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What Is the Down inside Down-filled Cushions?

By Jeff Frank


What is “down” as in “down-filled” cushions?


The answer to your question, What is inside down-filled cushions? has two separate parts:

The definition of “down.”

The description of multiple “down-fill” variations.

The down & feathers, found in down-filled cushions, comes from geese & 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.

Goose down & feathers are softer & more expensive than duck down & feathers.

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.)


down cluster size comparison
Down types & sizes


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

Geese have larger and warmer down clusters with higher fill power as compared to ducks.

Goose down & feathers are more expensive than duck down & feathers.

Check out the website DownandFeatherCompany.com for more complete information about down & 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.

The majority of the “fill” is feathers.

Often the mixture is only 5% down and 95% feathers.

There are three types of fill materials.

Polyester fiber



These fill materials are often used in combination with foam.

There is a significant cost difference among 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.

The vast majority of down/feather fills have only 5% or 10% down.

Lower cost sofas (up to $1500) rarely have cushions that are filled with feathers or down.

Mid-range sofas ($1500 – $3000) may offer a down blend fill option.

(Down blend fills are almost never offered as a standard cushion construction.)

The down blend fill may be a mixture of down and feathers, down, feathers and polyester fiber, or feathers and polyester fiber.

In most 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 options with up to 50% down.

The photo shown at the top is from the DownandFeatherCompany.com. website.

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