What to do with an old mattress : Creating daybed cushions

Reusing Good Quality Existing Materials Rather than Buying New

Lara Knight – 4 September, 2020

DISCLAIMER: For big ticket jobs I’m a planner who looks at all angles and does lots of research. For smaller projects I tend to be a ‘finish in a day and make it up as you go’ person. It’s less perfect, but with secondhand materials and a few hours you have an inexpensive, low waste solution. It’s a little embarrassing sharing nutty DIY projects with the world. But you never know how a simple idea will spark someone else’s creativity.

Many years ago I bought an expensive latex overlay for a queen bed. When we moved to a king sized bed I didn’t want to waste the latex so cut it up for dining chair cushions. Bare latex went into mismatched op-shop cushion covers, then I sewed new fabric covers that could be slipped off and washed. 7 years later these cushions are as solid and comfy as they were at the beginning and they’ve proved really useful.

You might also be interested in the Ultimate Guide to Giving Away or Selling Secondhand Furniture for mattress recycling. 

what to do with old mattress
what to do with old mattress
what to do with old mattress

So when we needed outdoor cushions I thought I’d try the same trick.

Sourcing a Secondhand Mattress to Recycle

The Facebook Marketplace ‘latex mattress’ I drove 30 minutes to pick up turned out to be a memory foam blend (maybe containing a fraction of latex but not what I wanted). But it’s super comfortable, and I won’t be sleeping on it breathing petrochemicals, so it will do.

Cutting the Mattress

To cut the foam I used an electric carving knife (apparently a serrated knife will also work). The knife cut beautifully but the mattress was deeper than the blade so it required a few passes. I got impatient and hacked at the second half but you could make it much neater with more time, or a thinner foam. I also angled the bottom edge of top cushions for more natural back support.

what to do with old mattress
what to do with old mattress
what to do with old mattress

Creating Cushion Covers

Then I sewed simple slip covers from cotton canvas dropsheets. No zips or fastenings, just a basic pillowcase pattern. A more accomplished sewer or upholsterer would do box cushion covers but I couldn’t face them. Sewing is one of my least favourite activities so this was a quick fix that a more patient upcycler could do much better!

Cream fabric is risky in our household with an artist and a child so I’m trying out a non-toxic silicone dioxide fabric protector from protectME. It’s designed to work for 2 to 3 years and be odourless, hydrophobic (repels spills and stains), machine washable, UV stable and fully biodegradable. Excited to see how it goes.

Anyway, that’s my old mattress to outdoor cushions story. The result is a little boxy (no batting or fancy edges) but the foam is SO comfortable. It should be more durable than cheap polyurethane, and DIY cost much less than professional upholstery.

Our upcycled fence-paling daybeds now feel like summer clouds 🙂

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