Natural Upholstery Resources: Working with your Designer or Upholstery Professional
START HERE if you’re seeking help working with your upholstery professional, with your interior designer or with a furniture designer to incorporate healthy, non-toxic materials into your home upholstery project (DIYers, check out ‘Natural Upholstery Resources for Makers’).
Awareness is increasing around healthy upholstery options, but there are still a few professionals who are unfamiliar with using natural latex foam & wool batting in place of the ‘conventional’ urethane foam & polyester batting. The good news is it’s an easy transition to make once the similarities and differences are clarified. No special expertise is necessary to work with them. I personally love ‘that healthy feeling’ of knowing I’m not touching or breathing in unwanted chemicals, both for myself as I work with them, and for my upholstery customers. Check out the ‘Upholsterer’s Guide to Natural Materials’ which includes a free download that you can fill out yourself, or take to your upholsterer to have them determine how much of each material you need.
It may help to share this information with your professional, and we have a page written specifically for them. Just send them this link: ‘Natural Upholstery Resources for Professionals and Designers’.
What if my Upholsterer tells me to order the materials myself?
This is what happens most of the time, since these materials are not readily available through conventional upholstery supply houses, and it can take an extra step or two to figure out how much of each material you need. Most upholsterers will be able to tell you the foam dimensions you need for each piece of furniture they are reupholstering for you. It’s important to have them specify dimensions of each individual cushion + interior foam pieces, because the latex foam & wool batting is sized differently than urethane foam & polyester batting. Please read below to learn the basics of using natural upholstery materials. If you need extra help to figure things out, you can submit your information on our Contact page.
How much does it cost?
The cost of natural, non-toxic materials is higher than conventional materials, so it’s important to be sure your project will fit your budget before you get into the specifics. See this post to see examples of four natural upholstery projects, detailing the cost of materials and (optional) consulting for each.
Natural Upholstery materials list
Here are the Natural Upholstery foundation materials you can purchase through our shop:
- 100% Natural Latex Foam (dimensions vary) – both Oeko-Tex and GOLS certified Organic
- Premium Wool Batting (84″ wide) – Oeko-Tex certified
- Organic Cotton Ticking Fabric (58″ wide) – Oeko-Tex certified
- Organic Cotton Batting (27″ wide) – Oeko-Tex certified
Here are the ‘conventional’ materials they replace:
(see below for a detailed break-out of resources to learn more about each material)
- Natural latex foam – replaces urethane foam
- Wool batting – replaces polyester batting
- Organic cotton ticking fabric – replaces conventional (non-organic) cotton ticking fabric
- Organic cotton batting – replaces conventional (non-organic) cotton upholstery batting
Working with natural upholstery materials – learning resources:
100% Natural Dunlop Latex Foam – replaces urethane foam
- Made from the sap of the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis.
- Available in your choice of certified Oeko-Tex or GOLS Organic (current certificates available upon request).
- Available in six firmnesses: To decide which firmness is right for you, read the post Latex Firmness & Density and watch the video.
- If you’re doing the measuring yourself (instead of your upholstery pro), see ‘How to Measure your Cushion for Latex Foam’, and download the worksheet to help with your calculations.
- A note about the weight of latex foam: If you’re having a larger cushion made (for a bench or window seat), be aware that latex foam is heavier than the urethane foam used in most upholstery. For more info, see the video Natural Latex Foam – How Much does it Weigh?
Premium Wool Batting – replaces polyester batting
- The use of Premium Wool Batting is optional, but recommended as a replacement anywhere polyester batting is used in upholstery.
- Oeko-Tex certified (current certificate available upon request).
- Again, if you’re doing the measuring yourself (instead of your upholstery pro), see the video How to cut & book wrap a latex foam cushion with wool batting, to learn an economical method of cutting & wrapping this 84-inch wide wool batting.
- Also, see the video How to measure your natural latex cushion for wool batting and download the worksheet to help with your calculations.
- There is no gluing necessary with our Premium Wool Batting, as the thin spun backing enables securing of the batting with hand stitching or stapling.
- For a complete wool overview, see the detailed post About wool batting for natural upholstery.
- A note about batting if you’re not familiar with standard upholstery practices: Whether you’re using dacron polyester or wool batting, the layer serves to soften the edges and provide a fullness and smoothness to your finished cushion. Remember that NO adjustment is necessary to the size of the foam to ‘compensate’ for the batting, because the batting does not add significant bulk, only ‘lofting’.
Organic Cotton Ticking Fabric – replaces ‘conventional’ cotton ticking fabric
- Similar in function to down-proof ticking in conventional upholstery.
- Ticking fabric is required to prevent the ‘barbed’ wool fibers from migrating through a woven upholstery cover fabric (it’s not necessary with leather, non-wovens, or fabrics with a coating on the back).
- Use of ticking fabric is only necessary where wool batting comes in contact with the outer upholstery fabric. See ‘What is ticking fabric and why do I need it?‘
- There are two application options for cushions: (1) sew as separate cushion cover or (2) cut as a second layer along with cover fabric and treat both layers as one during construction. This is your choice to make – both work equally well.
- In general, the recommendation is to purchase the same amount of this 58-inch wide ticking fabric as 54-inch upholstery cover fabric for your project (this assumes you are using wool batting in place of polyester batting over the entire upholstered piece).
Organic Cotton Batting – replaces ‘conventional’ cotton upholstery batting
- Recommended as a replacement anywhere ‘conventional’ cotton upholstery batting is used.
- Used mainly as an upholstery foundation layer in tight upholstery.
- A note about cotton upholstery batting if you’re not familiar with standard upholstery practices: be sure you don’t confuse the lightweight (wool or polyester) batting with this heavier cotton batting. In most cases you won’t be using this batting for cushions (except in some antique cushions that use marshall springs). It is most often used in the base layers to create a dense padding, and to shape seats or backs around coil springs.
Want to see & feel the materials for yourself before buying? You can purchase a sample box here.