Dry Foam or Reticulated Foam Outdoor Patio Furniture Cushions
Outdoor patio furniture cushions contain foam material with wide variances. What’s on the inside matters a great deal! The interior of your cushion will dictate to a large degree how long your cushions last. Interior foam will vary in cell type, strength, density, size, shape, and color. One variety of foam used by some manufacturers is dry foam, dryfast foam, or reticulated foam. It’s referred to by a few different names.
Reticulated foam is unique in the foam world. It has open cells from two to five millimeters and looks like a honeycomb or fibrous material. It is obvious when looking at it that air and water could move through the material fairly easily. Not all reticulated or dry foam is created equal. There are two different ways the open cells in the polyurethane sheet are created – by chemical and by fire. In one process, called quenching, the foam passed through a chemical bath at a precise speed and temperature. The chemical eats holes into the polyurethane foam. The holes have jagged edges to them, which actually slows down air flow and water drainage a bit, and slightly increases the retention of dirt and pollen.
The alternative process of creating these dry foam open cells is called zapping. The foam is put into a vacuum sealed container and explosive gases are pumped in. A quick explosion happens and clean cells with rounded walls are created. The smooth, shiny cells cause air and water to move freely through the foam. You can hose these cushions off and the force of the water will push dirt and pollen through the cells and out of the cushion. Dry time will be minimal compared to all other options.
Consider how much air flow and water retention matter to you. Will your cushions ever get wet by either rain or hose? Will they be pool side? Do you live in an environment with dust or pollen in the air? Do you plan to bring cushions inside during the rainy season or can it rain at any unpredictable time? How diligent will you be about keeping your cushions clean?
Reticulated or dry foam is more expensive than standard polyurethane foam. Inexpensive furniture certainly will not contain it, and only some of the quality outdoor patio furniture manufacturers offer it. Some pieces may have reticulated foam on the seat cushion but not on the back. Cushion foam type should be one factor that you consider when selecting your patio furniture.
- Christopher Amos