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Old 25-07-2006, 15:52   #1
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Reticulated vs Regular Foam - Seat Cushions

I am in the process of deciding whether to use Reticulated Foam (this foam allows water to pass directly through it and does not retain moisture) or regular foam in my Cabin Settee Cushions.

Now, the cost of the reticulated foam is THREE TIMES that of the regular foam. If I include the price of the Sunbrella furniture fabric that I purchased for the settee then I can completely re-make the settee cushions twice for less than the cost of the cushions with reticulated foam.

Has anybody made this choice? IE. used the regular foam instead of the more expensive reticulated stuff. How long did it last and were you cruising the ocean at the time?

Has anyone used the reticulated stuff...how long did that last? Was it worth the price.

FYI: I paid $14.95/YD for the Sunbrella here in Seattle (Furniture Fabric)
and the Reticulated foam is $149.88/ 4"x24"x72" sheet VS $49.88 for the same size sheet of regular foam.

I am going to use the reticulated foam for the bed cushions to pass through the body moisture during sleep. But I question the real need for it in the Settee. The foam that is coming out of the old cushions is years and years old and while smelling like mildew is still in good shape.

All comments ideas and advice is much appreciated.

Alan Perry
S/V Oceanus
Seattle WA
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Old 25-07-2006, 19:31   #2
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I have owned the ret. foam, only recommend it for above deck, not inside the cabin. Above deck, it is great and worth the expense
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Old 25-07-2006, 20:24   #3
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we had our cushions redone recently and re used the old foam. what they did at the upohlstry shop was cool. they took the old foam and steamed it. It came right back to its original shape and density. they showed me how well it worked on some foam off an old bar stool. the wood had left an impresion about a quarter inch deep in it and the edges were less thanhalf the origonal size. after steaming you would have thought it was just cut out of new material. they also put a wrp on ours that helped them feel firmer. If your cusions were origanally built with good quality foam maybe they can be rehabed and save you alot of money. talking with the guy that did the work was real educational. Had no idea there were so many types of foam. Fun when you run across an old master who isent affaid to show you a trick of the trade. And save you money in the process. He could have just as easily said they were shot and sold us new foam.
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Old 25-07-2006, 21:31   #4
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Norsea: Why do recommend only using above decks? The MFG says it should be used BELOW decks. Typically isnt the Closed cell foam used above decks for cushions?

Soul: That is good to know! However ours is so old and smelly, especially since we let the dogs use it as a bed after we took it out that I don't think we want to try the steam thing. But for the future that is great info.

Thanks to both of you for responding.
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Old 26-07-2006, 05:13   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanperry
Norsea: Why do recommend only using above decks? The MFG says it should be used BELOW decks. Typically isnt the Closed cell foam used above decks for cushions?
I see that the manufacture recommends the ret. foam for inside and outside; I only used for outside, much better than closed cell foam, closed cell foam seems hard whereas ret. foam is more comfortable.
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Old 27-07-2006, 10:43   #6
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Foam breaks down. If you start out with harder foam for your sleeping needs, over time it will become softer. It is usually good to start out with a harder foam as it will last longer before you need to replace it.
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Old 28-07-2006, 16:23   #7
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Foam is made two ways. Cheap chemically blown foam is like pancake batter with baking powder, the chemicals react and the foam "rises". When it is done wrong (cheap!) the chemicals leave residue and burn the foam, so it gets crumbly and shrinks as it ages. Done right--it won't.

Expensive foam can be "gas blown", like soda. The batter is put under pressure and when the pressure is released, the inert gas fizzes and blows the foam up. No residue, no chemicals to burn. Costs more though.

So...how long your foam lasts will also depend on how reputable the supplier is, I have 20 year old foam that hasn't softened or degraded--I got lucky.

The reticulated foam sounds just like a fancy word for "open cell foam" that lets water get in and IF there is ventilation, lets it get out again.

There seem to be some interesting claims for what it is and how it is made:
http://www.vitec.org.uk/Products/Fil...n/puripore.htm
"exploded" in a pressure vessel no less.<G> And another maker claims their foam is indidestible to microcritters.

I think I'd look more for a reputable source and warranty, than at the buzzwords they attach to it. I've seen "reticulated" Army vehicles and buses, I wouldn't want to sleep on one. Smells like someone wants to dazzle you with the fancy word rather than a solid product.

[Later]
http://www.steplaw.com/reticulatedfoam.html
Oooh! One site that explains it in human words. I still don't get "reticulated" being the way to describe it. (shrug)
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Old 28-07-2006, 22:24   #8
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Thanks for the reply and the research. Actually "reticulated" foam is a long standing product that has been used for many industrial and commercial uses quite successfully. It goes under several trade names like "Dry Fast" etc.

What I was primarily interested in was peoples experience with it on their boats. I don't have any way to judge the density of each type vis a' vis its comfort/compressability and suitability for sitting, and whether it's really worth the extra cost just for the settee. Water does actually pour right thru it as long as it has air space underneath it.

