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 the most frequent talking points and cornerstones of consumer education has to do with the durability of upholstery fabrics. Questions we 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.).
You’ll notice that the fabric above lists a 9,ooo double rub via the Wyzenbeek method. Fabrics that describe this idea (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.
The chenille sample above lists a resistance to a whopping 150,000 double rubs! On durability alone, this material wins. It can stand up to over 16 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