Fabric Selection


When selecting a fabric there are multiple factors to take into account. The following guidelines will help you select a fabric suitable for your specific applications.

  1. Abrasion: The surface wear of upholstery fabric caused by rubbing and contact with another fabric.

The Martindale abrasion test ASTM D4966-98 is a test that helps rate the wear ability level of a fabric.  Upholstery fabrics for heavy-duty use are rated at 30,000 rubs – these are appropriate for corporate offices, hotel rooms, conference rooms, waiting areas, lounges, dining areas, etc. Extreme wear situations that may require higher ratings of abrasion resistance, such as airport waiting areas, train & bus seating other public places like theaters, hospitals and fast food restaurants, require abrasion ratings equating to more than 60,000 rubs.

Actual performance is determined by many factors such as fiber makeup, weave type, furniture design and upholstery workmanship, cleaning and usage. The durability of an upholstery fabric also depends on its other features suchas color fastness, wet & dry durability, stain resistance, cleaning etc.

  1. Colorfastness to light: A fabric’s degree of resistance to the fading effect of light.

Colorfastness to light is a measure of how permanent a color is on fabric after exposure to light. Both natural and synthetic fabrics are subject to discoloration under sunlight and fluorescent light.

The ISO-105-B02 is a test method that measures the influence of the light of a xenon lamp to a sample under certain conditions. Lightfastness grading is determined by comparing the level of color loss of the tested sample with blue standards. For example, grade 5 means that the characteristics of color fastness of the tested sample are similar to the characteristics of the blue standard 5.

Grade 5 – no fading
Grade 4 – little fading
Grade 1 – great fading

Upholstery fabrics should have a minimum rating of 4 no matter the intended use. Adorn upholstery fabrics have a rating of 4-5.

  1. Colorfastness to wet and dry crocking /rubbing: Transfer of color from the surface of a colored fabric onto another surface by rubbing or repeated contact.

Test method ISO-105×12:2001 uses a standard white cotton fabric in both dry and wet state that is rubbed against the surface of the test fabric. After rubbing under controlled pressure for a specific number of times the amount of color transferred to the white test squares is compared to a color chart and a rating is established.

Grade 5 – no color transfer
Grade 1 – high degree of color transfer

For upholstery fabrics ACT guidelines recommend dry crocking Grade 4 minimum and wet crocking Grade 3 minimum. Adorn upholstery fabrics have a rating of 4-5 for both dry and wet crocking /rubbing.

  1. Pilling: Pilling is the formation of fuzzy balls of fiber on the surface of a fabric that remain attached to the fabric.

ISO-12945-2:2000 Martindale Method with 415g loading mass, 200 cycles:
Grade 5 – no change
Grade 4 – slight surface fuzzing
Grade 3 – moderate surface pilling. Pills of varying size and density partially covering the surface
Grade 2 – distinct surface piling. Pills of various size and density covering a large proportion of the surface
Grade 1 – severe pilling covering whole of the fabric surface

Most upholstery fabrics pill to varying degrees. For contract applications fabric should meet grade 4 minimum. Adorn upholstery fabrics have a pilling rating of 4-5.

  1. Colorfastness to perspiration: Resistance to color change due to perspiration.

ISO-105-E104:1994 determines resistance to color change due to acidic or alkaline perspiration.
Grade 5 – no color change
Grade 1 – high degree of color change

Adorn upholstery fabrics have a rating of 4-5.

  1. Flammability: A fabric’s performance when it is exposed to specific source of ignition.

ACT guidelines specify different flammability tests dictated by the intended end use of the fabric. The NFPA 701-89 measures ignition resistance of a fabric after it is exposed to a flame for 12 seconds. The flame, char length and flaming residue are recorded. The test is repeated a number of times and all test samples have to pass the test (if even one sample fails, the fabric fails).

ACT guidelines recommend Class 1 for upholstery and panels. Adorn upholstery fabrics meet this recommendation.

Higher fire-resistant property is required in high risk areas with little means of escape (i.e., prison cells and offshore oil installations). Adorn fabrics can be made to meet high hazard applications by incorporation of additives to prevent combustion.

Note: A fabric cannot be described as non-flammable under all conceivable circumstances. A fire hazard presented by any textile is very dependent on its construction, type of fiber and the circumstances at the time.


Source: “Specification Guidelines.” The Fabric Project, fabricproject.com/specification-guidelines/.