Casco Bay Furniture Review – An Interview with a Cushion Expert…Everything You Wanted to Know About Furniture Cushions

The other day it occurred to me that, although I had been in the furniture business for a long time, I could probably learn more about cushion construction…and it may be true for many of you. I decided to contact Lawrence Sweeny, owner of Larin Cushion Company of  North Carolina.

Lawrence how long have you been in the cushion business?

I’ve been in the business for 40 years. I started in the cushion business at Hickory Spring Manufacturing Company, a company that is a leading supplier of foam, springs, and other furniture related components. After three years, I left the company and formed my own company, catering to a portion of the business I thought was not being served well in the industry… the high-end business and specialty manufacturers. We make a quality product and rarely do we have a cushion failure. I have made several million cushions over the years and we may have had only 4 or 5 returns a year.

I’d like to ask you a question we are often asked, how should a cushion feel?

The truth of the matter is, as a society, we are no longer doing a lot of heavy labor as we did in the past. The average American weighs 20-25% more than they did years ago. This has to be taken into consideration in the construction of a cushion. The cushion has to be able to sustain this additional weight. A cushion will lose firmness over time. I always recommend that you start with a cushion that is a little firmer, that’s softens with use. If you start with a cushion that’s too soft, you will be replacing that cushion.

How are seat cushions and back cushions in sofas different?

In the high end market, the seat cushion has a high quality foam core surrounded by a comfort layer of down and feathers, and they can also add some fiber. The back cushions have a mixture of down, feathers and fiber. We also do well with spring down seat cushions, which have springs inside the foam core.

How do you measure the quality of foam in the seat cushions?

Cushions are generally measured by two values. The density of a cushion, which is the mass of weight per cubic foot of polyurethane foam. Foam that has a density of 1.8 foam, for example, contains 1.8 lbs of foam per cubic foot and foam that is 2.5 foam would have 2.5 lbs of foam per cubic foot.

The second measurement is the IFD (the Indentation Force Deflection). The IFD is the feel of the cushion, if you put your hand on the foam and push down. The lower IFD will sit softer. The higher IFD will sit firmer.

Each batch of foam is tested by chemists two ways. They cut a sample piece of foam out of the ‘bun” 15 inches by 15 inches by 4 inches thick. To arrive at the IFD, the following two tests are completed with the foam sample. First the foam is compressed by a machine with a 10 inch plate by 25% or 1 inch. Then another testing machine is used called ‘Squirming Erma”. This machine compresses down and twists as it goes down. This is repeated 20,000 times. The IFD from the first test is repeated so you know how well the foam will hold up.

Foam typically used in furniture ranges from an IFD of 21 to 35 and a density of 1.6 to 2.5 but can range up to 6 lbs per cubic foot and as low an IFD of 15.

I just shipped an all down cushion to one manufacturer that had an IFD of 15. They wanted a very soft, plush seat. I thought it had no definition. They called it plush. I called it sloppy, but that’s what they wanted. I suppose it is a high end look that some consumers like.

Ultracel Foam Seat Core

Richard, one of your customers at Casco Bay Furniture just ordered an Ultracel cushion core with a density of 2.5 lbs and 25 lbs of compression. This is an extremely good cushion. The components of the Ultracel cushion come from Bayer (the same people who make Bayer Aspirin).

This is the Mercedes Benz of cushions. Ultracel holds up better than other foams. For example, a 1.8 Ultracel foam will hold up better than 2.5 regular foam. Ultracel has a much better load or support factor. It will last longer and it’s more comfortable.

How is the foam actually made?

Foam is poured as if you were pouring a cup of coffee. It’s poured in a liquid state of indefinite length 4-5 inches thick. Agents are added to the foam to make it rise. It’s cut into buns like a loaf of bread. I buy 110 inch buns about 40-46 inches tall. I use Prestige Fabricators, as they produce a very uniform product. Our foam has a soybean base.

What about the comfort layers of the cushion?

We cut the bun into the required sizes and then we cover the foam into what you have called the comfort layer. Typically, on the seat and back cushion, we use a mix of down feathers and fiber depending on the order. We do this with a machine that blends the mixture. The feathers have a quill, and down has more of a cluster. Feathers come in grades. We use only the shorter feathers less than 3 inches. We buy our down from Downlite International of Cincinnati which is where the down in the cushions  of the leather  upholstery of Casco Bay Furniture comes from. Downlite carries a very high quality product. The highest end goose down is not used in sofa cushions, it is used in arctic wear. It has a lot of loft and it would be a waste to put this is a sofa cushion.

What’s next?

The comfort layer and the foam core is covered in a good quality down proof ticking and shipped off to the customer. The cushion core is then covered at the upholstery manufacturer in a leather or fabric seat or back casing. A quality cushion provides comfort, but more importantly, a happy customer.

Lawrence this has been very interesting. I never knew there was so much involved in making cushions. I guess we all take them for granted.

