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Have you heard of the Martindale test?

Have you heard of the Martindale test?


There is no doubt that we rely on fabric to be durable. Whether it's our clothing, cushions, furniture or decorative chairs, there's a belief that fabric should be able to last the distance.

However, this is quite a misconception. Not all fabrics are made equal - meaning the durability of one fabric could be very different to another thread. As such, it's vital that people purchase the correct fabric strength for their various purposes. To do this, the industry standard is the Martindale test.

If you are looking for a fabric for upholstering furniture that will stand up to the rigours of your home, understanding the Martindale test is essential. In this article, we'll demystify this test and explain how the right upholstery fabric can add a new spark to your home.

What is a Martindale test?

During the manufacturing process, all fabrics are subject to the Martindale test - a measure of how durable a fabric is under the pressure of consistent use. During the test a piece of wool cloth is rubbed onto a flat mounted fabric sample in a circular motion using the Martindale machine. After 1,000 rounds or cycles, the fabric is inspected to see if there has been a change in appearance or at least two yarns broken. If not, the fabric will again be subject to 1,000 cycles until the fabric starts to deteriorate.

Organise your home with the right upholstery.Organise your home with the right upholstery.

At completing the Martindale test, the fabric selection will have a score in the thousands - based on how many rubs or cycles it lasted. Essentially, the higher this final result, the more suitable the fabric is for heavier usage. In fact, fabrics around the world are categorised using the Martindale test results:

  • Decorative (less than 10,000 rubs) - Not recommended for general use, ideal for cushions and accents for decorative purposes.
  • Light Domestic (10,000 to 15,000 rubs) - Not recommend for general use due to the delicate nature of the fabric or yarns in the composition. Ideal for upholstery furniture that will see only occasional use.
  • General Domestic (15,000 to 25,000 rubs) - Perfect for main house furniture that will receive everyday use. However, if this use has a heavy level of stress or heavy-duty type, it's recommended to use a higher rub fabric.
  • Heavy Duty (25,000 to 30,000 rubs) - Ideal for heavy duty domestic use on motion furniture such as recliners and fixed seat or back chairs. This fabric is great for light commercial applications as well.
  • Commercial Grade (30,000 plus) - Recommended for both heavy duty domestic use and commercial purposes. If furniture applications are subject to high stress and high usage , the highest grade of fabric will suffice.


Why is the Martindale test important when upholstering furniture?

While the Martindale test is a useful marker, unless you take the time to think about it in context of your home environment, it's possible that you could get the wrong type of fabric. As such, when you are selecting upholstering furniture fabrics think about the following factors:

  • What the fabric will be used on, whether cushions, accents, chairs, furniture, or headboards etc.
  • How often the fabric will be used or under stress.
  • Environmental factors which could impact the fabric over time.
  • What design trend or look you are seeking for your home.

Once you make these decisions, there should be an obvious category of fabric to choose from - most likely the general domestic or heavy duty options. If you are still unsure what type of fabric is right for your home, speak to the expert team at Harvey Furnishings for further advice.

The lounge is a heavy stress area.The lounge is a heavy stress area.

Upholstering furniture with Harvey Furnishings

At Harvey Furnishings, we specialise in a range of design features for your home. This includes curtains, roman blinds, cushions and headboards. While it might not seem like these elements have much in common, they do with the help of our consultants.

We can supply different strengths of upholstery fabric to these features which can add value to the look and longevity of a treatment. Here are a few of the benefits of applying upholstery fabric to parts of your home:

  • More hardwearing - With fabric that is designed to stand the test of time, your curtains and other materials will last longer and be more resistant to stresses and usage.
  • Fuller, luxurious look - Applying upholstering furniture also provides your home with an added level of luxury. We have a range of different fabric patterns, designs and colours available depending on your personal style and brand. You can even match cushions, headboards and curtains with the same style of upholstery to create co-ordination and a consistent style across your home.

We have some upholstery fabrics on our website for the Q Designs range which is exclusive to Harvey Furnishings in New Zealand. We also have others available in-store or via home consultation.

If you would like more information about upholstery fabrics and what will work best, get in touch with our friendly team today.

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