We needed new cushions for our lanai furniture this year, and after a bit of a hunt, we found a pattern that we liked. The problem was that after only a short amount of time, two of the cushion inserts lost their firmness, as well as their ability to spring back after each use. Very disappointing!
The cushions had removable covers, which in addition to making them easy to clean (throw them in the washing machine but not the dryer), allowed us to remedy the situation by buying new inserts. We focused on three things: (1) the amount of protection they would need from the elements—the cushions were outside all the time but they were in a covered area, so they might get wet but not soaked; (2) we wanted their shape to bounce back after people sat on them; and (3) we wanted them to be comfortable.
My research began. There were different types of foam to suit a range of outdoor needs—outdoor furniture that may be under cover, deck furniture that had continued exposure to the elements, boat accessories that need to be buoyant, etc. Something for everybody.
Here are some of the things that I learned: Open Cell Foam allows water and air to flow through more easily than other types of foam. One type of open cell foam, DryFast, as its name implies, dries faster and also has antimicrobial properties that prevent mold, mildew, and bacteria growth. By contrast, closed cell foam doesn’t let water through, so it is buoyant and well suited to floatation devices. A third choice, compressed polyester, is a densified polyester batting that is a less-expensive alternative—and there was at least one product that was washable, air dried easily after getting wet, was mildew resistant, and was non-allergenic. Here was the problem—it compressed over time. I was pretty sure that was what we had, and it hadn’t taken much time to compress. Cheaper in the short run but not for long, in my experience.
In an afternoon, I knew a whole lot more about foam inserts than I
cared used to know. That said, I was far from being an expert, and didn’t want to do this again anytime soon. I measured the cushions carefully, and called a foam specialty store to talk with a rep. She was fantastic—I explained what I was trying to do, and she patiently walked me through the alternatives.
Here’s what we got—DryFast Foam with a dacron (upholstery batting) wrap. The dacron wrap gave the insert a fuller, smoother appearance. And the DryFast? Was it overkill, considering that the love seat was under cover? Hmmm…maybe a little. But we felt this foam would be the best for maintaining its shape, and also do well standing up to the elements. Another good part? We had the new inserts in about 10 days, coronavirus shipping delay and all.
Between removing mold and mildew from our outdoor lounge chairs, recovering the seats on our kitchen chairs, and replacing the inserts on our outdoor love seat cushions, I’m totally “chaired out.” It’s now time to sit in those chairs and relax. So grab the guac and a frosty drink—I’ll meet you on the lanai! Cheers!