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  • Writer's pictureYaron Linett

A note about "durable" fabric...

Client fabric and finishes sample board.
Fabric Up For Consideration

It is very rare that someone doesn't ask to make sure that the fabric we select is "durable".  Often this is followed by phrases such as "indoor/outdoor", "performance", or "heavy duty".  As is so often the case this leads to me expounding upon the esoteric science of durability and what those phrases do and do not actually mean.

Indoor/Outdoor fabric refers to fabric that is fade resistant, this feature is measured in hours of lightfastness.  In order to be classified as an indoor/outdoor fabric most standards require a minimum of 500-1500 hours.  It does not necessarily mean that you can leave them outside (often it does not), it does not mean you can bleach clean them, and it certainly doesn't mean they are highly abrasion resistant.

Performance fabric is a generic term that doesn't have any real standard behind it, much like "green" can mean a lot of things most companies want you to associate performance with easy to clean.  Fiber content, soil and stain repellent treatments, and actual weave play a large part in all those considerations.  If you can find out, get the cleaning code and Wyzenbeek or Martindale score to have a better idea of what you are really getting.

Heavy duty has a little more consensus behind it than Performance, but even that relies on who is doing the testing. Here the old residential scale has almost entirely been eclipsed by the commercial one and a Wyzenbeek (Double Rub) or Martindale (Cycles) score can give you a better sense of comparative abrasion resistances between various options.

Ultimately there are so many considerations in the world of textile science that my best suggestion is to determine what specifically you think is going to happen to the fabric: stains, fading, puncture, moisture, chemical exposure, abrasion...and let your designer present options that take those concerns into account ahead of time.

Care to learn more about the way in which Wyzenbeek or Martindale tests are conducted?  Drop us an email and we'll be happy to follow up!


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