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Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?

We've compiled a comprehensive list of different types of mattresses based on their construction, function, firmness and size.
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Last updatedLast updated: May 07, 2021
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Getting a mattress purchase wrong could mean a significant loss of resources. That’s one reason why people tend to stick with the brand and model of mattress they’re familiar with or one recommended by friends and family. However, a little research into the topic would reveal many different types of mattresses and varying benefits to each. For this reason, what your friend recommends may be perfect for them but not ideal for you. After all, the way you sleep is different.

A little more information on the various mattress types available could be the key to finding out what mattress purchase suits you best. You can even narrow down your options by factoring in comfort, cost, and quality. As such, you may benefit from reading the collated information about mattresses below.

Different types of mattresses by construction

The most significant difference in mattress models from different or even the same brands is how they’re made. The technology and materials used are often different, and this can influence various aspects of the purchase. Examples of this include variations in how the mattress feels, its heat retention or release capabilities, whether it conforms to your body or not, and more. As such, the section below contains data on different mattress types, their construction, the pros and cons of each, and even what they’re best used for.

Innerspring mattress

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Innerspring mattresses have been around for quite some time, and it’s only recently that they have started to get stiff competition from foam and hybrid mattresses. However, they still retain the highest sales out of all mattress options.

As the name suggests, innerspring mattresses incorporate springs in their design to help prop up the sleeper. However, the number of coils, distribution, and even the size can vary from model to model.

The orientation of the coils tends to affect a lot of things about the mattress, such as the price, comfort level, motion transfer, and more. However, the coils aren’t the only construction component included. They are often paired with some comfort material on the top or bottom of the bed. Examples include foam and natural fibers.

These types of mattresses are seemingly ideal for stomach, back, and sleepers with lower back pain. Also, they tend to offer more support than some of their foam counterparts. Consequently, heavier individuals don’t get the same sinking feeling they get when they sleep on other mattress types.

Pros

  • The back support on these mattresses is superb
  • They tend to have edge support
  • There are many firmness options
  • Available for a wide variety of budgets
  • Innerspring mattresses are breathable and don’t retain heat
  • Lastly, they’re fairly bouncy

Cons

  • They age and deteriorate faster than foam alternatives
  • Don’t offer pressure relief on joints
  • They are prone to creaking noises, especially as they get older

Foam mattress

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?In comparison to innerspring mattresses, foam options are a relatively recent innovation with roots in NASA’s innovation chambers. The first type of foam mattress incorporated memory foam construction which is the most widely known and used type of foam. However, there are other types of foam used in these beds as well.

Typically, mattress manufacturers will incorporate foam components of different densities and varying benefits to get different results. As such, you still end up with a lot of bed options in the foam mattress category. They seem to work very well for side sleepers and those who experience joint pain. This is because they often conform to the body of the person and are softer than their counterparts.

However, if you’re heavy-set, the softness can be a problem since you will sink too deep into the mattress.

Pros

  • They absorb motion by cradling the sleeper
  • Tend to last longer than innerspring alternatives
  • They’re quiet while you sleep since there are no springs in the bed’s construction
  • Great for side sleepers

Cons

  • They’re not a good fit for heavier set people
  • They tend to be pricier than innerspring mattresses
  • Some foam beds trap heat, making sleep uncomfortable
  • Some foam mattresses tend to have a chemical smell when they’re new

Hybrid mattress

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Admittedly, there is a massive divide between innerspring and foam mattresses. As such, hybrid mattress options are one of the best types of beds since they take bits and pieces from both worlds. Their construction often incorporates a spring coil section on the bottom and a few foam layers at the top. As such, you get a bit of the bounciness and back support while still retaining some of the softness you would get from foam beds.

Taking the best of foam and spring construction also means they tend to be more expensive than some counterparts in the market. However, they’re great for multiple body types and are quite durable. The Voila Box Luxury Hybrid mattress is, according to users, well-tuned to give you both the support of a spring mattress in addition to the softness of a foam bed. This is the reason for the inclusion 768-count zoned coil layer, in addition to latex and gel-infused memory foam layers. The CertiPUR-US certification also affirms the safety of the bed.

