Double Rubs and the Wyzenbeek Test

2013_February_4What are double rubs? This statistic with a funny name actually says a lot about the strength of a fabric. Double rubs are a measurement of a fabric’s abrasion resistance. They are listed with most fabrics and are helpful in determining which fabric is right for your particular application.

Double rubs are found through a mechanized test called the Wyzenbeek Test (sometimes called the Wyzenbeek Method). The Wyzenbeek Test is regarded as the 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 cotton duck passing over the fabric simulates the wear of a fabric being used as a seat cushion, for example. The test is run in sets of 5,000 double rubs until the fabric shows “noticeable wear” or two yarn breaks.

So, how many double rubs should you look for in a fabric? It depends on your intended application. In general, around 15,000 or more double rubs is considered heavy-duty for residential applications. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Double Rubs for Residential Applications

Heavy Duty: 15,000+ double rubs. Suitable for family rooms.

Medium Duty: 9,000-15,000 double rubs. Versatile. Good for living or family rooms.

Light Duty: 3,000-9,000 double rubs. Usually better suited for formal or occasional use furniture.

Delicate Duty: Less than 3,000 double rubs. Recommended for more decorative use as in curtains, drapes or pillows.

Double Rubs for Commercial Applications

Contract Upholstery Minimum: 15,000 double rubs is considered the minimum for general contract, commercial upholstery projects.

Heavy Duty: 15,000-30,000 double rubs. Suitable for single shift offices, conference rooms, hotel rooms and dining areas.

Extra-Heavy Duty: 30,000+ double rubs. Recommended for constant use as in hospital waiting areas, airport terminals, fast food restaurants, theaters, and stadiums.

2013_February_3Check out our wide variety of upholstery, outdoor, and indoor/outdoor fabrics at www.sailrite.com. What do you look for when selecting the perfect fabric?

10 comments
  1. Rick said:

    Is there a test for fading?

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Rick,

      There are tests for fading. They are referred to as testing “color fastness to light” and there are a few different testing methods. I know the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) set the guidelines for one method. I’ll put this on my list to do another post on!

  2. Aaron said:

    Has the Wyzenbeek test ever been performed on Sunbrella awning fabrics? If so, what were the results?

    • Nikki said:

      Hey Aaron,

      Glen Raven, the company that makes Sunbrella, has never provided us with double rub ratings for their fabrics, so we’re not really sure.

  3. Our family has been upholstering for over 90 years. I always cringe when people talk about “Double Rubs” and “Wyzenbeek” grading. Here are my thoughts……

    Heavy Duty: 15,000+ double rubs. Suitable for family rooms………… My recommendation: 50,000 +

    Medium Duty: 9,000-15,000 double rubs. Versatile. Good for living or family rooms………….. No way!!! have you seen the jeans people wear (the bling will catch loose threads), and may I add that pets are in the household now, and don’t forget the children (grandchildren) eating on the furniture.

    Light Duty: 3,000-9,000 double rubs. Usually better suited for formal or occasional use furniture………….in layman’s terms, never sat on, for “looks” only, like a vase.

    Delicate Duty: Less than 3,000 double rubs. Recommended for more decorative use as in curtains, drapes or pillows………..would never recommend for a pillow, because people put there face on it. Makeup, skin lotions, and hair spray will ruin the fabric fast.
    This is what I know…….(also never discussed)…. Where that piece of furniture is positioned in your home. Is it in full sun? Do you live in Florida or New York? Is the fabric treated for liquids? This information is also critical to mention.

  4. Sam said:

    I completely disagree with these statements. I would never upholster with a fabric under 30 000 rubs. If there’s kids or pets around then I would say 50 000. For commercial purposes I’d go way over that and recommend 100 000+. This blog seems way out of touch with reality.

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Sam,

      You’re absolutely right, the more double rubs you have the longer your fabric is going to last. There are a lot of differing opinions about the suitability of fabrics for different spaces, it really all depends on how you use your furniture. Are your recommendations based on personal experience or professional guidelines? We’d be happy to consider amending our recommendations in light of new information.

  5. Clif said:

    Really interesting in this day and age of where most of the upholstery is coming from across the pond. Imports are all over the place with respect to what they pass, how they pass certain variety of tests and who’s testing they are measuring against. We have been in the upholstery business since the 50’s, and have used fabrics highly rated and have had terrible results. One must do their homework with whatever they type of upholstery covers you are working with, and I will say this, there are very few mill sources that will place workable guarantees on their goods they produce or represent. That is why these tests were initiated to find a level playing field. It is imperative for one to be wary of how and where the upholstery will be used. Ask questions, how to care for the cover, is there a guarantee, do you have children, pets, how often will it be used, are their allergy concerns, you can make yourself dizzy trying to make the equation fit. Your biggest help can be with the reputation of the firm you are dealing with. Someone with 90 years experience, perfect, we know, we have seen fabrics react in ridiculous ways, both good and bad. It is worth researching, most retailers know the basics, but their knowledge may be just the tip of the iceberg. Fabric is important, frames are important, and filling materials are important. When they are right, you can have a masterpiece, when they are not, you see upholstery setting in the front yard with a “FREE” sign on it. Do your research, ask a pro, most individuals I know with reputable established businesses, particularly family owned, tell you honestly and not just what you want to hear.

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