I hope I have been of some help to your understanding of the cushion industry. Please call me if you or your readers or anyone at Casco Bay Furniture has any further questions.

Thank you Lawrence.

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  1. Hi Richard–
    After finding your blog today and reading your interview with Lawrence Sweeny, I tried to locate the company’s web site. You wouldn’t believe how many sofa/sofa cushions we’ve been through (honestly, you wouldn’t), but we both work from home and we’re finding that a down blend (and even at least one spring down) is simply too soft for us. We’re on the sofa as much as 10 hrs/day and weigh about 180. Suggestions? Any help would be appreciated–maybe contacting Mr. Sweeny, if that would be okay. Thanks!

  2. Betty W. Stafford

    We live near Hickory and would like to talk with you about replacing our Taylor King sofa cushion inserts. Where are you located and can you help us? Thank you so much.

    • Richard

      Betty the easiest way to replace the cushions is to contact Taylor King as they should have the cushions easily available. You might also call a local upholsterer most of which replace cushions. When replacing the cushions ask if they carry a high end foam such as “Ultracel”.

  3. I need to replace cushion core in my Bernhardt sleep sofa. The 95% duck feathers 5% duck down core is so flattened that we can feel the sleep sofa frame. The other seat cushions and 3 back cushions are not too bad but if we can’t feplace the middle one with a feather core, what would you suggest to re-do all of the cushions to same comfort level? We also have 4 throw pillows that we could also refill. Thanks!

    • Dear FJ I would really replace all the cushions. I would choose a down wrap cushion with a high quality foam core such as Ultracel. I would contact a quality local upholsterer to do the work. Richard

  4. I have a mid range couch that is down filled with foam core.
    the back cushions are void of support and need to be redone.
    The local upholstery shop wants way too much so I am will do it myself. The cushions have a core of a split 3 panel cushion filled with down. The bottom and possibly the middle panel need to be filled to a firm feel and the top panel less so. I have placed a firm down bed pillow between the split, wrapped in batting and inserted in ticking and then covered with upholstery material. This still does not give sufficient support for lower and mid back.
    So, I was thinking of filling the bottom two with foam and add more down to the top one for a soft feel but yet supportive. Any suggestions would be appreciated and where can I purchase Ultracel near Napa California? Thank you.

    • Rick my opinion is that you should replace the cushions. If you found your upholsterer to be too expensive try one of the online cushion replacement companies such as Cushions Express 877-374-5569
      As a rule foam is not put in back cushions. We use a mix of down, feathers and fiber. The fiber gives you back support. You can add more fiber or fill the cushions more for added support.

  5. Alan Selbst

    I am having a motorhome built and they will be making cushions for the dining area. I weigh 270 lbs and I would like to have a supportive foam that I will not sit into deeply. What foam specification would you suggest for this application.

    • Alan I would suggest a high quality long lasting foam such as Ultracel 2.5 25. This means a cubic foot of this foam would weigh 2.5 lbs. Ultracel 2.5 foam is in our option substantially better than regular foam. The 25 means on the softness to firmness range this foam is 25 with 15 being the softest and 40 being the firmest. Larger people tend to fall into a sofa or chair at the knees. A 250 lb person for example can exert as much as 2000lbs of pressure on the cushions.

  6. I recently bought an inexpensive sofa and have found that it is uncomfortably shallow. The back cushions are stuffed with unenclosed fiberfill, and I am tempted to remove some of it to create flatter cushions hat allow more space on the couch. What is your opinion on this?

  7. Please email me with information about how to order good replacement pillow and couch foam- I have leather furniture… thank u. Hope to hear from u soon

  8. Trying to find out which major furniture companies use for their cushion core orders? I recently tried to order cushion cores from thomasville and they gave me the run around. Do you know who they order them from?

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  10. lorraine Phinney

    I love this helpful website. I have a couch that was reupholstered and the back cushions need more down and less of the other fill can I do this myself.i do sew and would attempt this.

    • Lorraine are the back cushions removable and can you remove the cushion cores. Most the likely the back cushion are a mix of down, feathers and fiber in a mix of 50% fiber and 50% down and feathers. I am not sure how you would add down and feathers to the mix. Let me investigate this and I will respond again. Richard

  11. Purchased Lancer couch in March 2014. In May (the 12th) at a time when couch was less than a month old, I contacted store because there had been considerable compression of the cushions. Suggested flipping them weekly but again I’d had it less than a month. I’ve had several couches over 40 years and had never flipped cushions weekly. Eventually sent person who confirmed my complaint that cushions did not meet advertised specs of height and 2 of the cushions had obvious compression issues. After sitting on it he said he felt a marked sinking in. 28 May, 2014 factory agreed to build new couch and admitted specs had been changed and height was shorter as well as other changes. Asked for upgrade to premium cushions at no additional cost and in the end was upgraded to ‘classic’ saying that further firmness is for those that have extreme problems getting up and out of seat. Finally 10 July, 2014 was called to set time for delivery of re-made couch. Here I am 5 months into having re-made couch and the cushions are starting to ‘curl’ even after flipping them every other week. Cushions are now losing their shape even after doing more flipping of cushions than I have ever done on any piece of furniture. Confused about what the problem is. I am a widow and the only one who sits on it with any regularity. Am now afraid to sit on it at all because I don’t want to ruin looks but that defeats the purpose for purchase as I’m not able to enjoy. Do I have any recourse or should I just ride off into the sunset?

