A frustrated client walks into our shop with a misshapen sofa cushion in tow. The cushion is less than a few years old, no longer has the ability to spring back into shape, or bear the weight of those who sit on the sofa. The problem is substandard foam.
So, how is one to know that the quality of foam is sufficient? In the past this problem seemed to only exist for those who bought inexpensive, imported upholstered goods, but more and more we are starting to see it creep into the mid and upper mid priced line pieces as well. All foams are not created equal. Cheaper foams, used for packaging, do not need to be as durable as those in upholstered furniture. The constant compression on a sofa seat will show quickly in the form of an uneven and uncomfortable seating surface when inferior foam is used.
There is simply no way to tell by appearance, or feel, if the foam is adequate. Three cushions could be placed side-by-side with the same dimensions, appearance, feel, and firmness, each having a distinctly different level of quality. So, how can you tell if what you’re getting is quality foam that will hold up to daily use or something less desirable?
Foam is basically made of two things; the physical performance material you can see and feel, and the pockets of air within the material. The greater the weight and density, equals the more performance material within the cushion. Ask the retailer for the foam’s Density Value. All foam is designated by its Density Value. The Value is derived by taking the weight of one cubic foot block of foam. The higher the Density Value, the more performance based material resides within the cushion. A good quality entry level Chair or sofa seat cushion should have no less than a 1.8 Density rating.
So what steps can the consumer take to ensure they are getting quality long lasting foam. First and foremost ask about the warranty. Manufacturers who use inferior materials in their pieces know that the seating area will be the first thing to show wear and break down. Therefore they will only offer a 1 year guarantee on foam. This is the first sign to keep shopping. I can almost guarantee you that shortly after the first year the foam will stop springing back to form.
Second, try and avoid purchasing a sofa with fixed cushions that can not be reversed. Even quality foam should be rotated and flipped on a consistent basis. Switch out the cushion that gets the most use with those that get the least. This will also prolong the life of your fabric and help it show less wear throughout the years.
Lastly, If you have been unfortunate enough to already purchase a sofa with poor quality foam consult with a knowledgeable upholstery shop, It is often cost effective to replace with new high resiliency foam. A good shop will Guarantee the foam they are selling you and be able to offer you multiple density options to fit just about any budget.