What is the Best Foam for Marine Cushions and Seats?

When you’re heading out to catch fish, tow wakeboarders or just spend a few hours de-stressing away from land, a good set of boat cushions will make everyone more comfortable. But with constant exposure to saltwater and sun, you’ll need special marine foam that can withstand the elements.

In our boat cushion foam guide, we look at some of the options for ordering marine seat cushions and back cushions. If you need new or replacement cushions, FoamOrder.com can make them to order here in the U.S. We also sell foam sheets and other supplies for making your own cushions.

A row of blue pillows on a bench cushion

Types of Boat Cushion Foam

There are several marine foam options depending on how you are using the cushions and where they are located. Let’s review each to determine when they are appropriate:

Reticulated Open-Cell Foam

Also known as outdoor foam, this high-use foam is the best choice if you want thick, plush cushions like those on your indoor furniture. The open-cell design lets water quickly and thoroughly drain from the foam so it dries quickly, reducing the chances of mold, mildew and odor. Reticulated foam comes in several firmness levels based on your comfort preferences and the cushion thickness. It’s also very resistant to heat and impacts. Our high-resiliency outdoor foam has a density of 1.8 lb./ft.³, which is significantly more durable than the industry standard.

Closed-Cell Foam

There are many closed-cell foam styles, including EVA foam, Flotex and Volara foam. Each of these low-profile waterproof foams block moisture so it rolls off the surface, which is excellent for flotation devices. They form a tight seal to prevent water from getting between the foam and the furniture. Some of these foams are also good for soundproofing and absorbing engine vibrations, meaning a quieter, smoother ride. The downside is that, since this foam is generally thinner and firmer than open-cell foam, it may not be as comfortable to sit on for long periods. Layering soft open-cell foam over rigid closed-cell foam is an option if you want both comfort and soundproofing.

Various sheets of closed-cell foam.

Latex Foam

This is an eco-friendly option for boat cabins, sleeping berths, and other below-deck spaces that aren’t directly exposed to Mother Nature. Our 100% natural latex cushions are made using sap from rubber trees, offering a soft and springy feel for maximum comfort. However, although latex is technically an open-cell foam, it does not drain as well as reticulated outdoor foam. Therefore, latex boat cushions should only be put in cockpits and other unprotected areas if they have a waterproof cover.

Marine Cushion Cover Fabrics

You’ll also need an appropriate cover for your new cushion cover. We recommend Sunbrella® fabrics or Nautilus marine-grade vinyl. Indoor/outdoor Sunbrella® material is water-resistant, UV-resistant and stain-resistant, and it comes in many colors and patterns, making it a stylish choice for boat cushion designs. If you frequently use your vessel or encounter extreme conditions, waterproof Nautilus marine vinyl has the best resistance to harsh weather and abrasions.

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