    • Richard

      I just noticed your posting. Are you certain it was the cushions compressing rather than the spring compression under the cushions. I find it interesting that the manufacturer was willing to replace the sofa based on a cushion complaint and said that other changes had been made. I would be curious as to what those changes were. Lancer makes a pretty good product and I know they have many happy customers. If I recall their spring system is not 8 way tied but it does have coil springs. I think it is plausible to turn cushions maybe twice a year but this really shouldn’t be necessary with a well made cushions. For example leather sofas have fabric on the bottom for breathability so that cushions on leathers sofas cannot be turned, except if you were to remove the cushions cores, turn the cores and reinstall the cores in the leather casings which pretty much no-one ever does. As you have stated they have replaced your cushions with firmer cores. Cushions have two primary measurements. The weight of a cubic foot of foam and the softness or firmness of the cushion called the IFD. Regarding weight a 1.8 cushion for example means a cubic fit of foam would weight 1.8 pounds. A 2.5 cushion would weight 2.5 lbs. Another consideration is the quality of the foam. You can purchase better quality foam such as Ultracel foam which we carry at Casco Bay Furniture in four varieties. The other measurement IFD refers to the softness or firmness of the cushion. This usually ranges from 15 to 40. 15 being the softness and 40 being the firmest. Most cushions are in the 21 to 25 IFD. You might ask the manufacturer for the specs of the cushions used and the type of foam used. There are also other cushions such as spring down cushions with added benefits. Lancer has a good warranty I would call them again and ask them to send their rep out again, as you feel there is still an issue with the seating of your sofa. If all this fails and you do not want to pursue this further you can purchase you own cushions for about $100 each in a variety of specs from online cushion companies such as from Feel free to call me if you have any further questions. Richard

  12. When I ordered this couch in March 2014 I snapped this picture because I wanted the tallest and deepest couch I could get. I and most of my family are tall people. I had started looking in February hoping to have the new couch in time for a house full of family that was coming in for the wedding of my youngest daughter and would be staying with me. I accepted delivery sometime around the first part of May. After taking delivery I began to notice extreme compression of the cushions. So out of curiosity I measured the height/depth of cushions and not only did they not coincide with the specs in the book the compression made it worse.

    On 12 May, 2014 I spoke to the furniture store of purchase reporting my concern. The gal who took the call said that I should regularly be flipping the cushions. Mind you the couch at this point was less than three weeks old. On 19 May, 2014 rep from store came, did some measuring and concluded none of the cushions met advertised specs and visually could see compression. He sat on end with compression and said he felt a sinking in and how considerable the degree of compression was. He said he would report back to store and company may need to be contacted.

    28 May, 2014 I was contacted by store sales person reporting that Lancer had changed specs and couch was built to ‘new’ ones. Evidently the store must not have had new catalog at the time my order was made. I told them I had done considerable research before ordering this couch and went with measurements they had furnished me. I had been back to this store 3-4 times and spent hours pouring over catalog and looking at swatches and sitting on pieces that were made by Lancer but not exactly what I had ended up ordering. I was just trying to get a feel for the quality. In the end I was told that Lancer was going to build me a new couch to the specs that had been represented to me at the time I made the original order. At this time I requested they upgrade the cushions to premium as a show of good faith for my inconvenience. I was told the company would be contacted about it. Lancer upgraded only to their ‘Classic’ cushion because the extra, extra firm was for those that have extreme problems getting up/out of seat so they were more rigid, with not much give. Again was instructed that weekly flipping of cushions would insure better wear.

    Did not receive second couch till 15 July, 2014. Measurements still seemed off but I did not physically check because at this point my company was here and planned activities were in full swing for the rest of the summer. (This did not include alot of inside activities, i.e., sitting around on the couch.)

    By December I just could not ignore what I felt was happening all over again. I e-mailed Lancer direct asking if there were an industry standard for flipping cushions. Though they did not answer that question directly they did suggest that I ‘may need to contact your retailer and have them order a new set of replacement foam cores.’ 22 December, 2014 I contacted the store and asked that someone be sent out again to observe the problem I was still having with the cushions. I haven’t heard from them since.

    At this point I just want them to take back this second couch and get my money back. It felt good ordering something made here in the states but it shouldn’t be this frustrating to try and support domestic industry/businesses.

    What do you think?

