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Foam Density Range: Understanding and Applying Values

With foam, the ability to make the right purchase decision is greatly based on your ability to compare one product to another. A foam material’s density is one of the best ways to do this, but knowing a single product’s density while not knowing how that value measures up to other foam types is like being given a boat in the middle of the desert. Sure, now you have a boat, but how are you supposed to use it?

For example, if you know density is representative of the weight of a 12” x 12” x 12” foam sample, and a 2.8LB open-cell polyurethane foam is considered high-density, durable, and resilient, you’re already ahead of the game! (It is also important to understand that density is a unique trait different than firmness/feel. For more on their differences, take a look at our previous post.)

What matters though, is the ability to know where that 2.8 value falls on the scale, and how it compares to other values. For example, what if you encounter a 1.2LB density open-cell polyurethane foam? In a numerical sense, 1.2 is pretty close to 2.8, but does that closeness correlate to foam density? Without an understanding of the overall scale where most of these values fall, they’re hard to compare.

Because of this, we at Foam Factory wanted to present a guide to help you better understand the range of density values as they apply to conventional open-cell foam, making it much easier for you to make decisions based off your own understanding.

Fair Quality: 0.8LB – 1.5LB Density

Foam Factory's 1.3LB Poly Foam
Foam Factory’s 1.5LB Poly Foam is a fair-quality foam, great for light and specialty uses

Foam in this range is at the low end of density and can be considered fair quality; good for specialty uses and light applications. A density at the lower end means there is less physical foam mass in the material compared to higher densities, which leaves it prone to breaking down more quickly under use.

Fair-quality foam products serve multiple uses however, and their cost-effectiveness makes them smart for many applications. For example, when you need to ensure something fragile gets safely shipped, low-density foam is a fantastic packaging material. And at a lower cost than high-density materials, you can dependably ship, store, and secure products affordably.

Lower density foam is also great for occasional-use comfort products. If used as a soft bed topper by an average-sized individual every day, a 1.5LB density foam will begin to show a noticeable decline in support and comfort after six months to a year. But if used occasionally, such as in a guest bedroom about 60 to 90 times a year, you could get three, four, or even five years of comfort out of a lower-density mattress topper at a fraction of the price of a new mattress. When you pair a fair-quality foam with the right application, you will get the performance you need at a great price.

Good-Quality: 1.6LB – 2.4LB Density

Foam Factory's 1.8LB HD36-R
Foam Factory’s 1.8LB HD36-R is a good-quality foam with a wide range of applications

Material within this range can be considered medium-density foam, and good quality. The difference between a 0.8LB density material and a 1.8LB material is fairly substantial, despite what looks like such a minor change in value.

In this range, you find materials that hold up to use better, are able to be used every day, and don’t cost an arm and a leg. This density span carries perhaps the greatest range in quality, as you would expect from products that bridge the gap between low and high-quality. Fortunately, foam density has a linear relationship with quality, so the greater the number, the more durability and resilience you’re getting out of a product.

In this range, you will find a majority of the conventional open-cell foam products on the market, especially around the 1.8LB density point, like Foam Factory’s Lux Regular foam. Many retailers will claim 1.8LB density foam products are high-quality, but this borders on being a white lie. While still very good-quality products, there is another whole tier of foam density readily available to individuals wanting the top quality open-cell foam.

Couch cushions and pillows at the higher end of the range are great products, and frequently-used packaging materials at the lower end can maximize bang for your buck with excellent performance.

High-Quality: 2.5LB – 3.5LB Density

Foam Factory's 2.8LB Lux-HQ
Foam Factory’s 2.8LB Lux-HQ foam is high-quality foam, perfect for the most demanding jobs

For conventional open-cell foam, materials in this range are the best of the best. Compared to the lowest density materials, high-quality foam can have double or even triple the physical foam mass packed into the same 12” x 12” x 12” testing size.

Products with a density in this range offer the greatest quality available, earning their keeps in the most demanding applications. Mattresses and cushions can be made from mid-density foam, but when using high-quality foam, you can get a much longer lifespan out of these products, as they hold up to the same amount of abuse for longer than lesser materials.

In many ways, products in this range can be seen as an investment due to the longevity they will bring to the application where they are utilized. For comfort and support products, high-quality, high-density foam in this range represents the best of the best in conventional open-cell materials.

As you can see, a half pound of density, or even just a tenth, goes a long way with foam. With a majority of products falling in the 1LB to 3LB density range, understanding the degree to which a seemingly small numerical difference can make will help you find the perfect foam for your needs.

64 thoughts on “Foam Density Range: Understanding and Applying Values”

  1. i just bought a piece of foam with the following ratings:
    Density : 1.6 , 44lb compression
    would this be considered high density foam?

