Many of us own some sort of outdoor furniture, usually in the form of a patio table and chair set, a garden sofa or armchair, a sun lounger, an outdoor ottoman or similar. This type of furniture is specially designed for outdoor use and is made from both inner and outer materials that can withstand the elements, whether it be rain or sunshine!
Outdoor furniture is typically made using weather-resistant materials like wicker or metal, and outdoor soft furnishings – including the padded beds for sun loungers and cushions for sofas – are often treated with special weather-resistant chemicals. These soft furnishings usually contain a specialist type of inner foam material too.
The main difference between outdoor and indoor foam is the composition of the material. Indoor foams are usually closed-cell polyurethane foams that are suitable for high-traffic, everyday uses. This variation of polyurethane foam comes in various densities.
In outdoor uses, open-cell polyurethane foam is used as a special type of foam for garden furniture. As the name implies, it has an open-celled structure that enables air, water and moisture to easily pass through it. It is also created with an antimicrobial agent that prevents the growth of bacteria in the form of mold and mildew. In the event of rainfall, water passes straight through this foam and it can dry quickly. Indoor, closed-cell polyurethane foams soak up water when they get wet, making them inappropriate for outdoor applications.
Outdoor furniture foam is available in a few different forms. The most popular is a quick dry reticulated foam, which is a fire retardant foam suitable for furniture applications yet still allows for easy water drainage and air circulation. It is usually available in a range of firmnesses – from soft to firm – and can be cut to size to suit any application.
Another type of outdoor foam is Zotefoam Plastazote superior closed cell foam. Although this is a closed-cell foam – and different from the usual open-celled option – it is known for being tough and flexible. It is also entirely waterproof, making it suitable for outdoor applications. Given it is very rigid and durable, it isn’t usually used in seating but instead in other applications such as sun or poolside loungers. It is resistant to many different types of oils and chemicals, and is weather-proof and easy to wipe clean, making it ideal for the poolside.
The best way to choose outdoor foam is to consider how and where it is going to be used. Any soft furnishings around a poolside should be filled with Zotefoam Plastazote foam as it is resilient to chemicals, including those found in pool water. Standard furnishings on patios and elsewhere in the garden that are only exposed to the weather can use outdoor open-cell polyurethane foam.
Outdoor foam is best purchased directly from a foam manufacturer who can best advise you on a foam’s qualities. They will consider how and where you will be using the foam in your garden and outdoor space, and be able to advise accordingly.