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How Do I Buy a Foam That is Dense But Comfortable to Sit On?

By Jeff Frank


I had the cushions on my loveseat replaced by an Upholstery store as they were getting too soft. I was not happy with the result…I think the foam was very dense. But the cushions have hardly any “give” to them. They are not comfortable to sit on. 

So, how do you buy a foam that is dense, but is comfortable to sit on?


Sept. 29, 2020


Foam is identified by two different numbers. One designates density. The other (known as the ILD number) designates firmness.

The most commonly used foam in mid-range mass produced residential furniture is 1836. This means the foam has a density of 1.8 and an ILD firmness rating of 36 (moderately firm.).

  • Increasing the density makes the foam last longer (and costs more.)
  • Increasing the ILD firmness does not make the foam last any longer (and does not substantially increase the cost.) It just makes the cushion feel harder.
    • If you ask a cushion store for a firmer cushion, but are not willing to pay more money, you will end up with a cushion with a higher ILD.
  • ILD firmness ratings above 45 are generally reserved for institutional or commercial seating, especially with thinner cushions.

When you increase the density of a foam cushion to 2.5, it will more than double the lifespan of the foam compared with 1.8. You do not need to increase the ILD firmness at the same time.

  • A 2535 cushion will feel very similar to a 1836 cushion when both are brand new.
  • The difference is that the 2535 cushion will maintain its moderate firmness for many years, while the 1836 cushion will begin getting softer within one year and will lose much of its firmness within 5 years.

Note: – Foam suppliers do not always put the density numbers first.

  • Where most foam suppliers will call 1.8 density foam with a 36 firmness rating 1836 foam, some suppliers will designate that same specification as 3618 foam.
  • Qualux is a top quality brand, used by many high end manufacturers. It reverses the density and firmness numbers. This reversal is not always recognized by retailers.
    • 2825 Qualux foam is often advertised as 2.8 density. Actually, it is a 2.5 density foam with a 28 ILD firmness. (That is still an excellent cushion.)
    • Qualux is not available in a 2.8 density.

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2 thoughts on “How Do I Buy a Foam That is Dense But Comfortable to Sit On?”

  1. Excellent! I learned something I never knew about foam. Hancock & Moore uses Qualux foam on their cushions or at least advertised as such. Is H&M good brand furniture? I am considering to buy for a large living room. And thank you!

    • Hancock & Moore is one of the highest quality U.S. furniture manufacturers.

      Qualux is a foam brand that is widely acknowledged as the best quality polyurethane foam available. What makes it so good is its consistency. Polyurethane foam arrives at the factory in huge buns measuring 12 ft. long x 4 ft. wide x 8 ft. high. That huge bun is then cut down into individual cushions and foam padding.

      Normally, there is a variation in the foam density of these buns. One side of the bun may be 2.4. The other end may be 2.6. The foam fabricators are supposed to keep consistency within 0.1 of specification, but frequently there is a wider variation, sometimes much wider.

      Qualux foam has the least variation. One of the foams I have used from them was labeled 2.55 density. No other foam fabricator specifies its foam in hundredths. Everyone else uses tenths (2.5 density.)

      I don’t know where you are located, but if you are anywhere near Northern Virginia, you should contact Duane Collie. He specializes in high end leather & has been selling Hancock & Moore for over 20 years. His small shop, The Keeping Room is one of H&Ms biggest accounts nationally.

      Duane has close personal contact with the top managers at H&M and gets instant service whenever one of his customers has a problem.
      Duane’s contact information is (703) 360-6399 | KEEPINGROOM@GMAIL.COM

      Duane is also the webmaster of one of the oldest and busiest furniture blogs anywhere. His blog myfurnitureforum.com has thousands of Q&A, mostly relating to high end leather furniture.

      Jeff Frank


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