The Martindale Rub Test

The Martindale Rub Test is the soft furnishings industry's test to determine how hard-wearing an interiors fabric is. Use the guide below to help choose the perfect fabric for your project.

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. Eden Fabrics & Interiors categorises upholstery useage as follows:

Decorative and very light use (less than 20,000 rubs) 
Recommended for decorative purposes (i.e. cushions and accents). Not recommended for general use.

General domestic (20,000 to 45,000 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. Fabrics toward the upper end of this range are suitable for 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 (45,000 plus)
Suitable for heavy duty commercial use and heavy duty domestic use. Suitable for all commercial furniture applications and environments.

Remember, the 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 Do 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 it is highly likely that additional fabric will be required for pattern matching purposes. Please note these are estimations only and the range in meterage provides some allowance for varying sizes and complexity of items. 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 (+44) 01827 713519 or email us at hello@eden-fabrics.com.

Footstools: 1-1.5 metres

Small side/bedroom chairs: 2-4 metres

Small-medium armchairs: 4-6 metres

Average dining seat pads: 1.5 metres per four pads

Wing chairs: 5.5-8.5 metres

Large armchairs: 7-9 metres

Two seater sofas: 10-14 metres

Three seater sofas: 14-17 metres

Four seater sofas: 17-23 metres

UK Fire Regulations

In the U.K., upholstered furniture must meet U.K. 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 at additional cost on request.

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, Scatter Cushions.

For further information on domestic fire regulations, please see the following guide: