What Are the Qualities of Good Upholstery Foam?

Stapling replacement upholstery
  • 1-5 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-200

When you are in the process of making or changing fabric designs of the furniture you may find yourself having to replace the upholstery foam. Perhaps the chair was not as soft as it could be or it lost its softness too quickly. Whatever the reasons, you may wish to replace the upholstery foam. The problem is there are a lot of products out there you can use which can make this seemingly easy purchase much more difficult than it has to be. The following article will help you determine what makes an upholstery good or bad.

Thick or Thin—The Choice is Yours

You will come to find out rather quickly that the thickness of upholstery foam is varied. Some states have furniture flammable laws so if you are in one of these states (check with your upholsterer) you may be locked in to a certain kind of foam rated as fire resistant. If you are lucky and you are left to choose it on your own then consider the item you are having upholstered. The ultimate use of the furniture will determine how thick the foam should be. Dining room chairs as an example would typically prefer a medium soft foam (2.8 rating) but if you're after extra comfort then you could always go much softer than that if you like. Seat back cushions are typically much firmer than the seat cushion so keep that in mind when having chairs upholstered.

The Cost of Upholstery Foam

stacks of thick foam

The price for upholstery foam is based on sheets of one specific size and weight as well as thickness in some cases. Some shops will offer custom sizing and pricing for upholstery foam if you do not need the large pieces normally sold. Expect the price to be slightly higher per square foot than if you bought in larger sheets and then cut them to size yourself. Upholstery foam can range from $12.00 a sheet (sold in 24 by 24 by 2 inch sections for dining room chairs) to over $126.00 a sheet (6 by 24 by 84 inch).

Foam Density

Upholstery foam is rated in density by a two digit number ranging from 18 to 35 with a decimal point between the two numbers so a #18 foam would be 1.8 foam. This is determined by two factors: urethane and air. The more urethane that is present in the foam means that the foam will have a higher density. A #18 foam would translate to 1.8 pounds of urethane in each cubic foot of the foam which equals 12 by 12 by 12 inch. This density foam would not be very popular as a seat cushion because it would be too thin but could make a nice back cushion. The most popular upholstery foam is as follows:

1.8 (extra soft, used as back cushions)

2.4 (comfortable soft, firmer back cushions)

2.7 (soft, Soft seat but firm back cushions)

2.8 (medium soft, medium soft seat)

2.7 (medium, medium seat)

1.9 (medium firm)

2.8 (firm, typically a 2 inch thick dining room chair)

3.2 (extra firm)

The choice is ultimately up to you.