What are Double Rubs?
If you are shopping for upholstery fabric the words ‘double rub’ will keep popping up. Simply put, this is a method for testing the ability of a fabric to withstand wear from abrasion. The test which uses double rubs is called the Wyzenbeek Test or method. This is a mechanized method that involves rubbing a piece of cotton duck on the test fabric. Each back and forth motion of the mechanical arm is called a double rub. This mimics the action of sitting down and getting up, the two actions where fabrics are likely to rub against each other. The double rubs are done in sets of 5,000 until the test fabric shows signs of wear or 2 yarns break. A notable change in color and pile are also noted. Typically, 3,000 double rubs are estimated to be one year’s use.
How do the amount of double rubs affect the durability of a fabric?
The biggest cause of wear and tear in upholstery fabrics is abrasion. This occurs as people shift in their seats, for example, or move their backs on the support of a chair. A fabric that wears out easily is not very suitable for high traffic areas like public waiting rooms in government offices. Typically, a fabric is labelled heavy duty if it can withstand 15,000+ double rubs. The level of abrasion resistance in a fabric determines the way it can be used. For residential purposes; • Delicate duty – Under 3,000 double rubs. This type of fabric is suitable for use in pillows, drapes and curtains. • Light duty – 3,000-9,000 double rubs. Suitable for use on occasional use furniture • Medium duty – 9,000-15,000 double rubs. This type of fabric is more versatile and can be used on different daily-use furniture • Heavy duty – 15,000+ double rubs. Suitable for the favorite family couch in the living room For commercial purposes • Contract upholstery fabric – 15,000-20,000 double rubs. This is used on furniture that is in light traffic areas, for example, the CEO’s waiting room or a tax consultant’s office. These are areas that don’t see many visitors in a day. • Heavy duty - Up to 30,000 double rubs. Suitable for use in areas that see typical business traffic e.g. hotel rooms, conference rooms and dining areas as well as single shift offices • Extra heavy duty - Over 30,000 double rubs. This is for very heavy traffic areas including airport terminals, fast food restaurants, hospital waiting rooms, and government offices, entertainment facilities like bars, stadiums and theaters.
Is the Wyzenbeek test adequate?
This Wyzenbeek could be said to the best indicator of a fabric’s durability because it tests for resistance to the number one factor in wearing down a fabric, which is abrasion. However, it should be noted that a fabric’s durability is also affected by exposure to heat and damp. A fabric like faux leather is able to withstand abrasion very well but is highly susceptible to heat. Faux leather that is exposed to the sun tends to stiffen and crack. Cotton, which is a natural fiber is prone to moisture damage. Cotton that retains moisture will see the growth of mold and fungi, which break down the fabric. Other factors that affect a fabric’s durability include the way the fibers are woven and the content of the fiber. Synthetic fibers generally have more resistance to abrasion than natural fibers. Placement considerations The placement of the furniture is perhaps the other big consideration to be made. Indoor furniture is not exposed to weather extremes of heat and cold. On the other hand, outdoor upholstery fabric has to withstand abrasion and weather extremes and requires a fabric that is resistant to multiple factors. The level of care for a fabric is also a big determinant. Cleaning the fabric in the right manner has a big impact on its lifespan.
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