A Guide to Choosing the Right Cushions for your Sofa


Right Cushions

Your sofa is a critical piece of your living room or sitting room furniture, often serving as the centerpiece of the room. You want the sofa that you choose for your home to be comfortable, stylish, and long lasting, especially since these can be a quite an investment. If you have found that your current sofa has begun to sag or you simply want to update your furniture, finding quality cushions is key. 

Sofa cushions are comprised of two main factors the material used and the density of this material. Cushions can be created using foam, feather down, batting, and more, which will be affected based on the density of the cushion. Denser cushions often equate to longer lasting cushions. 

If you are interested in purchasing a new couch or want to simply update your current couch cushions, learning more about choosing the best cushions is key. We have created the comprehensive guide to choosing your couch cushions. By following this guide, you will be sitting more comfortably in no time. 

Choosing the Right Material 

Whether you have had your sofa for years and are simply updating the cushions or looking for a new sofa, the first place to start is by choosing the right material. While all cushions have some pros and cons, which we will discuss, it is important to compare your options. 

Foam Cushions

Foam is one of the most commonly used cushion materials on the market today. You will be able to find foam cushions in a large variety of densities, making it great for those with various needs. Not to mention, foam will become softer and more comfortable over time, making it a great option.

When it comes to foam sofa cushions, there are several options in this category. You can choose both the style of foam used and the density of said foam. To start, we will discuss density, which comes in four main options:

  • Low-density Foam – This is often the most comfortable upon purchasing, as it is the softest. However, this is also the least dense foam and will flatten more quickly. If you get a lower density foam, it needs to be very high quality or it will wear down quickly.
  • High-Resilient Foam or HR Foam – This is a denser foam which can make it a bit stiffer to start. However, this style of foam will last much longer without sagging. You can expect to get 14 plus years from this higher quality foam.
  • Memory Foam – This style of foam is also a bit higher quality and shapes to fit the shape of individual sitting on the couch. If you have joint or back problems, this may be a great option. While memory foam can be a bit more expensive, it is often a great choice. 
  • High-Density Foam – This is standard in many couches and is a denser version of the previously discussed low-density foam. This will be a bit less comfy upon purchase but will wear down and soften over time. Unlike low-density foam, the higher density options will have a longer life span.  

As with most purchases, it is best if you try out these densities prior to buying to ensure you are getting the cushion that fits your needs. Most furniture stores will have examples of each style of foam for a better understanding of what works best for your home. 

Types of Foam

In addition to the density of the foam, there are actually various types of foam that you will want to consider before making your final purchases. If you have tried foam cushioned couches before, you probably know that they can feel vastly different. When choosing your sofa cushions, you will want to consider the type of foam used in the cushion. 

The most common types of foam are:

  • Molded Foam – This is a firmer option that does not require any extensive maintenance. Often, the interior of the foam has feathers or a similar material. Over time, this style of foam will become softer and the filler will determine the durability of the cushion as a whole. 
  • Spring Down – This is a bit of a complex style of foam as it has coiled springs at the core of the cushion, this is wrapped in a foam box, and then wrapped again in a layer of fiber polyester. These layers are inside of a down-proof cover which is also filled with polyester and down feathers. This creates a soft cushion that still has structure due to the underlying coils. 
  • All-Foam – This is a firmer seat as the cushion is made from high-density foam covered in what many refer to as egg crate foam. On top of this egg crate foam is a polyester fiber wrap, down, and a final layer of cotton. This creates a cushion that has few wrinkles and is very sturdy. 
  • Down Plush – This is often the most expensive and luxurious of foam cushions. These cushions have a thinner foam core which is wrapped in thick polyester, a layer of down, and additional polyester. This style of cushion often feels more like a pillow and is very soft, but it can change shape more easily. 

Once again, all of these styles of foam have some positives and negatives. However, the best way to decide is to try out the various styles of foam cushion until you find one that you love. 

Feather Cushions

Feather cushions are very comfortable and can be great for certain homes. These are less popular than the foam options described above, because they can easily break down over time. However, they can be more customized as they are often made to order and created to fit your needs. 

When it comes to feather cushions, they can be altered to have more or less feathers depending on your needs. The more densely packed the feathers, the firmer the seat will be. However, a higher number of feathers also means that you will need to plumb them regularly to avoid the feathers clumping together.

Hollow-Fill Fiber Cushions 

This is a great option for those who want something that exudes comfort. These sofas are definitely the softest and squishiest of the options we will discuss today. If you plan to use your couch for both sitting and sleeping, this is a great choice. The main issue with this style of cushion is that it will break down over time and needs a bit more maintenance. 

If you decide on a hollow-fill fiber cushion, you will want to rotate the cushions regularly to ensure they wear evenly. You should also expect to replace them regularly as the cushions will squish down and become worn with regular use. 

Batting Cushions

Batting is one of the more inexpensive options on our list today but is also the most likely to wear down quickly. Batting is made from a variety of materials, such as polyester, wool, or cotton. The material will determine the durability and overall comfort level of the batting itself. 

