5 Things to Know About Upholstered Furniture

5 Things to Know About Upholstered Furniture

Tiffany Finley
Nov 5, 2010

Ahhhhh... we love cozying up on the couch after a long day at work. But you've probably heard the buzz about the potential dangers of our beloved sofas and armchairs and the hidden chemicals and risks that could threaten our health and the environment. Not so relaxing after all. So what's really hidden underneath those comfy layers?

Here are the 5 top things to keep in mind when mulling over conventional upholstered furniture:

1 Polyurethane Foam: Perhaps the item with the most negative press, polyurethane foam has been accused of a great many things. It is highly flammable (a risk listed below), can be toxic as it breaks down, contains surfactants, and has been linked to various health disorders. Yikes! Not the kind of foam you may want to sit down and drink a glass of wine on!

2 Highly Flammable: Due to the polyurethane foam, upholstered furniture is highly flammable. The Upholstered Furniture Action Council formed and quickly took action in 1978 to reduce the number of upholstery-related household fires. With clear labels and the addition of flame retardants, the risk has decreased significantly.

3 Halogenated Fire Retardants: Unfortunately, the fire retardants that decreased that flammability also brought their own health risks. Fire retardants have been linked to a plethora of health risks including cancer, birth defects, and learning disabilities.

4 Mold: If your couch gets really wet, be vigilant in getting it dry as quickly as possible. Upholstered furniture can be the culprit of hidden mold throughout the household.

5 Options! Phew! Now the good news. With the advent of the above information, companies have responded and many have formed on the basis that a more eco-friendly (and human health-friendly) series of upholstered furniture is a necesssity. Although the economy may be slow, the green market continues to be one of the fastest growing markets, with innovative companies that adhere to strict health and environmental guidelines. Check out out 10 Best Green Upholstered Furniture Companies as a guide.

If you are interested in learning more about upholstering your own furniture, read Matthew Haly's Upholstering Primer Series and see just what is under those layers of filling.

(Images: Greener Lifestyles)

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