Fabric Wear and Tear

When looking for the right fabric there are many things to take into consideration. What type of traffic will this piece of upholstery encounter? Will kids be involved in this traffic? Are there pets? There is a big difference between an occasional chair sitting in a living room and a sectional sofa living in a family room. Luckily there are special methods used to test fabrics and rate their durability.

The test that is most familiar to professionals in the United States is called the Wyzenbeek Abrasion Test, also called the “double rub” test. This test involves a piece of cotton fabric stretched over a mechanical arm rubbing a test fabric back and forth until it shows “noticeable wear” or when 2 yarn breaks occur. A fabric that survives 15,000-30,000 double rubs is considered good for general commercial use in offices and conference rooms. A fabric that survives 30,000-50,000 double rubs is good for heavy duty use in waiting areas in hospitals and offices. What does that mean for someone who needs a new sofa for their living room? Again it matters who will be using the sofa, but I always go for a nice high durability ratting of at least 30,000. My kids can be just as hard on a sofa as a random stranger sitting in a waiting room, so why not err on the side of safety? There are even fabrics nowadays that are rated at 100,000 double rubs. Sounds good to me! Better safe than sorry! I do feel that those crazy high numbers are kind of like the sunscreen ratings though- an 80 SPF is probably no more safe than a 50 SPF. If I had to choose between a fabric rated at 50,000 double rubs that was less expensive than a 100,000 double rub fabric, but both equally attractive, I would go with the less expensive one.

Durability is just one factor to consider when deciding what fabric to use for a job. Stain resistance is a whole other ball game. We will discuss that next month.