In most cases, you will see batting filling sold in either 42.4-ounce thickness or 25.5-ounce thickness. Though batting is not ideal for extensive use, it will add insulation and cushioning to your couch. 

Polyester Cushion 

For those who truly want to be frugal, polyester cushions are the choice for you. They are relatively inexpensive but allow you to customize your comfort to fit your individual needs. Over time, the polyester filling will flatten out and wear down, which can be a negative to this style cushion. 

When choosing your polyester cushions, you have a few main options:

  • Soft Polyester – This is a smoother option that many choose. It is a bit more durable and is bouncy when sitting. 
  • Ply-a Soft Polyester – This filling is not nearly as bouncy as the previous option. The cushions created with this style of polyester will be a bit limp and less likely to hold their shape. 
  • Faux-Down Polyester – This is a similar style of cushion to a classic down cushion but uses a fake down feather. It is less expensive than the real thing and is great for those who may have allergies to feathers. 
  • Cluster-Polyester – This is a longer lasting and more durable option. These cushions are made from tiny fiber balls, which provide comfort and hold their shape. 

Once again, when choosing any of these styles of cushion you will want to consider your personal comfort level and needs. You should always try a variety of cushion materials before deciding on which you want for your home. 

What is the Best Density for Sofa Cushions?

While we touched on cushion density some, it is actually a very important part of the sofa buying or cushion replacing process. Differing cushion types will have differing densities. Often, when you hear someone refer to the density of the cushion, it is referring to foam cushions. 

However, it is important to note that when furniture companies refer to the density of a couch, they are often doing a basic math equation. Foam density for example goes by the weight of a 12 by 12 by 12 block of foam. If the foam weighs only a pound, it will have a density of 1. 

If you refer back to the basic math behind this, the density represents the volume of the cushion. So, the number will represent the width X the height X the length. Overall, companies created a standard density scale to ensure that buyers could better understand what they were purchasing. 

Which Density is Most Comfortable?

There are two main concerns when it comes to couch cushions, the material used and the density of the material. Density does affect the comfort to an extent, but it goes hand in hand with the cushion material that you choose. Also, some furniture creators do not make cushions to be necessarily comfortable, but rather to last in the home. 

To break this down further, if you choose a high-density foam cushion, it may not be super comfortable. This does not mean it is not good quality, but rather that it was created to last for longer in the home. Over time, you may find that it becomes softer and more broken in. 

Often, the higher the density the longer the couch cushion will hold its shape without breaking down. However, to really get ultimate comfort you have to find your perfect mix of density and material. 

Understanding High-Density Foam

Those who are tired of their couches experiencing quick wear will often reach for higher density foam cushions. These are fairly easy to find and are known to last longer in the home. However, it is important that you understand what is considered high-density and why it is not always the best choice. 

High-density foam is any foam cushion that is over the density rating of 2. The average density you will find in cushions today is 1.8, meaning most are not considered high-density. Once you branch into the 2 and up range, it will be most expensive because it requires more foam to create this density. 

When comparing the density of cushions, it is important to think of their life span. The average couch cushion life span based on density is:

  • Average cushions with 1.8 density will last around five years. They often need repaired or replaced by the five-year mark with regular use. 
  • Cushions with 2.0 density and up will last between five and ten years with regular use before they become uncomfortable.

If you have the money to replace your cushions regularly, going for a softer and less dense cushion is possible. However, if you truly want your cushions to last for years to come, denser cushions are important.  

Don’t Forget Seating Support 

While the cushion is important, no cushion can hold up on a broken-down sofa. If you are having sofa issues, you will want to look further into the sofa itself and see if there are deeper repairs that need made. If the seating support found under your cushions is not holding up properly, this will lead to discomfort. 

The frame of the sofa itself along with the cushion work hand in hand to offer support. You will want to remove your cushions and check for any breaks or issues with this underlying support. If you notice springs, wires, strings, or even boards are not in place properly, you will want to make these deeper repairs before adding new cushions. 

Purchase a Sofa with Quality Support

If you are looking to purchase a new couch, the underlying support is something you will want to keep in mind. When at a furniture store, you will want to test the quality of the support in addition to the cushion comfort. The best way to do this is to sit on the sofa and check for any sagging. 

There are three main ways that a sofa will be supported, these are:

  • Eight-Way Hand-Tied Springs – This system is one of the best options and will help support even the softest of cushion. This style of support uses springs that are adjoined to one another with a strong twine, using a crisscross and diagonal pattern. This extensive wrapping of twine will offer superior support.
  • Web Suspension – This style of support uses bands of webbing that attach to the frame and spread across the seat and back. This webbing is done with either natural or a man-made fiber and creates a platform for the cushions. When used alone, this webbing does not provide adequate support but can be used in addition to other support. 
  • Sinuous Springs – These are S shaped springs that run from the front to the back of the seat and are supported by wires. This style of springs will provide strong support but is less bulky. If you want a smaller framed couch, this style of support is probably being used. 

While the cushions used on your sofa will provide added comfort, the underlying support is also a critical part of the furniture as a whole. If you notice extensive sagging when sitting on your sofa, a faulty frame may be to blame and not the cushions themselves. 

