What’s the Difference Between Polyurethane and Polyethylene Foam in Padding?

    Posted by Ryan Wilby

    Nov 23, 2017 4:23:00 AM


    When shopping for any type of padding, whether it be for an athletic institution, for use on walls for protection or for tumbling exercises such as gymnastics, you have likely been met with some confusing verbiage.

    As each type of padding is filled with a different type of foam, the materials used and the way in which it is constructed can vary widely depending on the intended use of that particular piece of padding.

    When reading specifications, the “ingredients” used to describe what they are made of can elicit the feeling of ready obscure ingredients found in some of your favourite foods. For many of us, we are unsure of what exactly they mean, what they are made of and which are good for us.

    Two such ingredients found in most of our padding are polyethylene and polyurethane. While somewhat confusing by name, their differences are quite important when selecting padding for your home or facility.  As such, we will break each down below and give a few examples as to which each is best suited for.


    When it comes to foam composition, polyurethane is the softer, more gentle filling compound used in padding applications. This open-cell foam comes in a number of different degrees of softness and allows for a great deal of airflow through the foam itself. For this reason, it reacts much more like a cushion than something intended to stop something quickly. Built to absorb impact, polyurethane foam is used in thicker padding applications such as stunt mats and crash pads.


    Acting in an opposite manner as the above, polyethylene foam is a firm, closed-cell foam featuring a tightly woven cross-link composition that allows it to react as a firmer type of foam. This type of foam is common in regular-use padding in which participants are landing on their hands or feet and is also what we use standard in our wall padding applications.



    Topics: Gym Mats, Custom Padding, Wall Padding, Stage Padding


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