Furniture Stuffing 101: What You Need to Know

Upholstery projects have the ability to transform tired, worn-looking spaces, especially when care is given to the selection of colors, fabric patterns, and the style you’re trying to achieve. However, the most important part of any upholstered item is what you don’t see.

Hidden beneath the fabric exterior are the “guts” of your furniture, including:

  • Webbing
  • Batting
  • Adhesives
  • Springs
  • Stuffing

The type of stuffing material will depend on how the upholstered furniture is to be used and the comfort level you are seeking.


In cushions and other upholstery, batting is applied over the foam to prevent slippage and provide a smooth appearance. The thickness (loft) of batting can range from very thin up to 1/4″ thick. Batting is available in cotton, wool, polyester or a blend.

Cotton Batting

Cotton batting is made from 100% cotton that has been layered. There are two weights available:

  • 26.5 oz. (thin)
  • 42.3 oz. (thick)

The weight is determined by the type of project you are working on, but both weights are suitable for upholstery.

Cotton is a natural fiber that can poke through the fabric covering, making the furniture uncomfortable to sit on. If you are upholstering a headboard, this may not be a concern; but it may cause problems on seating for sofas and chairs. If so, a combination poly/cotton batting may be the answer. It’s durable and will give your
furniture a smooth look and feel.

Wool Batting

Wool batting is made from wool waste that has been woven together and is available as:

  • Needled Wool Batting: Strong and durable and most commonly used to cover springs in upholstery, though it can be used for stuffing as well.
  • Layered Wool Batting: Not recommended for upholstery, as it falls apart easily, which can affect the appearance of the furniture over time.

Animal Hair and Feathers

The use of animal hair is one of the oldest types of upholstery stuffing. The hair used is most often from the manes and tails of horses and is often found in antique furniture. When re-upholstering antiques, the existing horse hair can be combined with wool or cotton to add additional loft to the piece.
While not actually “hair”, feather and down is often used in upscale furniture to provide the ultimate in comfort.


  1. I am attempting to re-make and upholster four seat cushions from an antique wicker furniture set of sofa and chair. the guts of the cushions have springs, set in a frame and wrapped in burlap. the old matting is ruined and i’m not sure if i should wrap it in foam or try to find thick batting. the owner wants to keep the original springs so foam replacement is out. Ideas? I’d appreciate your feed back. Jean

  2. would like to put in new batting for my foam sofa cushions which i want to keep. don’t want cotton just the type you normally put in cushions but the best thickest i can get. any suggestions. the cushions have flattened somewhat and i want to puff them up again.
    thanks for your help

  3. I would like to change the stuffing in my couch. I am looking for stuffing made with 50%poly fiber,45% goose feathers and 5% goose down. The size is 32X36. Can you tell me where I might be able to order stuffing like this and how much it would cost.

    Thanks Vince Cordaro

  4. I am in the process of reupholstering an antique love seat and 2 matching chairs which have been in my family since the mid 1800s. All three items are stuffed with horse hair and what appears to be shaved items of wood. Someone told me it is called excelsior however I can’t find anything by that name on line or anywhere else. Can you give me a clue as to what it is called and where I should look for it as I really want this set to be period correct. The stuffing taken out when dismantling the love seat/settee appears to be in pretty good shape and am also wondering if I can or should re use it. I’ve already put in brand new strapping and sewed the springs in to the strapping as well as tying in the tops of the springs as they were roiginally (8 way) and tacked in the burlap covering. Thanks for any advice you may have regarding this particular stuffing.

