The durability or strength of a fabric is important. The fiber, weave and finish all contribute to a its durability. There are some projects where durability is one of the most important factors like outdoor and home decorating projects. However, the durability of some garments can mean the difference between life and death, such as motorcycle jackets.

Fabrics intended for these extremes have different standards and ratings. One common rating refers to “rubs”. There are two methods for determining the rub ratings and you will likely find one or the other on your fabric’s description.

Wyzenbeek - Double Rubs

The Wyzenbeek method is a mechanized test used as a standard of measuring abrasion resistance for fabric in North America. A piece of cotton duck is stretched over a mechanical arm and passed back and forth over the test fabric in each direction. Each back and forth motion is one double rub. The test is run in sets of 5,000 double rubs until the fabric shows “noticeable wear” or two yarns break.

Curtains, drapes or pillows would have a recommended double rub of less 6,000 to 9,000. Items in a family room should probably have a rating of 15,000 or more double rubs. The chair fabric for a hospital or airport waiting area should have a rating of 30,000 or more double rubs. Naugahyde, a common heavy-duty fabric used in upholstery, has a rating of 250,000 double rubs. That’s a very durable fabric.

Martindale - Rubs

The Martindale method is another mechanized test to determine abrasion resistance. The fabric being tested is pulled taut and loaded into the machine. Small discs of worsted wool or wire mesh are continually rubbed against the test specimens in a wandering, oscillating circle. The test is run in sets of 5,000 until the fabric shows “noticeable wear” or two yarns break.

Decorative items would have a rating of less than 10,000 rubs. Heavy duty domestic use, like the main furniture in a house, would need a rating of 25,000 to 30,000 rubs. Heavy duty commercial use would have a rating of 30,000 or more rubs.