What Are the Differences Between Innerspring and Memory Foam Mattresses?

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Innersprings are the most popular mattresses in the country, representing 60% to 70% of annual industry sales. These mattresses are constructed with steel coils that withstand bodily suppression and provide a firm, supportive sleep surface. In recent years, innersprings have faced competition from mattresses made from memory foam. Also known as viscoelastic foam, memory foam is type of polyurethane foam (or ‘polyfoam’) material designed to contour closely to a sleeper’s body. This creates a cradle-like shape that helps align the spine and relieve pressure points.

Innersprings and memory foam mattresses vary significantly in terms of material composition, feel, cost, lifespan, and customer satisfaction. Which one is best for you? Scroll down to learn more about the pros and cons of these two mattress types.

Materials and Construction

All mattresses are designed with two key components: a comfort layer on top, and a support core underneath.

Innerspring mattresses typically consist of a comfort layer made from polyfoam, which provides cushioning for sleepers. The support core is where the steel coils are housed. The type of coils used will vary by manufacturer; the most common variations include bonnell, offset, continuous wire, and pocketed coils.

Memory foam mattresses, on the other hand, do not contain any coils. The ‘memory foam’ in these mattresses refers to the comfort layer; memory foam is treated with additional chemicals to make the material denser and more adaptable than standard polyfoam. The support core in this mattress type is usually made of firmer polyfoam, since memory foam on its own cannot support the weight of most sleepers.

Feel and Pressure Relief

Innerspring mattresses are relatively firm compared to other mattress types. As a result, they contour to your body less and provide lower levels of pressure relief. Innersprings are also bouncier than foam mattresses. This makes them more popular for sex, but they can also create more motion transfer when someone gets out of bed or shifts positions. One perk about innersprings: they retain less body heat, allowing you to remain cooler and more comfortable throughout the night. Additionally, firmer mattresses are often the best option for people who weigh 230 pounds or more.

Memory foam is one of the softest mattress materials on the market. It will sink beneath your weight and conform to your body very closely, which helps align the spine leads to more pressure relief. Memory foam also causes little to no motion transfer, making it an ideal choice for couples who share a bed and are easily woken up by nighttime disturbances. However, many users claim memory foam is less than ideal for sex; the sinking may be too extreme, causing couples to feel like they are ‘fighting’ with the mattress. Memory foam has also been criticized for ‘sleeping too hot’, since the material retains higher levels of body heat.

Cost

Innersprings are usually the cheapest mattress models on the market, although price-point will depend on the coil type and other factors like size and manufacturer. Our findings indicate that you should be able to find a new, high-quality innerspring for no more than $600 — although some luxury and high-end models may cost up to three or four times as much.

Memory foam mattresses tend to run more expensive than innersprings, although they are usually cheaper than other types of foam mattresses (such as latex and latex hybrids). Foam density is usually the most important factor, since high-density foam runs more expensive that medium- and low-density foam. Expect to pay between $800 and $1,000 for a new, high-quality memory foam mattress.

Lifespan and Customer Satisfaction

The average lifespan of an innerspring mattress is five and a half years, while the average lifespan of a memory foam mattress is seven years.

According to our customer reviews, innerspring mattresses users report an overall satisfaction rate of 66% — the lowest among the five most common mattress types. Memory foam mattress users report a satisfaction rate of 72%; this ties for the second-lowest satisfaction rate with latex hybrid mattresses.

Final Verdict

The comparison table highlights the pros and cons of innerspring and memory foam mattresses.

InnerspringMemory Foam
Comfort layerPolyfoamMemory foam
Support coreCoilsPolyfoam
FeelFirm, with little contouringSoft and sinking, with lots of contouring
Pressure reliefVery littleVery much
Motion transferSomeVery little to none
Sleep temperatureCoolerWarmer
Average cost of a new mattress$600$800 to $1,000
Average lifespan5.5 years7 years
Customer satisfaction rating66%72%

For more information, please visit our review guides for innersprings and memory foam mattresses.

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