How to Choose and clean your upholstery foam

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What's important about foam?

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Whether you’re re-covering dining room chairs, building a bench seat, making a chair from scratch, or replacing the cushions on your couch, you have to be somewhat knowledgeable about foam. There are several different types of foam, each one used for its own individual purpose. Being able to tell which one is best for your project will ensure you get the look you desire and the level of comfort you want.

Hign vs. Low Density

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Density is the amount of air found within a foam piece that contributes to its weight. If the foam has a lower density it has more air in it, making it weigh less and therefore less plush. This kind of foam will not be as comfortable to sit on or as durable as other foams. It’s a lower quality and cheaper to purchase. This type of foam is great for craft projects or items that will not be sat on or used very often.

High density foam has much less air in it, making it heavier and comfortable to sit on. This type of foam tends to last much longer than a low density foam and is made from better quality materials. A high density foam is ideal for items that get a lot of use such as a couch cushions, dining chairs, and other items used on a daily basis.

Keep in mind that the density of the foam will also contribute to its firmness and how well it can maintain its shape. The firmer it is, the better it will maintain its shape during use without sinking inwards.


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There are varying degrees of thickness required for different projects. When creating table chairs, your foam does not need to be as thick as the foam you need for a couch. It’s important to choose your thickness based on both your project and desired comfort. Typically, foam for upholstery will range between one to five inches in thickness.

Understanding the 4-Digit Numbers

All foam pieces are labeled with a four digit number. The first two numbers listed on the foam will tell its density. For example, if the first two digits of the number are 2-8, then the foam weighs 2.8 pounds for every cubic foot. The heavier it is, the more dense the foam will be. The last two numbers reflect the foam’s firmness; the higher the number the firmer it is. For example, if the number appears as 2840, then that means it will take 40 pounds of pressure before it will start to lose its shape.

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Cleaning upholstery foam

Cleaning upholstery foam is a fairly simple process. First, remove the foam from its cloth. You can wash the cloth in the washing machine (but not the foam). Next, fill your bathtub with hot water and some mild laundry soap. Place the foam into the water until it is completely covered. Push down on the foam and gently pull up, moving in a way similar to plunging the toilet. Do this all over the foam and you will see the dirt begin to appear in the clean water. Afterwards, empty the tub and fill it with warm water.

Continue the plunging motion until all the soap is removed from the foam and drain the tub. Press the foam to release any trapped water and then lay it outside in the sun to dry. If you’re unable to do this on your own, contact specialists who provide upholstery cleaning services.

Cleaning your upholstery and choosing a foam for your projects is easier than most people think. If cleaning anything yourself is too much of a hassle, we can help! Contact us at (416)587-5113, because at Caledon Steam Clean we get the job done right the first time.