  2. I just purchased Design 2 Recline fabric sofa and love-seat with manual recline mechanisms. According to the manufacturer the cushions used are 1.8 density foam with 28 pound compression. Can you advise life expectancy with normal wear please.

  3. We are opening a bar. Will be making bench cushions. What level of foam you you recommend. The bar will be open 5 days a week with a young crowd.
    Thanking you in advance

  4. Hi – I am considering a sofa with “2.2 lb. high density polyfoam cores and polyester fiber” – what grade / quality is this considered, and expected lifespan? And if this is not information to make a determination about the foam, what should I ask the manufacturer? Compression rating?

    Thanks so much.

  5. Good evening could you give me the break down on a foam with the numbers of 12032 please

  6. Thank you for this article! I sat on Albany Furniture brand Wesley Toast sectional. Their website says it’s 1.5lb density, Dacron wrapped foam. From what I’m reading, 1.5lb doesnt seem like it will last that many years.
    I loved how plush and soft (cushiony – not firm) it felt though. If o wanted to recreate the feel in a good quality (density) foam that would last many many years, what foam would you recommend?

  7. I am replacing a cushion that it too soft on an antique Queen Anne camel back sofa. The cushion size is 4” inch high, 22” wide, 60” long. Before the soft cushion was used it had a rubber cushion that worked well. I am looking for a firm, dense, foam comparable to the original rubber. Can you please suggest something? Thank you.

  8. Can you tell me the quality and life span of a sofa cushion that is 2.55 density foam with an ILD of 16? Thank you.

  9. Great article!! I’m looking at a sofa with (2.55 – 27 lbs. Compression/ILD). Our other option is a sofa with 1.8 density but there’s also inner springs. Which would have the longer life span? Is the 2.55 density sofa considered high grade?

  10. In reading the last two comments, you said the 2.55lb. density foam was really soft, then in the other comment you said that the 2.55 foam would be considered high grade with a longer life span. Is it because one had a ILD of 16 and the other a ILD of 27? I have both of these options in a sofa that I am considering and am trying to understand the whole density/ILD theory.

  11. Density is for quality. The higher the number, the more quality the foam has. ILD is for how soft or how firm the foam is. Lower is softer, higher is firmer.

  12. What is the expected lifespan of a 36lb / 2.5 Density foam in the seat cushions of a sofa? With same use; how much longer will it last than 27lb / 1.8 Density foam under same conditions? Thank you.

  13. Hello. I need to give my living room couch a boost up by about 4″ so I want to buy a slab of 24″ by 72″ piece of foam. What I am looking at says it is Density : 4″ Height x 24″ Width x 72″ Length 44 ILD (Firm) Upholstery Cushion and Density : 1.8 , 44 lb compression. Can you please tell me the life expectancy of this type of foam. It will also be slept on nightly “110 pounds” as well as the usual amount of sitting to watch a movie or two. Have A Great Day! Thank you

  14. Hi – I just bought a new section al 3 ‘o the ago and the cushions sink down. I want to replace the foam with something firm. I don’t want them to sink at all! Amazon has a foam that is sold for $59. It is for 6” thick 24 wide x 72 long. It says it is a 1.8 density and 44 ILD. I want something that will last at least 10 years and like I said I want it to be FIRM and not sink at all when I sit down. It is just me, no kids and I do t sleep on my couch. Can you tell me if this foam would be something I should buy or should I get something. With a higher density like one of your Lux foams? I am single and really am on a budget but I want something that is comfortable and not this crap I have ended up with on a new piece of furniture so I will have to pay to have that happen. I am unable to do anything about being sold junk unfortunately, which angers me to no end! I spent $1000 on this sectional just to have cushions that sink down to the point where my rear end almost touches the bottom.of my sofa. Thank you in advance for your help.

  15. I am going to try and make a headboard. My goal is to try and achieve a high end headboard, with as close to a perfect a finish as I can possible. Therefore I am prepared to invest in the materials (I am satisfied with saving on the workmanship and want to give myself the best shot at this!) and so if the high end density will achieve a more luxurious or polished look, or just a better look in any way, then that is the way I would want to go. So my question is, since high density isn’t really necessary for a headboard in terms of functionality, would it enhance the overall appearance?

    Thank you!
    Kat

  16. For a headboard, an increase in quality foam will not have an impact on look or durability. Our economical poly foam will perform excellent for this application. No need to spend the extra money on higher quality foam for this purpose.

  17. The last foam I bought was density – 24, and firmness – 40. I’m sure a cubic foot of that foam did not weigh 24 pounds. I’m in the market for more foam for my second reupholster job and I like the first foam I bought. The problem is I don’t see density of 24 anywhere. What I do see is 2.4 or 2.6, and the like. Is 24 and 2.4 two ways of saying the same thing?

