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What is a Martindale score?

What is a Martindale score?

The Martindale rub score is a measurement taken to determine the durability of fabric in terms of wear and tear, and helps you to make an informed buying decision when shopping for fabric. It’s mainly used to find out whether a material is suitable for upholstery use in specific environments.

What do the scores mean?

The main rule of thumb is simple–the higher the score, the more durable the fabric. Depending on your end use you might want to make sure that your fabric of choice meets certain minimum criteria.

Less than 10,000

A fabric that scores less than 10,000 rubs is considered suitable for decorative or non-upholstery use only. This can include cushions, throws, curtains and blinds.

If a score isn’t listed for a fabric, then it’s always a good policy to assume that it scores less than 10,000 until you know otherwise. In reality it might just mean that we’re waiting for results to come back, or even that we haven’t updated the website yet, but it can also mean that we’re certain that it won’t be suitable for any kind of upholstery use.

10,000 to 15,000

Fabric scoring between 10,000 and 15,000 rubs is suitable for light domestic upholstery. Ornamental furniture, or bedroom armchairs, would fall under this category, as will dining-room chairs.

15,000 to 25,000

A score between 15,000 and 25,000 means that a fabric will be suitable for general domestic upholstery. This covers most applications in a domestic setting, including sofas and armchairs that are subject to daily and repeated use.

25,000 to 30,000

Fabric in the general domestic band might not be suitable in upholstery that puts particularly high stress on the fabric–here we need fabric that’s suitable for heavy domestic use. Think here about reclining furniture, where the fabric rubs against itself every time the chair is put into its reclining position and back again.

Fabric in this band might also be considered suitable for light contract use. More detailed information on contract environments can be found further in this article.

30,000 to 40,000

We say that a fabric that has at least 30,000 rubs is suitable for general contact upholstery. This band covers the overwhelming majority of contract use-cases, but for upholstery placed under particularly heavy stress, you might want a fabric that even more durable still.

More than 40,000

For particularly heavy-duty furniture you may want to source a fabric within the severe contract upholstery band.

What is a contract environment?

A contract environment, plain and simply, is one that’s outside of a domestic setting. This will include offices, shops, hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, schools and hospitals. There’s a very good reason to treat these environments differently than we do our own homes–these are high-traffic areas, in which upholstered furniture is subject to far more wear and tear.

Anyone working on contract projects might also need to be familiar with the rules surrounding the use of fire retardant fabric.

What about scores higher than 40,000?

When shopping for fabric you might come across scores of over 40,000 – some even as high as 100,000 or more. Our policy at Fabric Online is that scores above 40,000 make no real-world difference to the longevity of upholstered furniture. This is true in the overwhelming majority of cases.

When we send our own fabric off for testing, we ask the laboratory to test only up to 50,000 rubs. It’s true that some fabrics here on our website list scores higher still, but in these cases the tests were carried out by our manufacturers and suppliers.

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