FAQs 2017-04-06T03:51:19+00:00
Many upholsterers are hesitant to work with these ‘different’ natural upholstery materials because they are not familiar with them. What can a person tell them to change their minds? 2017-05-25T23:48:29+00:00

Hopefully you can find an upholsterer who is open to working with new materials. Be sure to begin by telling them that the natural upholstery materials are not so very different to work with than ’standard’ materials, and there are many upholstery professionals who have found them surprisingly easy to work with. Here’s a list of ‘natural’ materials and the ‘standard’ materials they replace:

  1. Natural latex foam – replaces urethane foam
  2. Wool batting – replaces polyester batting (if desired).
  3. Organic cotton ticking fabric – used between the wool batting and outer fabric to prevent wool fibers from migrating through and ‘pilling’ on the surface. Also serves an additional layer of protection for the latex from light coming through – latex breaks down when exposed to UVs.
  4. Organic cotton batting – replaces standard cotton upholstery batting used for foundation padding.
How do I get started working with natural upholstery materials? 2017-03-14T08:55:35+00:00

Here are the steps you can take to get started:

  1. If you are not doing the work yourself, find an upholsterer who is willing to work with the natural materials (which are not much different to work with than ‘standard’ upholstery materials)
  2. Have the upholsterer estimate how much of each material you will need for your headboard based on the widths and sizes of the materials
  3. Once you have the list filled out, place your order (link to shop) when you’re ready
My upholsterer is willing to use whatever materials I supply but has no vendors for these non-toxic materials. Can you help? 2017-03-14T08:51:14+00:00

Visit our shop

Do you make custom headboards or other furniture out of natural upholstery materials? 2017-03-14T08:48:18+00:00

Sorry, we do not make custom furniture, but I can provide support to help you get the right materials to take to your local upholsterer.

If I glue two pieces of latex together will it feel different? 2017-03-14T08:46:16+00:00

If you glue two pieces together using a water-based glue (e.g. Allene’s Tacky Glue) to make up the width or length dimensions of a cushion (creating a vertical seam) it will feel slightly harder at the seam, which could feel uncomfortable if it were placed in the middle of a seat. If you glue two pieces to make a thicker cushion (creating a horizontal seam) it may feel slightly firmer overall, but should perform the same as a single piece.

What are the benefits of Wool batting in upholstery? 2017-04-07T14:49:14+00:00

Wool batting is recommended to cover all latex foam used in any part of upholstery for four reasons – Wool:

  1. is a natural flame retardant barrier – see the post ‘Interpreting the CA Flame Retardants Standard for Upholstered Furniture’ for more info.
  2. provides added protection for the latex foam from UV light that passes through the cover fabric.
  3. softens the edges of your upholstery cushion or padding.
  4. is a healthy & sustainable alternative to polyester batting.
If a ‘standard’ headboard calls for a one-inch medium-density polyurethane foam, could the Dunlop foam work as a substitute? 2017-03-14T08:32:56+00:00

Yes, the medium density dunlop foam would roughly equate to a medium density polyurethane foam.

I see that you suggest wrapping a latex foam cushion core with wool. My husband has a wool allergy. Can we use cotton? 2017-03-14T08:29:20+00:00

Yes, you can use cotton instead of wool, but cotton batting will increase the dimensions of your cushion, since it does not compress as much as wool. In that case you would need to reduce the size of your foam to get the same size cushion. A rough guess might be to reduce each foam dimension by 1/2” for a 1.5” thick cotton batting, but you would have to experiment to see what works. Note: you don’t need the ticking fabric with cotton, though a thin cover sewn around the cotton would make it easier to stuff into the outer cushion cover, as cotton tends to stick to everything it touches. Another important consideration is fire resistance – wool is naturally resistant to flame, while cotton is not.

I’ve seen old latex that has become crusty with age. What covering do you use to keep the latex from drying out? 2017-03-14T08:26:52+00:00

Wool batting can be wrapped around the latex. A cotton ticking fabric envelope around the wool will help prevent the wool fibers from migrating, Both layers will help to protect the natural latex from UV damage and drying out.

My upholsterer thinks that organic cotton batting will not hold up as well as dacron/ polyester, especially in the back of the sofa. What are your thoughts on this? Is chemical field polyester my only option? 2017-03-14T08:24:33+00:00

Organic cotton batting is a heavier batting which is meant to be used as a foundation material in upholstery, not as a replacement for dacron/polyester, which is a ‘finishing’ layer between the outer fabric and the layer beneath. The wool batting is meant to replace the dacron/polyester layer. Instead of glue, the wool batting has a thin spun backing that can be stapled or stitched, depending on the upholstery application. The unbacked side of the wool sticks quite nicely to burlap, which I use on chair backs as a support layer for the batting. Note that wool batting requires an extra layer of ticking fabric between the outer fabric and the wool batting to prevent the wool fibers from migrating through to the fabric surface.

