When recovering your favourite sofa or chair it's important to check the durability of the fabric you want to use, depending on how much wear and tear it has to put up with. The rub test is explained here:
Most fabrics undergo the Martindale Test to check their durability and suitability for various uses, i.e, curtains, domestic furniture, contract furniture. The test is also known as the Rub Test and it tests for abrasion. The test gives a score in 1000′s of rubs. Domestic fabrics often have a rating of 20,000 rubs. Generally, the higher the figure the more suitable the fabric for heavy usage. For example some velvets have scores of over 100,000 making them usable for heavy contract scenarios in hotels.
For a technical explanation read more ......
A circular specimen, mounted in a specimen holder and subjected to a defined load, is rubbed against an abrasive medium (standard wool fabric) in a translational movement tracing a Lissajous figure, the specimen holder being additionally freely rotatable around its own axis perpendicular to the plane of the specimen. The normal end point of the test is when two threads are broken or in the case of pile fabrics when the pile has completely worn off. The inspection interval is dependent on the end point of the fabric and is usually every 1,000 up to 5,000 rubs, every 2,000 between 5,000 & 20,000 every 5,000 between 20,000 & 40,000 and every 10,000 above 40,000
(This information appears on KOTHEA: The Fabric Blog)