There are several abrasion tests that can be used to assess a fabric. At Schumacher, we primarily measure with the Wyzenbeek test and the Martindale test. The Martindale test, named for its founder J.G. Martindale, is used to measure wool and natural fibers. The Wyzenbeek test, named for its inventor, Andrew Wyzenbeek, measures the abrasion of synthetic fibers. The results from tests like these can be used as a guide for the recommended use of fabric.
What happens during a fabric abrasion test?
In the Martindale test, a fabric sample is flattened, tightened and placed onto the flat base of a Martindale machine. Small discs of wire mesh mechanically move in circles to rub against the fabric repeatedly in the same spot, each comprising one cycle. The fabric is inspected for wear and tear throughout the duration of the test, which ends when two yarns break, or when there is a noticeable change in appearance. Once the test is completed, the results are articulated via numbers in the thousands. The higher the number, the longer it takes the fabric to break down.
Here’s a breakdown of the Martindale fabric abrasion test scores:
- 15,000-25,000 cycles is considered general domestic use. Great for light upholstery, but not advised for your highest-traffic items.
- 25,000-30,000 is considered heavy-duty use. Fabrics with this abrasion are perfect for the main furniture that will have daily use in your highest traffic areas, such as family room sofas, a beloved reading chair and kitchen barstool cushions.
- 30,000 and above is considered appropriate for commercial use, such as in a hotel where furniture is subject to constant wear and tear. Many interior designers choose fabric at this high-performance level for their client’s most frequently used spaces (although 25,000-30,000 is usually sufficient for residential design).
- Light domestic abrasions, between 10,000-15,000, as well as decorative abrasions, between 6,000-10,000, are much lower than general domestic use and should not be used for upholstery.
The Wyzenbeek test abrades test fabric with a cotton duck material. Each time the machine passes back and forth is called a “double rub”. Following the Wyzenbeek test, a fabric score of 15,000double rubs should be reserved for designs with low-traffic use. Those with a score of 30,000double rubs and above are recommended for heavy traffic use. Schumacher’s supremely durable Rocky Performance Velvet, for example, has a Wyzenbeek score of 150,000.