    • I am sorry to hear you are having a problem with your cushions. I think at this point I would return to the store in person bringing along one of the cushions and explain to the owner of the store your concerns and ask what the suggested resolution is. If the resolution is not satisfactory I would then call Lancer directly. Lancer is a pretty solid family owned company and I have a feeling they may resolve the issue with you to your satisfaction. You can find their number in their catalog at the store, or online. I know they are in Virginia but I am not sure of their number. Hopefully they will give you a satisfactory answer. If you do not have a satisfactory answer you will then have to decide what further action you feel is necessary. Another option would be to reorder a quality cushion from an outside source not affiliated with the retailer or the manufacturer. I would looked for a down blend wrapped cushion with a high quality foam core. A Casco Bay Furniture we use Ultracel foam cores with down blend wraps which we have had a good track with. I would guess you would have to pay about $100 per cushions. Richard

      • Store rep came 3 Feb.,2015. Agreed cushions seem to be failing. Also noted buttons on back of couch on side that gets set on the most are 4 inches lower than others. He definately knew Lancer’s field rep would want to see it and it could be seen in my home or they could get it picked up and then could be seen at store. When asked what I would like to see done I told him just return and give my money back. Couch has already been remade once and I’ve been flipping cushions bi-weekly and this couch is having more issues than the first. He said he would take it that day but only had the store van. Still had no follow-up response since that time so I called 1 week and 1 day later. Was told that store was waiting on new cushions. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and asked why the cushions because my understanding was couch would be picked-up for return. Well, no one seems to know what the other is doing at that store. I’m now frustrated and angry because I was told the owner does not talk to customers and they would let me know when Lancer rep would be in area. Since this was paid for with my Visa I feel my only recourse is to dispute the charge and get this couch from hell out of my life! Thank you for letting me let off some steam!)

  13. Lily Vanessa

    I have a question about sofa cushion inserts. I just had my four-year old sofa reupholstered. The inserts were fine although the middle seat a back cushions were slightly lower than the other two. The sofa was foam and down, and if anything, I thought perhaps just a little extra stuffing in those two pillows.
    Now that I have the sofa back a day, I’m see that what’s inside the cushions looks like a bunch of wire-like insulation. There aren’t any insert covers over this either. The man I hired said it was “duck foam.” I actually saw him carrying around this roll, but I didn’t know what it was going to be used for.
    What is this? I get the strange feeling this “duck foam” isn’t meant to be used to stuff sofa cushions. Thank you, LV

  14. Shelly

    Hello. thank you for sharing this article. I have an older Bernhardt sofa that does need new cushions. It believe the original foam is 1.8 pounds (perhaps Ultracel) with a layer of feathers and some type of batting which is covered in a white ticking. The feathers and batting are only on one side, but the ticking is sewed together, so you can’t really tell what exactly is under it. Do you know of a place that would reproduce something similar? I could not find anything like it on the cushion express site. Thank you for your assistance.

    • Richard

      Shelly I think your best bet would be from your local upholsterer. Another option and probably much more cost effective would be from a cushion retailer such as cushion express. Their site can be a little confusing to navigate. You might have to call them to discuss the options. You might not find exactly what you have on their site but they probably do have some good options with down wraps. If I recall expect to pay about $100 per cushion plus freight for a good quality cushion, which is probably substantially less than you will pay at a custom shop. Of course at a custom shop you will get a custom cushion.

      • Shelly

        Thank you Richard for your reply. Is there another supplier that you are aware of that I can purchase the Ultracel foam from. I did phone cushion express and the phone rep said she does not even know what Ultracel is. From what I’ve read this is what I should be purchasing for long wear, correct? Thanks for your help again.

  15. Marlene


    I’m having a box cushion made in an attempt to raise my seated position 3″ on a piano bench. I weigh 135 lbs. and will be seated at the piano with my feet on the floor. What foam density and ILD rating do I need to accomplish this?

    • Richard

      Marlene I would think in this case you would want a heavy density foam (2.5 lb) with a firmer ILD such as 25. If you really want a supportive foam you could even get a 2.5 35 ILD for example or something close to this. Ultracel would be preferred but if you could not get Ultracel foam you could get a regular foam cushion. You wouldn’t want a foam that was soft as you would then sink into the cushion and you would not be raised the 3″ you need. You might even get 4″ cushion because you will sink into the foam somewhat. If you are planning on having a cover made for the foam you might first experiment by sitting on the foam prior to upholstering it.

  16. Elisabeth

    Hello Richard. We recently purchased a new sofa made by Younger. While I think the seat cushions are solid quality (ticking-wrapped high density foam, no feathers), the back cushions are not. They were filled with some sort of cheap fiber and extremely squishy and overly soft, losing their structure immediately when you lean into them. I took them to the local upholsterer and they simply filled them with more fiber. Now they are less squishy, but they bulge out too much, are uncomfortably firm and make the seating area too shallow. Sigh. Clearly we need some higher quality fill in these back cushions. I want them to be nice and heavy, maintain their structure fairly well, less bulgy, and soft enough to feel like your back is being nestled when you lean in. What would you recommend? Thank you! Have a great day!