How much organic cotton ticking fabric do I need to order for my upholstery project which uses wool batting? 2017-03-14T08:20:56+00:00

If you’re purchasing the 58” wide Organic Cotton Ticking Fabric, you will need about the same yardage as your outer cover fabric. You may cut the two layers at the same time and treat them as one layer, or apply them as separate layers.

How do I know what ILD foam to use for a dog bed? I have an older dog but am not sure what would be comfortable for her. Any suggestions? 2017-03-14T08:17:17+00:00

I generally recommend a firm foam for thicknesses 3 inches or less.

Is there any alternative to the heavy latex that you could suggest? 2017-03-14T08:13:20+00:00

We are committed to providing eco-friendly and socially conscious, humanely produced materials that are third party certified by reputable organizations such as GOLS or Oeko-tex – both certifying organizations hold the bar high on human safety standards. At this time, latex is the only material that I have found for use in sofa cushions that has these certifications and is toxin-free.

I want to replace my three sofa seat cushions with a single bench cushion. I really don’t want to use toxic materials. Can you help? 2017-03-14T07:53:38+00:00

We have both organic and non-organic 100% Natural Dunlop Latex Foam available in sizes up to 79.5 inches long. One important thing to keep in mind is that latex is a relatively heavy material compared to ’standard’ urethane cushion foam, and a single large sofa cushion could weigh 60-70 lbs, depending on size and thickness. This may not be too much of a concern once it’s in place on your sofa, but the weight could be an issue for some.

Do you sell custom cut bolster (cylindrical) cushions? 2017-03-14T07:51:33+00:00

Sorry, we do not have the equipment to cut custom cylindrical shapes.

Do you sell non-toxic batting? 2017-03-14T07:49:39+00:00

Our Premium Wool Batting is all natural, free of chemicals, and humanely produced in New Zealand.

Does latex have a smell? 2017-03-14T07:46:43+00:00

I’ve found that this is very subjective. Some people are sensitive and perceive a strong smell, while others do not notice any smell at all. If you’re worried about the smell, I recommend you order a sample

What firmness of latex do I need? 2017-03-14T07:42:21+00:00

It depends on the use. The general rule for sofa or chair cushions:

  • Firm for a standard seat cushion, Medium for a soft seat cushion
  • Soft for a standard back cushion, Medium for a firm back cushion
  • Medium for a headboard

Order the firmer latex if you’re using it for a cushion less than 3-inches thick.

What sizes does natural latex foam come in? 2017-03-14T07:39:22+00:00

We offer 38-inch wide x 6-inch thick sheets in two lengths: 39.5 or 79.5 inches. The thickness can be sliced horizontally. When ordering, you will be asked to specify a combination of thicknesses adding up to 6 inches. For instance two 3-inch thick pieces or three 2-inch thick pieces, etc.

What is soy foam? 2017-03-13T20:18:56+00:00

Soy foam is basically a ‘polyurethane based foam with a touch of soy added for marketing purposes’, as explained in this post by Oecotextiles: What kind of filling for your sofa cushions?

What tool should I use to cut foam? 2017-03-13T08:36:42+00:00

An electric carving knife works nicely if you don’t have an upholsterer’s saw (which is likely to cost more than $200 new).

Do I need to put the wool directly over the foam (as a fire retardant layer) or can I put a layer of cotton over the foam first? 2017-03-14T17:09:22+00:00

Yes, you can place a layer of cotton over the foam first, and then add the wool on top of that. The wool forms the outer layer on all upholstery, where it provides a fire retardant barrier, and also acts to soften the edges, just as polyester batting does in conventional upholstery.

I have an upholstery project I would like to take on myself. How can I tell whether the wood frame needs repair or gluing without tearing into it? 2017-03-13T20:35:18+00:00

Here’s a post that tells how to ‘test’ your frame: Evaluating your upholstery project

Should I keep the old upholstery layers when reupholstering my own chair? 2017-03-14T17:25:07+00:00

The short answer is yes, keep everything. Traditional upholstery materials, such as horsehair, used in pre-40s furniture can be very long-lasting. No matter what the age, I recommend re-using as much of the original padding as possible as it defines the chair’s shape and results in much less work and expense. Do keep the original layers even if you have to replace everything, as they provide a valuable guide to follow when building those layers back on with new material.

