What to consider before choosing your Upholstery Fabric?

Understanding the Martindale Test: A Guide to Upholstery Fabric Durability

When it comes to selecting upholstery fabric, durability is a key factor. Whether you’re an interior designer, furniture restorer, or homeowner, understanding the Martindale Test (Rub Test) can help you make informed decisions especially for pieces that will see heavy use.

What is the Martindale Test?

The Martindale Test is one of the most trusted methods for measuring fabric durability. It is a method used to measure the abrasion resistance of textiles, particularly upholstery fabric. This test helps determine how well a fabric can withstand wear and tear over time, making it an essential metric for both manufacturers and consumers. This standardized method is used globally to ensure that upholstery fabrics can withstand everyday wear and tear.

How Does the Martindale Test Work?

The Martindale Test involves rubbing a fabric sample against a standard abrasive material using a Martindale machine. The test is straightforward yet rigorous, ensuring accurate and reliable results.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the process:

Preparation: A fabric sample is cut and placed in the Martindale machine.
Abrasion: The machine rubs the fabric against a standard abrasive material in a circular motion. This motion mimics the natural wear that occurs during everyday use.
Cycles: The test continues until the fabric shows signs of wear, such as threads breaking or noticeable changes in appearance.
Results: The number of cycles (or rubs) the fabric withstands before showing wear is recorded. This number indicates the material’s durability.

Interpreting Martindale Test Results

Understanding the Martindale rating helps in selecting the right fabric for different applications:

10,000–15,000 rubs: Suitable for light domestic use (e.g., decorative pieces or occasional chairs).
15,000–25,000 rubs: Ideal for general domestic use (e.g., daily use sofas and chairs).
25,000–50,000 rubs: Suitable for heavy domestic or light commercial use.
50,000+ rubs: Best for heavy commercial use (e.g., hotel lobbies or public seating areas).


The Martindale Test is an essential tool for anyone involved in selecting upholstery materials. By providing a reliable measure of fabric durability, it helps ensure that the chosen material can withstand the rigors of daily use. Whether you’re furnishing a home, a commercial space, or working in the upholstery industry, understanding the Martindale Test can guide you to make more informed, lasting choices.

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