Fabric Durability for Furniture Upholstery

Fabric Durability for Furniture Upholstery

Folks have been asking about durable fabrics.

And I get it.  Investing in reupholstering their furniture, they want to know the fabric will hold up for ...  ahhhh ... some acceptable time frame.  But that doesn't always mean surviving train station abuse!  (Do you use your furniture like that?  We are in New Jersey, but ...)

What's The Rub on Fabric Rubs?

Fabric durability generally comes down to an abrasion test.  Jean-covered butts swiping-slithering-grinding on and off.  Wearing down even the Rock of Gibraltar ... or the NJ equivalent.  What can the fabric handle before showing wear?

Abrasion resistance is often listed on the fabric.  The makers usually have their wares tested in labs.  "Double-rub" ratings show up as a result.  A double rub equals (in non-technical terms) one jean-covered butt sliding onto the fabric and then off.  Two slides, one rub.  

Check out this label:

fabric abrasion rating Greenhouse Fabrics

The abrasion rating is 50,000 rubs.  Durable fabric.  In the VERY durable range.

We've seen fabric durability / abrasion ratings up to and exceeding 100,000 rubs.  But what durability do you need from your upholstery fabric?

What Are Furniture Fabric Durability Guidelines?

A long standing translation between lab durability rub tests and day-to-day use has been:

  • Light Use: 9,000 to 11,000 rubs.  Bedroom furniture, formal settings, accent chairs
  • Medium Use: 12,000 to 15,000 rubs.  Dining room seats, living room sofas, side chairs, ottomans
  • Heavy Use: Over 15,000 rubs.  Kitchen chairs, family room seating, light commercial seating
  • Heavy Commercial: 35,000 rubs and over.  This is the train station scenario.

Think of it.  At 15,000 rubs - getting in and out of a chair 4 times a day, every day - the fabric would not show wear for over 10 years!

The Bottom Line on Upholstery Fabric Durability

Don't get so hung up on hyper-durable fabrics that you bypass some wonderful textiles. 

Pick candidate upholstery fabrics that meet your design criteria: color, texture, pattern.  Then eliminate those that do not meet the usage demands you expect.

Purchase fabrics that aesthetically appeal to you. It’s more likely that the style of the fabric will wear on you before the actual fibers do.
— Greenhouse Fabrics

Related Information:  Help With Fabric



The furniture workshop of JH Conklin & Co. upholsters furniture for people and businesses throughout Southern New Jersey, Delaware, Philadelphia metro and the southern shore areas. The workshop also provides custom window treatment and fabric resources.


Our general service area includes: Gloucester County, Camden County, Burlington County, Cape May County, Atlantic County, Cumberland County, Salem County, NJ; Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia county in Pennsylvania; and New Castle County DE.  #NJupholstery