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Rub Rating of Leather – What To Look For and Why

Imagine you’re looking at a brand-new leather couch for the family room, and the label indicates a rub rating of 8,000. What does that mean, and why should you care? I will discuss why the rub rating of leather is very important to consider when looking at new leather furniture.

Rub rating of leather is the measure of durability and indicates how long it takes for signs of wear and tear to occur. Rub ratings range from delicate (9,000) to heavy-duty (>15,000). A double rub rating of 15,000 is considered sufficient for residential leather furniture. 

Are you looking to buy new leather furniture for your home but unsure what needs to be considered? Do you have children or pets and need to know more about leather durability? Let’s explore what to look for in the rub rating of leather.

What Is a Rub Rating?

A rub rating is a measure of the durability of fabrics as set forth by U.S. government and the Fabric Wearability Code. It is a way to help consumers decide which fabrics for furniture are best for use in residences and businesses. Rub rating ranges from heavy duty to delicate and indicates how long it takes for signs of wear and tear to occur with daily use.

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • What is the Rub Rating of Leather
  • Rub Rating of Leather Overview Table
  • Why Test the Rub Rating of Leather?
  • How Is the Rub Rating of Leather Measured?
  • Types of Rub Rating Tests
  • My Personal Research Into Rub Rating of Leather
  • Helpful Leather Rub Rating Insights
  • Key Takeaways
A Rustic Brown Leather Couch - Rub Rating of Leather - Liberty Leather Goods
A Rustic Brown Leather Couch

Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

It has been said that leather isn’t as durable as fabric upholstery on furniture, but this is untrue. Leather is one of the most durable upholstery materials and can last up to 20 years with proper care. 

Rub ratings have been called the gold standard of upholstery durability, and one might think it takes a super high double rub count to be durable enough for home use. Rub ratings of leather, even at 9,000, can do very well for home furniture, with 15,000 considered sufficient.

The rub rating of leather indicates durability for residential and commercial applications.

What is the Rub Rating of Leather?

The rub rating of leather is the number of rubs it takes to show color changes or deterioration to the leather material being tested. A machine is used to rub the leather with an abrasive material like wool to simulate repeated sitting and scooting on leather couches, loveseats, or ottomans. 

The number of double rubs, or rubs back and forth, indicates how long the leather should last without visible damage. There are several types of leather, and the higher the quality, the higher the rub rating.

Rub Rating of Leather Overview Table

Delicate duty<3,000 double rubs, ideal for curtains and pillows
Light duty3,000 to 9,000, good for formal living rooms
Medium duty9,000 to 15,000, ideal for busy family rooms
Heavy duty>15,000, recommended for homes with children and pets
Rub Rating of Leather Characteristics

Why Test the Rub Rating of Leather?

Buying leather furniture is a big investment. One wants the best value and something that will last. Over time, leather can start showing worn spots, color changes, and even thickness loss. This is because of daily use, repeated sitting and repositioning, and rubbing of materials across the leather because of the clothing one wears. 

The rub rating of leather is tested to see how long it can withstand rubs of these types before any visible damage occurs. Simply put, if a leather couch has a low rub rating, it will show signs of wear after three to five years, and if it has a higher rub rating, it will take much longer to show similar signs of wear. The higher the rub rating, the longer the couch or loveseat will look nice and last with daily use.

Check out this helpful video from BTODtv to learn more about double-rub rating and how fabrics are tested.

How Is the Rub Rating of Leather Measured?

The rub rating of leather demonstrates what level of use can be withstood, and a range is used to describe the durability. Here is the durability scale of double rub ratings of leather for residential use and what each level is appropriate for:

  1. Delicate – <3,000 double rubs, appropriate for decorative pieces including curtains and pillows
  2. Light – 3,000 to 9,000 double rubs, appropriate for lesser used furniture including formal sitting rooms
  3. Medium – 9,000 to 15,000 double rubs, appropriate for daily use furniture on a budget
  4. Heavy – >15,000 double rubs, appropriate for furniture in homes with children and pets

One thing to note about rub ratings of leather is the higher the count, the less soft the material is. There is a different scale for commercial-use leather to measure the highest durability for heavy-use commercial furniture.

Types of Rub Rating Tests

There are a few different ways to test the rub rating of materials; each performed a bit differently.

Wyzenbeek Testing

Wyzenbeek testing is defined by researchers Textor, Derksen, Bahners, Gutmann, and Mayer-Gall in the Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabrics as rubbing leather or another fabric against a set textile or abrasive medium, for example, sandpaper, to test resistance to wear. 

The abrading material is rubbed back and forth, known as a double rub, until indications of wear are visualized. This is the standard North American method for most materials but not typically leather.

Martindale Test

The Martindale machine is the standard in Europe and the UK. This test stretches leather or fabric with wool or sandpaper vibrating between discs in a figure 8 pattern. This is done until the leather has wear indications visible. The number of times this process takes is a unit of measure called Martindales.

Taber Test

The Taber test is another abrasive measure of the durability of leather and other materials. A Taber Abrasion tester is used where the leather is placed on a flat circular disc and then put in contact with two abrading discs with weights. The Taber machine then uses a sensor to identify changes in the leather and count the number of double rubs it took.

Veslic Test

The Veslic rub tester is specific to testing leather durability. The machine rubs wool felt across the leather’s surface to test for color changes, wool staining, and leather damage. A greyscale measures color difference after the Veslic rub test is performed.

My Personal Research Into Rub Rating of Leather

Different types of leather are taken from various levels and thicknesses of leather hides, each with a range of rub ratings. These should be taken into account when considering leather furniture based on how often it will be used for durability reasons.

Leather TypeRub Rating
Full grain leather15,000–30,000
Top grain leather12,000–15,000
Genuine leather12,000–15,000
Bonded leather6,000–9,000
Faux leather10,000–12,000
Rub Ratings of Leather

Helpful Leather Rub Rating Insights

What is the rub test for leather?

The rub test for leather is performed to see how many double rubs it takes before color changes or signs of wear are visible. Four types of rub tests can be performed on leather to test its durability: Wyzenbeek, Martindale, Taber, and Veslic. Each one is done slightly differently, and Veslic is the only rub test specific to leather.

What is leather rub-off finish?

A leather rub-off finish is a dark patina that has been applied to a lighter layer of pigment. Also called rub-off leather, it adds character to leather by pigmenting and rubbing off a finish to give it an aged look. It’s a fancy way of making two-toned leather for a unique patina.

What is the ASTM standard for rub test?

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has published standards for testing and classifying all materials in the U.S. Their standard for rub test is the ASTM D7255 which measures abrasion resistance in leather upholstery using a double-head rotary platform. 

Key Takeaways

  1. The rub rating of leather indicates durability for residential and commercial applications.
  2. Full grain leather has the highest rub rating.
  3. There are four methods for identifying rub ratings of fabrics: Wyzenbeek, Martindale, Taber, and Veslic.

In Closing

Durability is an important thing to look at when considering leather furniture. This information can be found on fabric swatches, furniture tags, and product specifications. The perfect leather couch isn’t just about how it looks but how it withstands use. Now that you have the tools to investigate rub ratings of leather, I hope this helps you find the perfect one for your home or office.

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