  5. Help please. I have bought some very nice William Morris patterned material to recover 2 semi circular bamboo conservatory chairs. Whilst unpicking the original covers, the stuffing turned out to be broken up and disintegrating foam bits which I threw away. I have very little idea of what to buy in the way of new stuffing.
    The main seat pads are 25 inches in diameter and 3inches deep. The back cushion circles the chair and is banana shaped. It is 51 inches long and approximately 26inches deep from the top of the back to where the material would finish if it was not a curved shape. Until I had a replacement double glazed conservatory installed in November the area was used as a seedling nursery and winter store, therefore the chairs where not used much, however it is now a nice place to sit so envisage heavier usage. Any advice would be much appreciated

  6. Hi. Hope you can help… I have four vintage dining chairs with slip seats. I’ve re-webbed and attached hessian to three of the frames so far. I’d planned to use vegetable fiber stuffing under flax twine stuffing ties. Over this would go a piece of muslin, then upholstery batting and then the final fabric. Unfortunately, I can not find vegetable fiber stuffing anywhere on the web or at any craft or fabric store. If you know where I can purchase it, please let me know. If not, what is a good substitute? I would like to stay as close to whatever is considered traditional as possible. This is my first upholstery project, so all advice is greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Melissa

  7. I want to bolster the seat cushions in my couch but the seat cushions are not removable. I’m thinking about cutting an opening on the back top of the cushion and inserting either foam/batting. Not sure how to close the opening.
    Any suggestions about this project?

  8. Made a bad online buy of a chair and need to add or totally replace batting want it to be as comfortable as possible maybe cotton or wool batting and maybe combo wool foam or sponge thin layer? I bought this chair it was the same style of a eames chair I sat in at a store but did not get info it was employees desk chair/lounge but not same quality made that I experienced. What is most comfortable batting or combo?

  9. I would like to put in new batting for my sofa cushions. The cushions have flattened a lot and I want to puff them up again. I am looking for polyester fiber batting more exactly. Can you tell me where I might be able to buy or order stuffing like this? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for your help

  10. I would like to completely do over an antique chair that I have…never done this before and I would like to know exactly what do I need to get. I believe it has horse hair in it but I may not use that to restuff. I plan on taking the chair apart soon. Help…any help or advice will be appreciated.

  11. I want to replace the cushions on my sofa and loveseat I called several companies but only one replied and he said approx $2000 depending on the fabric. I don’t sew so I wanted to buy slipcovers. Question : There are L cushions on the seat and the back cushions. Many of the slip covers have separate covers for the seat but not the back. What can I do? Would it be better to cut one long T cover for the seat instead if two L on the seat? The only solution I could think of for the back cushion would be to buy another slipcover to cover the back cushion. Does anyone have a better solution?

  12. Hi…making an upholstered headboard for my daughter. What would you recommend for foam and what type of batting?



  13. I have a rattan sofa bed with the old worn out material.What is the best way to redo this couch?I know how to fix the rattan part but have no idea what to do with the material.Thank you

  14. I am reupholtering some antique dining room chairs. I have purchased some quality fabric but am not sure how much foam padding to use to keep the original antique feel and look. the original padding was not thick at all and 1″ foam seems to keep the original feel of the chair, but 2″ is more confortable. I want to keep the original antique look so do you think the 1″ foam is sufficient?

  15. I bought slipcovers for dining room chairs that have a wooden back with a slight curve. I was wanting to put batting around the wood so slipcover would fit better.

    Any suggestions??


  16. Hi – I have 6 mid-century walnut dining chairs. I want to recover the seats. The chairs have cotton waste batting for padding. It looks fine; but I am wondering if it is loaded with dust mites and should be replaced with something more modern.

  17. Hi,
    I am in the process of recovering my vintage dining room chairs. I thought I would just be recovering them. But the webbing is bad. The burlap holding the stuffing needs to be replaced as well a the inner stuffing, not just the foam on top. What should I use for stuffing and to replace the burlap that is between the webbing and the stuffing? I feel a bit overwhelmed trying to find everything I need.
    Thanks for the help!

  18. I have a leather couch, loveseat and chair. It is 11 years old. It is overstuffed padding on arms and back. none of the cushions are removable. Each piece is very worn mostly on one side wear my husband and I sit. I would love to restuff and get a few more years out of them. I am thinking I can cut at seam that arene’t visable and repair. I would appreciate your input, Thank you!

  19. I hope to add stuffing (wool or cotton as you advise) but im nervous to rip the upholstery. How does one go about adding the stuffing?