It is used in alot of outdoor applications and is said to be preferrable to closed cell for comfort. Again as long as it has a way to breathe.

I am not really concerned with the suppliers as virtually all foam suppliers carry it. Most list it under "marine" foam. The real issue is that right here in Seattle you will get quotes that vary as much as $200 per SHEET from one supplier to the next. One place wanted over $570 for ONE sheet. I found a large supplier in Minneapolis that discounts it quite a bit and can get it at a reasonable price.
http://www.rochfordsupply.com/produc..._ProdID_E_3199

Still it is expensive. considering we need anywhere from 3 to 5 sheets depending on the size of the sheet...that adds up.

I was also trying to get a feel for those of you out there that have used just plain old foam for the settee and how that worked so I could gauge the value of paying 3 times as much for the reticulated stuff. The foam that we took out of the settee we know is at least 6 years old and possibly as much as 10 years old. That's pretty good service for foam on a boat. But we don't know if any of that time was really at sea as opposed to local sailing. AND we don't know when it started to get smelly and mildewey.

Right now I am leaning heavily toward the plain old foam for the settee. For the bunks I will use the reticulated, there it will be ideal for wicking away body moisture.

Alan Perry
S/V Oceanus
Seattle, WA
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Old 28-07-2006, 22:26   #9
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I don't know how it will hold up, but i bought a 4 inch mattress, which was 3 inch foam and 1 inch memory foam and redid all our cushions, they are incredibly comfortable.
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Old 29-07-2006, 11:34   #10
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Alan, I'm guessing the $200 difference represents the difference between "cheap junk wholesale" and "really good stuff marked up doubly way too high". Mattress sales being one of the few businesses where there's no way for the consumer to ever really know what they're buying, on land or sea.<G>

To me it looks like the "geocloth" laid under road beds and things to promote drainage, and from the description "skeletal foam" or something similar would be fitting. But reticulated?? What, how is is "jointed" ?? Or just call it exploded foam, and get attention that way.<G> It looks like it should encourage air flow, which would discourage mildew, more than any other traditional open cell design. That material would have to be very robust to hold up over the years, instead of the "threads" breaking apart and letting it collapse. Maybe it is. I guess you see which vendor seems to have the most stable nose (Pinnochio) and take your luck from there.
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Old 30-07-2006, 09:53   #11
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hellosailor; I was baffled at this tremendous price difference at first too. I was dealing with all Foam sales stores all here in Seattle, many would make cushions for you too. I was careful to ask for the same thing in the same size everywhere. Most of the stores I talked to were getting the stuff out of a wholesaler in Canada.

One place wanted $303 a sheet another $570 a sheet, one wanted over $600/sheet!!. When I asked them about this price difference the typical response was: " well buy it from them". This leads me to beleive that at least in foam, people know so little about it and don't know what it should cost that these folks are really taking advantage of the consumer. I ended up getting it for $149/sheet from a big company in Minnesota (Web site). A slightly smaller sheet but cheaper on the sq/ft basis. They also list and explain all the specifications of all types of foam and what they are typically used for.

I think it's just another expamle of the "Marine Excess Profit Syndrome" that if they think it's for a boat the price goes up. (West Marine is famous for this here: They were charging $30 dollars more for a gallon of Bilgekote paint than our most popular chandlery, Fisheries Supply) When will it dawn on them that we are not all millionaires?
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Old 30-07-2006, 12:44   #12
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Alan-
"They were charging $30 dollars more for a gallon of Bilgekote paint than our most popular chandlery, Fisheries Supply) When will it dawn on them that we are not all millionaires?"
I suspect they know very well the demographics of their customers. There's a lot of "gaming" in marketing today, like the airlines with their "demand pricing" of seats. I think West knows that it is worth a certain dollar value to you to get everything in one place rather than making two stops, so they do what every supermarket does. Some things are on sale, some are overpriced, but they know a certain number of customers will simply pay rather than travel.
Game theory and marketing can be quite sophisticated, the merchant who just says "I'll take a reasonable markup" is rarely the one who gets THAT big. (Even if we often prefer to deal with them.<G>)
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Old 30-07-2006, 14:23   #13
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I agree with you about the marketing but there is one thing that isnt taken into account. That is that many people with new boats, the first place they see and hear about is West Marine. So they go there not realizing that there are so many other places both on line and in their towns that sell for much less. Here in Seattle we are lucky to have a huge number of places that cater to our commercial fleets as well as the recreational. When I went to WM for a few things that were not in stock at other places I made them meet the price of Defender or Seattle Marine and Fishing Supply (both vastly cheaper) They would get a bit miffed at me but as I pointed out to them that is their policy.

I agree that WM has it's customer demographics worked out. However no one I know with tons of money got that way by overpaying for everything. The last straw for me was when they put the million dollar sailboat of the CEO of West Marine in thier catalog describing it's cruise to the South Pacific. I found it in particularly bad taste since they were overcharging for virtually everything in the catalog.

