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Upholstery Foam

upholstery foam chairSelecting the right upholstery foam is critical to the success of your reupholstering project. Take time to learn about its properties, and if you’re still not sure, give us a call and we’ll help you select the right prodcut.

Here are the different types of applications:
• Furniture/Interior Applications
• Outdoor and Marine Applications
• Fire Retardant
• Special Purpose Foam (Rebond, Channel Foam, Quick Quilt, Etc.)
• Memory Foam
• High Density

Foam Cutting Choices

You have a several choices when it comes to cutting your foam:

  1. We can cut it for you. If you’re just doing a few cushions, and won’t be cutting foam again soon, this is probably your best choice. We will cut to your measurements and if you like, add a Dacron wrap and ship to you. Please e-mail us or Contact Us with your measurements and foam type for custom cut pricing.
  2. You can purchase a foam cutting saw. This is the logical choice for the tradesman who will be cutting foam frequently.
  3. You can use an electric knife, like the one you used to slice the turkey last Thanksgiving. This is not quite as accurate as a saw, but if you’re careful it will work fine.


For precise measurements when buying new cushions, measure the length, width, and thickness of the existing foam, after it's taken outside of the cover. Do no inlcude the dacron or fiber wrap in these measurements. If you are measuring the existing cushion without the foam removed, add 1" to width and length. So if the exisitng cushion is 29 x 22 x 5, order foam that is 30 x 23 x 5. Foam compresses and this will keep your fabric from being loose around the foam.

Upholstery Foam Characteristics

Upholstery foam has two primary characteristics, density and firmness. Density or weight indicates the amount of product it contains; it does not pertain to firmness. Density is a measure of the quality. The higher the density rating, the better to foam will hold up with repeated use. Higher density means longer life and selecting high density foam can add years to the life of the upholstered item. The density rating is the weight of one cubic foot; it does not pertain to firmness. Foam that is low in weight, even though it is firm, will not provide the support or lasting quality as softer, high density foam. Density can be expressed as a single digit with a decimal, like 2.5, or as a two digit number, such as #25. In general, use a density rating of at least 1.5 for seat cushions, and from 1.2 to 1.5 for furniture arms and backs. However, higher density will extend the life of your project.

Although the firmness is a personal choice, the application should determine the firmness. Firmness is measured by the IDL (indentation load deflection) rating system. A piece of foam with a firmness rating of 30 means that it will take a 30 pound weight to compress the foam 25%. A higher number indicates firmer foam. As a general rule for seats, the thicker the foam, the less firmness we want. Conversely, when using thinner foam for seats select foam with more firmness. Here are some general guidelines developed by the Polyurethane Foam Association concerning foam firmness:

  • 6-12  -  bed pillows, thick back pillows
  • 10-18  -  back pillows, upholstery padding, wraps
  • 18-24  -  thin back pillows, tufting matrix, very thick seat cushions,wraps
  • 24-30  -  average seat cushions, upholstery padding, tight seats, certain mattress types, quilting
  • 30-36  -  firmer seat cushions, mattresses
  • 36-45  -  thin seat cushioning and firm mattresses
  • 45 and up  -  shock absorbing foams, packaging foams, carpet pads, and other uses requiring ultra-firm foams.

Upholstery foam characteristics are expressed together as Density/Firmness. 15/30 foam has 1.5 pounds of foam per cubic foot, and it will take 30 pounds of weight to compress the foam 25%.

Understanding these characteristics will help you select the right product for your application. Check out the different applications and their features on this page. For additional information concerning product selection for your specific application, "Ask the Craftsman" at Gary’s Upholstery.

Shipping Information

Please see note below concerning shipping weight on all of our upholstery foam (polyfoam) products. Note that Polyfoam is another word used to describe upholstery foam that you may see when reading about foam products.

Once you have found the proper foam for your application, please click on the link for pricing and shipping information.

The Dimensional Shipping Weight is not the actual weight of the product, but a combination of the product's actual weight and dimensional size. The transportation carriers have gone to this dimensional weight formula for computing shipping weight, especially on bulky products. We do vacuum most foam products down to as small as possible, without damaging the product, but it will still fall under this formula.

Example: The product's actual weight may be 5 lb., but because of the product's dimensional size, it may ship at 7 lb.


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