PolyFoam vs Spring vs Latex vs Memory Foam Mattress

Making a bed has now become a science, with overwhelming options available to manufacture a mattress. There are basically four types of mattresses to choose from, foam mattresses, spring mattresses, latex and (gel) memory foam mattresses. Of course there are other options like futon, air and waterbed mattresses, however we will stick to the aforementioned materials used for a typical mattress nowadays.

While choosing a mattress type comes down to personal taste, it is also a matter of weighting in the pros and cons of each material. If you are puzzled about what each type of material entails, the following article will provide a good reference point for you.

Here’s what we have installed for those potential buyers out there:

Different types of materials used for mattresses

Foam mattresses

foam-mattress

The most common type of foam mattresses come in polyfoam, namely polyurethane or PU. You will see this type of material used for the top layer of innerspring mattresses. Nevertheless, it is not surprising to see this sort of material on its own for mattresses.

In case you are wondering if polyurethane foam is similar to memory foam, a more recent trend in filling mattresses, the answer is no in terms of their feel, however both consist of some sort of polyurethane foam. The difference is, memory foam includes other chemicals as well which will give more density and viscosity. PU feels much more bouncy compared to memory foam.

In terms of consistency, polyurethane is made completely of synthetics. Whereas you can find a 100% natural latex mattress, however this is not the case for a polyurethane foam mattress.

Polyurethane comes in three types: regular grade, high density foam, and high resiliency one. The latter, is of a much higher quality and has a somewhat different manufacturing process, whereas it is quite a lot more supportive. You will be interested to know that a genuinely good high resilience polyurethane foam mattress can feel almost as comfortable as a latex mattress!

That said, the downside is that this kind of polyurethane grade is much more expensive and not as easy to find. You should therefore take for granted that any polyurethane foam mattress, unless it is clearly indicated, will have either a regular grade or high density foam.

Spring mattresses

spring-mattress

 

Perhaps this is the most common type of mattress people widely used since the industrial age, as it has been made affordable. You may have also heard it as coil mattress; innerspring is probably the one type of mattress you are more familiar with. These remain one of the cheapest options on the market for a mattress, although as their technology advances, their price has risen as well.

Spring mattresses come in different categories as a result of the way the springs are placed in the mattress. There are now open springs, continuous coils, and pocket springs. The capacity and gauge of the coils will determine the level of comfort and support you get, so you should make sure to know the details, if you decide you want a spring mattress. Choosing a mattress with more coils, can result in more support, yet a high give could mean some loss of spinal support.

It is quite common for mattress manufacturers to add a padding layer on top of coils, so as to offer extra cushioning and enhanced comfort. This comfort layer or fillings used vary between cotton, wool, foam, polyester, silk or cashmere, coir fiber, and will determine the price of the spring mattress you get.

An advantage of spring mattresses, is how you can find just the right amount of comfort and support thanks to the vast options in terms of coil arrangement, gauge and total number of coils.

Ultimately, a spring mattress can offer near to the comfort and support to a memory foam mattress, however it lacks in moulding and contouring, so it all depends on your own taste and sleeping needs.

Coil springs

coil spring mattress

The traditional connected coils is called Bonnell spring. These coils are linked on top and bottom to one another with a spiral helical wire and can be quite firm, starting at 12.5 gauge. Prices for these type of mattresses vary from low to mid-range, so they make a great option if you are on a budget.

Pocket springs

pocket spring mattress

The most advanced and trending option nowadays in spring mattresses, involves individually wrapped pocketed coils. The coils are connected in a way that it allows to support each part of the body independently. The level of support is dependent on the number and thickness of the spring. These type of coils cost more compared to the traditional ones and even climb the upper price range, depending on their specifications.

pocket springs vs bonnell springs

A significant downside with mattresses is how they can get sagging and it is common to observe some dipping, following systematic use. This dipping is more likely to be found on a non-reversible mattress, especially if the mattress has memory foam or latex in it as the spring will be softer.

Latex mattresses

latex-mattress

Latex is a material which has been widely used since the 1950s and has gained increasing popularity among consumers and the mattress industry favors its use, as it is extremely comfortable and supportive. It is a kind of foam rubber which can be made of either natural or synthetic compounds, and was intended to replace regular spring mattresses. This premium material is extracted from the sap of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), which is later processed into the resulting blocks of latex foam.

These mattresses are probably one of the most healthy and eco-friendly solutions for a mattress, however the more natural they are, they tend to feel firmer than anticipated and desired.

There are several great properties that come with latex, such as the resiliency, durability and anti-microbial properties which people sensitive to allergies will surely appreciate. This material is also naturally dust-mite resistant and mold-resistant.

Latex is also very elastic by nature and quickly regains its original shape after pressure is added on it. This type of elasticity allows it to evenly distribute pressure so it caters for great support independently for each part of your body.

If you were to lay on a latex mattress, you would sense a softness comforting feel, which allows you to sink into the mattress, and seemingly support you fully.

