Foam Series: Selecting the Right Outdoor Living Foam
Before you start work on a new cushion project for your porch or patio, it’s important to select just the right foam. The foam, after all, is the base of the whole cushion. Shopping for foam involves thinking about how you will use your cushion and weighing the pros and cons of each foam type to land on the solution that works best for your application and lifestyle. We’re going to take a closer look at the three main types of outdoor living foam so you can see which will be best for your needs.
Since your outdoor cushions are largely what we refer to as “occasional use” cushions, you won’t need your patio foam to be the world’s most durable — moderate durability is sufficient. However, the fact that the cushions will or could be exposed to the weather is an important consideration in how the foam will react to rain.
With these considerations in mind, we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of the following types of foam for outdoor living applications: Medium Density Polyurethane Antimicrobial Foam, Dry Fast Open Cell and High Density Polyurethane Antimicrobial Foam.
Medium Density Polyurethane Antimicrobial Foam is a classic and common type of foam. This is a traditional type of foam that is the standard for occasional outdoor seating and has a density of 1.8 lbs. Most commonly used on boats, this foam is formulated with a biocide, antibacterial treatment to prevent the growth of mold and mildew — an attractive quality for a cushion that could get rained on. However, polyurethane soaks up water like a sponge and dries out slowly when it gets wet.
To mitigate moisture, you can wrap your foam in a waterproof film before inserting it into the cushion cover. We recommend this foam for cushions that are stored out of the elements when not in use, cushions that are covered in a fabric with a high water resistance, or cushions that utilize a waterproofing wrap.
Dry Fast Open Cell Foam is perfect for cushions you want to leave out all the time without worry. This reticulated foam has open cells that allow air and water to pass through so easily that, when covered in a breathable fabric, water will drain right out the bottom of the cushion. Dry Fast also has a density of 1.8 lbs., but due to its special features, it’s a more expensive choice than Medium Density or High Density Polyurethane Antimicrobial Foam.
Your last choice for patio cushion foam is High Density Polyurethane Antimicrobial Foam. This foam has a firm stiffness and a density of 2.8 lbs. Its antimicrobial properties help prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Unlike Medium Density and Dry Fast foam, High Density will typically last up to 12 years, making it a great choice if you use your patio frequently and want cushions that will last a long time. As with Medium Density, this foam will soak up moisture, so we recommend following the same waterproofing techniques for this foam as we mentioned for Medium Density Polyurethane Antimicrobial Foam.
We hope this empowers you to feel confident in your foam selection. To learn more about foam, be sure to read the other posts in our foam series including “5 Important Foam Terms to Know” (#300052XHT) and “Comparing Types of Foam" (#300053XHT).