A Guide to Recognizing Your Seats: Seat Cushion Materials

by THS on November 24, 2010

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When you order a new office chair, you expect to spend a lot of time seated in it. Because of this, it is worthwhile to examine what is underneath you. Here are the three major types of seat cushions: standard foam, energy absorbing foam and gel.

Standard seat foam is the vanilla of office seating. Almost every chair has it, including those we sell. A high quality foam should be firm enough to withstand the pressure you put on it, but soft enough that it is comfortable. It can also be layered thicker on some chairs for added support. This is what most people think of when they think of an office chair seat, and appeals to the broadest range of customers.

Energy absorbing foam is designed to coform to your body. It is similar to the memory foam sometimes used in high-end mattresses, but denser. Sitting in a chair places more pressure on a small area than does lying on a mattress. Also, the average seat cushion is much less thick than a mattress. Thus, the foam must be more solid to prevent users from “bottoming out” and sitting uncomfortably on the base plate of the seat. This is our softest foam option, so users with sciatic nerve, hip joint or other problems in their hip, thigh and tailbone area often love it. The main complaint users have is that it traps body heat and feels warmer than other types of cushioning. High end chairs like the Neutral Posture NPS8000 often offer this type of foam.

Gel is probably the most polarizing seat cushioning. Offered exclusively on the Humanscale Freedom and Liberty, it feels a bit like a gel palm rest. When you sit down, it is harder than other cushions, but body heat causes it to conform to your shape after a few minutes. For someone seated for long stretches, this can be very comfortable, but it takes 10 to 20 mins to reach its full effect. So people who are up and down a lot may not like gel as much. Those who like it, however, love it.

For advice on the right cushion for you, feel free to give us a call or chat.

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Written by THS

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