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3 Reasons Fabric Can Wear Thin Despite A High Martindale Count


When specifying seating fabrics for hospitality furniture, the fabric needs to be robust enough for the use it is put to. 

The Martindale rub count is the recognised way of understanding how robust a fabric is. The test identifies how much wear and tear a fabric will take before there is a noticeable change in its appearance, categorising fabrics as follows:

  • Decorative (less than 10,000 rubs) - Recommended for decorative purposes (i.e. cushions and accents)
  • Light Domestic (10,000 to 15,000 rubs) - Recommended occasional use domestic furniture
  • General Domestic (15,000 to 25,000 rubs) - Recommended domestic furniture in everyday use
  • Heavy Duty (25,000 to 30,000 rubs) - Suitable for heavy-duty domestic use and light hospitality use
  • General Commercial Use (30,000-40,000) - Suitable for general hospitality use
  • Commercial Grade (40,000 plus)- Suitable for heavy hospitality use

What exactly is the Martindale test?

The fabric being tested is mounted onto four circular holders of a Martindale Abrasion Tester. These holders then mechanically rub this fabric against a second fabric (a particular worsted cloth, chosen to represent clothing).  The test samples are checked regularly and the worsted cloth changed every 50,000 cycles. The test ends when two threads of the fabric being tested have worn enough to break. The Martindale abrasion value is the average number of cycles completed before the two threads break.

The durability of non-woven material is measured in flexes, which means a small piece of the leather or vinyl is pulled back and forth to assess suppleness and checked for surface cracking.

Why can fabric with a high Martindale rub wear thin before its time?


1.Sharp Corners

If fabric is wrapped tighly around a corner it is more vulnerable to wear and tear. The chairs below were upholstered in a fabric with an immensely high durability of 250,000 Martindale rubs. However the fabric was starting to wear thin on the corners out in about 9 months.

corner fabric fraying

2.Hard Surfaces

In this instance, a velvet with a Martindale count of 100,000 rubs used on bar stools started to wear on the top of the backrests. On investigation, this part of the backrest didn't have foam underneath, so the fabric was being rubbed directly against a wooden surface. The solution was to reupholster the chair, adding a thin layer of foam between the fabric and the wooden surface.


3: Piping

Adding piping to chairs can give them an extra wow factor, however, if the piping is on a high-wear part of a seat (perhaps the front edge of a seat pad), it can wear quicker than might otherwise be expected (particularly when a more unyielding material has been used for the core of the piping). 

The piping on the chair below, used in a busy hotel environment, shows drastic wear after just 5 months. The fabric was faux suede with a rub  count of 250,000.


Examples of fabric with high rub count (suggested fabric for contract use)

Lana Aquaclean by Sunbury

Lana Aquaclean by Sunbury

Rub count: 250,000. Crib 5. 50% Polyester, 35% Polyamide, 15% Nylon.
Kiboko by Sekers

Kiboko by Sekers

Rub count: 200,000. Crib 5. 50% Polyester, 35% Acrylic, 15 % Polyamide.
Mystere Warwick

Mystere by Warwick

Rub count: 150,000. Crib 5. 100% Polyester.
Sunbury Lux Velvet

Lux Velvet by Sunbury

Rub count: 100,000. Crib 5. 100% Polyester
Agua Fabrics Libra

Libra by Agua Fabrics

Rub count: 100,000. Crib 5. 100% Coated Polyester.
Field by Kvadrat

Field by Kvadrat

Rub count: 100,000. Crib 5. 100% Trevira CS.
Ballantrae Sekers

Ballantrae by Sekers

Rub count: 100,000. Crib 5. 53% Cotton 47% Viscose.
Nova by Agua Fabrics

Nova by Agua Fabrics

Rub count: 100,000. Crib 5. 100% Coated Polyester.
Gedda by Sekers

Gedda by Sekers

Rub count: 90,000. Crib 5. 100% Polyester.
Ariana by Vescom

Ariana by Vescom

Rub count: 90,000.  Crib 5. 100% Mohair.
Harvard Panaz

Harvard by Panaz

Rub count: 80,000. Crib 5. 100% Polyester with FR back coating.
Allure Panaz

Allure by Panaz

Rub count: 70,000. Crib 5. 100% Polyester.
Read our blog for a full overview of how to specify contract upholstery, get contract upholstery care & maintenance tips here or download our Furniture Knowledge book below for more hospitality furniture tips and tricks.

Topics: Furniture testing, Contract upholstery

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 21/01/19 11:43
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