Many people new to bean bags are shocked to discover that their chairs have gone flat have extended periods of regular use. What was once a fluffy, round and comfortable chair has become a flat disc about half the size. However, this is a universal phenomenon experienced by all bean bags filled with traditional polystyrene beads. Fortunately, you can take several steps to prolong the life of your bean bags, and most of them can be refilled once the beads go flat. While several bean bag filler alternatives are commonly used, the most comfortable, durable and resilient filler is virgin EPS beads.
Bean Bag Compression
Most bean bags are stuffed with beads made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is a close relative of Styrofoam. Quality bean bags are filled with virgin beads that are manufactured exclusively for use in bean bags. These beads have numerous pockets of air inside them, and as they are used, the beads become compressed, reducing their size. This compression, in turn, gives the beanbag a flat appearance, and it compromises the comfort and ergonomics of the furniture.
Fluffing Your Beanbag Chair
Before you refill a bean bag, you may be able to prolong its usability by attempting to fluff the contents. To do this, you need first to unzip the child-resistant cover in a safe environment. Always keep a close eye on open bean bags, and never allow a child or pet to crawl inside. If your bean bag does not have a zipper or enclosure, do not attempt to cut or rip it open. These bean bags are meant to remain closed at all times.
Once you have the bean bag open, hold it, so the opening is facing upwards, and shake it for two to five minutes. As you shake the beanbag, it will regain some of its fluffiness. After closing the bean bag and activating the child-resistant mechanism, sit on it to see if it provides adequate support. If not, you can try to fluff it again, but if a second fluffing does not do the trick, it is time to refill your bean bag with new beads.
Bean Bag Filler Alternatives
Before refilling your bean bag, you must choose which type of filler you are going to use. Following are a few beanbag filler alternatives to consider:
- All-natural fillers – It is entirely possible to fill beanbags with all-natural fillers that harken back to the days of yore, such as dried beans, rice and buckwheat husks. However, beans and rice are very expensive in the quantities required to fill a bean bag, and they will make it extremely heavy. While buckwheat hulls are much lighter, they tend to have sharp edges and are not very comfortable.
- Shredded foam – Some bean bags are filled with shredded foam or small foam blocks, but this material is not very supportive and causes bean bags to lose most of their ergonomic properties.
- Recycled EPS pellets – Recycled EPS pellets are touted as an eco-friendly alternative to virgin EPS beads. But they suffer from a startlingly short lifespan, and you end up having to replace them twice or three times as often.
- Virgin EPS beads – Virgin EPS beads are the top choice for bean bag replacement filler. These beads are dense yet resilient, and they don’t go flat nearly as quickly as cheaper EPS pellets do.
Refilling Your Beanbag
Refilling your beanbag with virgin EPS beads is a simple matter. You begin the process much the same as you do when you are fluffing it, and you heed the same warnings. Once again, always keep a vigilant eye on open bean bags, and preferably, keep them in your hands at all times while open. Your bean bag should have a child-resistant enclosure, which is usually in the form of a zipper with the tab removed. If you have one of these types of bean bags, it can be opened by inserting a paper clip through the hole in the zipping mechanism, but always remove it when the bean bag has been reclosed.
When refilling your bean bag, it helps to have an assistant. One person will hold the bean bag open while the other inserts the top of the unopened bag of EPS beads. Open the bag of beads while it is inside the bean bag, and slowly pour them inside. Add just enough so that the bean bag is firm yet still provides a small amount of resistance. You don’t want it to be solid, but you do have a fair amount of leeway to account for your personal preference.