Extend the Life of Your Cushions 

While there is no way to completely stop your cushions from wearing down, you can extend the life of your cushions over time. Even the best materials and perfect density cushions will become worn with regular use. However, you can extend the life of your cushions and help them wear more routinely. 

Once you find your perfect sofa or ideal new cushions, you will want to follow these steps to ensure they last as long as possible:

  • Flip Your Cushions Often – When it comes to couches, sagging is something you want to avoid and flipping your cushions will help with this. If your family gets into a habit of sitting on the same cushions daily, you will want to flip these to avoid uneven deterioration. Flipping them will help distribute weight and avoid sagging. 
  • Rotate Your Cushions – While this is very similar to flipping your cushions, rotating them involves plumping them to avoid wear. You will want to push air back into your cushions by softly punching or pushing on them from each side. This will help plump them back up and redistribute the cushion fillers. 
  • Do Not Wash the Filling – Most furniture will become dirty over time and will require you to wash the cushions. However, you will want to remove the filling before doing this and only wash the outside covers of the cushion. If you wash the actual cushion filler, it can cause them to break down and make fibers weak. 

If you do these simple cushion care techniques often, it will help extend the life of your couch. Of course, this does not need done daily but add cushion care into your regular housecleaning routine for a longer lasting and more comfortable sofa. 

Back Cushions are Also Important 

While we have mainly focused on the seat cushions, it is also important to remember that sofas have both seat and back cushions. The back cushions are not responsible for the main support of the sofa, but they are responsible for some of the comfortability. You will want to consider the various types of back cushions and choose a sofa that offers something you enjoy.

There are a few options when it comes to back cushions and you will want to consider your comfort levels and the overall aesthetic you hope to achieve with your sofa. The commonly used back cushion styles are:

  • Tight Back Sofas – This is the most supportive option and actually does not use cushions at all. Tight back sofas will work best for those who want to sit more upright and work well in a more formal sitting area. These may not be the most comfortable, but do provide great support, especially when paired with a lumbar pillow. 
  • Loose Back Sofas – This is often the most comfortable style of sofa, but also provides the least support. Loose back sofas are created by using a lot of large throw pillows to make up the back of the sofa, which is great for lounging, sleeping, or watching TV. This style of sofa allows you to customize your cushions and is super soft. 
  • Cushion Back Sofas – For most homes, this is the go-to option of sofa and provides the right amount of comfortable yet supportive. The cushions used in these sofas are designed to fit the furniture perfectly and stay in place. These cushions are soft and comfortable yet are a bit firmer and more supportive than the loose back option. 

When it comes to your sofa’s back cushions, it is really up to you on which style that you choose. If you are hoping for a more comfortable feel, the loose back may be the best choice. However, those who need more structure when getting off of the couch will want a tight or cushion back sofa. 

Things to Keep in Mind 

Now that you have learned more about the type of seat and back cushions that are popular with most sofas, it is time to purchase your new furniture or cushions. If you are purchasing an entirely new sofa, it is important to keep several things in mind, including the cushion style. Some basics to keep in mind when shopping for your couch are:

  • Choose a Fabric You Enjoy – While your cushions are important, you also want to ensure that the fabric used to cover these cushions is something you enjoy. You want the couch to be a fabric that you love the feel of and can be easily cleaned. This is even more important in a home with pets or kids that may need cleaned more regularly. 
  • Measure Before you Go – When you are buying a new couch, you will want to ensure you know the exact size that you need. Decide on the exact area that you want the couch and measure this area before shopping. Go into the furniture store with a basic idea of what size you can fit in your home and remember this when shopping for sofas. 
  • Make Sure the Sofa Fits the Room – Once you have an idea of where you will put the couch, you will want to look at sofas that fit in this area. You will also want to keep in mind the height of the couch, width, and length when determining the perfect fit. Do not rely on your memory alone, write down the sizes of the area and even bring a measuring tape if needed. 
  • Always Try Out the Sofa Before Buying – While you can update cushions later on, it is important that you pick a comfortable couch from the start. Always sit on the couch you are considering buying and even lay back, ensuring it is as comfy as you like. You want your couch to be comfortable enough to sleep on and supportive while sitting. 
  • Don’t Forget Customization is Possible – You want to love the sofa that you are purchasing and feel very comfortable on this furniture, but it is important to keep in mind that customization is an option. If you get a basic-colored couch, you can always add more detailed accent pillows that bring out your inner style. It is easy to take a basic couch and make it more unique with pillows, blankets, or even sofa cover. 

Once you have an idea of which cushions you hope to see in your sofa, keep these basics in mind and it will be easy to find a sofa that you love. As mentioned, you will always want to try out your sofa and ensure that it fits your comfort needs. 

Sit Comfortably with New Sofa Cushions

Now that you know more about what cushions to choose and how to pick the best cushions for your home, it is time to replace your sofa cushions. Start by considering your ideal material and density, then take the time to try out a variety of cushion options. While there is not one top choice, you can easily find a cushion that fits your ideal comfort level. 

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