Quick Guide for Sofa Fill Options

Feather & Down, Trillium, and Fiber

If you’ve come here looking for how you can get your hands on some free fill please scroll to the bottom. But wait! Let’s first take a brief gander (because we’re talking about geese!) into what fill types most upholstery shops use and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Whenever I have designers visit us at one of our shops in Los Angeles they will see giant plastic bags filled with various fill materials. I like to reach in and give them a handful of each. It is kind of enlightening. If you think about it, when have you touched fill with your hands? It is only your back or butt that gets that privilege – and usually through a few laters of fabric.

Where on a sofa would I find fill?

Keep in mind we are talking about loose cushions here. Nothing in this article will apply to a tight seat or a tight back.

The fill is found in both the back cushions and the seat cushions. Seat cushions usually have some type of core and are wrapped with a casing that holds the fill. Sometimes the fill is only on one side of the cushion (toppers), but for quality sofas it is usually desirable to be able to flip the cushion over so the fill is on both sides. Back cushions are usually all fill, inside of a casing of course.

You might find foam in back cushions on cheap sofas, or some mid-century modern styles call for it.

Generally the fill is the most expensive aspect of a sofa (aside from the fabric of course). So when you see flat cushions with little fill or back cushions that include foam cores, these are cost cutting measures to save on fill expenses.

Fill Options

There are three main types of fill used in 99% of sofas. These are feather & down, high-end synthetic, and low-end synthetic.

Feathers & Down

Feather & down is rated by how much percent of each is mixed into the fill. Basically, down is the soft stuff and feathers are, well, feathers. The fill we use is all from geese (although ducks are often used to make fill too). The more down in the mix the more expensive the fill is. Some popular configurations of feather & down are:

Percent of FeathersPercent of DownCost

The most popular option you will find is 90/10, but higher end shops like to use 75/25 (I know A. Rudin does). The difference between 90/10 and 75/25 is subtle. Because down is more dense than feathers a 75/25 cushion will be a bit heavier and feel… more substantial? It is hard to describe the difference but more down doesn’t necessarily make a cushion softer. That is usually more a reflection of the foam density, how much fill is used (more is going to be softer), and the give of the fabric.


There are a handful of high-end synthetic fills that tend to be regional in their use. Here in Los Angeles the most popular high-end fill is called Trillium. It is made from recycled plastic, believe it or not. It was designed to mimic 90/10 feather & down, but I would wager to say its softer.

Trillium is by far my favorite fill because it serves the needs of feather & down without any of the drawbacks. Those drawbacks being regular clumping, pokey feathers, and allergic reactions. It looks kind of like a mix between cotton candy and cotton. But it feels like it could melt in your hand.

Low-end synthetic fill is usually called fiber (or poly fiber). And like the name implies it is made from polyester. I have some on my desk here because it is useful when making outdoor cushions. But we wouldn’t generally use it for an indoor sofa. A lot of middle market or low end furniture uses it exclusively though.

You’ve probably seen a lot of mass-market furniture retailers advertising a “50/50 Fill”. This generally means half fiber and half feathers & down. The formula for that fill would technically be 50/45/5 (fiber, feathers, down).

Get Your Hands on Some Fill

I know that not everyone can stop by a shop here in Los Angeles and grab a handful of each of these. So for a limited time we’re going to mail little baggies (I feel like I’m in college again) of each one so you can tell for yourself.

Just fill out the form below and we’ll get those in the mail asap. Note of course you do need to have a Buildlane account and this is only available to the trade.

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