In a nutshell, this is a fabric that is deemed durable enough to cover a piece of upholstered furniture. The durability of an upholstery fabric is measured by the universally recognised Martindale test, which identifies how much wear and tear a fabric will take before there is a noticeable change in its appearance. Fabric to be tested is clamped into four circular holders that are then set to mechanically rub a second fabric that emulates clothing. The test ends when two threads of the tested fabric have broken from wear, and the number of cycles completed is recorded.
• Fabric with a score of 10,000 or less is only fit for decorative soft furnishings such as cushions or curtains.
• Fabric of 10,000 to 20,000 rub counts is suitable for light domestic use such as occasional furniture – a headboard, an ottoman or a bedroom chair, for example.
• Fabric of 20,000 to 25,000 rub counts is suitable for general domestic use and can be used on main pieces of furniture in the home, although it is not suitable for items of furniture that put a high level of stress on the fabric, such as a recliner.
• Fabric with a rub count of 25,000 to 30,000 works for heavy domestic use and is deemed a heavy-duty fabric that would be suitable for all household pieces (including recliners and other motion furniture); it is also suitable for light commercial use.
• Fabric of 30,000 to 40,000 denotes a general contract grade fabric.
• Fabric of 40,000 upwards is suitable for severe contract use.