Inside your sofa: The pros and cons of foam or feathers

Foam is the most common sofa filling, but quality varies. Photo: Courtesy
Foam is the most common sofa filling, but quality varies. Photo: Courtesy

When investing in a home in Mexico, a large chunk of the furniture budget always goes toward a sofa or sectional.

And although the style is what catches the eye, it is the cover, frame, springs and filling that will determine if your sofa lasts two years or twenty.

In previous columns, we have reviewed the best covers, frames, and springs available for Mexico’s humid, tropical environment.

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To me, there is a clear winner of which cover to get. The new performance fabrics that repel liquids and oils are hands-down the best option. With hundreds of colors and soft weaves from which to choose, this cover will give you maximum return on your investment.

Frames and springs are also crucial to long-lasting sofas and sectionals. The quality of the materials and manufacturing will have a direct impact on the longevity of your piece. A good manufacturer will proudly share info on their website and with their salespeople and customers about their commitment to quality. Make sure to investigate this before purchasing. A company that offers and stands behind its warranty is another great sign you are buying right the first time.

The final component of any upholstered item is the filling. The filling or padding of your sofa and sectional is what makes it comfortable to sit on.

Options available for filling include foam, down/feathers, polyester, and batting. In this article, I will cover pros and cons of foam and down/feathers. Next week, I will cover polyester and batting.

The most commonly used filling is foam. Foam is available in a variety of densities. Generally, the higher the density, the harder it will feel. Although a lower density foam will feel softer, it will degrade quicker. If buying a sofa or sectional with a foam filling, go for foam that is labeled high resiliency (HR). HR of approximately 1.8 lbs provides great resiliency and is available in both high and low density so that you can select the firmness you prefer. Another plus, HR is environmentally friendly.

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Love to sink into your sofa? Down or feather filling is a great option, although it is more expensive than foam. At the low end of the cost scale are duck and chicken feathers; goose down is more expensive. Well-made casings are very important because they keep feathers and down from coming out. Waterproof casings are best. In the event of spills and because of our humid environment, waterproof casings keep the filling from getting wet. A downside of down is that it tends to get lumpy. If you do go this route, the casings should separate the goose down into small baffles.

Next week: Polyester and batting fillings for your sofa and which is the best investment for your home in Mexico.

Sheryl Novak is an expat from Canada who has owned a home in Mexico for over 10 years. She is the owner of SOLutions Mexico, an online furniture store and an expert on sourcing all styles of furniture, for all budgets, in Mexico. Buying a home in Mexico? Email furniture@solutionsmexico.com to get a free home inventory list.

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