    • Richard

      Elisabeth I would recommend that you get new cushion cores for the back cushions using a mix of 50% fiber and 50% down and feathers. Assuming the back cushions can be taken off the sofa and unzipped. I would unzip the back cushions and remove one of the cushion cores from the casing. I would then measure the cushion core taking into account that it is now overly filled and you do not want it be overly filled. I would then do one of two things. Go back to the upholsterer and tell him that you are not happy with the cushions and would like them to be re-done with the suggested mix. The other alternative is to go online to a cushion company such as Cushions Express, and order new cushions on your own, chalking up the cushion filling experience from the upholsterer as just that, experience. (PS-I have personally never used Cushions Express). Overly filled fiberfill cushions such as those you have now are not comfortable and will push you forward and take up some of your seating depth. Best of Luck!

      • Elisabeth

        Thank you so much for your quick reply! You’ve been extremely helpful. I truly appreciate it!

      • Elisabeth

        Hi Richard. Thanks again for your helpful reply last time. So we took our cushions to a higher-end upholsterer here in Chicago. He said a simple mix of down, feathers and fiber wouldn’t be good for some reason–something about it turning into a ball over time? (Polish guy, a bit hard to understand.) So instead he recommended using a softer foam core wrapped in baffled down/feathers and down-proof ticking. We tried a sample in his store and it felt great. Well, we just got the estimate via email– $852 for 2 back cushions ($472 for labor and $380 for materials)! Does this seem reasonable to you?

        • Richard

          Elisabeth, I do agree that the down, feather and fiber mix is proper and this should be in a down proof channeled ticking. The mix should be about 50% fiber and 50% down and feathers. Inside the mix should be a 5″ foam core and preferable a high quality foam such as Ultracel soy based foam. This foam in my opinion should be 1.8 lbs with a 21 IFD. If the foam is too soft it will not hold up. The price seems steep to me. One of the online cushion companies I would estimate to be in the area of $100 a cushion. An upholstery shop may be making the cushion from scratch so their is a value to this but $852 for two cushions is high. I might shop around and also get a quote from one of the online shops.

  17. Elisabeth

    Thanks again. It seems Cushions Xpress can do it (with a 30/70 down/feather envelope; they don’t mix fiber with feathers for some reason) for about $200 a cushion, so we will go with them. Their recommended foam for back cushions is a “2115 foam, which is a medium firmness, high density foam.” I don’t know what that translates to in terms of lbs and IFD.

    • Richard

      Elisabeth we only use foam in one of our back cushions on our Jasper style. As a rule you wouldn’t put foam in most back cushions. The reason for the fiber in the back cushion is the fiber gives it a little more resiliency and shape. An all down and feather cushion tends to pack down. Are they suggesting a foam core in the back cushion with a down and feather wrap. Quite frankly I would not choose that.

      • Elisabeth

        Yes, exactly, foam core with down/feather wrap. Why do you think that’s not a good idea?

        • Richard

          Elizabeth as a rule you don’t put foam in a back as it isn’t that comfortable. The backs will feel too firm. In our company we only use foam in one of the backs as I mentioned, as this sofa has a large once piece back. It should be a mix of 50% fiber and 50% down and feathers in my opinion. I also think if you use a mix of all down and feathers the down and feathers tend to pack in and they too become uncomfortable. This is our sofa which does have foam in the back and we are using Ultracel soy based foam:

  18. Mary Drew

    I am trying to buy replacement back cushions for a New Vintages Bernhardt couch and its matching oversize chair, as they have just sort of collapsed after a 3 years of use. Can you help me?

    Online searches have not been at all fruitful, so I figured I’d ask the expert guy.

    Thank you for any help! Could you please reply to my email address?


    • Richard

      Mary you might trying contacting Bernhardt. If you need the cushion cores you can purchase these from a local upholsterer or from an online cushion company such as We have not used this company but you could call them and give them a try.

  19. Hi Richard… I have a question regarding a new foam insert for a down/feather insert made of 25/75 down and feathers.

    I purchased a new French Style Settee recently and I love it but it is extremely uncomfortable The linen seat cover measures 24″x54″x5″. When I opened it up I found the foam cushion inside the feather envelope to be only 21″x48″x2″ (a rather flimsy piece of foam) and when you sit on it, it bottoms out.

    I would like to order a quality foam insert cushion for this envelope, but do not know what size. Should I go with the dimensions of the foam that came with the settee or should I go with the dimensions of the linen seat cover, only perhaps 4″ in thickness? Also what foam would you recommend so that it would have some support but still be soft? This settee will not be used very much, but I still want it to be comfortable. Thank you so much for offering this service.

