If you want to buy a new mattress, it can be very confusing, especially if you are trying to decide between different materials. On one hand, you have innerspring mattresses, which are a really old type of mattresses, and they have been around since we remember. On the other hand, memory foam mattresses are a very new model of mattresses, and there are a lot of things good with them. If you cannot decide, continue reading this article about the foam vs spring mattress.
- Spring mattresses offer more bounce, while foam mattresses deliver more pressure relief.
- Foam mattresses suit sleepers who want more contouring, while spring mattresses better suit heavier sleepers looking for more support.
About Spring Mattresses
Spring mattresses are one of the oldest forms of mattresses that exist. They have been around since the 19th century (1), and a lot of people have been using them.
The major difference between a foam vs spring mattress is that a spring mattress has springs in the centre of the mattress to make the surface bouncy and very supportive. However, the amount of support from a spring mattress depends on a lot of things such as the number of springs used inside the mattress, the quality of springs, their thickness, and so on. Keep in mind that the number of coils is not related to its quality, and more coils does not mean that a mattress has higher quality.
Because there is nothing but spring inside the mattress, these mattresses offer a great airflow, and they are extremely lighter in weight compared to their competitors. And because the inner springs are made out of metal, these types of mattresses offer great support for heavy people. Heavier people might recommend that a spring mattress will offer more support than a foam mattress. Some of the best firm mattresses in Australia include spring mattresses due to their natural ability to keep the hips and spine aligned.
The spring layer follows up with a layer of soft foam that surrounds the spring. The outside layer is usually soft and very skin-friendly, and it is made out of plush or polyfoam. Each layer can have different thicknesses or qualities that might affect the overall quality of the mattress. This mix of comfort and support encourages the back to remain neutral and is a quality of some of the best mattresses for bad backs. There is also the added benefit of breathability, as the coils allow airflow throughout the mattress. This makes spring-type mattresses the best for hot sleepers, as the airflow encourages heat to dissipate.
The Different Type of Coils And Springs
As we said there are a lot of different factors going into the quality of a spring mattress. One of them is the type of coils that are used in the mattress. There are 4 types of different coils.
Bonnell Coils: The first type of coils that were used in a spring mattress were Bonnel coils. After that, there were other types of coils introduced. Some mattresses still use this type of coil. Mattresses using this type of coil are very cost-efficient, and they can be both soft or very firm depending on the mattress's wires.
Continuous Coils: Continuous coils are usually the firmest option that there is for a spring mattress. They only use one single wire for a lot of coils, and that single wire attaches these lines of coils to one another. Although this construction makes very firm mattresses, these mattresses are great for adjusting themselves to the curves of the body.
Pocket Coils: Pocket spring mattresses have a unique design. In this design, each spring is inside a sleeve of fabric. This structure allows for each fabric to move individually all by themselves and makes the mattress make less noise. These mattresses also have a great feel of pressure relief, and they usually make for the most expensive type of spring mattresses.
Offset Coils: While offset coils are not so common, they have a similar structure to pocket coils, but the coils are attached to one another using a wire. This makes for soft support with a lot of flexibility while being firm at some times. A lot of firmed spring mattresses are made out of offset coils.
About Foam Mattresses
Foam mattresses are a very new type of mattresses that have been trending on the market, and many experts recommend these mattresses for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. Since they are a new type of mattresses, they are more popular among the people who buy their mattresses online. Their ability to contour and spread a sleeper’s weight over a wider area makes them some of the best mattresses for side sleepers in Australia, as this pressure-relieving ability can take tension off the shoulders and hips.
There are also a lot of different factors going into a foam mattress. There are different types of foams as a filling for a mattress, the quality of the foams will affect it. They can be either luxury, firm, or soft. As a matter of foam vs spring mattresses are usually heavier or the heaviest option for mattresses. As mentioned, there are a lot of foam types used as a filling for mattresses. Here’s a look at some of the most common ones.
Polyfoam: Polyfoam is perhaps the most common type of foam used for mattresses. Polyfoam is also used in the top layer of spring mattresses. They are known to be more bouncy than materials such as memory foam. And the polyfoam itself is divided into three different types.
- Regular: This is the standard version of polyfoam that is created for soft mattresses.
- High-resiliency: They are very uncommon and more expensive than any other type of polyfoam. But they are more supportive than other types of polyfoam.
- High-density: The high-density polyfoam is more firm than other types and is mostly used in the underlying layers of a mattress.
