Tensile and Tear Strength Testing


How durable is a particular fabric? Will it hold up under stress or quickly break? Two popular types of durability testing are for tensile strength and tear strength.

In this short article, we’ll briefly explore two types of test methods: tensiles and tears that are commonly required for industrial applications.

Tensile Strength: What is it?

Tensile strength typically refers to the strength and elongation properties of the material. It is usually measured in units of force per cross-sectional area (i.e. pounds per square inch).

There are two common tests for tensile strength:


ASTM D 5035: Strip test

The grips clamp a strip of fabric using jaws wider than the sample width.

ASTM D5034: Grab test

The grips of a testing machine clamp a fabric sample in the center using jaws smaller than the sample width.

Wet or Dry: Does it make a difference in tensile strength?

Sometimes it does, depending on the fabric. For instance, the strength of wet cotton yarn is greater than that of dry cotton yarn. There are a lot of different tensile tests. Some of the most popular ASTM tensile testing standards for textiles include:


ASTM D5034

Tests breaking strength of textile fabrics.


ASTM D5035

Tests breaking force of textile fabrics.


ASTM D6775

Tests breaking strength of webbing and braided materials.


ASTM D7269

Tests aramid or nylon yarns.


ASTM D4632

Tests for grab breaking load.

Tear Strength: What is it?

Tear strength is the measurement of the resistance of fabric against tearing. It actually relates to the individual yarns in the fabric. There are three basic tear test methods. Each test specimen is very different from the others. 


ASTM D2261: Tongue Tear

Single rip procedure. SunMaster was tested using the Tongue Tear method.


ASTM D5587: Trapezoid Tear

Fabric is cut into a trapezoid shape and a small tear is made before starting the test.

ASTM D1424 Elmendorf

Pendulum method, that uses a smaller specimen than the other tests and starts with a slit in the fabric.

Tensile and Tear Strength May Change Over Time

It’s important to be aware that tensile and tear strength may change, depending on environmental conditions and end-use, in addition to the type of fiber, denier, and construction of the fabric itself.

Wind, sun, moisture all can contribute to a loss of tensile and tear strength, as the material breaks down over time.

One of the biggest contributing factors is sunlight, which can speed up degradation.


Durability testing is an important part of the textile world. The two very common test types are tensiles and tears testing.

There are many different methods based on fabric and end-use. Tensile testing tests a fabric’s strength and elongation properties, with two common methods the grab test ASTM D5034 and the strip test ASTM D5035.

Tear testing measures the resistance of fabric to tearing and there are three popular methods: Tongue tear, trapezoid tear, and Elmendorf.

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