000 double rubs
- Medium Use: 9,000 - 15,000 double rubs
- Heavy Use: More than 15,000 double rubs
If you're looking for upholstery options for an accent chair that won't see much daily use within your home setting, then selecting a lighter-use-rated textile might suit. However, upholstery fabric for sofas that are used every day need a higher rating to ensure longevity.
What is the Difference?
Martindale and Wyzenbeek tests aim to determine how well a material will withstand wear and tear. Their test conditions are different and they cannot be compared to each other.
There is no correlation between the two tests. The Martindale test uses a circular rubbing motion on fabrics while Wyzenbeek uses a back-and-forth movement with different abrasives. This means that each test measures different aspects of fabric durability. Martindale tests replicate the movement of cleaning cloths on fabrics; Wyzenbeek tests resemble fabrics in clothes shifting across the surface of furniture - like they would when someone gets up or sits down on a couch, for example.
Factors such as fibre content, weave structure, and finishing treatments can also influence how fabrics perform in each test.
Some materials are better at resisting abrasion when rubbed in circles but not fare as well when subjected to linear movements or vice versa.
What is a Good Rating?
Good is relative: a “good” Martindale rating depends on the application of your furniture: light domestic use requires at least 10,000-15,000 cycles; general domestic use needs 20,000-25,000 cycles; and heavy-duty domestic or commercial use may need over 30,000 cycles. Higher cycle counts indicate greater fabric durability.
Here are some guidelines to consider:
Martindale Cycles Recommendations
- Light Use: 6,000 - 9,000 cycles
- Medium Use: 10,000 - 15,000 cycles
- Heavy Use: Over 20,000 cycles
Wyzenbeek Rubs Recommendations
- Light Use: Up to 5,000 rubs
- Medium Use: Between 15,000 - 30,000 rubs
- Heavy Use: Over 30,000 rubs
When shopping for durable and beautiful fabrics, it is helpful to look at the Martindale and Wyzenbeek ratings. Though there’s no direct link between a high Martindale rating and a low Wyzenbeek DR rating, you should use them in tandem, wherever possible, to assess the durability of a fabric to see if its the best choice for your home.
It's important to note that fabric durability is not solely determined by these test results. Other factors such as fibre content, tensile strength, and yarn breaks can also affect a fabric's ability to withstand wear and tear. Martindale and Wyzenbeek ratings are a good starting point to understanding the best option for your new upholstery fabric.
At Urban Rhythm, we offer a selection of high-quality Australian made furniture with durable and beautiful fabrics. Whether you're looking for upholstery fabric for decorative purposes or for everyday use, we have a range of options to suit your needs. Check out our selection today!