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Hi, I'm Raluca. I am an interior designer & the founder of Detail Movement, the place where casual interiors are born for people with stories to tell. Sharing industry knowledge through the Blog and inspirational visuals through Photography. Feel free to have a look around.

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How to pick the right fabric for your home - the Martindale Test

How to pick the right fabric for your home - the Martindale Test

I am often asked "what is the best fabric to choose for upholstery or curtains"? It is indeed a very good question, one that you are entitled to, especially if you are about to undertake a decoration project inside your flat or home. There are many good answers to this question, but I think one, in particular, is of vital importance to anybody interested in this subject.  I did a bit of research for you guys and here is what I found out. If you want to go and buy your own fabric, you need to:

LOOK FOR THE MARTINDALE TEST RESULT ON THE BACK OF THE FABRIC. Or at least ask for it, if the information is not there.

What is the Martindale Test Number?

The Martindale Test is basically a RUB TEST that it is done on every single piece of fabric that is launched to the public. Depending on the country you are living in, it may a  have different name and scale of measure, but it has the same purpose. The rub test is used to simulate abrasion on a piece of fabric. Based on the result, the fabric is then assigned to a certain category of use. Think of it like this: You sit on a sofa, let's say, 5 times a day. All that movement can quickly use and break the fabric. So for example, if you use a fabric that is thin and normally used as a sheer curtain, to upholster your sofa (which you cannot, but let's say for the sake of this example that you could), it will break pretty fast and you'll be left with a hole on your sofa cushion. That is why, it is very important to use the right material for the right piece of furniture or curtains.

How does it work? Check this quick video from Govmark (click here to see).

They are an independent laboratory that tests against Fire, Flammability and Physical Testing, with their results being recognized and accepted world wide. So they pretty much know what they are doing.

Fabric board_©Detail Movement

Fabric board_©Detail Movement

How to choose the right fabric?

After a bit of research, I noticed that there are 5 major categories in which fabrics are divided. Depending on where you look, the number might vary just slightly, but all of them fall into the same groups:

  1. DECORATIVE - less than 10.000 rubs. Usage = cushions, accents, not for general use;
  2. LIGHT DOMESTIC - between 10.000 - 15.000 rubs. Usage = furniture for occasional use;
  3. GENERAL DOMESTIC - between 15.000 - 25.000 rubs. Usage = main furniture for everyday use;
  4. HEAVY DUTY - between 25.000 - 30.000 rubs. Usage = main furniture for heavy everyday use;
  5. COMMERCIAL GRADE - 30.000 and over. Usage = heavy duty commercial and domestic usage.

Ok so then how you do know where to look for this number?

Simple! Every sample usually comes with this information attached to it on the back of the fabric. Some companies display the Martindale result as a number, while others display it as a symbol.

Take the following picture as an example. The sample provided by Gaston Y Daniela, clearly displays the Martindale test as a number, while other companies like Zoffany and Rubelli choose to diplay the rub test result as a symbol. So if you see a chair symbol, it means that the fabric has past the Martindale test and it can be used to upsholster chairs. If you see symblos that resemble curtains, upholstery and cushions, it means the fabric has multiple applications. This is also a sign that it's a durable and versitale material.

©Detail Movement_martindale test

©Detail Movement_martindale test

So there you have it detail lovers, a fast and safe way to choose the right fabric for the right usage. Of course there are other factors to include when picking the right fabric, such as colour and material properties, but that can be a post for another time. For now, just know to look for the Martindale test number and you will be able to pick the correct fabric in no time. If not, there is always a specialist around to ask for help, so don't worry.

Have you noticed any of these symbols or numbers before? Have you noticed any other way that companies display these numbers? If so, do let me know in a comment below or head over to the Facebook Page and share with everybody your experience. I would love to learn what you discovered.

Raluca x

All images that are credited as '©Detail Movement', are done by Raluca Vaduva for Detail Movement. All rights reserved. All pictures that are not my own, I credit them to the best of my knowledge & research, to their online sources. I do not claim ownership over them in any way.

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