Foam Mattresses Buying Guide

Foam mattresses -- and their cousin, the memory foam mattress -- are interesting trends in the mattress marketplace. Many sleepers find they prefer foam's dense, cushiony sleep surface over a traditional innerspring mattress.

Types of Foam Mattresses

Types of Foam Mattresses

The two types of foam mattresses covered here are synthetic foam and natural foam. Memory foam, which is a slightly different material, is discussed in a separate buying guide.

Synthetic

Synthetic-foam mattresses feature a core material that is made from liquid polyurethane poured into a mold. Air bubbles are then forced into the liquid. When the foam dries, the air bubbles trapped inside are what give the slab its bounce.

Natural

Natural-foam mattresses are made using virtually the same process, except the liquid poured into the mold is a natural derivative of rubber-tree sap.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Here are the mattresses' highlights -- both good and bad -- to weigh before you shop.

Eco Praise

Because natural foam comes from a renewable resource, it is considered a "green" product.

Longevity

Manufacturers boast that, with proper care, both natural- and synthetic-foam mattresses can last 20-30 years.

Allergies

Foam mattresses have devoted followers for several health-related reasons. Allergy sufferers like that foam is hypoallergenic and antibacterial. Dust mites, for example, cannot thrive in foam.

Odor

These mattresses are reported to have an odor, which you can overlook or try to stifle with a dense mattress cover.

Too hot or just right?

Many people say a foam mattress is a hot sleeping surface because the foam absorbs body heat. This can be a bonus for some people, but if you prefer a cool spot to slumber, this may not be the choice for you. One remedy is to buy a mattress topper made of a breathable material, such as cotton.

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