What Is the Difference Between Open Cell Foam & Closed Cell Foam

If you are new to the world of foam, you will probably have many questions about the difference between open cell foam and closed cell foam. Well, the key difference is in the cell structure and their consequential physical properties...

Open cell "polyurethane" foam:

Open cell foam, or polyurethane foam, has small cells that are sealed and allow air to fill the space; or take on water if soaked.

Open cell foam can be easily compressed and then naturally recover to its original shape, and as a result, open cell foam is most widely known for its use in the furniture industry as sofa cushion foam, foam mattresses, car seats and acoustic and soundproofing.

When purchasing open cell foam, you will often have to choose between varying foam densities and hardnesses (see our Foam & Rubber Glossary). To simplify things, Foamrite name our foams to best match physical properties with its use, i.e. superior firm upholstery foam.

Closed cell "polyethylene" foam:

Closed cell foam, or polyethylene foam, has uniform, interlocking and microscopic cells that are sealed shut preventing air or water to pass through. Consequentially, this type of foam is rigid and water resistant making this type of foam highly suited to shock absorption and thermal insulation.

Common examples of closed cell foam in use include building or caravan insulation, gym mats and camping mats.

Key similarities and differences between open cell foam and closed cell foam:

Differences Similarities
Closed cell foam is suitable for exposed use indoors and outdoors; open cell foam should only be used outdoors if covered as foam is damaged by UV, CO2 and takes on water Both easily fabricated for DIY and creative uses
Closed cell foam is available in a multitude of additives (i.e. EVA, fire retardancy, etc.); open cell foam is much more limited Both known for their great durability and longevity
Closed cell foam is readily available in a wide range of colours; only very limited ranges of coloured open cell foam offer this Both can be bought in sheets with at varying densities and thicknesses
Open cell foam is very vulnerable to surface damage; closed cell foam is very robust


If you have any specific questions regarding any of our foam, please do not hesitate to Contact Us. We'd love to help.

Popular grades of closed cell foam

PE30 EVA Colours Closed Cell FoamPE30 EVA Colours Closed Cell Foam£12.49
PE45 Colours Closed Cell FoamPE45 Colours Closed Cell Foam£13.09
PE60 Closed Cell FoamPE60 Closed Cell Foam£10.82

Popular grades of open cell foam

Fireseal Acoustic FoamFireseal™ Acoustic Foam£14.93
Upholstery Foam - Medium (V28-155)Upholstery Foam - Medium (RX28-155)£12.05
Upholstery Foam - Superior Firm (RX39-200)Upholstery Foam - Superior Firm (RX39-200)£12.38

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