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Old 14-01-2016, 08:58   #1
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Grade & thickness of foam for berths

Tried a search on this and got nothing which surprised me. I will be replacing berth and cockpit cushions this spring. Seens to be a confusing choice of thickness and density choices. What have you found that works?
I am looking at settee berth, mattress for bunk and cockpit seats. seats are just for bases, already done the backs and found it very easy to do if you use a rigid back and simply staple the fabric in place instead of sewing covers.
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Old 14-01-2016, 09:23   #2
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

Cockpit seat cushions are usually closed-cell foam, which is about all the same density, just a matter of thickness - the thicker, the denser

Other than that, your personal comfort will dictate the foam density in your interior cushions. If you like more firmness, you should go with a denser foam

I would never build cushions for a boat such that I couldn't easily remove the covers as well as the foam itself for cleaning
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Old 14-01-2016, 17:10   #3
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

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Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
Tried a search on this and got nothing which surprised me. I will be replacing berth and cockpit cushions this spring. Seens to be a confusing choice of thickness and density choices. What have you found that works?
I am looking at settee berth, mattress for bunk and cockpit seats. seats are just for bases, already done the backs and found it very easy to do if you use a rigid back and simply staple the fabric in place instead of sewing covers.
Sailrite [among others] offers qualified guidance and products...

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 20-01-2016, 20:59   #4
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

My PaceShip has 4 inch foam for the setees and 6 inch in the V birth. Pretty comfy, but I have a piece of 3 inch memory foam that's going on top of the V birth next season.
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Old 20-01-2016, 21:55   #5
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

We use 4" firm polyfoam, to which we have bonded a 1/4" bit of closed cell foam to (to avoid condensation, and it works fine). Then, we bonded an egg crate topper to it. Jim likes it fine this way, and i don't think we really need the topper.

If you're making your own mattress covers, I like to run zips along three sides, to make it easy-peasy when you want to wash them, to get them back on. Use all plastic zippers, with plastic pulls. Velcro will work, but ime, it's harder to get back on looking right. I put the zips in the side panels, but you could install them in the bottom seams for a more immaculate appearance. I buy the bulk zip material from a discount fabric/sewing shop. It's a rewarding process, all straight seams, pretty fast.

Ann
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Old 20-01-2016, 22:20   #6
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

G'day Roland,

I sewed boat canvas and boat upholstery for two of the most highly rated canvas shops on the Chesapeake from 2002-2008 (before we sailed away to Australia). From my own experience, I've deduced that there is a dizzying array of foams on the market and you are wise to examine which is most appropriate for your needs. A quick check shows that some on-line merchants sell 25 different grades of foam! Yikes. The lowest density foam will not last as long as the higher densities, including deforming and deteriorating faster over time. Foam is a petroleum-based product so the denser the foam, the more it will cost (although with the price of oil dropping - you would hope they would pass along the savings to the consumer - we can always dream). Quality foam is not cheap - but worth it; particularly if your boat is your home.

In our shop, we used D36 and D45 for interior upholstery and DryFast for cockpit cushions (closed cell foam is very dense, and extremely HARD on the derriere; it also shrinks significantly over time so that the cushion covers will eventually look baggy and saggy). The designators D36 and D45 are terms used to describe the density of the foam - 'D' being the highest grade we could purchase through our supplier ('Foam To Size' in Ashland, VA) and the numbers 36 and 45 represent the two highest densities in that grade. D36 is softer, and in the shop we mostly used it for the cushion backs; D45 was used for the seats (either one could be used for berths, depending on how firm the customer liked their bed). However, you can layer the various densities to get the perfect personal level of comfort. For example, on my main saloon seats I used 3 inches of D45 on the bottom, layered with 2 inches of D36 on top; the two slabs of foam were glued together with spray adhesive BEFORE cutting to size. Standard thicknesses we recommended in our shop: 3-4" interior seating backs; 4-5" interior seating bottoms; 5-6" sleeping berths; 3" cockpit cushions.

Despite the fact that I had access and the ability to make my own sleeping berth cushions, I opted instead to have a custom mattress made by a commercial company. Honestly, it was about the same cost when factoring in the price of quality foam and upholstery fabric, but more importantly, we could recline on each offering in the showroom to select the exact firmness, thickness and features (quilt top) we wanted. For the guest cabin, I used 5" D36 covered with Toray Ambiance Ultrasuede that matches the rest of the boat. Toray Ambiance is amazing stuff (yes, it is blippin' expensive!) - after ten years of day-in/day-out use, our main cabin upholstery still looks new (the covers do get removed and washed).

If comfort is important to you, I would advise going to the foam supplier and examining the exact foam that you will be purchasing. In my opinion, foam manufacturing appears not to be an exact science. Case in point: Last year I bought 6" D36 from the same supplier to make a sectional mattress for our Sprinter campervan. D36 should have been perfect, however, it was way too firm and I ended up having to add a 3" gel memory foam topper to make it tolerable for us. Now, it is like sleeping on a towering 'Princess and the Pea' bed.