Below are the pros and cons of hybrid mattresses.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Offer some motion isolation
  • Come with edge support

Cons

  • They’re expensive
  • May have a chemical smells due to the foam components

Types of spring mattresses

All spring mattresses are not the same. We mentioned before that these mattresses are designed differently. This could be in the design of the springs, how they are distributed, and even the size. You get variations such as offset, Bonnel, marshal/pocketed, and continuous coil mattresses, which we will discuss below.

Bonnel spring mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?With roots in the 1800s, the Bonnel mattress design is pretty old, although you still find it in select beds even today. If you were to take apart a Bonnel spring mattress, you would notice the hourglass coils inside the bed. Also, these hourglass coils are interconnected by helical coils as well. This would mean that there is motion transfer from spring to spring throughout the mattress. While they perform great in terms of localized support, their durability is definitely not a strong point.

Offset spring mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?These were introduced not long after the Bonnel spring mattress and feature an improved design compared to the predecessor. The most significant change was in the design of the coil. While the predecessor had hourglass-shaped coils, the ones in the offset mattress were cylindrical. Also, these tend to have flat edges on both the top and bottom of the coil.

The flat edges come with some benefits, e.g., they create a hinging effect that allows the mattress to conform to your body slightly. However, don’t expect the same results as a foam mattress in this department. Also, the improved design worked to extend the lifespan of the bed, allowing them to last longer than their Bonnel counterparts. That said, expect to pay more if you pick an offset mattress over a Bonnel mattress.

Continuous coil spring mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Taking apart a continuous coil mattress reveals that it’s slightly different from all other spring mattresses in design. For one, it doesn’t have the typical coils that are the norm in these types of beds. Instead, you’ll see rows of single-wire coils with an S-shape running across the bed. These single wire coils are attached to other interwoven springs in the mattress.

They are sometimes preferred due to their durability and the fact that you can flip them over to extend their lifespan. Additionally, they tend to be affordable compared to other spring mattress options.

Pocketed spring mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?All the spring mattress types mentioned above feature interconnected coil systems. As such, they may not do so well with motion isolation. Additionally, they don’t conform to your body as easily since all the springs bear your weight. The case is different for the pocketed spring mattresses.

Each coil in the bed is wrapped in a piece of fabric hence the name pocketed. These pocketed coils are then stacked next to each other and eventually wrapped by the cover of the bed. Consequently, any time you sit or lie on a section of the bed, only the coils that are directly under you will bear your weight.

As such, this makes the pocketed spring mattress preferable for side sleepers since it conforms. However, that also depends on the rigidity of the coils. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you want to avoid this since your hip area sinking deeper could mean overarching your back. Also worth noting is that some refer to pocketed spring mattresses as Marshall mattresses.

Types of foam mattresses

Just like spring mattresses, foam beds are also split into different categories as well. These are listed and expounded below.

Memory foam mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Memory foam mattresses make sense as our first option since they were a precursor to all the other foam beds in the market. After their invention by NASA, they took a while before they were available for home use. This was because manufacturing them was expensive, and companies needed to find ways to reduce costs.

Currently, they are widely adored by people who appreciate extra softness in their beds. They respond to weight and body heat by sinking, which allows them to conform to the sleeper’s body. Side sleepers and most people with hurt joints love these beds since they isolate motion and keep them from feeling pain.

However, their negatives include the fact that they trap heat and are pretty expensive.

Gel-infused foam mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?One significant drawback of memory foam is in how it retains heat. This can be attributed to the density of the construction material. Consequently, some manufacturers choose to infuse their memory foam options with cooling gel so that the heat can be dispersed. These make for more comfortable beds overall and are preferred. However, due to the extra cooling features, they’re priced slightly higher than normal memory foam beds.

