The best way to know if your sofa will stand the test of time is to know the durability of its upholstery. In the United States, the durability of upholstery is measured by rub count which is determined with the Wyzenbeek Method. During this method a mechanical arm repeatedly rubs heavy canvas over the upholstery being tested. Every motion back and forth counts as one rub. The rubbing continues until the upholstery shows signs of wear which is defined as 2 yarn breaks. Continue reading for a thorough breakdown of rub counts and what they mean for you.
Less than 10,000 Rub Count
A rub count of 10k or less is considered delicate and should only be used for decorative purposes.
10,000 – 15,000 Rub Count
A rub count between 10k and 15k is more durable but still only suited for lightly used furniture such as domestic dining chairs. Delicate materials, such as silk, typically fall into this category.
15,000 – 30,000 Rub Count
Fabrics that fall within this range are considered good for everyday use and most furniture companies use fabrics with this rub count for their sofas. Even curtains and bedding will typically have 15k-30k rub counts.
30,000 – 50,000 Rub Count
These fabrics are considered more heavy duty and can withstand high traffic environments without fraying or wearing out quickly. So if you have kids, pets and/or frequent guests look for a rub count of at least 30k or more.
50,000 Rub Count
Fabrics with a 50k rub count are considered commercial grade which means they are the strongest textiles you can get! These materials can withstand the heavy traffic of offices, and even restaurants. But they can also be used in the home. If your residential furniture takes a good beating from over use then a commercial grade fabric is recommended because of its incredible durability. Often they come with an extra cost but it’s worth it if you have a heavy traffic home. These are also considered kid, and pet friendly because they tend to have extra treatments to make them UV resistant, liquid resistant, oil resistant, and stain resistant. Some companies refer to fabrics within this range as Performance Fabrics
50k-200k Rub Counts
While a fabric with a 200k rub count is technically more durable than one with a 50k rub count, anything above 50k will work just fine for your family home sofa. If you're trying to be budget conscious, opt for a fabric within the 50k-75k range without extra costs and it be suitable enough. You will also find that anything above 50k will also have the added bonus of treatments making them UV resistant, liquid resistant, oil resistant, and stain resistant. These features do make the fabrics more pet and kid-friendly as well.
How Companies Compare
Some furniture companies list the specific rub count of their fabrics, while others simply list whether or not it’s durable. Here are a few companies we found who have some of the highest rub counts for residential furniture. Keep in mind that fabric type also impacts the durability of a fabric. For example, velvets are inherently more fragile than say leathers given their texture which is more delicate by design (it's what makes them so soft). That said, you can find velvets with high rub counts but their rub count and durability isn't equivalent to that of a differing fabric type with the same rub count. So when shopping for the most durable option, comparing those within the same fabric type is the most fair comparison.
Medley – Free Swatches
Medley offers high-end fabrics designed to meet every individual's style needs. Featuring beautiful leather, contemporary weaves, cozy chenille, and breathable cotton/linen blend options, you'll have no trouble finding a fabric that fits your taste. Plus, these fabrics come with exclusive features such as Performance Grade, Commercial Grade, Pet-friendly materials, Oeko-Tex Certification and even Machine Washability! With their amazing 36k - 100k rub count rating; these luxurious materials are sure to stand up to daily use and last for many years. No matter what you're looking for in a fabric – whether it's durability or style – Medley fabrics deliver on both fronts.
Shop the Gio Sofa
Inside Weather - Free Swatches
All Inside Weather fabrics are 100% polyester with rub counts between 30,000 to 100,000. According to their customer service team, the Bondi Collection in Mascarpone is their best selling sofa and fabric color. The Mascarpone is a Brindled Weave performance fabric. Its features include 100k rub count, pet-friendly, stain resistant, liquid resistant, commercial grade and Oeko-Tex certified. They have dozens of other fabrics with the same features as well and all of their sofas can be customized with any of these fabrics.
Shop the Bondi Collection
BenchMade Modern - Free Swatches
BenchMade Modern has 12 different categories of fabrics. Within each category there are a variety of colors and polyester blends. Most of their fabrics have either 50k or 100k rub counts. For 100k rub count they have chenille, felt, linen, and basket weave. For 50k rub count they have linen, chenille and also basket weave. Fortunately you can customize their sofas with any of their fabrics. And according to their customer service rep, their most popular sofa collection is the Skinny Fat.
Shop Skinny Fat Collection
Blu Dot - Free Swatches
The rub counts of Blu Dot fabrics vary from 15k-100k+. Due to the design of their swatch page, it is difficult to see how many fabrics there are within each rub count. But they list the rub counts of some fabrics in the “Product Detail” tab on each product page which is helpful. Their customer service rep said that their most popular sofa collections are the Sunday and the New Standard. Their top 3 most popular fabrics are the Nixon (30k rub count), the Sanford (50k rub count), and the Spitzer (100k+ rub count).
Shop New Standard Collection
While all of the brands mentioned offer a range of fabrics with high rub counts, Inside Weather has the widest selection of fabrics across all of their sofa collections and styles. Reviews from customers mention how well their fabrics have held up over time and Inside Weather also offers a 365 day home trial. Interior Define does offer rub counts over 100k+ if you're in the market for that but tends to be expensive and 50k+ will be sturdy enough for a home sofa.