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Which Type of Foam is More Durable: HR Foam or PU Foam?

By Jeff Frank


 Which type of foam is more durable. HR foam or PU foam?


Your question indicates you are trying to understand how to tell whether particular couch cushions will last for a long time.

Determining cushion durability requires more understanding than vague terms like PU or HR foam.

All cushion foam (except Latex) is Polyurethane.

There are dozens of different types of polyurethane foams.

PU simply means Polyurethane when used to describe foam cushions.

PU may have other meanings when used to describe fabrics or other materials.

For example, bonded leathers are sometimes referred to as PU leather, despite having no polyurethane in its composition.

The two broad categories of polyurethane foam used for cushions are Closed cell and Open cell.

Closed cell foams are very dense, firm and durable.

Commercial and institutional furniture use closed cell foams when there is a need for thin, firm cushions that will hold up with heavy use over long periods of time.

Closed cell moulded foams are sometimes used for office chairs and modern European style residential seating.

Open cell polyurethane foam cushions are usually thicker and softer. (This includes seat cushions designated as “firm” or “extra-firm.”)

Most residential seating uses open cell polyurethane foam.

HR stands for “High Resilience.”

Many salespeople and industry professionals use the terms “high resilience” and “high density” interchangeably, even though the two terms actually have completely different meanings.

“High density” refers to cushion foams with a density of 1.8 or more.

When a foam is described only as “high density” without any number, it is almost always 1.8.

Memory foam is polyurethane but has a different density scale.

1.8 density memory foam is very low density and would not be suitable for seat cushions or mattresses.

Latex foam is not polyurethane and also has a different density scale.

Density is directly related to foam durability and cost.

Higher density foams cost more and are more durable. For example:

1.8 density foam cushions have an average lifespan of 3 – 5 years.

2.0 foam cushions should last 4 – 6 years.

2.2 density foam cushions average 8 – 10 years.

2.5 density foam cushions last 15+ years for most people.

Foam durability is affected by the size of the people sitting on the couch.

Individuals who weigh more than 200 lbs. decrease cushion lifespan.

A 300 lb. person can wear out a 1.8 density cushion in less than 1 year.

Size and thickness also help determine the average lifespan of seat cushions.

Larger cushions last longer because the weight is distributed over a greater surface area.

Thicker cushion cores also last longer.

The average foam core thickness for a couch seat is 5″.

Thinner foam cores wear out sooner. Thicker foam cores last longer.

The overall thickness of a sofa seat cushion is not the same as the foam core thickness.

A seat cushion with an overall thickness of 8 inches may have a foam core that is anywhere from 5 to 7 inches thick.

The remaining thickness results from polyester fiber or down/feather wrapping around the foam core.

Extra-thick wrappings make cushions look plusher and feel softer when the furniture is brand-new.

But the wrappings have very little resilience (the ability to bounce back.)

The result is cushions that rapidly lose their shape and comfort.

Foam density and firmness are not the same.

Each foam density may have several different firmnesses.

Higher densities last longer and cost more.

Increasing firmness does not make the foam more durable and does not increase the cost .

HR (“High resilience”) foam has an added process that makes polyurethane foam slightly more durable.

The estimated durabilities I listed above for different densities all assume that the foam is also “HR.”

Adding the HR process is relatively inexpensive (less than $1 per cushion) so it is applied to most cushion foam, including almost all foams made in the USA, including those not described as “HR” in the specifications.

Polyurethane foams made in Asia may or may not have the “high resilience” process added.

Unless the HR is specifically listed, it is safest to assume that imported furniture does not have “high resilience” foam.

Non HR foams will have lower average lifespans than those I listed above.

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2 thoughts on “Which Type of Foam is More Durable: HR Foam or PU Foam?”

  1. This is a very informative website and unfortunately hard to find. Many of the same popular but inferior quality brands are repeatedly recommended on different websites. We searched aren’t what they were in the 90’s. I use a lot of different search engines and still find mostly the same results. Often only about 15 sites repeated over six pages. I only found your site this time because I used Presearch. Thank you for providing a valuable alternative to the pseudo furniture information sites out there.

    • There is a very simple reason why the same few brands are recommended over and over.

      Those are the brands that have Trade or Influencer Programs.
      They pay blog writers and “influencers” to refer shoppers to their websites.

      Each person who participates in these programs has their own website. Those websites all show up in the search engines.

      Please let others know about InsidersGuideToFurniture.com
      I do not solicit or accept payment from any brand I write about.

      In addition, I do not accept “guest posts.”

      These are articles (postings) whose purpose is to generate income for their authors.
      The agencies that contact me to solicit these guest postings usually offer $100 or more per post.


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