Double Rubs and Pilling Class

Wondering about the durability of our fabrics? Fibre content and handfeel will only tell you so much. For upholstery projects and other uses where fabrics need to stand up to everyday life, it is important to know how a fabric will wear over time.

For all the fabrics we sell, we aim to provide as much information as we can on construction and performance under the DIMENSIONS & CARE drop-down on our product pages, as provided by our manufacturers. Tonic Living does not perform our own testing. We rely on the accuracy of manufacturer information in our product descriptions.

The textile industry in North America has set industry-wide standards for rating fabric performance. Two of the primary ways that fabric makers rank strength, durability and longevity are through a “double rubs” rating and pilling classification. Here is a quick explainer on how testing for each of these measurements is carried out, and what these ratings mean for a fabric's use in your home.


Double Rubs

The double rub rating tells you how well a fabric will stand up to abrasion across its surface. Results are determined using the Wyzenbeek Abrasion Test. The test is meant to simulate the type of wear endured from one fabric rubbing against the surface of another, for example when used as a seat cushion.

For this method of testing, the fabric to be tested is stretched over a wire mesh screen with a curved surface and placed into a specialized machine. A testing pad covered with a plain cotton duck fabric is then passed back-and-forth over the surface by a mechanical arm. Each back-and-forth pass is counted as one “double rub.” The test is typically run in sets of 5000 double rubs until the fabric begins to show “noticeable wear,” or two yarn breaks.

What do these numbers mean in the real world? Here is general guide that can help when making your fabric selection decisions:


DOUBLE RUBS FOR RESIDENTIAL APPLICATIONS

Rating

Number of Double Rubs

Fabric Usage

Heavy Duty

15,000+

Best for high traffic areas. Suitable for homes with kids or pets.

Medium Duty

9,000-15,000

Versatile. Good for living rooms or family rooms.

Light Duty

3,000-9,000

If used as upholstery, better suited to occasional furniture and lighter-use pieces.

Delicate Duty

Less than 3,000

Recommended for more decorative uses. Not appropriate for use as upholstery.


Pilling Class

Pills are the little balls that form on the surface of fabric as loose fibers become tangled when the fabric is subjected to repeated fiction. Pilling is not a defect in the fabric and can typically be removed with vacuuming or the use of a pill shaver.

It is important to note that all fabrics can pill to some extent. No fabric can be guaranteed to be 100% pill-proof. Even fabric labelled as “pill resistant” should be expected to have some chance of pilling over time. This is considered normal wear and tear and is simply the nature of the game when living with textiles!

Pill resistance is rated according to a five-grade classification system. To evaluate pilling, manufacturers use a specialized machine to conduct a Brush Pill Test. (This is also sometimes referred to as a Martindale Test.) For this test, fabric samples are brushed in a circular motion with a nylon bristled brush or sponge pad for a set time period (typically four minutes) to create fuzz on their surface. After brushing, the samples are then rubbed face to face for two more minutes, again in a circular motion. The fabric samples are then visually evaluated against set standards to determine the degree of pilling evident.

This explanation of pill rating classes can be used as a general guide when making your fabric selection decisions:


BRUSH PILL CLASSES

Class 5

No pilling or fuzzing

Class 4

Slight pilling or fuzzing

Class 3

Moderate pilling or fuzzing

Class 2

Severe pilling or fuzzing

Class 1

Very severe pilling or fuzzing


Again, please note that Tonic Living is not able to perform our own testing. We rely on the accuracy of manufacturer information in our product descriptions. Proper care can help prevent certain types of wear and extend the life of the fabrics in your home. We always do our best to communicate the information and expertise we have available in order help you make informed decisions on your desired use of our fabrics.

Have more questions? We will gladly talk textiles with you! Visit us in store to consult with our knowledgeable and friendly team of fabric nerds, or contact us with your inquiry.