The Martindale Rub Test
The 'Martindale Test' or 'Rub Test' is a measurement of the durability of upholstery fabric for its suitability for general domestic or commercial use. It is an internationally recognized test and gives the most true to life results. Using a Martindale machine, a piece of fabric is stretched between two discs, one which oscillates sandpaper or wool across the fabric until signs of distress show. The Martindale number is the amount of times the discs can oscillate before the fabric shows signs of distress.
What does the Martindale number mean?
10,000 or less - Decorative
Use on cushions or accents.
Not suitable for general domestic use or furniture upholstery.
10,000 to 15,000 - Light Domestic
Use on occasional use furniture.
Dry clean only.
Fabrics made from delicate yarns such as cotton silk.
15,000 to 25,000 - General Domestic
Use on main house furniture.
Suitable for every day use.
Not suitable for recliners or a seat/back that puts high level of stress on the fabric.
Not suitable for high use furniture.
25,000 to 30,000 - Heavy Duty
Use on heavy use domestic furniture.
Suitable for high levels of every day use.
Suitable for recliners and motion furniture.
Suitable for light commercial use.
30,000 or more - Commercial Grade
Use on heavy duty commercial/domestic furniture.
Suitable for any commercial environment.
Anything above 50,000 is regarded as the same and makes no meaningful difference in the durability of the fabric.
What's the difference between the Wyzenbeek test and the Martindale test?
The Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests are the two methods commonly used to predict wear-ability. Actual performance is determined by many factors such as fiber content, weaves, finishes, furniture design, maintenance, cleaning, and usage. Durability of an upholstery fabric is a complex interaction (combination) of a number of performance tests that, in addition to abrasion, includes seam slippage, piling, tensile strength, and usage.
The Wyzenbeek test is used primarily in North America and tests the fabric by rubbing the taut fabric with cotton duck fabric or abrasive wire back an fourth in the warp and filling directions. This back and forth motion is called a double rub.
Both Wyzenbeek and Martindale are abrasion/rub tests; which test different properties of a textile. Wyzenbeek involves rubbing along the warp and weft of the fabric whereas Martindale is a figure-8 rub. Success in one test does not infer success in the other.