    • Richard

      Betty we use 5″ foam inside our down wrapped cushions for our sofas, love seats and chairs. We recommend a high quality foam such as Ultracel foam and we offer 6 different cushion cores to suit every taste. Did you just take delivery of the settee? In my opinion 2″ is very inadequate. Do you have a picture of the settee? Richard

  20. Lise Peyser

    Hi Richard, I recently had my sofa recovered. I am very disappointed with the cushions. The cushions are spring down wrapped. I will include picture of sofa in this message. also the pillows are twisting to the left.
    Why are they twisting to left? Upholsterer said he would resew cushions and it should rectify the problem.
    Need your advise. Need to know how to send pictures to you.

  21. TheAntiFox

    Reading down thru the comments, I noticed a couple of posters
    who mentioned their weight being over 200lbs. Manufacturers
    need to take note of the fact that people are getting bigger –
    a little taller, one inch every two to three decades, but 10-20
    lbs HEAVIER during same time period.

    By 21st century standards I’m a small man – 5’8″, 180lbs –
    so I don’t mind cushions I can my shoes off and sink
    into. But the average male in America Is approaching 6′
    and 200lbs, and the typical female is closer to my height
    and maybe a little lighter on the scale. Cushion makers
    need to take these factors into account. A lot of the
    furniture at Bobs Discount seems “huuuge” – but they’re
    really just thinking ahead of generations to come.

  22. Gwyndolyn Alston

    I need to replace the seat cushion insert to a Bernhardt New Vintage chair. Where can I get the insert material. The feathers seem ok but foam is out of shape. The frame ID is T3762VB.

    • Gwyndolyn You could contact Bernhardt or try one of the cushion replacement companies found online.

  23. Loraine Calvo

    Hello Richard. We are considering ordering the Manchester 88″ sofa with 2 cushions instead of three. My husband has chemical sensitivities so off-gassing has been a problem with our last furniture purchase. I understand that Casco Bay has soy based ultra cell available. Is there any difference in the quality of the soy based vs the petroleum based foam? How about the firmness and durability? Since we are unable to “test drive” the cushions, what firmness should we go with. Other than the occasional large guest, we max out at about 185 pounds, but do spend a lot of time on the sofas. We want it to be supportive and very comfortable and retain its shape. What grade of firmness should we go with (no coils please!). Thank you!

    • Loraine the first thing to consider is what the frame is made of. We use 5/4 solid hardwood frames using such hardwoods as Maple and or Poplar. The advantage of a solid wood frame is that this is natures product. There is nothing artificial about it. In contrast a hardwood plywood frame found in the construction of most sofas does have glues and off gassing as a by product. Similarly most foams found in sofa cushions do have off gassing as a by product. I have been told that Ultracel foam is preferable from this perspective. Most of the leathers we sell are from Italy. The Italian leathers have to conform to the standards of the EU whereby certain chemicals found elsewhere are excluded from the tanning process making this a preferable product in this regard. Keep in mind that environmental sensitivities vary from person to person.

      The Ultracel cushions last longer and are more comfortable. We offer this in soft, medium or firm. Our two most popular cushions are our Ultracel 1.8 21 IFD down wrapped cushion and our spring down cushion. I understand you are not interested in a spring down cushion. Our Ultracel spring down cushions made up of layers of fabric cover springs, fiberfill, 1.8 21 Ultracel foam and a down blend wrap which is then covered in a channeled ticking. This cushion gives you the most ride. You sit in it and you sink into it and when you stand up it resumes its shape. In your case I would suggest the former which is our Ultracel 1.8 21 down wrapped cushion.

      We do offer an option of two cushions rather than three for a nominal fee.

  24. Samantha McInnis

    I just got my cushions back from the upholsterer and they are very firm. We were used to the down cushions and the upholsterer does not work with down. is there any way I can trim the top of the cushion and replace with the Downlite down on the tops of the cushions myself?

    • Samantha new cushions do have to break in and I would think any upholstery shop could order down wrapped cushions.

  25. Hi Richard,

    I know this is 2 years late, but I hope you can answer my Q for me anyways. I just got a couch that is SUPER firm and it’s been with the previous owner 5 years who got it from the house owners before them (so it’s definitely been used a lot). How can I DIY my seat cushions to be softer?

    • Megan I would suggest ordering new softer cushions with a down blend wrap from your local upholsterer or an online cushion company.

  26. Hi Richard

    is this a quality sofa?


    ‘ FRAME:
    • Kiln dried hardwoods engineered using computerized manufacturing process (CNC Router).
    • Parts joined through use of a mortise and tennon interlocked construction.
    • Joints glued, stapled and reinforced with corner blocks.
    • Engineered frames reduce total number of parts dramatically increasing accuracy and strength of frame, thereby exceeding stick built durability.

    • Seat consists of a single tempered steel polymer grid system supported in the frame by 11 gauge steel helical coil springs.

