What Is Inside a Down-filled Cushion?

by | Nov 25, 2021 | Ask the Expert | 0 comments


What is “down” as in “down fill” cushions?


The answer to your question has two separate parts:
  • The definition of “down.”
  • The description of multiple “down-fill” variations.
Both down and feathers come from geese and ducks.
Feathers are a bird’s outer layer of the wings. The feathers protect the softer down underneath. The down provides insulation and warmth for the bird.
  • Down is softer and provides more (and longer lasting) loft.
  • Feathers have quills which are not as soft and cause the feathers to compress more quickly than down.
  • Down is far more expensive than feathers. (See cost comparison below.)

The difference between duck down and goose down is the size and fill power of clusters. (See photo above.)

Geese generally have larger and warmer down clusters with higher fill power as compared to ducks. Goose down and feathers are more expensive than duck down and feathers.
Check out the website DownandFeatherCompany.com for more complete information about down and feathers.
The information on that website is just the beginning of the answer to your question.
  • The vast majority of “Down fill” sofa cushions actually have very little down.
 There are three types of fill materials. Often these are used in combination with foam. The three fill materials are:
  • Polyester fiber
  • Feathers
  • Down

There is a significant cost difference between these three fill materials. The factory cost (about half of retail cost) for a medium size pillow with 16 oz of fill is approximately:

  • Polyester fiber: $2 – $5 (Most of the retail cost for this type of pillow is in the cover material and sewing.)
  • Feathers: $25 – $50 (depending on the type of feathers.)
  • Down: $150 – $300 (depending on the type and size/fill-power of the down.)
As a result of this wide cost discrepancy, very little down is found in most cushions.
  • Lower cost sofa cushions and pillows (up to $1200) rarely have any feathers or down.
  • Mid-range sofas ($1500 – $3000) may offer a down blend fill option. (Down blend fills are almost never used as a standard cushion construction.)
    • The down blend fill may be a mixture of down and feathers or down, feathers and polyester fiber.
    • In the vast majority of cases, the percentage of down used would be 5% of the total fill at the lower range and up to 10% at the upper end of the mid-range.
  • Higher priced sofas may offer down blend fill cushion options with up to 50% down.

The photo shown above is from the Down and Feather Co. website.

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Jeff Frank

Jeff Frank

Furniture Insider

Jeff Frank is a 45 year veteran of the furniture industry. He’s worked directly with buyers, retailers, and manufacturers at every level of the industry. In every position throughout his career, his focus has always been customer service.

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