We are looking at a Smith Brothers of Berne sofa and I am confused about fabric durability. The sofa will be in our only living area so it will be well used. I don't have children but I do have two small dogs. My question is what blends are best? I am looking at two fabrics, one a GG grade of 34% acrylic, 32% polyester, 27% cotton and 7% rayon, the other is a grade DD of 50% polyester and 50% acrylic. My dealer is saying every fabric I pull out would be good but I just can't believe that. Also, does anyone have any experience with Smith Brothers? Thanks for any help.
Fabric durability is a tricky question. Fabric grade has no relationship to the durability. Some of the most durable fabrics are among the cheapest you can buy (such as olefins). On the other hand some of the most expensive can be the most delicate (such as silks.) When you are looking at high end fabrics, the look and the feel is the critical factor, not the fabric content. It is impossible to list a particular "blend" that is always superior in durability to another blend. In the example you give, either fabric may be more durable than the other . Both are probably mid-range on the durability scale. In general, synthetic fibers are more durable than natural fibers, but there are exceptions to that also.)
Thanks for the information simplyjeff.
Jeff is absolutely correct. Price grade is no guarantee of durability or of quality, its simply the price! There is only one way to determine fabric durability and that is to request the Wyzenbeek, Martindale or 'double rub' value from the mill that makes the fabric. This will require your dealer to call Smith Bros. for the request, and they in turn will call the mill. Both Wyzenbeek and Martindale are abrasion or rub tests. Wyzenbeek involves rubbing along the warp and weft of the fabric whereas Martindale is a figure-8 rub.
A Wyzenbeek machine is used for this test allowing sample of the test fabric to be pulled tight in a frame and help stationary. Individual test specimens cut from the warp and weft direction are then rubbed back and forth using an approved fabric as the abradant. The number of double rub cycles achieved before two yarn breaks occur or noticeable wear is observed is recorded as the fabric’s abrasion rating.
Martindale is an oscillating test. Fabric samples are mounted flat and rubbed in a figure eight like motion using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the abradant. The number of cycles that the fabric can endure before fabric shows objectionable change in appearance (yarn breaks, pilling, holes) is counted. Number of cycles determines abrasion rating.
This is mostly used in commercial applications, where use is FAR heavier than in residential use. A rub value of 15,000 to 20,000 will generally be very suitable for home use. 30,000 to 40,000 is considered heavy duty commercial use.
Thats the only way you can really tell - get the rub values. Don't be surprised it the information takes a week to get back to you!
All Questions should be asked in the forum
Maybe DC will chime in on whether this is useful or not but I do this.
Take the material over by the windows and hold up to the light - how well can you see through it? Pull it by opposite corners and "the middle" and see how much give there is. Look at the back to see what the 'construction' or weave that is holding the front pattern together looks like. Feel for thickness, and sturdiness. Look to see if the threading creating any pattern would be subject to creating pulls.
My thinking, which may not be of much use, is that the more a fabric stretches, the more light you can see through it, the looser the backing weave means more give. Every time you sit down something is rubbing up against some other thread as it gives.
Now I suppose its true that if you had a really tightly constructed fabric made of cheap threads it does'nt matter as they will just eventually snap whether they give and rub together or not. But hopefully thats a minority.
That's a useful way to quickly judge the tightness of the weave and there's a bit of correlation between that an durability, but its not as a controlled durability test like the various rub tests. Materials used in the construction will affect the durability (rayon, cotton, silk, linen, etc.) more so than the weave. Still that's a useful technique when going through a lot of fabrics and you don't want to bother getting test values.
All Questions should be asked in the forum