    • # 12 Plant Based Feather Blend Cushion:
    1.8 poly with soft foam wrap, of which 20% or more is plant based materials. The core is then encased in a down proof ticking filled with a blend of 75% fiber and 25% feather/down. Feather down ratio is 90% feathers and 10% down.

    • Feather Blend
    Channeled down proof ticking filled with a blend of 75% fiber and 25% feather/ down. Feather/Down ratio is 90% feathers and 10% down.

    • Bi-fold mechanism by Leggett & Platt with a double locking T.V. headrest.
    • 5 1/2″ thick innerspring mattress with a quilted ticking and a 5-year warranty.

    • Product is “Bench-made” with the same upholsterer doing the entire inside of an item. Pieces are not a production line product.

    • Sarah let me say to start with that every manufacturer has their own opinion about the best way to manufacture a sofa. In my opinion the gold standard in sofa construction is a 5/4 solid hardwood frame such as 5/4 maple and a true 8 way hand tied spring not a drop in unit.

      A manufactured frame is a Plywood frame and in my opinion a 5/4 hardwood frame is superior. It says that the frame is” Kiln dried hardwoods engineered using computerized manufacturing process (CNC Router”-you can’t cut hardwood stick built frames on a CC router) . As this is plywood, plywood is made wet and is not kiln dried but this is a description that is erroneously seen in many descriptions. I am not aware of any kind dried plywood. The spring system is a bit unclear in your description sounding like the system known as a Flexalator not to be confused with Flexsteels’ unique type of U shaped metal blue steel springs with the same name. I think Crate and Barrel carries the type of spring you are describing on many of their sofas. In my opinion a true 8 way hand tied hand knotted spring is superior to this type of spring construction.

      The seat cushion sounds good but I would prefer a high end soy based foam core such as Ultracel which last substantially LONGER and I think healthier from an off gassing point of view.

      The back sounds ok and luxurious but I prefer a mix of fiber in the backs with a down blend mix as the all down feather mix does migrate to the edges and in my opinion all down and feathers actually can sit quite hard. We have sold this in the past at the instance of a few customers and always then got complaints about them.

      Mechanism and upholstery sounds good.

      Again these are my opinions and this manufacturer may have a different opinion.

  27. Hi Richard,
    We are looking at 2 sofas and trying to decide which to get. One is a CR Laine with Spring Down cushions. Also 8 way hand tied springs. The other is Bassett with Ultrcell with a density of over 2. It has a sinuous spring construction. My husband is hard on sofas. Which would you recommend?

    • Richard

      Alexa I am sure both sofas look good. I would base my purchase based on the construction of the sofa and would choose the 8 way hand tied sofa with Spring Down Cushions.

  28. Patricia O'Leary

    Dear Richard,
    I have been asked to design floor cushions for my church – we’ll make 100 of them. We’ll probably go with 1″ Ultracel (or equivalent), with Dacron fiber on the top and bottom, and a muslin cover. Then we’ll have slipcovers made. The cushion shape will be custom – kind of a rectangle with slightly curved sides. My question is, where to get these cushions made? Is this the kind of thing an upholstery company would do? Are there online vendors that would make a custom-shaped pattern like this in quantities? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area – any specific recommendations?
    Thank you for any help!

    • Richard

      Pat I think 1″ foam would not be thick enough and they would compress very easily. You could try a local upholsterer or try an online company like although I have never used them myself and I am not sure if they would make these or not. They would just provide the inside of the cushions and not the cushion casings. If you need the complete cushion with it’s outside covering you would have to see a local upholsterer.

  29. Kesha

    This is a fascinating blog post and discussion. Thank goodness for Google that led me here when I was questioning the qualities of a well constructed seat cushion. I am grateful for the information you have shared. I am a therapist, and I purchase standard living room furniture, not furniture designed for commercial use in my office. I work about 3 days a week seeing up to 20 people in a given week. I am wondering what the average longevity of an average piece of living room furniture. (chair and loveseat in my case) should be. I have recently replaced my old furniture, but I think I waited a tad bit too long. It was pretty worn after years of use. The new furniture’s specs state 1.8 inch high resiliency foam cushions, but perhaps that is not enough. I wonder if I should preemptively replace the cushion core with a higher grade goal? Thank you for any feedback you can offer on what to expect for wear and tear.

    • Richard

      Kesha their is a wide variety of 1.8 cushions available so it is hard to say how your cushions are made or how long they will hold up. For example if they are 1.8 soy based Ultracel foam they would hold up longer. I think at this point I would go with them as they are and as they begins to soften ad wear replace them before the fabric casings and springs start to go. How long they will last also has to do with the spring construction of the sofa. For example if your sofa has a true 8 way hand tied hand knotted spring the cushions will last longer. A sinuous spring base for example, without as much flex is harder on the cushions. Replacement cushions can be purchased from a variety of sources assuming your seat cushions are removable. They can be purchased on line from cushion companies such as “Cushions Express” or your local upholsterer. If the cushions are sewn in this will be a much more involved task and may not be practical.