A local upholsterer told me he could use cotton padding instead of foam, which he has used for antique chairs. I am wondering what you think of cotton or wool as a padding without any foam? 2017-03-14T17:30:51+00:00

Cotton upholstery padding works well, and is often the only padding used in antique chairs. It generally yields a firmer seat than foam, with firmness depending on what’s underneath it. If the chair has springs it can yield a very comfortable seat. If it has only webbing, it will feel firmer. I like to use the original materials (or replace with same) whenever possible to retain the integrity of the chair’s purpose and history. Wool batting serves to ‘soften the edges’ on the surface rather than providing a substantive padding layer.

Do these materials require an upholsterer to have special expertise, or can they use the same techniques as with ‘conventional’ foam and padding materials? 2017-03-14T17:42:18+00:00

Natural materials are used in upholstery in much the same way as ‘conventional’ foam & padding, with the noted exception that the wool batting is not glued to the foam (as polyester batting is glued to urethane foam in conventional upholstery). Instead, NaturalUpholstery.com’s wool batting must be either sewn or stapled around the latex foam (see demo video here). It has a thin spun backing (see photo here) that makes this easy.

Note: with the wool batting, the outer upholstery fabric will need to be lined with ticking fabric to prevent the wool fibers from traveling through to the surface of the upholstery (ticking fabric is not necessary with leather or other non-woven material).

I’m looking for a sustainable upholsterer in my area who will re-upholster my furniture using natural non-toxic, eco-friendly, organic materials. Can you help? 2017-03-13T21:59:13+00:00

To help connect people who need services with those who provide them, we’re compiling a resource list of upholsterers around the country who are willing to work with these natural upholstery foundation materials. A link will be placed here when that resource becomes available.

If you have an addition to the list, we’d love your help! Just drop us an email through our contact form, and include the upholsterer’s or craftsperson’s name, business location and phone number, and we’ll add them to the list!

Do you provide upholstery services using natural upholstery materials? 2017-03-13T22:10:22+00:00

As of March, 2017, we are still doing limited local upholstery work in SW Montana, and not accepting long-distance work.

To help connect people who need services with those who provide them, we’re compiling a resource list of upholsterers around the country who are willing to work with these natural upholstery foundation materials. A link will be placed here when that resource becomes available.

If you have an addition to the list, we’d love your help! Just drop us an email through our contact form, and include the upholsterer’s or craftsperson’s name, business location and phone number

My upholsterer would like the foam in sheets. Does the latex foam come in 24 x 82 inch sheets? I need thicknesses ranging from 1-inch to 6-inch. 2017-03-13T22:01:30+00:00

The 24 x 82-inch foam sheets that are standard sizing for urethane foam are not so for latex. Because Natural Latex Foam is sized for the mattress industry, we offer 38-inch wide x 6-inch thick sheets in two lengths: 39.5 or 79.5 inches. The thickness can be sliced horizontally. When ordering, you will be asked to specify a combination of thicknesses adding up to 6 inches. For instance two 3-inch thick pieces or three 2-inch thick pieces, etc.

What is GOLS? 2017-03-13T22:11:34+00:00

GOLS stands for ‘Global Organic Latex Standard’ which was introduced in 2012 to ensure a clear path and procedure on the route from field level/ farmer level to certified organic latex product manufacturer. Among other factors, manufacturers that are given the go-ahead to produce organic products under the GOLS logo would have to follow mandatory social and environmental regulations. This will make the final consumer socially and environmentally responsible, indirectly.

What does the Oekotex Standard 100 test for? 2017-04-07T17:53:47+00:00

Textile products bearing the Oeko-Tex 100 certification mark:

  • Do not contain allergenic dye-stuffs and dye stuffs that form carcinogenic arylamines.
  • Have been tested for pesticides and chlorinated phenoles.
  • Have been tested for the release of heavy metals under artificial perspiration conditions.
  • Formaldehyde is banned; other aldehyde limits are significantly lower than the required legal limits.
  • Have a skin friendly pH.
  • Are free from chloro-organic carriers.
  • Are free from biologically active finishes. (Thanks to the Two Sisters Ecotextiles blog for this information)
What is Oeko-tex Standard 100? 2017-04-07T17:51:45+00:00

The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 standard is concerned primarily with health and safety of textile products (including latex foam). It tests only the end product, not the processing – for example, wastewater treatment is not included. It is NOT an organic certification and products bearing this mark are not necessarily made from organically grown fibers. Look for the GOTS or GOLS label for organic certification.

