The Price of Foam is on the Rise

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on March 20th, 2012

Recent reports indicate that the price of foam is on the rise – increasing as much as 22 percent, according to some estimates. Experts say that a shortage in toluene disocyanate (TDI) – a chemical used to manufacture the type of foam commonly found in car seats and household furniture – is to blame.

Furniture Today explains:

[T]he foam price hikes are coming in the wake of shortages of key chemicals used in foam production, shortages that are expected to lessen in the months to come, when foam prices could moderate, but still remain at a higher level than they were earlier this year.
[…]

Meanwhile, upholstery producers are worried about the pressure they’re going to get from retailers to hold the line.

Dan White, president of midpriced upholstery maker Norwalk, said the past 18 months have seen a seesaw of price escalations and rollbacks in foam, and is heading up in double digits now. […]

Jim Wiygul, owner of Independent Furniture Supply, a foam fabricator in Tupelo, said that chemical prices rise periodically, “but this is the worst since (Hurricane) Katrina.”

He said foamers are expecting price increases of 17% to 22% due to shortages of the chemical TDI (toluene disocyanate), a derivative of oil. “My customers get sick and tired of hearing this statement but the reality of it is, just go to the gas pump and it’s the same thing.” [more]

Plan Accordingly: Auto upholstery shops that go through a lot of foam may want to consider increasing their next order before prices sky rocket. Purchasing enough foam a fair price now may enable you to ride out the storm without having to mark up prices on customers later.




6 Responses

  1. amy says:

    Cost of living just keeps goin up :/

  2. James says:

    Looks like they are gonna price us out of house and FOAM!!!!!

  3. stitcher_guy stitcher_guy says:

    And just like the price of gasoline, it’s a racket. Huge jump in price, blame something like lack of the chemical (or plant shutdowns in the petroleum market for repairs) and force people to pay high for awhile. Then, a gradual decrease in the price and everyone breathes easier thinking the worst is over. But, while people are happy the price has dropped, they fail to notice it is nowhere near as low as before the false upswing.

    Just like pricing furniture or cars. Go high with the retail, and make customers happy as clams if you knock off 10-20% to make a great deal for them, when in reality you’ve increased the price 120% at the start.

    My biggest problem with purchasing slab foam in bulk: a) there is nowhere to store it, even compressed down and in bags, b) it turns yellow and dries out or softens c) that danged cat shreds the edges with her constant clawing.

    • Nadeem says:

      You hit the nail on the head stitcher_guy. The experts (whoever they are) say that the price will eventually stop rising and even out – but it will still be considerably more expensive than what foam cost last year or the year before.

  4. roddin1 roddin1 says:

    I just expalin to customers of all cost involved in an estiamte for things like sew foam, majority of them don’t know what is actually used for the end product! They seem to always act impressed because they had no idea.

  5. Nadeem says:

    That’s a good tip roddin1 – a thorough explanation always helps to justify our prices.

    Below are a few more comments left about this article on another upholstery forum:

    Mojo: Thankfully I took advantage of Miami Corps sale and ordered a bunch. Since I rarely do much cushion work it will last me a while.

    I do not purchase foam that often so the other guys are a better barometer then I am. But it seems since 2008 foam has been on a steady climb. They used to blame it on the oil prices.

    Maybe Dennis, Gene, June and others can comment as they use a whole lot more foam then I do.

    sofadoc: I first heard that report after Hurricane Katrina back in ’05. There were only 2 refineries in the US that manufacture the crude oil by-product that Hog Ring spoke of. It’s what makes a foam bun rise, much like yeast in a loaf of bread.

    One of the refineries was destroyed by the hurricane. Foam prices immediately doubled. Since then, they have gradually come down. For example, a sheet that I paid $110 for in ’06 is now around $75 (it was around $60 before Katrina).
    I haven’t heard of any new increases as yet from my suppliers.

    What mystified me back in ’06, was that despite dramatic increases in foam prices, furniture stores held their new sofa prices in check.

    kodydog: I don’t think furniture prices have risen in over 10 years, maybe 20. And its not because their giving consumers a break.

    Imagine a bookkeeper in a large factory telling the boss, we’ve got to raise prices. Then the boss says, can’t do that then we would be more expensive than XYZ company. Then the boss says, I’ve got a better idea, lets cut corners.

    We’ve all seen a great decline in the furniture industry. Their using cheaper foam, less hardwood in the frames, joints that are just stapled together and lately they are doing away with springs all together. That’s how Farmers Home Furniture can sell a sofa, love seat, and three tables for under $1000. I keep asking how much cheaper can it get and they keep answering me. The sad thing is this isn’t an exception its now normal.

    rustyeod: I got a letter from my foam supplier last week saying their prices were going up 10% in April.

    JuneC: No news from my supplier that prices are going up. I’m still using a 2009 price sheet from them.

    ahkahn: Yep, we just went up the other day. Luckily, it wasn’t anywhere close to the 20% some are reporting. Ours was an average of 5-7%.


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