Using Latex Foam, Wool & Ticking Fabric in your Upholstery
Natural Latex vs. Synthetic Latex: How do I know what I’m really getting?
Here are some types of foam you may run into when searching for ‘Natural’ foam:
- Urethane Foam – made from petroleum.
- Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR) – made from petroleum.
- Soy Foam – has a (very small) percentage of plant-based foam, with urethane or SBR making up the remaining (majority) portion.
- Memory Foam is a special kind of urethane. It is NOT latex.
True 100% Natural Latex comes from the botanical sap of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis, which requires a tropical or subtropical climate with a minimum of about 47 inches/yr of rainfall, and no frost. The only way to tell for sure that you are getting 100% Natural Latex is to ask to see its certification.
See our Natural Latex Certifications
- Oeko-tex certification for 100% Natural Dunlop Latex
- GOLS certification for 100% Natural Organic Dunlop Latex
What are some of the benefits of Natural Latex?
- Health benefits: anti-microbial, anti-fungal, hypo-allergenic, dust mite resistant
- Durability: outlasts ‘conventional’ polyurethane foam by 10-20 years with proper application
- Comfort:’breathable’ cell structure, resilient structure of natural rubber imparts a ‘bounce’ that is unique to natural latex
Dunlop Latex vs. Talalay Latex: What’s the difference?
Talalay & Dunlop are two different manufacturing processes used in the production of latex foam. It’s important to note that both processes are used in the manufacture of 100% Natural Latex AND Blended (synthetic/natural mix) Latex foam. For a detailed explanation of both processes, see my post about it here.
Dunlop Latex vs. Talalay Latex: How do I choose which is best for my specific needs?
There are many who say that the Talalay process results in a higher quality product, and I have to say that the Talalay foam has a smoother and more uniform texture than the Dunlop foam, which seems to be stronger and less prone to tearing. That said, both will provide the unequaled comfort, durability and health benefits that has made latex foam so popular. For a detailed explanation of both processes, see this post.
Note: The only latex foam currently certified organic to the GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) standard is Dunlop latex.
Do I have to use wool batting with my latex foam cushion core?
There are two reasons I recommend wool batting to cover all natural latex foam used in any part of upholstery:
- wool is a natural flame retardant barrier.
- any standard weight upholstery fabric used with conventional polyester batting does not protect the natural latex well enough from UV light that gets through the cover fabric (this is my personal experience, and not the result of any study that I know of, though I have initiated a latex foam ‘longevity test’ of my own to satisfy my own position on this).
There are three situations which might provide an exception to the wool batting recommendation:
- a cotton upholstery padding or other thick padding is placed between the latex foam and the outer fabric.
- a down envelope encloses the foam inside the cover fabric.
- there is an extra heavy outer cover fabric (like leather or vinyl).
Note: in each of the three exceptions to my wool batting recommendation above, a flame retardant outer fabric would be required to meet current flame retardancy standards for furniture.
Third Party Certifications
What is a third party Certification?
There are a number of independent organizations that offer certification programs for various industries and products. All of our certified natural upholstery materials are free of harmful chemicals in the final product – certified by either Oeko-tex or GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard).
What is Oeko-tex Standard 100?
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 standard is concerned primarily with health and safety of textile products (including latex foam). It tests only the end product, not the processing – for example, wastewater treatment is not included. It is NOT an organic certification and products bearing this mark are not necessarily made from organically grown fibers. Look for the GOTS or GOLS label for organic certification.
What does the Oekotex Standard 100 test for?
Textile products bearing the Oeko-Tex 100 certification mark:
- Do not contain allergenic dye-stuffs and dye stuffs that form carcinogenic arylamines.
- Have been tested for pesticides and chlorinated phenoles.
- Have been tested for the release of heavy metals under artificial perspiration conditions.
- Formaldehyde is banned; other aldehyde limits are significantly lower than the required legal limits.
- Have a skin friendly pH.
- Are free from chloro-organic carriers.
- Are free from biologically active finishes.
(Thanks to Oecotextiles for this information)
What is GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard)?
GOLS was introduced in 2012 to ensure a clear path and procedure on the route from field level/farmer level to certified organic latex product manufacturer. Among other factors, manufacturers that are given the go-ahead to produce organic products under the GOLS logo would have to follow mandatory social and environmental regulations. This will make the final consumer socially and environmentally responsible; indirectly.
What kind of questions should I ask when purchasing furniture for my home or office to ensure my family’s or employees’ health?
- Does it contain formaldehyde (often found in particle board or plywood)?
- Does the foam contain Flame Retardants?
- Where is it made (in the USA or imported)?
- Does the company employ sustainable and socially beneficial business practices (local resources, working conditions, equality for genders)?
Why should I worry about what makes up the furniture I bring into my home or office?
The worst pollutants found in homes today are brominated flame retardants (PBDEs) which infiltrate our indoor environment as dust filtering out of the foam our furniture, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which “off-gas” harmful chemicals into the air from formaldehyde-based glues used in plywoods and wood composites as well as in many textile and wood surface finishes. PBDEs — similar to PCBs and dioxins, two of the most toxic classes of chemicals — came into use in 1975 largely as a result of the California Furniture Flammability Standard (TB-117), which required the use of flame retardants in upholstered furniture and baby items, resulting in widespread use of materials treated with these inexpensive chemicals.
What steps does Living Home Furniture take to ensure my privacy?