Sofa with cusions and footrest upholstered with light blue fabric

Upholstery foam: what you need to know?

What is upholstery foam?

Upholstery foam, called an upholstery sponge, is a group of flexible polyurethane foams of different density and stiffness, and thus also of application. It is also an ideal insulator created as a result of the action of polycarbamate with water and subsequent decarboxylation. In this reaction, depending on the polyols used, the foams acquire their own characteristics. Polyurethane foam is most often sold in sheets that allow for economic use of the material and effective transport. Upholstery foam is the basic material used in the production of upholstered furniture, door upholstery, car upholstery or separate mattresses.

The most important parameter of upholstery foams is their density. It is she who determines their hardness. The higher the density of the foam, the higher its quality and resistance to deformation during traditional use. When buying upholstery foam, it is worth paying attention to its markings.

The use of upholstery foams

Upholstery foams are not only used in the production of furniture. They have a number of possible uses. We use them for the production of:

  • Furniture upholstery elements: backrests, armrests, seats, pillows, filling elements
  • Upholstery elements in public facilities that repeatedly have to meet special requirements. This applies to seats in cinemas, theaters, railway carriages, ships and yachts.
  • Mounting elements for the production of mattresses
  • Upholstered elements of garden furniture
  • Leathercraft items
  • Elements of the construction of home slippers or sports shoes
  • Elements for rehabilitation – wheelchairs, medical chairs, rehabilitation and anti-bedsore mattresses
  • Products for children – mattresses for prams or cots
  • Elements of car and motor upholstery
  • Elements in saddlery, in carriages and carriages

What upholstery foams are most often available on the market?

The most commonly offered foams on the market are:

T14 – polyurethane foam obtained by the free foaming method, without the use of chlorofluorocarbons and volatile organic solvents in blocks. It is a flexible, durable foam, recommended for sewing mattresses and garden cushions or backrest elements in upholstered furniture.

T18 – foams with a low degree of density, low hardness and low elasticity. They are used for door upholstery, soundproofing and repair fillings

T21 – upholstery foams with low density, low hardness and low elasticity, recommended for soundproofing, sewing armrests, backrests, animal beds and repair fillings

T25 – have a high degree of density, adequate hardness and elasticity, thanks to which they are characterized by low susceptibility to deformation, high comfort of use and reasonable price. This foam is recommended for the production and renovation of furniture. It is most often used in seats, armchairs, chairs and low and medium-quality stand-alone mattresses.

T30, T30SG with a flame retardant certificate – most often used in the production of mattresses, seats, armchairs and chairs. This type of upholstery foam has excellent hardness, perfect elasticity, high density. Its characteristic feature is high comfort of use, resistance to deformation and damage.

T35 – is a sponge used for the production of mattresses, seats, but also armrests or mattresses with the simultaneous use of springs. This is a very popular foam that is widely used. It is characterized by high elasticity and flexibility.

HR highly flexible foam – it is a mixture of polymeric and graft polyols as well as cross-linking agents, foaming agents and catalysts. These foams have a smooth texture and an irregular structure. They are flexible, comfortable, resistant to stretching, overload and compression, and have a high breathability of surfaces and internal parts. It is a material used in the production of exclusive furniture, often in combination with springs.

R polyether – formed from a mixture of polymeric and grafted polyols. It is characterized by a non-uniform cell structure, which gives it adequate parameters of supporting the body during rest and comfort of use, high flexibility and elasticity as well as longevity, sometimes 40% higher than with other sponges. This type of foam deforms twice as fast.

Flame retardant RF – manufactured from a blend of traditional compounds and agents that reduce the flammability of the material. The features of the sponge mean that it is most often used for the production of independent mattresses and upholstered furniture used in specific conditions, e.g. in public institutions, shipping and in countries that require such materials by statute (English market). Flame-retardant foams are FIRA certified.

Acoustic foams – these are usually high-quality, gray, polyurethane panels, with characteristic pyramidal protrusions, dampening high sounds. These foams are recommended for upholstering the walls of recording studios, soundproofed cabins, conference rooms, cinemas, etc.

As you can see, in this condensed way of presenting the most important information about upholstery foams, it is worth knowing at least the basics of knowledge about this material. This knowledge will allow us to select the most appropriate material for the purpose we have chosen. This will certainly allow for the production of high-quality end products and the maximum reduction of material losses and the possibility of not adapting the type of sponge to e.g. the intensity of use of the furniture.