chair foam guide

From Foam Quality To Comfortability: Which Foam Is Most Comfy?

Who doesn’t love a comfortable gaming chair?

The single biggest factor that makes a chair comfortable is the quality of foam. Foam is that stuff you’ll find if you rip the upholstery apart (don’t do that though).

The foam quality is one of the most underrated factors when it comes to deciding which gaming chair to get. It’s why $500 noblechairs ICON, for example, feels so much more comfortable than $180 Merax chair. I’ll let you in which foam the most comfortable (and durable) gaming chairs use.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a gaming store, asked if a certain chair is comfortable (they always say “Yes, it’s very comfortable”) and when inquiring about the type of foam I always got something like:

“Foam? Well…it’s gaming chair foam? Oh, of course, it is memory foam, very comfortable.”

Well, don’t get me started on foam. Pretty much every foam is ‘memory’ foam; adding ‘memory’ to ‘foam’ doesn’t explain anything.

If you really want a comfortable gaming chair, it does make sense to know a thing or two about foam that goes under the gaming chair upholstery.

Foam production is quite a science. The difference between different qualities of foam is based on two main factors:

  1. Foam density (higher the density, better and more comfortable you’ll sit).
  2. Foam firmness or softness (measured in ILDs. We’ll explain what ILDs are; higher the ILD, better or firmer is the foam).

Here is a quick infographic of different kinds of foam used in gaming chairs (they go from worst to best):

differences between cold cure foam and regular density foam

How To Tell Which Foam For Gaming Chairs Is The Best?

All that padding and cushioning you see on gaming chair comes down to the quality of foam used.

As you can see from the infographics, guys producing furniture – chairs, couches, sofas – can choose which foam they will include in the furniture design. In gaming chairs, we see 3 kinds of foams:

  1. HD36 foam. Used in cheaper racing chairs.
  2. Lux foam. Used in top-tier chairs.
  3. Cold cure foam. Used in top-tier and ergonomic office chairs for gaming.

Before I explain why cold cure foam feels like heaven compared to cheap HD36 regular foam, we need to get a grip on these foam quality factors:

Foam Density (Density = Quality)

The density is the most important factor. Foam with high density feels rich, full, comfortable. The low-density foam feels like sitting on a haystack.

Foam density is measured in pounds per cubic feet (lbs/ft3). Be aware that any foam of 1.8 to 3.2 lbs/ft3 density can be called ‘high-density foam’. However, there is a major difference between 1.8 lbs/ft3 and 2.8 lbs/ft3 density. 

That’s why standard foam like HD36 and Lux always have two options:

  1. Regular (usually 1.8 lbs/ft3).
  2. High-Density (usually 2.8 lbs/ft3). Sometimes they refer to it as ‘high-quality’ foam.

What really separated the superior cold cure foam that even $1000+ office chairs use is not all the cold-curing procedure this type of foam has to go through: it’s the density!

Cold cure foam has a density of 5+ lbs/ft3. That’s more than 200% higher density than regular foam and about 100% higher density than standard high-density foam. 

Substantially higher density does feel substantially more comfortable and compact. The drawback, of course, is that cold cure foam is expensive. That’s why we find it in top-tier gaming chairs and office chairs, and not in racing PU leather chairs.

Another important feature of higher density foam is the prolong durability. Lower density foam (1.8 lbs/ft3) has a typical lifespan of 7 years. Higher-density foam (2.8 lbs/ft3 and above) has a typical lifespan of 16 years.

In short: If you’re looking for a comfortable and durable gaming chair, go for high-density (2.8 lbs/ft3 and above) foam.

Foam Firmness (Or Softness)

What you definitely don’t want is a sort of soggy or very soft foam. Do you know those gaming chairs that have incredibly thick padding and are supposed to be comfortable? Well, in most cases, they contain low-grade HD36 foam (regular).

The reason is simple: HD36 foam (regular) is the cheapest foam to build a gaming chair. If you use a bit more foam, it would cost you a pretty penny but people will look at the chair and think it’s comfy.

A good way to avoid bad foam is to go for high-density foam. An even better way is to look for high-density foam with high firmness factor.

How do they measure firmness?

Firmness is measured with a firmness factor called ILD – Indentation Load Deflection (or softness factor, both expressions are valid). Foam manufacturers get this factor be measuring how much force needs to applied to a piece of foam for it to shrink for 25% (1/4 of its size).

The more force they need to apply to squeeze the foam, the higher the ILD and hence the firmer the foam. For gaming and office chairs the firmer the foam, the better. Always looks for foam with the highest possible ILD.

Now, from the infographics above, you can see that low-quality foam has low ILD and the high-quality foam has high ILD:

  • Super-soft foam: 12 ILD.
  • HD36 foam: 35 ILD.
  • Lux foam: 50 ILD.
  • Cold cure foam: 50 ILD.

Of course, the cold cure foam as the best foam has the highest ILD factor. However, if you’ve ever woke up in your dreams wondering what’s the difference between HD36 and Lux foam, you now have the answer.

Lux foam firmness is in the rank of cold cure foam. The HD36 firmness is much lower; that’s the main difference between the cheap HD36 and more expensive Lux foam.

Why Cold Cure Foam Is So Highly Desired?

One of the main reasons why $1000 ergonomic chairs for gaming can really command the $1000 price tag is the use of cold cure foam.

We have already covered the most important two factors. The cold cure foam has:

  • Highest density (+5 lbs/ft3).
  • Highest firmness (Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) of 50).

What makes the cold cure foam extra special is its ability to be molded. We talk about cold cure moulded foam.

‘Moulded’ means that no matter what you’re planning to do with the foam, it will keep its shape. There won’t be bumps or uneven parts of foam that you can usually feel under the upholstery of cheaper gaming chairs.

All the useful qualities of the cold cure foam, together with the higher price, originate from the production of foam.

Foaming is a chemical production of foam of different qualities. Most foaming processes use high temperature to achieve foam production. However, as even the name ‘cold cure’ foam suggests, the foaming process that enables the production of highest-quality foam is can be done even in low-temperature conditions.

The final product – cold cure molded foam – is the most highly desired foam to be used in the design of any chair, be it office or gaming chair.

Final note: Cheaper racing chairs use HD36 foam. Top-tier and office chairs use the premium Lux and cold cure foam. The foam makes all the difference as far as ‘comfy’ goes.

The only problem is that it’s really hard to find out which particular foam does a particular gaming chair use. I’ll try to include the foam quality in all my gaming chair reviews (if I find out the foam used, of course).

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