Polyfoam mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Polyfoam or Polyurethane foam tends to be firm and very supportive when used in a bed. Additionally, it has more bounce than memory foam. Unfortunately, it is treated with lots of chemicals before it is finally disbursed into the market. As such, you might feel a strong chemical odor the first few days after you receive your bed. This dissipates over time.

These mattresses should be treated to make the chemicals harmless before you receive them. That said, the only way to make sure is to check for CertiPUR-US certification.

Latex foam mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Latex can also be turned into a type of foam by adding air bubbles to the material. The resulting foam is soft and comes with bounce capabilities. As such, the sinking sensation you experience with other foam beds will almost be non-existent if you end up with a latex foam bed. Also, the air bubbles help to disburse heat, meaning you users can sleep cool.

Other types of mattresses

Foam, spring, and hybrid mattresses are also not the only types of beds available. You have other options such as futons, waterbeds, air mattresses, pillow tops, and adjustable beds as well.

Waterbeds

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Waterbeds have quite a long history. Maybe even longer than that of the innerspring mattress. However, they’re not very popular these days. As the name implies, these mattresses are filled with water before you sleep on them.

The floating feeling that comes with sleeping with the bed is quite relaxing. Apart from that, an option like the Strobel Organic Waterbed comes highly recommended by users thanks to the “Feathertop” pressure reduction surface. This feature enhances the flotation experience. Additionally, there’s the option of adding warm water to all water beds for a more therapeutic experience.

As for the downsides of this bed type, they’re difficult to set up in addition to being heavy when full. Lastly, there’s always the risk of them leaking.

Air mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Air mattresses are like tires in that you have to inflate them before use. The reason why people prefer them for camping is that they pack easily when they’re deflated. Also, some come with built-in inflation devices, while you may need to buy a pump for others.

Futon mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Futon mattresses have origins in Japan and can often be used as a couch or a bed. Also, they tend to be foldable. That said, the support provided will vary depending on the thickness of the futon. For the best results and if you don’t plan on moving the futon frequently, a thickness of six inches or more should be ideal.

Pillowtop mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Some mattress options you encounter while searching for beds will incorporate a pillowtop design. This means that they may be a hybrid, spring, or foam mattress, but they have an additional layer of comfort material at the top. While this may add to the comfort of the bed, sometimes it makes them too bulky, and that makes looking for linen that will fit them a hassle.

There are several material options for the padding layer at the top, including cotton, wool, foam, or latex. Also, there are extra costs associated with the top layer as well.

Adjustable bed mattresses

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Oftentimes adjustable bed mattresses and foam mattresses are the same. After all, the latter will take the shape of the bed. As such, you can adjust the bed frame to prop up your legs or head, and the mattress will follow suit. Hybrid and spring mattresses don’t bend as easily, and hence they’re not adjustable.

Different types of mattresses by firmness

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?Another thing you’ll notice the more you look at your mattress options is that they all have a firmness rating of between 1 and 10. Those with 2-3 ratings are considered quite soft, and they’re the ones you go for if you prefer to sink in your bed.

Between 4 and 7 is the category that most bed options fall into, and they’re considered to be medium firm. Generally, these are the types of mattresses you get for back pain. They’re characterized by minimal sinking and contouring while you sleep on them.

The last category is those rated 8s and 9s, and this would indicate they are quite firm. These are perfect for heavy-set individuals and those who sleep on their stomachs. After all, they want as little sink as possible in their beds. You rarely find mattresses with a rating of 1 or 10.

Different types of mattresses by size

Different Types of Mattresses: Which Is Right for You?There are also different types of mattresses by size. That said, the mattress size you get will depend on the size of the bed frame you have at home. The options available are twin, twin XL, Double/Full, Queen, king, and California king. The twin is the smallest, while the California king is the largest. You should thus check the size of your bed frame before deciding on your purchase.

Final thoughts

By considering the firmness, size, and construction materials in the different types of mattresses, you should be able to find models that are perfect for you. After that, it’s a matter of ordering, testing, and even returning the mattress if it doesn’t live up to expectations. For that, be sure to check the return policy before you commit to the purchase.

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