The foam used is the most important factor
When it comes to comfort seating, what you see on the outside doesn’t count nearly as much as what you can’t see on the inside. It all comes down to the foam and the type of material used to construct the seat and back. Plastic and mesh seats and backs are more comfortable than wooden seats and backs. But with foam, it’s a bit more complicated.
So, let’s talk banquet chair foam.
Take a look inside our banquet chair construction.
Why the type of foam matters
The type of foam used to construct the seat and back on a banquet chair truly matters because comfort levels can change over time with low-quality foam. You’ll also get more consistency in the shape and design if you choose chairs with higher quality foam.
Closed-Cell Foam versus Open-Cell Foam
Closed-cell foam (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate or MDI) is of higher quality than open-cell foam (toluene diisocyanate or TDI). The life of the foam is greater with MDI foam, which means the chair will maintain its original level of comfort for longer. It’s also more comfortable to sit on from the start. Additionally, MDI foam is more environmentally friendly and durable, and it absorbs less from spills and such.
If the aesthetic of a chair is important, you definitely want chairs with MDI foam. It’s manufactured using a mold so it can be sculpted into a variety of shapes and sizes. Whereas TDI foam is precut, and it is normally seen in chairs with a generic square seat and back.
As for TDI foam, it often breaks down. If you’ve ever seen a boat or a truck with seats that are cracked and the foam is coming out, that’s TDI. It’s not nearly as durable as MDI foam.
However, if the price is a concern, TDI is less expensive than MDI, so there might be a difference in the price of the chairs based on the type of foam that is used.
Polyurethane Foam versus Polystyrene Foam
Polyurethane foam is twice as resistant to heat and cold as polystyrene and it continues to maintain flexibility through temperature changes. This means chairs with polyurethane foam will hold up better in storage, regardless of temperature and other conditions.
Polyurethane does not melt, unlike polystyrene and it’s superior when it comes to fire resistance. Polyurethane is also resistant to all chemicals, oxidation, and even sunlight. In fact, polyurethane withstands physical attacks and stresses better than polystyrene.
Finally, polyurethane foam is much more flexible and durable than polystyrene, which makes it more ideal when constructing high-quality banquet chairs. In fact, it’s unlikely any quality banquet chair manufacturer would use polystyrene foam to make chairs. It’s very stiff and sitting on it would feel a lot like sitting on cardboard.
When you think of polystyrene, think of foam cups.
It can be easy to confuse weight and density, but when it comes to foam, these two things are completely different. Weight refers to how much the foam actually weighs in pounds or kilograms, whereas density is more about the quality and durability of the foam. Higher density foam is heavier, more solid, and more durable. Lower density foam is lighter and easier to move around.
A firmness rating indicates the feel of the foam and how it yields to weight and pressure. Firmness is tested to illustrate how a material will bear weight. It’s measured using ILD mechanical performance testing (Indentation Load Deflection). If a foam sample requires 36 pounds of pressure to indent it 1 inch, its ILD rating is 36.
Why foam density and firmness rating matters
If a foam seat is too soft, a person will eventually sink through the foam after sitting for a long period of time. We call this bottoming out. It’s incredibly uncomfortable because the person is basically sitting on the seat bottom, which is likely made of wood or plastic.
However, if the foam is too stiff, it will feel uncomfortable right away and make sitting for long periods of time unpleasant. Therefore, you want a foam seat that is neither too soft nor too stiff.
The most comfortable banquet chairs have seats and backs constructed using foam with the right balance of density and ILD rating.
The MityLite Foam
MityLite manufactures our foam in-house for most of our comfort seating line, including our most popular chair, the Classic Series. This enables us to save money on materials which we can pass on to the customer.
MityLite foam is MDI polyurethane with a 65% ILD rating. Manufacturing MDI foam is much more environmentally friendly and safe because it puts out fewer vapors into the air. Those who make TDI foam are required to have extra safety and pollution control measures in place and an elaborate cleanup process.
Learn more about MityLite Banquet Chairs