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What are the Different Types of Bean Bag Filler?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Bean bags have been around for many years now. In addition to vintage models dating from the 1960s, there are also contemporary chairs that are constructed for us in children’s rooms as well as larger models for adults. While very comfortable, most bean bag seating options must be refilled from time to time. Fortunately, there are several options when it comes to selecting the right bean bag filler, including foam pellets or shreds, dried beans, and plastic fillers.

Uniform polystyrene pellets, sometimes known as virgin pellets, are small and sturdy pieces of Styrofoam™ that are roughly the same shape and size of the pellets included in chicken mash. The material has a higher density than standard polystyrene chips used in packing. As a result, this type of filler holds up very well to daily use and helps the chair keep its shape. In addition, the durability of the pellets means the chair will offer support as well as comfort.

For something a little softer, there is also reground bean bag filler. Large blocks of polystyrene are ground to form this type of filling. Unlike the pellets, the pieces are not necessarily uniform in shape or size and it may take a little longer to settle into a comfortable position. Using reground filler is a great way to reuse old polystyrene and prevent the material from taking up space in landfills.

A third option is to employ a combination of the uniform beads or pellets and shredded foam. Often, the polystyrene used for the shreds is also reclaimed product, but it is not ground as finely as reground filler. While the shredded pieces are not uniform, they do tend to mix in well with the virgin filler and help to keep the bean bag chair comfortable.

Purists can also make use of dried beans as the filler of choice, and small dried field peas are one of the better options. While the peas will move about and contour to the body of anyone who sits in the chair, they tend to not be as comfortable as the polystyrene bean bag filler options. Some people prefer filler that is less yielding, however, claiming that using dried peas provides the chair with a texture that can help massage tired muscles.

It is not unusual for people to mix various types of filler in an effort to produce the ideal combination of support and comfort. Owners may choose to use a combination that employs natural filler such as dried peas with plastic filler substances and the uniform polystyrene beads or pellets. Combination filler is said to provide all the benefits of each type of filling compound while minimizing the drawbacks of each type.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By feasting — On Dec 12, 2012

Bean bag chairs are so comfortable. To me, they are awesome regardless of what type of filling they have.

True, the polystyrene ones are softer, which can be nice when you just want to snuggle down and watch television. However, if you want to be held by something that will apply gentle pressure to your body, using actual beans is the way to go.

I actually have three bean bag chairs in my house filled with three different substances, and I love them all. Which one I use depends on how I'm feeling at that moment.

By JackWhack — On Dec 11, 2012

@lighth0se33 – So did I! My only experience with bean bag chairs was as a child, so I never had to worry about getting any bean bag refill. I never saw what was inside the thing, and since it was called a bean bag, I just took for granted that this was what filled it.

By lighth0se33 — On Dec 10, 2012

I didn't know there were so many different types of filler for bean bag chairs. I just assumed they were all filled with beans.

By Perdido — On Dec 10, 2012

@rallenwriter – I would think the main danger with a dog eating bean bag chair filler would be blockages. That stuff could clump up or even swell inside your dog and cause major problems.

If you notice him having any trouble breathing, eating, or going to the bathroom, take him to the vet. You might want to take him before any of that happens, because the treatment might be less costly and extreme.

By zenmaster — On Aug 30, 2010

So here's a question -- where can I get recycled bean bag chair filler for extra large bean bag chairs?

I want to switch out from the poly fil bean bag filler to a more environmentally friendly one.

Does anybody know where I can get some, and if so, how much I should buy?

By rallenwriter — On Aug 30, 2010

So I have a question -- is cheap bean bag filler dangerous if a dog eats it? I had these large bean bag chairs, and my dog just absolutely tore them apart.

There were bean bag filler beads all over the floor, and I can't tell if he ate any or not. Do I need to take him to the vet?

He's acting normally, but I still just want to be sure...

Thanks you!

By sanwoman — On May 25, 2009

Where would I be able to purchase Bean Bag Fillers (Uniform Styrofoam Pellets) in Toronto, Canada?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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