You will be able to tell if the auto upholstery foam needs replacing simply by looking at it, even before the upholstery is removed.
If the upholstery fabric is excessive or sagging it’s because the foam underneath has collapsed. If the upholstery is loose or the foam collapses easily when you press on it, the seat is no longer giving you the support that it should. The seat should be firm to the touch and the upholstery material should fit tightly over it.
If you are still unsure if you should replace your foam or not, remove the old upholstery to get a better look at the foam. Once the upholstery is removed and you notice that the auto upholstery foam is chalky or disintegrating it needs to be replaced. However, if the seat foam is intact there may still be some hope of saving it.
Restoring Auto Upholstery Foam Using a Steamer
If the foam has lost its firmness and is collapsing, you may still be able to salvage it by restoring the auto upholstery foam using a garment steamer. The steam opens up the foam and brings it back to its original shape. This works very well for most auto interior seating. Here are a few tips to help you out.
- Apply steam directly to the foam after removing the old upholstery.
- Work in sections and apply the steamer directly onto the foam, using more or less steam in certain areas as needed to get an even distribution of steam to the entire seat.
- The seat should look smooth and uniform, not lumpy.
- Allow the auto upholstery foam to dry in order to make sure that it will keep its shape before recovering it.
- If you have a vintage car that you are restoring or an older car that you are reupholstering you may or may not be able to reuse the foam depending on the condition.
Three Reasons Not To Use Collapsed Foam
If steam does not help to revive the foam to its original shape and you can still see indents and feel that the foam is still collapsing after steaming it.
- The foam should be replaced to enhance the overall look and feel of the seat.
- If you reupholster using collapsed foam, more than likely you will not be happy with the finished product.
- If you are working on a show car or just want your interior to look great, replace the foam.
Replacing the Foam
Although purchasing auto upholstery foam may not be the most exciting part of your project it is one of the most important elements for the comfort and feel of your seats. You may not realize it but foam contributes a lot to the overall appearance of the seat as well.
Options for Replacing the Foam.
- Purchase pre molded foam and upholster it yourself or have a professional do it for you. unless you’re working with an older vintage car you will need to order the auto upholstery foam specifically for your vehicle. When it arrives it will be pre molded in the original shape.
- If you are having a professional upholstery shop do the upholstery they will be able to get the best price on pre fabricated foam seats and will more than likely order it for you as well. This is probably the most convenient option if you want custom seats.
- Buy seats pre made, though you will not have the option for customizing the seat to your specific tastes. Pre-fabricated seats usually come in stock colors used by the specific seat manufacturer that you are purchasing it from.
This video by PUI Interiors is a good example of how to evaluate your auto upholstery foam needs to be replaced, and they also sell auto upholstery foam and might be able to lead you in the right direction for purchasing if you need to. You can also do a quick internet search for automotive replacement foam for vendors that sell preformed foam for auto interiors.