Memory Foam: Memory foam mattresses have similar structures to polyfoam, but with a lot more materials used in it to make it a lot more supportive and give it a lot more density. In fact, cutting a memory foam mattress would be very difficult due to how dense it is. Because of that, memory foam mattresses are more expensive. But they offer greater support, and they tend to re-take the shape after the pressure is relieved. They are also a great pressure reliever.
There are also three different types of memory foams
- Standard: They are the standard type of memory foam that is rather soft
- Open-cell: Open-cell memory foams are softer, and they allow for greater airflow.
- Gel: With tiny gels, a gel memory foam mattress with the design of open-cell allows for an awesome cooling mattress.
Hybrid: Hybrid mattresses are usually made out of both foam and a layer of latex. Rubber latexes are more bouncy and springy than regular foams. They offer more durability. There are also two different types of latex.
- Dunlop: This is the more regular type of latex, and it is more firm.
- Talalay: Talalay is not as common as Dunlop, but they are softer.
Pros and Cons of Each Mattress Type
|Feel||Soft feel that cradles the body||-|
|Pressure Relief||Redistributes weight easily for pressure relief||-|
|Motion Isolation||Able to absorb a lot of motion from a partner||-|
|Temperature||-||Easily traps heat, which can cause problems for hot sleepers|
|Noise||Memory foam is naturally quiet, even when switching positions||-|
|Feel||Firmer feel that offers more bounce||-|
|Pressure Relief||Robust coils that support the spine||-|
|Motion Isolation||-||Unable to isolate motion as easily as foam mattresses|
|Temperature||Is more breathable due to the coils, dispersing heat||-|
|Noise||-||It may be noisier than foam due to the nature of metal coils|
The feel of each mattress type varies greatly. When I was testing the Newentor Hybrid, a spring mattress, it had less sinkage than the Ergoflex 5G, a memory foam mattress, by 0.29 inches. The less sinkage of the Newentor Hybrid gives a firmer feel, bettering sleepers who want more spinal support or a firmer sleeping surface. On the other hand, more sinkage from the Ergoflex 5G gives a more cradling, pressure-relieving feel.
Motion isolation also varies significantly between the two types of mattresses. When I was testing the Koala, a memory foam mattress, it had 3 inches better motion isolation than the Newentor Hybrid. That means most memory foam mattresses are better for coupled sleeping, as my partner was less disturbed by my movement on a memory foam mattress than a spring mattress.
Foam vs. Spring Mattresses: What are the Main Differences?
Cost is one of the main differences between foam and spring mattresses, with memory foam mattresses closer to $1000, while innerspring mattresses range closer to $1500. This is due to the material makeup. Foam mattresses tend to include a few memory foam comfort layers over a high-density foam base, while spring mattresses include memory foam comfort layers over a complicated network of coils.
For example, the Ergoflex 5G is priced at around $997, while the Ecosa Pure, an innerspring hybrid, is priced at around $1780. This is a difference of about $783. That means, due to the simpler design of most memory foam mattresses, they tend to be slightly less expensive than innerspring mattresses.
For the most part, memory foam mattresses tend to be more durable than innerspring mattresses as they do not have the risk of saggy coils like innerspring mattresses due. Innerspring mattresses can sag quicker over time due to extended use.
However, it’s important to remember that the quality of materials may make all the difference. An open-cell memory foam with low density may sag quicker than an innerspring mattress. This is the same as an innerspring mattress made of thick, high-quality coils outlasting a memory foam mattress.
Memory foam mattresses tend to need rotating once or twice every year to be adequately maintained. Newer spring mattresses are the same, needing rotations once or twice a year. However, older spring mattresses may require rotation up to four or five times yearly to keep the weight evenly distributed over the coils. This will encourage the coils to maintain their integrity longer.
Memory foam mattresses typically feel hotter, while spring mattresses tend to feel cooler. This is because memory foam has less airflow and has the habit of trapping heat, especially in traditional models. Innerspring mattresses are more breathable as the coils allow for high airflow, channeling heat away from the body.
Some memory foam mattress materials, like gel foam and phase change material, get around this heat issue with effective cooling technology. That way, in some cases, a memory foam mattress can feel much cooler than an innerspring mattress.
Memory foam mattresses normally have excellent motion isolation suitable for sleepers sharing a bed. Innerspring mattresses, due to their bounciness, typically have low motion isolation. That means memory foam, which is naturally absorbent to motion, can help keep light sleepers from being disturbed better than innerspring mattresses.
