A complete guide to different cushion fillings and pads
There are many things to consider when choosing which type of filling you need in your chosen cushions. For example, if your cushions are for use outside on a regular basis then you will probably need to go for a filling or pad that has more waterproof qualities and perhaps even a stain resistor.
If, however, your cushions are for use on a sofa or bed indoors you will not need this and you may well be looking for something softer and more comfortable. The choice is huge and one thing to bear in mind perhaps is cost, some cushion fillings can be very expensive but there is a huge choice and with a little care you can find exactly the cushion you need.
Let’s look at the basic foam cushion first, this type of cushion filling is made from manufactured flexible polyurethane which is constructed by mixing together water and urethane, the mixture is then allowed to expand and set in a mould. It can then be cut to the desired size and shape. This type of foam can be very soft or very firm depending on the mix and is used extensively in all sorts of cushions and upholstery. The more urethane used in the mix the denser and more expensive the foam. This type of foam is used for outdoor cushions, sofa seat cushions and padding on furniture. It tends to retain its shape for a very long time and is good for cushions that will be used for sitting or lying on. Another option that has the same properties and uses is latex foam.
Then there is hollow fibre or ball fibre which is also man made and can be either soft and downy (hollow fibre) or small round balls (ball fibre). Either gives a fairly soft cushion with a down side that your cushion will need a good shake regularly to keep it plump. Cushions can sometimes be constructed from a base of foam with a layer of hollow or ball fibre surrounding it and this will give excellent durability with added comfort.
Another alternative is feather which obviously is not man-made. There are many grades of feather used in cushions from the basic and normally cheaper duck feather which generally gives a soft and comfortable cushion and is used extensively throughout cushion manufacture right through to 100% down which is super soft but usually very expensive.
There are feather mixes to be considered and these can give a superb cushion at a fraction of the cost. There is 85% duck 15% down used in pillows and cushions and this tends to be cheaper whilst still giving an excellent cushion. And 50% duck 50% down which again gives a superb cushion but may be slightly more expensive. Bear in mind that feather cushions will need regular shaking and plumping or they will become flat and uncomfortable.
It is possible to wash most cushion fillings, but make sure you always follow manufacturers cleaning instructions as some fillings need specialist care.