I beleive the reason these places are not more competitive is consumer ignorance, with the exception of those places where West Marine is the only place in town and shipping costs from a web site makes the cost of whatever is being purchased a "wash" I beleive that most folks would gladly pay less if they just knew of more options.

As for the markup, Wal Mart, Costco, Best Buy and many other chains have learned the road to growth and profit is treating your customer right and offering the lowest possible price. But when it comes to our boats we just don't seem able to demand the same level of service. Maybe it's because we don't want to appear "cheap" when we own a boat that people assume cost an arm and a leg.

Of course order of magnitude affects this too. There are not nearly as many Marine Toilets made each year as pairs of jeans. But there has got to be a middle ground somewhere.
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Old 30-07-2006, 15:25   #14
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Alan-
"As for the markup, Wal Mart, Costco, Best Buy and many other chains have learned the road to growth and profit is treating your customer right and offering the lowest possible price." Oddly enough, all three of those companies have gone on the record in recent years and they all have very different pricing and marketing strategies.
WalMart certainly does treat their customers well, although suppliers have said that's the flip side of a very dark coin. But WalMart is *not* the cheapest place to buy a lot of what they stock, i.e. $6.95 for a $2.95 telephone line adapter. Their policy is to use those blockbusters in the aisles to get you in--and then make profit off the other items.
Costco applies a different policy, treating the customer almost as well (certainly as well within 30 days) and the employees and suppliers much better. They aim their stock to bulk and discretionary income, make no bones about not carrying things, and anything that doesn't sell hot hot gets dropped with no re-orders.
BestBuy, well, that's consumer appliance stores, where they may carry a line of "SONY" stereos made up with special model numbers and trim plates to ensure that "nobody can beat our price" applies literally, since no one else can sell the exact same goods.<G> AFAIK the haggling that is endemic at the appliance stores just doesn't happen at Costco & Walmart. Which only proves, there's more than one way to fleece a rube. Ergh, skin a cat. Yeah, I meant skin a cat.<G>
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Old 31-07-2006, 17:31   #15
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Wal Mart is without a doubt a despicable corporation in every way I can think of. However it is also undeniable that they have a business model that is supremely successful. that business model is based on LOW PRICES. One can argue whether every item in the store is the cheapest anywhere but that is missing the point I think. The bottom line is that their customer base expects to save significant amounts of money shopping there and if they did not, I contend they would go elswhere. Their entire success is built on this foundation. Now you are 100% correct when you point out their treatment of their suppliers and employees. They could not possibly continue to offer the prices they do if they didn't beat up their suppliers to constantly lower their prices to WM. This forces the suppliers to look overseas for cheap labor, materials and products to continue to meet Wal Marts demands. No company in it's right mind would want to lose their Wal Mart contracts as they move more product than any other retailer in the US and more than many of the biggest retailers taken together. My contention is that West Marine could be more like Wal Mart price wise as they are the dominant national retailer of everything marine. I of course would not want to see them treat their suppliers as Wal Mart does, although I see some indications they already are and just not passing the savings on to us. If we demamded lower prices they would comply. But this is a highly specialized market and fragmented in small groups with not alot of high numbers (in terms of sales of individual items) to use as leverage.

I have a little experience with all three of these companies. I have a good friend (American) that lives in Guatemala and his factory produces garments for Wal Mart among others and I have seen their treatment of their suppliers first hand.

As for Best Buy I work at the Distribution Center here in Seattle (we are a contractor) and I manage the logistics of keeping all the stores supplied in a 4 state area. I can say with absolute certainty that Best Buy will do whatever it takes to keep a customer happy even in the face of unreasonable demands by that customer and even if it costs BBY more than they stand to make on the purchase. In fact I see our customer service Dept do this everyday. Now that is not to say that you can keep 100% of the people happy 100% of the time, it's just not possible. But BBY does try very hard.

Store manager careers turn on this issue. As for the oft heard complaint of items with specialized numbers and tags so that price comparison cannot be done. Well this is pretty much misunderstood. Yes a manufacturer MAY give a series number that denotes the product was sent to BBY however there are many good reasons for that, including warranty and sales tracking as well as advertising buy backs. I would be very surprised, and in fact have never heard of it, if you came to the store and said Video Only store has that Hitachi 64 inch tv at 50$ less, that BBY would do anything but give it to you at that price. Actually on big ticket items they are remarkably open to negotiation. I can't say much more except that I know how the stores are graded and how the bonuses are figured and there is NO incentive for a BBY store to do anything but make sure you get what you came for. All their employees are on hourly or salary, none are on commission as well.

As for Costco It's based here in Seattle (Kirkland) and one of our favorite hometown stores. they have a great wine section, the best Tee Shirts and when it comes to provisioning your boat for a long passage it can't be beat.

As I get older I am no fan of this "no holds barred" capitalist free for all we have here. Too many people get screwed by it. I much prefer the style that Europe has engendered over the last 50 years. I notice that from you profile you are 96 so you must feel about the same uh?

Well this thread has completely run off the tracks! But it was fun.
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