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Rumours abound that different testing houses give different Martindale abrasion test results for the same fabrics. Is there any truth to that?

Probably not.

Sometimes the tests can be carried out differently and so the results are different. There is a British Standard for abrasion testing which specifies how the test is done, if it is done in a different way then that may affect the result.

For example if we ‘know’ that a fabric is going to achieve about 35,000 Martindale ‘rubs’ then we would ask the testing company to test to 40,000 or if we were uncertain of the likely result we would ask them to test to end-point.

It is usual practice for the fabric to be rubbed in increments of 3,000 or so at a time. Clearly it is easier if a machine is left to run for 30,000 rather than 3,000 and then reset 10 times. Also the ‘correct’ (latter) way will give an accurate result of exactly when the fabric wears out.

I’m not sure why this is done not having read the British Standard myself in detail; maybe the fabric tension on the machine is meant to be checked every 3,000 rubs?

Anyway, if the test is not done properly then a LOWER result will be obtained.

So, providing a reputable testing house that is properly accredited has undertaken the test then it is safe to assume that the result is accurate. Of course the fabric piece that you buy may vary ever so slightly and this might cause minor variations. But that is the nature of some fabrics. A fault in the fabric may also cause it to wear out much quicker than expected but that fault should normally have been spotted by your upholsterer before they used it.

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