If it has been awhile since you bought a bed or you simply want to know what all of the fuss is about, we put together a mattress comparison guide to help. Like any other product, mattresses vary greatly across type and brand. Getting the best mattress is important for many shoppers and knowing how the types compare can prove essential in that quest. It can be difficult to understand exactly how a memory foam mattress differs from latex, or what benefits one might offer relative to another, and many people don’t have extra hours to devote to product research. To save our readers some valuable time and stress, this mattress comparison will outline the basics of the three main types of beds along with pros and cons and popular brands.
Mattress Comparison Overview
There are four primary types of beds you will encounter when conducting a mattress comparison:
- Innerspring Mattresses
- Memory Foam Mattresses
- Latex Mattresses
Each have their pros, and each have their cons in a mattress comparison. In the end the decision of which is the best mattress comes down to individual preferences. The most popular of the specialty mattresses are memory foam and latex, so we will focus on these two types compared to spring mattresses in this article. For each of these three types we will conduct a mattress comparison consisting of the positive aspects, potential drawbacks, and introduce a few leading brands. At the end of this article, you will find a chart summarize the comparison information and models for your convenience.
Mattress Comparison Guide
This is the type of bed most people picture when they think of a mattress, and indeed spring beds still retain the greatest market share. They have been around since the 1800’s, and little has changed in their manufacturing over the past 100 years. Spring beds consist of two components: the upper mattress and the lower box spring. Innerspring mattresses are composed of a series of springs or coils, either connected, continuous or pocketed, which exist within a frame, covered with layers of foams, batting and quilting. These types of beds are typically upholstered in various fabrics and can be anywhere from 6 inches to 20 or more inches in height. The foundation pieces are similarly structured and designed to accompany the mattress layer for added support.
PROS: Innerspring mattresses are available in showrooms all over the country and come in virtually limitless derivations of super plush, medium plush, deluxe firm and so on. Typically innerspring beds are also the most affordable (though models with upgraded materials can often rival specialty mattresses in price). They are also fairly lightweight and easy to rotate or flip. Initially, most spring beds offer decent comfort levels.
CONS: One of the biggest complaints of innerspring mattresses is that their comfort lasts only a few years, until the padding layers begin to compress. This creates pressure points, and the inability of innerspring beds to contour effectively can distort spinal alignment leading to back pain. Innerspring mattresses are also prone to collecting dust mites, allergens, mold and mildew in the empty spaces inside. This created issues for those suffering from asthma or severe allergies. Also, of the five types mentioned, innerspring beds receive the lowest average ratings from owners.
BRANDS: The major mattress brands are easily recognizable in the United States as Sealy, Simmons and Serta, often referred to as the big “S” brands. These are the biggest in terms of sales volume and likely brands most consumers are familiar with. However, this popularity does not necessarily equate to quality, with average satisfaction for all three lines hovering between 63-65% (or a D-level on a scale of 100).
- Good variety and availability.
- Shorter lifespan.
- Most likely to cause pressure points/pain.
- Not hypoallergenic.
- Lowest satisfaction ratings.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam was first developed by NASA for the purpose of absorbing pressure under extreme g-forces. Once released to the commercial domain, bedding was a natural application where it saw success in clinical and residential settings. Memory foam is essentially a polyurethane foam with specialized properties that allow it to absorb impact and disperse weight evenly, thereby eliminating pressure. These types of mattresses consist of two primary layers, the upper memory foam layer and the bottom core layer. They may be covered in a terry or microfiber material, or upholstered to resemble spring beds. Memory foam functions best on a solid surface, like a slatted platform or solid foundation.
PROS: The biggest advantage of memory foam in a mattress comparison is the the pressure-less pain relief the material offers. Memory foam contours to sleepers to promote natural spinal alignment, and it also resists motion transfer so couples do not disturb each other at night. The cellular foam material also proves better at resisting allergens than spring beds. High quality memory foam (with densities of at least 4.0 lbs) also offers good durability, typically lasting at least 8 to 10 years. Slightly over 4 in 5 people report satisfaction with memory foam beds overall.