  20. I am looking for the perfect stuffing…toxicity free, renewable/sustainable (i.e. kapok, hemp), and cheap? Any ideas what would be best to use, and where to buy it in bulk?

  21. This blog goes so much more in-depth than so many others! Do you have any specific tips for new upholstery for plain, wooden furniture? I’m not sure exactly which product would be the easiest to attach and properly pad these.
    Sophia Liam

  22. I am interested in answers to those that asked questions about replacing or repairing the insides of vintage dining chairs. We bought ours from an estate sale. They were originally bought in 1921. Though we had them reupholstered the insides were not replaced. It looks as if there is a layer of wool?, a layer of horse hair, a layer of burlap, and strapping that looks like burlap, too. If the strapping had not broken on two of the chairs I would not have known we had the original padding. How do I replace or fix these chairs. Thank you.

  23. I have a two seat sofa bed that has a solid steel frame. I have no idea what the two cushions are covered in but they are almost too heavy to pick up. This sofa is I’m guessing 50 years old. It was my moms and was there as far back as I can remember. My question is this.. If I get this reupholstered is it possible to have it restyled ? My home is a small mid century ranch. Quite frankly the couch is too big and bulky for the smaller scaled pieces I have purchased in the last few years. Thank you

  24. I have purchased an old loveseat, looks to be a Mission style. I have taken it down to the bare parts in hopes to restuff and cover. The springs need re-tying and I need to put a filler in there so that it is comfortable for people to sit on. Any suggestions on what I need to put in there to be sure that it is comfortable. I took out the burlap, the wood shavings and batting that was originally used because, it really had an odor and the upholstery was stained.

  25. I recently had a couch and loveseat reupholstered less than two years ago and love it. I am having problems with what seems like dustmites which are heavily entrenched into the couch stuffing. I really do not want to get rid of the couches because I really love them but there’s a problem with the dustmites. I was wondering if it would be possible to remove the inside/guts and just replace that part to make it like new again and if it is cost efficient to do so. Thanks.

  26. fire retardants are harmful to your health. do you have any ideas on how to keep the fire retardant inside the foam? what kind of material can I wrap my chair cushions with and who can do it?
    thanks jane

  27. Do I have to put batting over my cushions…..I washed the covers, and it appears the batting is crumpled..Is that what makes my cushions look messy..??…Or do I just need to buy new batting.?………………Thanks a bunch

  28. I want to recover and replace the padding on my dining room chairs. The seats have a wooden frame with a webbing across the seat bottom. I recovered the seats in the past, but the padding has given way. I tried adding a plywood base but there is not enough padding left and it feels as if I am sitting on a wooden chair. What should be used to return the chairs to comfortable use?

  29. I am having 6 Queen Anne dining room chairs reupholstered. The bottoms of two chairs cracked.(fiberboard).I am having wood put in place of the fiberboard. The upholsterer wants to use 2″ foam, but I feel 1 1/2″ would be more suitable. Should he be using batting over the foam? I want them to “crown” very little as that was the original look when I purchased them new. I want a nice crisp corner on the seat. Thanks.

  30. Thanks for the great information. However, when shopping, how do I find information about the density, ILD of the form used in a particular recliner? are those info required to be on the label attached to the furniture?


  31. What is the most comfortable (soft) option to stuff the front of a recliner that has 3 flaps? I know it’s not polyester fiberfill and would like a better option and to add lumbar support. thanks

  32. Often sagging foam cushions don’t have to be replaced, just add another foam sheet to what’s there. Cut about a 1″ thick sheet of upholstery type foam, which can sometimes be found as packing material for computer equipment, etc.

  33. I am reupholstering a chair that looks to have some type of horse hair like fiber for the seat of the chair. I am wondering if I need/should use the same type of material or if I should use a foam? It is a channel back chair that I inherited from my grandparents.

  34. I purchesed a wicker sofa and rocking chair. I want to make cushions for them but I want to be economical as I want to sell them. I priced 4-inch foam at a craft store and it was $65 per yd. I see where some cushions all ready made use poly fill. Any suggestions?

