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Upholstered Furniture 101

What to know and how to get the most value for the price

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Photo 2 of 4Cushions, which sit on top of the spring system, contribute significantly to comfort.

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Most cushions are made of a high-density foam core that, in the best pieces, is wrapped with feathers and down. A down substitute or soft polyester also may be used as wrapping. They should be sewn into cotton cases to help them keep their shape and to ensure smooth upholstering.

Until recently, the core of most cushions was made from petroleum-based polyurethane foam. With the growing interest in green alternatives, some furniture manufactures are now using a more natural and affordable choice for fill that contains 20 percent soy to help reduce the petroleum-based content of cushions. Latex cushions are another earth-friendly option. In addition to being all natural (no petroleum products), latex is harvested without killing the rubber tree, so it is a completely renewable resource. However, latex tends to break down more quickly than other types of foam.

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