Foam rubber is commonly used in auto interiors, motorcycle seat upholstery and in bedding and furniture as well. The cost of upholstery has a lot to do with the materials that are selected. In fact, upholstery materials can account for more than half the cost of the final product so it is important to know what you are buying. Though fabric may be the most aesthetic element, foam rubber, the under layers such as foam for cushions, Dacron, cotton padding and gel inserts are all very important to the overall look and feel of the upholstery.
Foam rubber has a rigid structure that allows it to maintain its form. The air pockets in foam rubber give it a very soft, spongy consistency allowing for a more comfortable feel. The benefits of foam rubber are two fold, first is holds it’s form for better appearance and durability and it also has a soft comfortable feel due to the air pockets, this makes it good for foam cushions, chairs, benches, etc.
Foam Rubber Density
When deciding on foam for cushions verses motorcycle seat upholstery your criteria for support will be very different. In all cases you should choose support that will not weaken or collapse quickly as this defeats the purpose of purchasing high quality, long lasting upholstery material. You don’t want your sofa fabrics to outlast your foam cushions or your new [expensive] leather auto interior to be uncomfortable due to low quality foam.
The density of the foam is important. Just because it feels soft does not mean it will remain that way for the long term. This is a definite concern if you plan on keeping the piece for a long time. If you are having the work done by a professional upholsterer the price quoted should include all of these items. If you’re not sure ask the upholsterer. A good upholstery shop will be more than happy to explain the process and even allow you to look at the work in progress so that you are sure and confident that you are getting what you paid for. Remember, different support will be required for different projects. This is what we recommend:
Light density foam rubber – much cheaper and may feel comfortable at first but will not provide good support in the long run. The last thing you want is to have to leave impressions in your furniture or to be able to feel the frame when you sit down.
Medium density foam rubber – Used on auto motive interiors and in furniture with a layer of Dacron. Dacron is a light layer of padding that will provide a soft cushion effect while the medium density foam will provide support to eliminate that sinking feeling. Dacron is not necessary in Auto and Marine upholstery, for the amount of use it will get. However, for marine upholstery you should consider the conditions in which it will be used. If a boat has a complicated stitch pattern you may want to consider wrapping the foam in plastic to act as a moisture barrier to keep water from entering at the seams, this is unlikely but may happen if you have complicated stitch patterns on horizontal surfaces.
High-density foam – best used in motorcycle seat upholstery with a minimum quarter inch foam-padding overlay because the sun exposure will soften the foam in combination with body heat. Over time this will be the most comfortable and durable option.
Options in addition to foam rubber
Gel inserts in the foam are another option but in our opinion gel can cause unnecessary body heat (sweating) and discomfort. This is a personal preference for many people. We have had many customers request to have gel removed from seats and others that are very happy with it. High-density foam will give you the same effect without the worry of weather you will prefer the gel. Dacron and cotton padding are necessary additions to the foam cushions themselves because they add extra comfort to foam cushions.