  35. I have two leather sofas that the top cushions are loosing their shape and also the seat cushions. I stuffed the top with polyster, but it is not holding up and is not a smooth look. What do you suggest I use.
    Thank you

  36. I have just purchased what I think is a 1920 2 seater sofa, a Grandfather armchair and a Grandmother armchair. When sat on the back of the seats all dip down so much that you can’t get out of it. Seats feel like horsehair inside but will be too expensive to replace this. Can you please recommend an alternative filling or other suggestion to heighten the rear of all seats. Thank you in advance

  37. I have a leather lounge suite and wish to re-stuff the arms and seats, could you please advise on material to use, I plan to open part of seams that are not so visible.Thanking you in advance.

  38. I have an antique Morris chair that I had new cushions made for, however the cushions are foam and while the back cushion is ok, the seat cushion is not dense enough. The original cushions were comfortable and firm. They apparently got thrown out somehow and I don’t know what they were filled with, but I suspect some kind of animal hair. Can you advise on what kind of filling I should get to make this chair comfortable again?

  39. Hi, I wonder if you can help. I am re-upholstering two channel back cocktail chairs. I have never made channel backs and am worried about how I am going to stuff the channels. I can’t find the channel tins that I have seen on video tutorial. Is it possible to cover the existing channels with the new fabric? I have already removed the old chair back but may be able to put it back in order to cover it. If not, how do you recommend I stuff the channels and what with. Many thanks for your help in advance. Jane

  40. I have a desk / office chair which I use at home for computing. I would like to reupholster the chair. What seat filling would you reccomend so that it is comfortable for long sessions in front of the computer, and long lasting? Thank you for any help.

  41. I am new to upholstery and would like to use slip cover after using foam and batting. Do you think it will work? I am thinking of stapling slip cover of choice once I am done with foam and batting on my chairs. Any input in this regards.

  42. Hi,
    I have purchased a Cindy Crawford couch at Art Van about 10 days ago. After sitting on the couch I feel something on the my legs that feels like sand and scratching me. I unzipped the cushion I was sitting on and the batting seems to be coming through the micro fiber material. I cannot find 1 thing on the internet about this happening to anyone else. Can u give me any advise on how to fix this problem??

  43. Your info. is wonderful!!! I have removed the springs from a favourite sofa, i want to re stuff sofa not using springs of any kind. This gives me some slack to keep the original covering. I plan to go at this from the bottom and back. The sofa is some what stiff and hard as it is I’m going after “mushy”.Please advice me on stuffing and best way to attack this project. Thank you so much.

  44. I am recovering a small lazy boy. I have back off and have reconstructed the fabric. Lots of pieces. Should I put back on frame before stuffing it? Is there a secret to getting the stuffing back in. Thanks you. Caroline

  45. Hi l have a natzzui leather chair 14 years old it’s needs stuffing added to the arms is their any to do it my self . Thanks Bill

  46. I have a recliner I sit in everyday I weight 250 lbs. The back cushion had stuffing in it witch started breaking apart as I fixed it a lot. Can u please advise me a really good and comfy stuffing to put in it so my back will stop killing me… Plz and thank you

  47. Office chair decaying foam 30 years old is dangerous dusty
    What do I do with it. Could it be safely reshuffled with safer padding.?

  48. I purchased Kapok to reupholster dining room chairs. They are just a wood base to cover and screw back on. How do I use the Kapok?

    1) Kapok
    2) cotton material to smooth
    3)chair fabric


    1) Kapok
    2) batting
    3) cotton to smooth
    4) chair fabric


  49. Can batting in a new sofa arm stink like pickles? I bought a new sofa and the arms stink like smelly feet. Would that be the batting and why would it smell like that? The seat and back cushions have no smell, and have that brand new smell except for the parts touching the arms. However, I cannot the same for the sofa arms. I don’t know how sofas are made but something surely stinks and this is making me depressed to sit on my new sofa which cost more than $1000.


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