Apart from its unique comforting feature, latex has more great qualities like its improved breathability, which makes it ideal if you tend to sleep hot or live in a warm humid climate.

Here are the 3 kinds of latex foam available on the market:

Natural latex

Natural latex

This is quite durable and it’s considerably more expensive compared to other types. It is not as common therefore to find natural latex in brand name mattresses, and if there is any, it will come in only a couple of inches (1-2) to promote the mattress as organic. See for instance the Avocado Gwen mattress. Be careful to look for the amount of natural latex used in a certain mattress.

Any mattress containing entirely natural latex will cost more than $1500.

Blended

A mixture of natural and synthetic latex in varying quantities.

100% synthetic latex

The above two, blended and 100% synthetic latex mattresses, contain petroleum-based oils and chemicals which research studies show are harmful for your health. You should take care when choosing a mattress which contains these chemicals, since even the dust and air in your household can get infected, as off-gassing or in tiny particles which are released whenever the mattress, and therefore the foam is pressed. These tiny particles get absorbed by regular dust and create chemical absorbing sponges. Exposing infants and children in these chemicals, which are the most vulnerable of the population, is highly dangerous.

What type of process is there for getting latex?

There are two distinct types: Talalay or Dunlop process.

talalay vs dunlop process

 

The original process of making latex involved Dunlop.

Dunlop is denser and more supportive compared to Talalay.

Talalay on the other hand is softer and provides better pressure relief compared to Dunlop.

Either process can be entirely 100% synthetic, however there is not such a thing as 100% Natural Talalay.

Memory foam including gel memory foam

gel-memory-foam-mattress

Memory foam mattresses are a type of polyurethane foam named visco-elastic foam. These type of mattresses were originally developed for use by astronauts at NASA, however as years passed by, they became affordable and therefore publicly distributed. Memory foam mattresses has several distinct attributes, king among them how they conform to your body’s natural curves and offer better contouring and a hugging feel.

For those of you who appreciate feeling nestled and comforted when sleeping, this is definitely an ideal option for a mattress. The ability to mold into your body’s shape, offers profound medical benefits, as it enables for the sort of pressure relief you need while it leaves your sensitive areas free of substantial pain. This can prove especially beneficial if you suffer from chronic pain or an injury, as it also allows for better blood circulation.

In case you sleep with a partner, memory foam is a great option since it leaves little room for motion transfer and so you can rest assure you or your partner will sleep undisturbed.

Memory foam is also dust-mite resistant and hypoallergenic, so you shouldn’t worry much about bed bugs or allergies with this type of mattress.

On the other hand, there is always a downside of things, and memory foam is no exception. It is made of harsh chemicals and so it is not the perfect option if you are looking for a healthy mattress.

In addition, it is not the ideal choice if you are looking for a cool mattress, as generally speaking this type of material tends to sleep hot. However as you will see just below, there has been a solution found to this issue.

There are three types of memory foam:

Traditional

These are made from petroleum-based ingredients and the process of manufacture remains the same as decades before.

Gel-infused

gel-infused-memory-foam

Gel-infused or gel memory foam is a more recent trend and advancement of the traditional type of memory foam. It involves the infusion of gel into the mattress or a particular layer, and benefits the user in terms of breathability as it enables a better airflow and helps to sleep cooler than regular memory foam does. It is thought that gel memory foam leaves less off gassing compared to traditional memory foam, however this is still not widely proven as it is a rather new product.

Plant-based

plant-based memory foam

Plant-based memory foam grew out of the concern for the harmful effects of VOCs, temperature issues and slow response rate of traditional memory foam. This type of memory foam comes with much larger cell structure for enhanced breathability and also comes with less cost for human health and the environment as it emits really low VOCs.

Despite its pitfalls, as you can imagine, all the perks and the unique feel of memory foam come at a cost. It may be rather affordable nowadays, yet it still is significantly more expensive than the traditional spring mattress.

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Pros and cons of foam vs spring vs latex vs Memory foam

If you are still uncertain about which material is best for you, take a look at the following chart which lists the pros and cons of each type of material mentioned above.

  Foam Spring Latex Memory foam
Pros
  • Inexpensive, affordable choice – The lower type of polyurethane grades come at a very cheap prices, however if you want to get the best of this material, choose the high resilience polyurethane foam, which is much more expensive though.
  • Quite light – You can easily move it around of flip it if necessary.
  • Reasonable price tag – A great choice if you are on a budget and look for a supportive mattress.
  • Durable – This type of mattress can last usually somewhere between 7 to 10 years.
  • Sleeps really cool – No worries about sleeping cool if you get a spring mattress. The coils will ensure a cool and restful sleep without leaving any heat trapped on the mattress.
  • Little motion transfer– This applies for pocket coils which are individually wrapped and allow for little movement to be sensed across the mattress surface.