CONS: Traditional memory foam is petroleum based and often contains and adhesives and chemical flame retardants. These factors all contribute to environmental concerns as well as odors, often referred to as off-gassing, which some people find intolerable. Some people may dislike the feel of some slow-response foams, which can leave sleepers feeling stuck in place. Closed cell and temperature sensitive foams also have higher than average complaints of heat retention which can affect between 10-20% of owners. Memory foam may also be harder to locate locally, and can cost more than the average spring bed.
BRANDS: The most popular national brand of memory foam is Tempur-Pedic, and the major S brands also offer lines of memory foam, namely Serta iComfort which corners the gel market. Plant-based memory foams are a newer entrant, and Amerisleep.com is one retailer making head ways.
Memory Foam Overview
- Prevents pressure points/pain.
- Resists motion transfer.
- One of the best-rated mattress types.
- Potential issues with off-gassing and heat depending on material.
- Can be more expensive than springs.
Latex mattresses are another foam-type bed, but different from memory foam and polyurethane products. Latex may be derived from all-natural sources, synthetic sources, or a blend of both. Latex beds have been around for several decades, but until fairly recently, production costs were simply too high for mainstream consumers. Now, costs have come down and this type of bed is gaining popularity, especially with those interested in natural and green products.
PROS: A major advantage of all-natural latex is that it does not require harmful chemicals or petroleum products to create. It excels at reducing pain and pressure points like memory foam, but without the same chemical and heat concerns. This material offers a “springier” feel compared to memory foam, which can make moving around in bed easier. Latex is also highly durable, outlasting all other mattress types by several years. This advantage is two fold – it reduces consumers’ costs over time and keeps waste out of landfills. A latex bed also proves healthiest, with natural resistance to dust mites, molds, and bacteria. When you consider average owner satisfaction ratings in the mattress comparison, all natural latex beds rate the best, with nearly 85% people reporting satisfaction (20% higher than spring beds).
CONS: When it comes to all-natural latex, the cons are few. The biggest complaints include the weight of the mattress due to the dense material and the higher than average costs relative average spring beds. Latex as a category can also be difficult to find in most cities and is more complex to research and buy. Blended and synthetic latex foams also suffer many of the disadvantages of memory foam as well, like complaints of heat and odor, and may be less durable.
BRANDS: Sealy and Stearns and Foster offer national hybrid and blended latex lines, and several mattress companies include latex layers in their spring beds as well. For 100% natural latex mattresses, most consumers will have to look online for specialty retailers, as they may be hard to find in showrooms. In our recent comparison of latex brands, we found Astrabeds’ 100% natural latex mattresses to offer ideal features and value relative to five other lines.
- Resilient and springy feel.
- Relieves pressure points and pain.
- Can be made of all-natural materials.
- Natural latex highest rated overall.
- Most durable.
- Expensive compared to springs.
- Heavy and difficult to move.
- Hard to research.
Mattress Comparison Summary
|Brand||Mattress Type(s)||Average Owner Rating||Availability||Pricing|
|Amerisleep||Plant-Based Memory Foam||*****||National/Online||Mid to High|
|Astrabeds||Organic Natural Latex||*****||National/Online||Mid to High|
|Sealy||Innerspring, Memory Foam, Blended Latex, Hybrids||***||National/Dealers||Low to Mid|
|Serta||Innerspring, Gel Memory Foam, Hybrids||***||National/Dealers||Low to High|
|Simmons||Innerspring, Memory Foam, Hybrids||***||National/Dealers||Low to High|
|Stearns and Foster||Innerspring, Blended Latex, Hybrids||**||National/Dealers||Mid to High|
|Tempurpedic||Memory Foam||****||National/Dealers & Online||Mid to High|
The above chart summarizes our findings (alphabetically) in a mattress comparison of leading brands of innerspring, memory foam, and latex brands. As you can see, there are specific pros and cons that come with each type. When determining which is the best mattress for your needs, a good starting point is to consider how features align with your needs. Though specialty mattresses may rate higher on average than traditional spring beds, it is also important to understand that variety exists within each category as well. Now that you know the basics, you can begin conducting your own mattress comparison to see what types, brands, and models may offer the best fit for you.