Please understand, all of the above is just my opinion, based on my own experience. I am sure there are others on the forum who can offer theirs.

Cheers, Katherine
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Old 20-01-2016, 22:39   #7
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

For the bunks, put 3-4 inches of fairly dense foam, followed by a Costco memory foam topper, cut to fit.
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Old 21-01-2016, 02:17   #8
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

We went extra dense when we redid the dinnet cushions. The softer stuff tends to bottom out after a while since you sit in the same spot often.

Luckly our berth is rectangular and we found an RV matress fit as the 4" foam was horrid for sleeping.
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Old 21-01-2016, 07:16   #9
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

Go to a local upholstery store and actually test out the foam and ask Q's they should be able to give good advice.
made all new cushions 2 years ago using recommended density foam, but i think should have went with an inch thicker, saloon seating i used 4" and births 5", 5 and 6 would have been better.
We now put comfort foam on top of mattress which helps.
If you can go thick add that extra inch or 2 and be content.

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Old 21-01-2016, 07:44   #10
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

Some very valuable information in this thread for me, many thanks.

It looks like I need a firm base foam (is that D36 firm enough?), say 3", with a 3" 'egg box' or textured (with raised lines, swirls, circles and bumps type) perhaps gel foam topper, to put in the V berth, so wave movement and rolling, will constantly shift the pressure points (and apparently testing is showing great results). I'd really fancied a memory foam topper, but it won't give the mechanical movement I need.

With quite severe Raynaud's (cold absolutely wrecks me, hence me having to chase heat, salt air, etc, via having a boat again), phlebitis, gout, and arthritis (and a few other things contracted via extremely bad reactions to medications, as well as a messed up operation), getting the best movement to boost benefit appears to be for me to sleep in the V berth (massaging my veins and arteries as I sleep).

So if I can find the right topper (Walmart does seem to have a pretty good selection, though if anybody knows a better source and a specific topper . . . ), will a spray glue stick a dense gel foam one to a base foam ok (if a gel foam one is best), and which might be the best spray glue to use?

I'm going to pick up a heavy duty sewing machine for the boat (Singer Classic maybe, as it can do zigzag stitches etc) so I can do sail repairs and so on, so doing covers shouldn't be a problem (I used to do my own custom luggage for my motorbikes, and made a fair bit of furniture and upholstered it years ago).

Thanks again, great thread.
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Old 21-01-2016, 09:38   #11
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

For sleeping, I like 4 or 5 inch very stiff foam. For sitting 5 inch is OK and does not have to be very dense. As others said, cockpit things will use different foam, eva, closed cell, etc.

b.
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Old 21-01-2016, 11:16   #12
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
We use 4" firm polyfoam, to which we have bonded a 1/4" bit of closed cell foam to (to avoid condensation, and it works fine). Then, we bonded an egg crate topper to it. Jim likes it fine this way, and i don't think we really need the topper.

If you're making your own mattress covers, I like to run zips along three sides, to make it easy-peasy when you want to wash them, to get them back on. Use all plastic zippers, with plastic pulls. Velcro will work, but ime, it's harder to get back on looking right. I put the zips in the side panels, but you could install them in the bottom seams for a more immaculate appearance. I buy the bulk zip material from a discount fabric/sewing shop. It's a rewarding process, all straight seams, pretty fast.

Ann
Do you mean that you bonded the closed cell foam to the bottom of the polyfoam? And that helps with the condensation? My bunks have deep bunkboards so the spaghetti stuff does not circulate air the way it should...
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Old 21-01-2016, 12:16   #13
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

The settee area of my boat has foam that is much less dense so setting or sleeping for a long period would hurt particularly a shoulder or an elbow .The cheap an easy solution was to get the anti-fatigue mats made to go on the floor of a work shop cut to fit and zip under the bottom of the cushion, on compression it is soft to start with and the last half inch is firm
Its easy to cut with scissors and there are many uses for the remnants,sound deadening, insulation, rattle stoppers, hull protection from heavy sharp objects and they dont slide
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Old 21-01-2016, 12:30   #14
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

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Do you mean that you bonded the closed cell foam to the bottom of the polyfoam? And that helps with the condensation? My bunks have deep bunkboards so the spaghetti stuff does not circulate air the way it should...
Yes, just hardware store contact cement. It is only necessary to bond the perimeter, not the whole thing.

Ann
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Old 21-01-2016, 12:43   #15
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Re: Grade & thickness of foam for berths

Ribbit. I have arthritis and I have found a dense foam layer on the bottom very important to keep one from bottoming out and causing dumbness and sore spots. Dont even think about going cheap! A nice memory foam layer on top improves overall comfort. But too soft and you wont have enough support which will cause compression to your nerves and vascular system.
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