One of the most significant differences between memory foam and spring mattresses is that side sleepers may prefer memory foam, and back sleepers may prefer spring mattresses more. Memory foam is contouring, molding to the body's shape to spread the weight over a larger area. This can reduce pressure on sensitive areas like the shoulders and hips of side sleepers.
Innerspring mattresses use reinforced coils that increase the strength of the sleeping surface, which is ideal for the spine. Back sleepers can feel improved spinal alignment as the coils can more easily align their hips, lumbar, and neck. That makes innerspring mattresses the better option for back sleepers who want to keep their spine healthy and tension-free.
Another significant difference between memory foam and spring mattresses is how they respond to movement, with innerspring mattresses easier to move across than memory foam. This is due to the natural bounciness inherent in a spring mattress’s coils, which keeps a sleeper buoyant and unrestricted while they shift sleeping positions.
Traditional memory foam struggles with this, as slow-adapting foam can restrict movement, which can sometimes come across as a ‘quicksand’ feeling. This is due to slow-adapting foam feeling more ‘dead,’ with less bounce, than an innerspring mattress.
Some memory foam mattresses are an exception, typically regarded as having a ‘modern’ memory foam feel. It bounces back as quickly as a spring mattress, which can combat the ‘quicksand’ feeling and keep your movement unencumbered.
Which One Should You Get
Now with the information you have, it is time to decide whether to go for a foam or spring mattress. Spring mattresses usually have better airflow than foam mattresses, but you can get a memory foam mattress that also has great airflow.
Looking at the global market, research from Fortune Business Insights suggests that spring mattresses are still the most popular type of mattress, having a share of over 66% (2). This is almost three times the share of foam mattresses, which have the second-largest share in the global market. That means most people still tend to prefer spring mattresses over foam mattresses.
Foam mattresses are heavier and offer much better support for regular people. While spring mattresses offer a bouncy and better support for people who weigh more, especially if they are stomach sleepers. Side sleepers tend to prefer foam mattresses as they offer great support, and they can release pressure better than spring mattresses. In addition, preference plays a critical factor in which material you may prefer more. According to a study done by ResearchGate, younger sleepers prefer memory foam mattresses, while older sleepers prefer the support of spring mattresses (3).
Either way, if you are a heavy person that rather sleeps colder at night, innerspring mattresses might be a better option. But if you are looking for a softer and more pressure relief, and you do not mind the price, foam mattresses can make for excellent mattresses.
Also Read: Mattress Thickness
My Experience with Foam and Spring Mattresses
In light of my experiences with foam and spring mattresses, I have found them both suitable and comfortable. It really comes down to preference. When testing innerspring mattresses, I have found that most feel firmer due to the coils. Their supportive qualities are typically unmatched, and my spine never feels stretched or misaligned. They aren’t as comfortable to side sleep on, but their firm spinal support more than makes up for this.
When testing memory foam mattresses, I found their comfort and pressure relief always exceeded my expectations. They effectively relieve pressure, which always feels nice when I’m testing memory foam mattresses on my side.
Which is the best mattress, foam or spring?
Typically, foam mattresses are better for sleepers wanting more contour, while spring mattresses are better for bouncy ease of movement. Foam mattresses offer the best cradling that redistributes weight, which may feel more comfortable when sleeping on the side. Spring mattresses may suit back sleepers more as the coils more easily encourage a neutral and straight spine.
In this article, we covered everything you need to know, so you can decide on the foam vs spring mattress. Make sure to consider whether you want a bouncy soft mattress or a supportive, pressure relief mattress. Both of the materials are great for mattresses, and it cannot be said which one is ultimately better, but is all up to you to decide.
Thank you so much for reading this article. If you have any further questions, or you still cannot decide, make sure to comment down below on your problems so we can help you decide better.
- Mattress, History. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattress#History
- Fortune Business Insights (2023.) Mattress Market Size, Share, and COVID-19 Impact Analysis. Retrieved from: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/mattress-market-102108
- ResearchGate (2020.) The Influence of Mattress Material on Sleeping Comfort of Different Age. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345781055_The_Influence_of_Mattress_Material_on_Sleeping_Comfort_of_Different_Age
Allana Wass is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-chief at Comfybeddy. She was trained at the Spencer Institute to become a Certified Sleep Science Coach and has been featured in VeryWellMind, U.S. News, and Bustle. She has tested over 50 sleep products, which include mattresses, mattress toppers, and pillows. She has spent countless hours researching the mattress industry and learning about its cutting-edge technology for over four years, helping you improve your sleep. With her wealth of experience, she thoroughly reviews mattresses and other sleep products to give the best recommendations for each kind of sleeper.