What is a third party Certification? 2017-03-14T07:03:59+00:00

There are a number of independent organizations that offer certification programs for various industries and products. All of our certified natural upholstery materials are free of harmful chemicals in the final product – certified by either Oeko-Tex or GOLS

I want to buy latex foam for cushions – will it be one piece of foam or are pieces glued together to make the size I want? 2017-03-13T07:14:40+00:00

Your foam will be one single unglued piece. We sometimes offer (discount) pieces that have glue seams – these are clearly identified as such (e.g. states that it is glued in the item description).

Do you sell chemical-free organic upholstery fabric? 2017-03-14T07:06:45+00:00

We do not sell fabric at this time, but we highly recommend Two Sisters Ecotextiles as a trusted source for ecofriendly, non-toxic upholstery fabric.

Is Living Home Furniture related to NaturalUpholstery.com? 2017-03-14T07:09:41+00:00

Yes, Living Home Furniture is now operating under the NaturalUpholstery.com brand. We feel the new name better reflects our mission and products.

Do you have natural upholstery samples to see online? 2017-03-14T17:53:10+00:00

Yes, you can see and purchase samples in our shop.

What is a good non-toxic glue to use for upholstery? 2017-03-13T06:39:17+00:00

When you do need to glue upholstery layers, I have had success using Aleene’s Tacky Glue, a non-toxic water based glue with similar consistency to Elmer’s Glue (which btw, might work just as well). I dilute it with enough water to make it spreadable with a brush. It takes longer to dry than the ‘toxic’ upholstery spray glues, but it works!

I have an upholster willing to make cushions for us using natural latex and GOTS certified fabric that we purchased. However, we don’t know what kind of glue can be used. The upholsterer has only used a conventional (probably toxic) spray glue, so I offered to do some research. What suggestions for glues do you have? Thank you! 2017-03-14T07:22:24+00:00

If your upholsterer is using wool batting, there is no need for glue, since wool will stick naturally to the foam. You don’t need to glue it to the foam, but you do need to wrap it to hold the wool in place as you stuff it into the cushion cover. Our Premium Wool Batting comes with a thin spun backing, which is perfect for this purpose. You can either hand stitch or staple it around the edges. Remember that when you use wool batting, you’ll need a ‘ticking’ layer (a tight-weave organic cotton fabric) between the batting and the outer upholstery fabric to keep the wool fibers from migrating through the cover fabric (exceptions are leather and other non-woven covers).

I’m looking for a green/organic alternative to Scotchgard in order to seal the fabric on a chair I just reupholstered for our nursery. Do you have any recommendations? 2017-03-14T07:24:17+00:00

Not yet, but it seems there may be hope on the horizon. Check out this recent post by the Two Sisters Ecotextiles blog: What’s new in stain repellants?

What kind of questions should I ask when purchasing furniture for my home or office to ensure my family’s or employees’ health? 2017-03-13T06:20:22+00:00

Here are a few to get the conversation started:

  • Does it contain formaldehyde (often found in particle board or plywood)?
  • Does the foam contain Flame Retardants?
  • Where is it made (in the USA or imported)?
  • Does the furniture company employ sustainable and socially beneficial business practices (local resources, working conditions, equality for genders)?
How much latex foam should I buy to replace old cushion foam? 2017-04-07T20:07:20+00:00

Watch this short video demonstration on how to measure an existing cushion to determine what size latex foam to replace the old foam

Does NaturalUpholstery.com sell FSC certified wood? 2016-11-23T20:24:12+00:00

Sorry, we do not sell wood products.

What is used to bind the wool batting? 2017-03-14T18:07:17+00:00

NaturalUpholstery.com’s Premium Wool Batting comes with a thin spun backing,which is also wool (you can see it in the image on the wool product page). This backing is strong enough to enable either hand stitching or stapling around the edges of your latex foam core. For clarification and instructions on how to cut and ‘book-wrap’ your foam with the most economical use of wool, check out this video.

How is ‘ticking fabric’ used in natural upholstery? 2016-12-21T19:02:52+00:00

There are two ways to apply the ticking fabric:

  1. cut the ticking fabric the same size as the outer upholstery fabric and apply them together as a single piece in sewing or stapling (I sometimes sew sew or serge the two layers together at the edges prior to working with it).
  2. apply the ticking fabric separate from the upholstery fabric – for example, sewing an  inner cushion cover, completely separate from the outer cover.
Do I HAVE to use wool batting to wrap my latex foam? 2016-11-23T20:15:04+00:00

You CAN use standard polyester upholstery batting to wrap your latex foam. In this case either a ticking fabric or a heavy cover fabric (such as leather) is recommended to protect the foam from light. Latex foam breaks down quickly when exposed to light – especially UV light, though I’ve seen evidence that indoor fluorescent and incandescent lighting can be detrimental as well. The wool batting and the ticking fabric each provides a measure of protection, and the two combined will help keep your latex foam soft and long-lasting.

