In the world of upholstery, foam is likely the most commonly overlooked aspect of a wonderful looking upholstery job. The vinyl is the easy thing for people to notice, but to get that showroom floor look, out of any upholstery job, the foam is mostly going to need to be addressed.
Foam is a very complex product. It’s easy to hear that you need new foam and think of the foam you see at the hardware store or camping supply store. The truth is, there are many variables that contribute to the right foam for the project. Foam is classified by firmness and weight, represented by numbers, 2.80 41 is an example. The first number is the weight or density. The higher this number goes, the longer it will last. The second number is firmness. This number ranges from teens to around 100. Lower numbers are softer and higher numbers are more firm.
So if you have a 1.10 41, a 1.80 41, and 3.10 41 you have three pieces of foam that all have same firmness but they all have a different weight and with that, a different life expectancy and different costs. What you see at hardware stores is going to be around a 1.10.
When replacing the foam, we like to use a 2.60 or 2.88 hr foam but will never us anything less than a 1.80. We do come across some boats that we can tell they used a very cheap, low-quality foam and knowing when to replace it is sometimes hard before we get the skins off. One test we do is steam the foam. Steam will make the foam bounce back to its original shape. A low-quality foam or a piece that is just old and worn out will bounce back, then shrink back to the way it was before steam after about 5-10 minutes. Sometimes it won’t even stream back to its original shape.
To replace all the foam in, say a 24′ open bow boat, you could see a price ranging from $3500-5500 for the foam and the time to shape it.