About Natural Upholstery Materials

Natural latex foam for upholstery.

tapping a rubber tree to make natural latex foam

Natural Latex Rubber, processed without any harmful chemicals or petroleum products, is tapped from Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) trees, today grown mainly in southeast Asia. Latex is a natural repellant to dust mites & other allergens, and is also resistant to mold and mildew. It is used as a healthy, eco-friendly replacement for polyurethane foam in cushions & padding for upholstery. Biodegradable 100% natural latex is created from the latex of trees – formed into a foam using minimal chemicals, heated and then thoroughly washed to remove traces of chemicals, leaving you with just the latex foam. 

Other natural materials used in modern re-upholstery.

Natural upholstery materials: cotton batting, wool batting & cotton ticking fabric

Organic cotton batting is used as a foundation padding layer in upholstery.

Wool batting forms a naturally flame retardant barrier between latex foam and the outer fabric. Wool is also mold, mildew and dust mite resistant. It is used to ‘soften the edges’ in the top layer of upholstery.

Organic cotton twill or a tight-weave muslin is used as a ticking layer between the wool batting and the outer fabric to prevent wool fibers from migrating through the cover fabric and ‘pilling’ on the surface.

Traditional re-upholstery materials

Natural Materials for upholstery - image: ModHomeEc.com

In the very early days of upholstery, there were no synthetics or foams. Aside from the materials mentioned above, any discussion of natural upholstery would not be complete without including traditional materials. 

You’ll find some of these materials used in antique furniture, as well as in fine modern pieces using traditional re-upholstery techniques:

  • Coconut fiber – the rough fibers of the coconut husk forms a ‘crunchy’ layer in traditional applications. If you buy a fresh coconut, you’ll find some of these fibers on the outside of the hard inner shell.  
  • Spanish moss – often mistaken for horsehair with its long fibers, but a closer look reveals a plant material.
  • Hog hair or horse hair – yes, this is the wiry hair from a real animal, often found as a tightly packed dense layers in old chairs.