Note: using no batting at all is not recommended as it will result in faster breakdown of your foam due to increased abrasion between the cover fabric and foam.

How is wool batting used in upholstery? 2016-11-23T20:15:22+00:00

The beauty of any properly applied batting is that it creates a smooth, rounded finish and softens the edges of foam corners. It doesn’t add much thickness to the finished surface so you don’t have to adjust the size of your cushion cover to accommodate the batting.

Our Premium Wool Batting comes with a thin spun backing, which is also wool (you can see it in the image on the wool product page). The backing makes the wool much easier to handle and work with, and you can use it to hold everything in place. It even holds up to light stapling – it’s stronger than it looks!

What is ‘ticking fabric’ and why do I need it? 2017-04-07T20:14:29+00:00

If you’re wondering why the extra layer of ‘ticking fabric’ is recommended between the wool batting and outer upholstery fabric, the answer is two-fold:

  1. the organic cotton ticking fabric provides an added layer of protection from light. Latex foam breaks down quickly when exposed to light – especially UV light, though I’ve seen evidence that indoor fluorescent and incandescent lighting can be detrimental as well. Both the wool batting and the ticking fabric provide a measure of protection, and the two combined will help keep your latex foam soft and long-lasting.
  2. if you are using the wool batting with a woven upholstery fabric, ticking fabric is strongly recommended to prevent migration of the wool fibers through the outer fabric, resulting in unsightly pilling on the fabric surface.

You can read more in this blog post.

Note: If you are using leather or a similar non-woven, heavy upholstery, then the ticking is not necessary.

How do I prevent the holes in latex foam from showing through the fabric? 2017-03-07T03:40:32+00:00

I recommend a layer of wool batting between the latex and the cover fabric, for three basic reasons:

  1. provides an added layer of protection for your latex foam from UV exposure
  2. recognized as a NATURAL flame barrier that meets the revised CA TB117-2013 standard for flame retardants in upholstery
  3. softens the edges of your cushion (as conventional polyester batting does in standard upholstery practice)

You can read more in this blog post.

Does NaturalUpholstery.com sell ‘down’ as an upholstery stuffing? 2016-11-23T15:34:39+00:00

Sorry, we do not sell ‘raw’ down or any pre-made down envelopes or pillows for upholstery use at this time.

What NON-TOXIC glue should I use to glue latex foam together? 2016-11-23T15:33:37+00:00

I use a non-toxic water-based glue system in my shop – Simalfa, which unfortunately is not sold in smaller quantities than 5 gallons. The home-made solution I have used is Aleene’s Tacky Glue which is a water-based non-toxic white glue. You can mix the glue with water to make it brushable – apply glue to both surfaces of the latex and join together. Allow it to dry overnight before using it. This glue method may stiffen the foam slightly at the seam, which may be more noticeable with vertically joined pieces (joined to make a longer or wider cushion) than horizontally joined pieces (joined to make a thicker cushion).

Is down a ‘clean’ alternative as an upholstery stuffing? 2016-11-23T15:34:59+00:00

When trying to create a cleaner, safer environment for your family, you may be considering duck or goose down as a substitute for foam or polyester stuffing. Animal cruelty is certainly a concern with down, and you can check the source of your down through third-party organizations. Just search ‘cruelty-free down’ for listings for ethically-sourced down. The same process applies if you want to be sure that your down purchase is toxin-free.

2 Comments

  1. Karen & Gerry Lefebvre September 22, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    We read your article specifically regarding the type of density needed for quality cushions. We have a sail boat. We had our cushions made by a gentleman who did furniture upholstery. He used dense high quality foam many years ago. The covers are fine, Strong material with zippers. What is your recommendation for marine cushions that are within the cabin, platforms for sleeping or sitting. He is no longer alive. Independent kinda person. Miss him. Our living room nice job still in good shape tdy.

  2. Carla Pyle September 26, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Karen & Gerry,

    It’s always sad to hear about the loss of a true craftsman. I would recommend a high density foam for your boat cushions – If you’re using latex to replace the old foam, specify ‘firm’ or ‘extra-firm’ equivalent to about 30-35 ILD. Refer to this post about measuring if you need to figure out how much replacement foam you need to purchase.

    I hope this helps,
    Cheers!
    Carla

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