  30. Richard,
    I am looking at a Craftmaster sectional with the following description.A – Hardwood Frame Consisting Of 5/4 Inch Hardwood Rails And 13/16 Inch Hardwood Laminates.
    B – Heavily Padded Arms.
    C – Tie Wires On Back & Seat Springs For Additional Support.
    D – Heavy Gauge Sinuous Wire Springs For Durability And Comfort.
    E – Heavily Padded In-Back.
    F – 100% Dacron Polyester Fiber Back Cushion Encased In A Sewn Ticking With Separate Compartments To Prevent Fiber Fall Down.
    G – 1.8 and 2.0 Density High Resiliency Foam Core With Dacron Fiber Wrapping.
    I – Padded Edge Roll.
    J – Insulated Seat Pad For Added Comfort.
    K – Joints Are Mortise And Tenon Or Double Dowelled, Glued, & Corner Blocked For Durability.
    L – Wood Legs On Skirted Frames Are Built Into The Frame For Strength & Durability. Exposed Wood, Decorative Legs Are Securely Mounted To The Base Of The Frame.

    We cannot afford a top of the line sofa, but have a budget in the $2,000.00 range.
    Would this be a decent sofa with cushions that won’t lose their shape quickly?

    • Richard

      Peggy sorry being so late in answering this. This sofa has a plywood frame, all 5/4 hardwood is better and sinuous springs, true 8 way hand tied is better. I would say this is typical construction of most sofas sold today even those costing quite a bit more. Its not top of the line but if its well tailored it would probably serve you pretty well. You could check out reviews online for this product as well. Richard

  31. Hi, I am so glad I found this website! I recently purchased what I believe to be a mid to high quality sofa. It is a three seater with a completely attached back, sewn in three panels. My husband and I both tried it out in the showroom and it was a perfect fit. As we were purchasing, the salesperson asked if I wanted to upgrade the seats and back at no extra charge. Instead of getting firm, I would be getting extra firm. We though that sounded good. Firmer is always better, right? The sofa arrived and I could not believe the difference! Whatever they did to the firmness, it completely changed the dimensions of the seat, making it shorter, and the back was inclined further which reduced the comfort. Does firmness equal thickness? If so I was not made aware of that. The dimensions of the sofa are clearly written on the specs, there is no adjustments based on firmness. Should I hope that this firmness will loosen quickly, or call the customer support? I can’t sit in it, my feet dont touch the floor!

    • Firmness really has nothing to do with the thickness of the cushion but rather the type of foam that is used. I suppose in some sense if you had a 2″ firm cushion it would not be the same as lets say a 5″ firm cushion, but a manufacturer can choose the firmness of the cushion from the cushion supplier. The firmness will soften somewhat over time and with usage. As far as firmness and comfort I depends upon what the person who owns the sofa prefers.

  32. Brenda Oxley

    Hello and thank you so much for all the information on understanding quality sofa cushions. We are going to order the Madison sofa from Casco Bay and I am still unsure about which sofa cushion to order. I have read through the comments here and it looks as if the spring down cushions you recommend, might give us the medium firmness and the durability we are looking for. Can you tell us more about materials used for the inner springs- are these made in the US (rather than preassembled in China)? What gauge wire is used? Also, could you please advise us on which Ultracell foam would be the best if we ordered spring down cushions. We are hoping this will be our last sofa so any advice that will guide us in making good buying decisions is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Richard

      Brenda I like the Ultracel Spring Down Cushion the best. It is by far our most popular cushion. the the best of my knowledge I cannot remember a complaint with a customer on a set of these cushions. Inside each cushion is a series of springs each of which is covered in material and those are then covered in either 1.8 21 Ultrcel long life soy based foam or for larger people (or people wanting a firmer cushion) 2.5 25 Ultracel Foam around the springs. We usually sell the 1.8 21 foam on the cushions. They are very comfortable and the cushions have a “lot of ride”, you sit into them and they compress and you stand up and they return to their shape. They are comfortable yet supportive. I find these to be a good option if you have two people in the family of different sizes such as two spouses one who might be 120 lbs and one who might be 225 lbs.

      Everything we make is made in NC except the leather most of which is Italian and all of which is distributed by Moore and Giles. As far as I know there is not one part in our sofa that comes from China. Personally I have this cushion myself and I love it as does the rest of my family. I am not sure of the gauge of the wire but that it is very satisfactory with no complaints from cushomers. They are made in greater Hickory, NC.

      • Jim Pitts

        I just received my Casco Bay Manchester living room set in Brompton Cocoa leather. Beautifully made. I got the Ultracel Spring Down Cushions and while they do sit well, I’m hoping they start to give a little and the leather soften with use.

        • Jim sorry I just noticed your comment. Thank you on commenting on how well made your sofa is. The cushions and leather will soften with use. Richard.

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