Commercial Furniture Fabric Selection – What you MUST know

Dining venues, as you know are subject to high usage, and people may not be as careful as they are at home. Furniture tends to look old and worn out quicker. That’s why it’s important to invest in higher-grade materials.

The fact is, quality goes a long way. But how do you choose the right texture, pattern and colour? With so many options can get a bit overwhelming. As you select furniture and fittings, knowing how the fabric will be used and matching it for the right durability properly is key.

In other words, a fabric’s durability, flexibility and size should always inform your choice of fabric. There are a number of tests, sometimes called ‘rub tests’ that simulate the wear and tear on fabric. Here are a couple of testing methods that rate fabrics – the higher the wear and tear, the better the durability for your needs.

The Martindale Test and Commercial Fabric Rub Testing

While not all fabrics are tested, for commercial hospitality furniture use, we are familiar in Australia with the Martindale test. Wikipedia says: a “Martindale is a unit for quantifying the abrasion resistance of textiles, especially when used for upholstery.”

Essentially, the test applies abrasion to fabric as if someone was sitting down and getting up thousands of times – just like your customer does!

The Martindale test works in intervals of 5000 cycles, totalling the wear number (unit: Martindale) of abrasion cycles that leads to the material being worn to a specified degree. The higher the value, the more resistant the material is to abrasion.[1]

When you’re selecting commercial seating, knowing this rating is the difference between practical and durable and worn out in a year or two! For example, high-quality lounge, dining and banquette seating could be as high as a 50,000 rub rate.

The Wyzenbeek Abrasion test – the ‘double rub’ test

During the Wyzenbeek abrasion tests, the fabric is rubbed along the warp and weft, using a single back and fourth motion (one back and forth rub equalling a double rub.) The abrasion rating is determined by the number of double rubs made before two yarn breaks occur.

While this isn’t a method we use that often, here’s a description from Radford Furnishings of the difference.

In Martindale abrasion tests, the fabric is rubbed in a figure-eight pattern, (each full figure of eight will be measured as a cycle.) The number of cycles that the fabric can endure before fabric shows objectionable change in appearance (yarn breaks, pilling, holes) is counted and determines the abrasion rating. That’s like someone sitting down, moving about a bit and getting up a few thousand times.

What rating do I need for my dining furniture?

General / household use: a fabric should meet 15,000 double rubs on the Wyzenbeek method or 20,000 cycles on the Martindale method.

For heavier duty use: single shift corporate, hotel rooms, conference rooms, and dining areas the recommendation by Radford is 30,000 double rubs on the Wyzenbeek method or 40,000 cycles on the Martindale method.

Higher traffic areas: such as twenty-four-hour bus or trains, stadiums, classrooms, or theatres may require a higher abrasion rating of 50,000 by either method.

Vertical surfaces, cushioning and wall panels: Wear and tear on these surfaces is different. Here, the fabric pattern and colour is more important than the rate. However it’s still important to use commercial grade fabrics – must get that gravy, sauce, red wine off the wall easily!

Hospitality Furniture Fabric Maintenance

Maintaining the quality and style of your dining or gaming chairs is a priority. That’s why we also recommend pre-treated fabrics. Great maintenance will retain a fabric’s integrity, look and feel. Our methods provide a permanent, colourless and odourless barrier for long-lasting protection.

Australian general furniture suppliers have standards, but they aren’t always up to scratch when it comes to commercial furniture requirements. Strand works with local specialists to offer best practice and compliant fabric treatments.

Know Your Fabric Rating Code

We make sure that fabrics meet the AS 1530-3 Australian Building Code. We use products like Fadeseal for UV protection and Mediseal to repel moisture. We also offer anti-microbial treatments to prevent bacteria build up.

Next Steps

When you’re wondering about fabrics and why they aren’t working or what you can do next in your dining, occasional, club or gaming area, we offer complimentary site visits as well as a comprehensive range at our Abbotsford Showroom.

We offer modern and best-selling commercial grade seating, as well as great design ideas. Just give the team a call on 1300 4 STRAND.