Flickr Widget

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pssst...It's called the Wyzenbeek rating.

If you're planning to recover a piece of mid-century furniture, do you know how do determine the textile's durability? Upholstery fabric should be as tough as it is attractive, and there's a way to tell if it is.

Early-20th-century inventor Andrew Wyzenbeek devised a method to test fabric strength. He invented a machine that tests how many double rubs (considered one complete motion back and forth) a swatch of fabric can withstand before tearing. The rating should be on the fabric's label.

For residential use, 15,000-20,000 double rubs is usually an adequate Wyzenbeek durability rating. For heavier use, such as an office chair gets, 40,000 double rubs is usually required. An extremely high rating of 100,000 would be necessary for a textile receiving constant use by many people, such as in a theater or a school.

As you can see below, most good quality upholstery-weight fabrics in mid-century patterns have a durability rating that far exceeds requirements for normal home use. Before you buy bargain fabric, however, be sure to check the tag or bolt, or ask a store employee what the Wyzenbeek rating is, in order to be sure it suits your purpose.

From and

Checker Split by Alexander Girard - 51,000 double rubs
Design 9297 by Josef Hoffmann - 23,000 double rubs

Dot Pattern by Charles and Ray Eames - 63,000 double rubs

Geometri by Verner Panton - 42,000 double rubs

Pavement by George Nelson - 40,000 double rubs

Vases by Hella Jongerius - 100,000 double


  1. Love learning new things like this. I propose that bloggers need their own test to make sure they have sufficiently thick skin to make their thoughts so public without feeling rubbed the wrong way :)!

  2. @DearHelenHartman: ha ha! Bloggers with thin skin? Tell me it isn't so.

  3. If this material is for chairs and couches and such, I'm assuming this is double "rump rubs", right? Tee hee... =P

  4. @1950sarh: LOL I'm not sure I'd want the job of tester, if they expected you to move around all day. When I get on my couch, I prefer my rump to be slothfully immobile.

  5. There is a chair company near here that actually hires teenagers to sit in a lounge chair all day long as one of it's tests, so there is hope for rump slump as well!

  6. @DearHelenHartman: Now that might be a job I could warm up to...if all it entailed (no pun intended) was being a total potato in front of the TV or the computer. Of course, with two young grandsons, that's not likely to happen every day. :)

  7. Very cool. I never would have known. I am LOVING those patterns.

  8. @Rhan Vintage: I'm wanting some of the Coffee Berry to upholster a desk chair for our store. I think it looks very similar to our logo.

  9. How do you pronounce Wyzenbeek??

    1. I've always heard it pronounnced with the first syllable rhyming with "my" and the last syllable rhyming with "week." However, I recently saw a YouTube video where the last syllable was pronounced with a short e, as in "deck." To find an answer to your question, I've emailed a company that manufactures the machines, and as soon as I get a response, I'll post it in my list of pronunciations. There's a tab at the top of the blog to navigate to that list.

    2. I heard back almost immediately from Bill Schap, whose company manufactures Wyzenbeek machines. He said it's Wy (as in "my")-zen-beek (as in "week").

    3. The first syllable rhymes with Me and last rhymes with meek

  10. Wyzenbeek Abrasion Tester,to determine the abrasion resistance of fabrics when rubbed against a standard abradant or a wire mesh screen with a backward and forward motion over a curved surface. Wyzenbeek Machine complies with ASTM D4157, etc. It might provide you with some help, welcome to click on