Upholstery Advice

Martindale Rub Test

How Does The Test Work? - The fabric being tested is pulled taut and loaded onto the lower plates of the Martindale machine. Small discs of worsted wool or wire mesh are continually rubbed against the test specimens in a Lissajous figure – a wandering, oscillating circle. The fabric is continually inspected for wear and tear, and the test ends when two yarns break or when there is a noticeable change in appearance.

How do I read a Martindale test result?Test results are given as a score of 1000’s of rubs or cycles, and the higher the number is, the more suitable the fabric is for heavier useage.  Fabrics are categorised depending on their test results. Charles Parsons Interiors categorises upholstery useage as follows:

Decorative (less than 10,000 rubs)Recommended for decorative purposes (i.e. cushions and accents).  Not recommended for general use.

Light Domestic (10,000 to 15,000 rubs)Recommended for use on furniture that will only receive occasional use. This is due either to the use of delicate yarns in the composition of the fabric or due to the delicate construction of the fabric itself.  Some decorative fabrics may not be suitable for use on heavy wear areas or fixed upholstery areas due to “dry clean only” cleaning being required, and this is not possible other than where the fabric can be removed and taken to a dry cleaner.

General Domestic (15,000 to 25,000 rubs)Recommended for use on the main furniture in the house that may be subjected to everyday use.  However if the level of use will be very high we recommend selecting a fabric rated for heavy-duty use.  General domestic fabrics are not  recommended for motion furniture (i.e. recliners) or furniture with a  fixed seat or back that will put high levels of stress on the fabric.

Heavy Duty (25,000 to 30,000 rubs)
Suitable for heavy duty domestic use i.e. use on the main furniture in the house that will be subjected to high levels of everyday use. Also suitable for motion furniture (i.e. recliners) and for furniture with a fixed seat or back. Also suitable for light commercial applications. 

Commercial Grade (30,000 plus)Suitable for heavy duty commercial use and heavy duty domestic use.  Suitable for all commercial furniture applications and environments.

A Martindale test is for abrasion only.  There are many other factors that can affect the wear and tear of upholstery on a piece of furniture, including chemicals used in washing the fabric, UV exposure, embedded dirt, and surface treatments such as soil guard or flame retardant treatments.  A high rub count does not mean the fabric will be impervious to cat claws!

How Much Fabric Will I Need?

Find below our estimated meterage guide for upholstery (when using a plain fabric). If you are planning on using a patterned fabric, please be aware that more fabric will be required for pattern matching purposes (especially if the pattern of the fabric is large). Please note these are estimations only and the range in meterage provides a small allowance for varying sizes and upholstery styles. If you are unsure of quantity please contact your local upholsterer who will be able to provide an accurate figure for your required meterage. 

Our general advice would be to allow yourself a little more meterage than you think you need in order to allow for any unexpected additional requirements when upholstering - and any fabric remaining can always be used to make spare cushions, arm covers, throws, or simply be kept for future use (and in case of emergencies!). We do of course always recommend checking the quantity you require with your upholsterer if you are having your item professionally re-upholstered. If you would like any more information or any assistance please do not hesitate to contact us directly on 01827713519 or at hello@eden-fabrics.com.

UK Fire Regulations

Fabric used to make the following products for use in a domestic environment is not required to meet any fire standards and does not need to have any fire rating: Curtains, Blinds, Bedcovers, Cushions.

In the UK, upholstered furniture must meet UK domestic or contract fire regulations. Fabric to be used on furniture must either pass a fire retardancy test or if exempt (due to having over 75% natural fibres in its composition), must be used with a fire retardant interliner. The rules apply to all domestic upholstered seating furniture as well as children's furniture, and it includes pouffes, music stools, footstools and floor cushions – except furniture manufactured prior to 1950. The majority of our upholstery fabrics can be treated to provide or enhance levels of flame retardancy on request.

Fire Retardancy and Various Fibres

Nylon, polyester and acrylic are inherently fire retardant, which means that their chemical makeup naturally inhibits fire. These man-made fibres resist ignition when exposed to a flame, but once the fire eventually catches they will melt rather than flare and spread.

Silk and wool are protein (animal) fibres, which do not ignite rapidly and smoulder rather than burn rapidly. Fire retardant treatments are not normally used on these fabrics – but dyes and treatments used in making the cloth can result in higher flammability.

Flax, cotton and viscose are cellulose (plant) fibres and will ignite rapidly and burn quickly when exposed to fire. However, these fibres can be made fire retardant by using topical fire retardant treatments, but these are temporary and will wash away with laundering, and their effectiveness fades over time.

Fabrics with a mixed composition will exhibit the characteristics of each fibre – for example, a 50% cotton, 50% polyester blend will both burn and melt. This can be especially hazardous as the fire spreads rapidly, and the melting polyester can cause serious burns.

The weight and weave of the fabric also has a direct effect on how it will burn. Fabrics with fluffy, brushed or raised surfaces will ignite readily, and sometimes flashes of flame can be seen across the fabric surface. A tightly woven fabric allows less air (and therefore oxygen) between the fibres, and burns less rapidly. You can imagine this as similar to how paper reacts to fire – a closed book takes a while to burn, while a pile of crumpled paper goes up quickly!

Remember that all fabrics will eventually burn when exposed to flame, and will catch even faster in the intense heat of a house fire. No fire retardant characteristics or treatment are a replacement for basic fire safety measures.