 

  • Durable and resilient – You should not worry about your latex mattress lasting as it is a worthy investment which will last for many many years (approximately 10-30 years).
  • Bouncy with quick response time – Latex is material which is quite bouncy by nature and also features rapid response times and quickly returns to its original shape, following applied pressure. This makes it great for intimate activities.
  • Eco-friendly, dust-mite and mold- resistant, hypoallergenic – Especially if you choose natural latex, you can sleep safely and healthy.
  • Very supportive – Physicians and chiropractors recommend using latex mattresses, for the supreme support they offer for your body and spine.
  • Sleeps cool – Amongst its many properties, is how latex comes with improved ventilation and airflow features. This especially applies for natural latex.
  • Pressure relief– This is an area where memory foam definitely outperforms the rest. The pressure distribution and relief you get is unbeatable.
  • Body contouring –
  • Memory foam can hug and conform to your body’s shape in such a way that will offer the most comforting sleep.
  • No Motion Transfer – As this material comes with no bounce, it leaves little room for sensing any movement from one side of the bed to the other.
  • Hypoallergenic – There is little space for insects, dust mites and any other weird creature to sneak into your memory foam bed. Its solid structure therefore ensures you are free from allergies.
Cons
  • Not as comfortable – It is rather doubtful you will get a high level of comfort from sleeping in a regular or even high density poly-foam mattress.
  • Lacks in support – This is not the type of mattress you would call supportive.
  • Noticeable motion transfer – This type of mattress is not ideal if you are a couple, as a partner can sense each other’s moves on a great deal, due to the extremely bouncy nature of polyurethane.
  • Sleeps hot – Similar to memory foam, polyurethane mattresses sleep hot as they are not well ventilated.
  • Not as durable – Polyurethane, unlike latex, will not last long as the foam tends to break down easily.

 

  • Sagging feel – These type of mattresses tend to get saggy following a couple of years use, which results in a lack of support.
  • Lack of back support – Spring mattresses will not offer the best kind of back support and proper spine alignment.
  • Lack of comfort and pressure relief –
  • Spring mattresses don’t deal as good with pressure distribution and can cause considerable pain as they don’t distribute your body weight evenly.
  • Not Hypoallergenic – The top material used and empty space between the springs, makes the perfect hiding space for dust mites.
  • Synthetic substances not as healthy – The synthetic foams and fabrics used to fill in spring mattresses are not ideal for your health.
  • Price – This type of mattress is a bit expensive

 

  • Price – Most top notch memory foam mattresses, especially gel-infused and plant-based will come at a considerable cost.
  • Quicksand feel – Due to the slow response time and contouring, memory foam might feel being trapped in quicksand.
  • Temperature sensitive – Memory foam is definitely not the coolest material you can find. There is improvement if you choose gel or plant-based memory foam, however, there is a good chance you will feel hot and sweaty when sleeping in this type of mattress.
  • Smell and off-gassing – In particular for the traditional memory foam mattresses, this is a common problem. Choosing a plant-based mattress can minimize the risk of off-gassing and harmful chemicals.

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Key takeaway

All things considered, comparing the different types of materials used for mattresses doesn’t leave a clear cut winner. There are pros and cons for each type of mattress, and it all comes down to personal preference really. There are some obvious areas where one wins over the other though.

Memory foam is definitely a winner when it comes down to pressure relief and body contouring, with latex mattresses coming close in terms of the pressure relief and comfort offered. Both memory foam and latex are hypoallergenic and dust-mite resistant, so they make a great choice if you are prone to allergies.

In addition, you will benefit from the support offered by both, whereas a polyurethane foam or spring mattress lacks in terms of back support and spine alignment. In addition, a spring mattress can be susceptible to allergies, so you may want to avoid it if you are sensitive to these things.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t consider memory foam or polyurethane foam as your first option if you tend to sleep hot. Although gel memory foam or plant-based solutions enable better breathability, we would recommend getting a latex mattress instead. In particular, if you choose natural latex, then you will ensure the best cooling sleeping surface and the most eco-friendly solution which will benefit your health.

Polyurethane foam is probably only better in terms of being lightweight, so you can easily move your poly-foam mattress around or flip it if you have to. Other than that, it lacks compared to the rest in terms of support and comfort, whereas it isn’t as durable. Instead, choose latex if you want a truly resilient and durable mattress which can last for as long as 30 years!

Overall, latex and memory foam are obviously the superior option, however you should keep in mind the unique feel of memory foam and bouncy feeling of latex, so do give them a try if possible before proceeding with your buy. Chances are, if you are a traditional spring feel person, you will have trouble adjusting to the memory foam feel.

Ultimately, the best kind of mattress is the one that best accommodates for your needs. Price is mostly an issue, so if you are on a budget, then perhaps getting a latex or memory foam mattress is not as easy, however do not despair; there are plenty of amazing options for these types of mattress which can deliver top quality at affordable prices. Explore our top lists to get better insights on which memory foam or latex mattress is best for you.

Hi,my name is Chris and used to be a mattress salesperson, now I'm a software engineer and focus on blog writing part time, I created this mattress review and rating site to share my knowledge and experiences and hope everyone can get the correct mattress at a reasonable price.

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