Foam vs Spring Mattress: Pros, Cons, and Comparison

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Foam and spring mattresses are two of the most popular types available today because they suit almost everyone’s sleep needs. To find out what will better accommodate you personally, continue reading this foam vs spring mattress comparison and weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

New advanced technologies and the shift to a primarily online market has made shopping for a mattress a completely different process compared to ten or twenty years ago. Now, most people conduct research, sift through their options to find what suits their personal needs best, and make a purchase without even leaving the comfort of their home. With this in mind, let us guide you on how to choose what is the best option for you.

The Different Types of Spring Mattresses and Their Defining Characteristics

A spring or innerspring mattress remains the most popular mattress today. This type of mattress construction was invented in the early 1900s and because of its prevalence, you have most likely used one before.

Spring mattresses are comprised of varying amounts of steel coils that compress when you apply pressure or body weight. The shape, size, and number of springs or coils vary from model to model. Generally, the number of springs denotes the quality of comfort overall. The higher the number, the more quality you can expect. Also, a thicker coil gauge denotes a firmer mattress and adversely, a thinner coil gauge denotes a softer mattress.

spring mattress

There are several distinct types of spring mattresses. This allows variety and the ability to accommodate the differing needs of many sleepers. Here are some of the most common types you can expect to encounter:

1. Continuous Coils

As the name suggests, continuous coil mattresses use one long, single wire to form the spring system within. The shape of the wire is more S-shaped. It is repeatedly interlinked causing it to be more durable in the long run. Continuous coil mattresses are relatively affordable.

2. Bonnell Coils

These were originally invented in the 1800s and were used in buggy seat cushions. They form an hourglass or helix-shaped structure. They are also an affordable option but often become squeaky after extended use.

3. Offset Coils

They are of high quality and are best known for their superior ability to conform under your body’s shape and weight. They also resemble an hourglass in shape but what makes them different is a flattened top and bottom that forms a square. Each spring joins with the next creating a hinging effect which allows for flexing and conforming support under your body’s pressure. They are known for being sturdy, and quiet.

4. Marshall Coil or Pocketed Coil

A marshall coil or pocketed coil is different from a traditional spring mattress in two ways. First, the coils are not wired together which allows them to work freely and independently of one another. Second, they are wrapped in fabric sleeves or pockets. These two factors best enable improved support and superior motion isolation compared to other types of spring mattresses. They can also be referred to as wrapped coils or encased coils.

The Different Types of Foam Mattresses and Their Defining Characteristics

Foam mattresses represent the new advances being made in the industry today. They are rapidly gaining in popularity and are projected to continue doing so for some time. It is likely that with foam mattresses, you will find some benefits that suit your specific sleep needs as well.

Foam mattresses are not as bouncy as spring mattresses, Instead, they provide you with support while feeling the sensation of sinking into your mattress when you lay down. Foam mattresses excel at pressure point relief, body contouring, and motion isolation. This is a good option if you sleep on your back.

memory foam mattress

There are two main types of foam currently being used in mattress production: memory foam and polyfoam. Each has its own unique characteristics.

1. Memory Foam

Memory foam was invented in 1966 by NASA to act as a soft, energy-absorbing cushion in aircraft seats. It was first used in a mattress in 1991 after its production and use became more affordable. Memory foam responds to heat and pressure from your body when you lie down allowing it to support you by evenly distributing your weight across the surface of the bed. When the pressure is relieved, the foam slowly retakes its original shape.

2. Polyfoam

Polyfoam is the most popular type of foam being used in mattresses today. It is a synthetic, petroleum-based foam which is inexpensive to produce and non-toxic. It responds to your body in a very similar way to memory foam. However, unlike memory foam, it bounces back quickly once pressure is relieved from its surface and it does not retain heat. Higher density polyfoam denotes more durability in a mattress.

Keeping all of this information in mind, let’s examine a more direct comparison of memory foam vs spring mattress and polyfoam vs spring or coil mattress in the following sections.

Polyfoam or Memory Foam vs Innerspring Mattress

When comparing a polyfoam or memory foam vs traditional mattress or spring mattress side by side, it is important to focus on what your particular sleep needs are so you can make the best decision. Is memory foam mattress good for you? Is a mattress without memory foam better? There is no right or wrong answer. Only an answer that better suits you.

We have highlighted some of the main differences between the two types so you can make an informed decision:

Advantages of an Innerspring Mattress Compared to Memory Foam/Polyfoam

  • They are more affordable than memory foam or polyfoam mattresses. Foam mattresses have become more economical recently, but they still cannot compete with the value price of an innerspring mattress.
  • They come in a wide variety of firmness options. Foam mattresses come in varying firmness but the range is not nearly as broad. Whereas, you can choose to have a firm or soft bed with springs.
  • They are widely available and can be sampled at local stores. Memory foam and polyfoam are not as conveniently accessible in local stores and often the internet is the best way to find an adequate selection.
  • They do not weigh much making them easy to move. As opposed to foam mattresses, which are heavy and often thicker than a spring mattress. It may take two or more people to move them.
  • For those who enjoy it, they can have a lot of bounce, especially when compared to memory foam or other types of foam.
  • They have better edge support allowing you to utilize more of the bed’s surface area. This is an added benefit for couples who require extra space. Foam mattresses are improving their edge support rapidly but they still do not excel in this category in comparison to springs.

Advantages of Memory Foam or Polyfoam Compared to Innerspring/Coil Mattress

  • Foam mattresses are more durable and they last longer than springs which deteriorate quickly especially under extreme pressure.
  • They do not make any noise when compressed or decompressed. Spring mattresses tend to become squeaky after a period of time. This can disrupt your peaceful sleep if they become loud enough.
  • Owner satisfaction rates are high overall. People spend a bit more on these products but they are often more pleased with them over time than they would be with an innerspring option.
  • For sleepers who prefer it, they provide you with the sensation of sinking into the mattress when you lie down.
  • They provide pressure point relief and promote healthy spinal alignment which can assist in pain prevention. They also provide comfort to different kinds of sleepers. Back, side and stomach sleepers can all use it. This is not the case with innerspring options which can contribute to pain once the springs are worn out.
  • Foam mattresses reduce allergens and dust mites with their unique material construction. Spring mattresses often facilitate these things.
  • They have superior motion isolation capabilities. Some coil mattresses do an okay job of this, but foam still far surpasses them in this realm.
  • Foam mattresses are ideal if you sleep without a pillow as it contours and supports your spine. A spring mattress does not do a good job at this.

Another Option Well Worth Your Consideration

For some, deciding between one of these options can be difficult. Each has different traits that make it suitable for different reasons. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to choose between one or the other. Many varieties of hybrid mattresses are available that can give you the benefits of both options. Hybrid mattresses allow companies to combine the best aspects from memory foam, polyfoam, and innerspring or coil to make a superior product that is appealing to a wider scope of sleepers.

Some contain springs and foam, others combine multiple types of foam and cushioning. Either way, you should definitely consider a hybrid option if you are unsure what best suits your needs when it comes to a coil vs foam mattress. 

hybrid mattress

Time to Make an Informed Decision

Now that you are equipped with all of this new information, you should be able to determine what will best give you the right support and comfort. When it comes to a foam vs spring mattress, determine which advantages are most important to you and proceed accordingly. Happy shopping!

Additional Resources

Emily Alexander
Emily Alexander

Emily Melynn Alexander was born on the east coast of the USA but has called Colorado home since 2000. She has a degree in English and Political Science from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She enjoys sleeping in locations all around the world.

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