  18. 24 could be 24kg per meter cubed. If that is the case, then it translates to about a 1.5LB density, or 1.5 pounds per cubic foot. We have a firm Lux-Regular foam and a HD36-Regular foam that is both a 1.8lb density.

  19. Hello, I’m wondering what this info on my existing couch cushion means? I’m going to order new ones but would like firmer then what this one is. Are you able to decode this for me? “#70 Spring Down Cushion – 6″ F-BX ACCORD, 4@4.5″R #70 28oz” I really appreciate any info or insight you may have. I do understand the Down Cushion part and don’t need that for the replacement. Thank You!

  20. The information you have provided does not show the firmness of the cushion. Information provided talks about sizes, fabric and part number.

  21. Hello, i am wanting to make a new seat cushion for my mother, my mother is old but also quite obese (at about $400) I want to be able to make her comfortable in her existing chair. The cushion would need to be 23 x 23 and i want it to be somewhat plush for her and not sink right down when she sits, What would you suggest would be the best foam and thickness to get for her?

  22. I have a couch , loveseat and chair that need firm cushions. The cushions sink down and are very uncomfortable. I need six cushions 24×24 , 6 inches high. What foam do you recommend and how much will it cost?

  23. I can hear my neighbour’s TV when I’m trying to sleep. What foam used on a headboard would have the best soundproofing? Thank you

  24. 1.8-lb density,dacron wrapped foam cushion is that a good rating for a sofa cushion or what would be the best rating for a cushion

  25. Typical couch cushions range in Density from 1.8-2.8 lbs. The higher the density, the better quality, and longer lasting the foam will be. 1.8lb foams lasts approximately 5-8 years, whereas as 2.8lb foams last approximately 12 to 18 years. Feel free to Contact Us for further information.

  26. Looking for high density polyurethane foam seat cushions for newly upholstered sofa. Can you give simple explanation of what to look for?

  27. Does density equate to firmness? I want my sofa bottom cushion to be as firm as a pickup truck bench seat or any car back seat. I had an Ikea sofa that got old and had to get rid of it. It was wonderful. No sinking into the cushion. It was just leather with a thin backing attached and spring under that. No cushions. Reminds me of car seats I made myself for my first car as a teenager. I am taking my neighbor’s wonderful sofa but the cushions are too squishy, even when it was new. Should I shoot for 3.5? Higher? I don’t want any give in it

  28. Density and Firmness are two different measurements, and they only sometimes go hand-in-hand. Firmness would be your focus here. The foams that we often see recommended for you application are our Lux-HQ foam or our Super Maxfoam. Please Contact Us for further details regarding foam for your application!

  29. I am making mattresses for our camper. I need to make them due to the custom size. What type of foam(s) would you recommend? One of the mattresses will be sat on occasionally, but it isn’t a seat that turns into a bed, it’s just secondary seating on the bed.

  30. I need to replace the foam on an old motorcycle dirtbike seat and recover it. What foam do you recommend?

  31. Just purchased a sofa with the following written about the cushions: 2.0 HR Poly core with soft foam wrap; Fiber/down/feather ticking encasing core. My wife is light but I am 6’2 and 275. I’m concerned about my weight wearing out the sofa sooner rather than later

  32. Looking for a good quality foam for outdoor patio seating – area is covered and cushions do not get wet – current foam is 3 inch thick cushions are 27×27 – feels like anyone over 175 pounds will ‘bottom out’ on these cushions. Need a foam that strikes a balance between not bottoming out but also not feeling like your sitting in ‘on top’ of it – up to 200 lbs person weight – appreciate any suggestions

  33. Hello! Thanks for this article! I’m deciding between two sectionals- one with 2.2 lb density foam and the other with 2.0 lb density foam with an additional 1.25 in. Of memory foam. Would the additional memory foam “make up” for the shorter lifespan of the lower density? If not, how much will be the difference of lifespan between 2 and 2.2 lb?

  34. Hi, very interesting article.
    I am currently planning to make all my seats in my car. I want a durable and very comfortable foam for rear and front seats, I guess the foam will have different density for seat and the backrest. I’m also maybe thinking of adding a king of memory foam or something for where we will be sitting as I really want them to be super comfortable, don’t know if it’d worth it.

    What exactly should I use, durability and comfort are my very main concern?

    Thank you 🙂

  35. Hello,
    Which of your available Foam product Density types with a thickness ranging between (4″-6″) has the highest measured Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC Rating) as it specifically applies to audio absorption.

  36. I am making a custom seat for a rigid chopper. I am 265 pounds. what kind of foam would you recommend?

  37. I have a 100 pound dog and I’m looking at a dog bed with a 26D foam support layer. What is the quality of this foam?

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