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Different Types of Foam Mattresses — Find Out the Difference

by Angela Maple

Feeling memory foam

The time is here — you have tossed, turned, and endured night after night of sleeplessness on that spring mattress. This can only mean that it is time to say adios to that old, uncomfortable bed. Mattress shopping can be difficult when choosing from innerspring, hybrid, and foam mattresses. It’s best to select a mattress that meets all your sleeping needs. So, if you want body ache relief while being cradled in a cool and gentle embrace, a foam mattress is the way to go.  

But did you know there are different types of foam mattresses, all with their own unique properties and benefits to help put you to bed, so you can catch some ZZZs quickly and comfortably? There is memory, gel, latex, open-cell memory, and polyurethane (or PU for short), and in this guide, we will take a deep dive into all of them.

Let our mattress experts help you find the best foam mattress from Spa Retreat, Tempur-Pedic, and other big brands for those hot California nights ahead!

At a Glance:

What is Memory Foam

What are the Types of Foam Mattresses?

Features to Look for Before Buying


Why Trust Us?

What is Memory Foam?

Confused woman shrugging

Although there are hybrid mattresses that use memory foam, pure memory foam mattresses are made to conform to the shape and contour of the sleeper. That means this mattress can provide you with pressure relief regardless of your sleep style versus other types of mattresses. By conforming to the shape of your body, the bed will help promote proper spinal alignment, reducing pressure on the body. However, it can feel very warm for individuals who are hot sleepers.

Memory foam is often blended with other types of foam by mattress manufacturers to create a mattress with adequate support. Usually, higher quality foam mattresses are made from layers of high-density polyurethane foam for a more comfortable sleeping surface and durability.

Types of Foam Mattresses

You’ve probably said to yourself, “are all-foam mattresses the same?” Surprisingly, they are not. There are indeed different kinds of memory foam for sleepers to snooze on for their afternoon nap. Each is manufactured with its own distinctive characteristics to provide individuals with the most comfortable sleep possible. So, let’s get the scoop on everything you need to know about foam mattresses and all the available types of memory foam that are used to create a durable and pain-relieving rest.

Memory Foam

Need to Know: 

Lifespan: 10 years

Costs: $1,300–$5,400

The development of memory foam is relatively new, and you’ve probably heard about NASA’s role in its development. Whether you like your memory foam plush or firm, memory mattresses come in other foam types besides latex, which many people are unaware of.

Learn More About Memory Foam Mattresses

Traditionally, memory foam mattresses are manufactured from polyurethane (PU) foams which are modified to increase density and the way they react under pressure and heat. Basically, the polyurethane foam chemistry is modified to make it viscoelastic — capable of softening when pressure or heat is applied. Pressure and heat made from memory foam material are produced by your body - specifically the parts of your body that are in contact with it.



🗸 A true body fit

🗸 Temperature-control support

🗸 Provides pressure relief

🗸 Hypoallergenic

🗸 Excellent motion isolation      

🗸 Promotes spinal alignment

x Not waterproof

x Sensitive to heat

x May develop a chemical odor that can cause irritation — known as ‘off-gassing’

x Foam layers don’t bounce back as quickly resulting in a sinking sensation

Open-Cell Memory Foam

Need to Know: 

Lifespan: 8–10 years

Costs: $800–$2,500

Open-cell memory foam is a modified version of regular memory foam which is characterized by its weaker, more open cells compared to the original memory foam. You will discover that this type of foam is softer, less dense, and disperses the heat your body generates while you are sleeping.

This mattress has a springier feel than standard memory foam, so it bounces back more quickly to its original position. So, if you are a combination sleeper, an open-cell memory foam mattress will always give you immediate support no matter which position you shift to.



🗸 Plusher

🗸 Durable

🗸 Wicks away excessive heat

🗸 Capable of retaining original position

🗸 Provides immediate support while you shift in bed

x Expensive

Gel Memory

Need to Know: 

Lifespan: 10 years

Costs: $1,700–$2,300

Many people consider gel memory foam to be an improvement over original memory foam and open-cell foam. This is because gel beads are infused into the foam. By both absorbing body heat and creating an open cell structure, the gel foam can keep you cool during the night.

Many sleepers don’t know the difference between a gel memory foam mattress and an open-cell foam mattress. Gel memory foam tends to be denser than open-cell memory foam, creating a firmer sleep surface. Users typically prefer the original memory foam, which can provide greater support for individuals who require it.



🗸 Supports the entire body

🗸A great choice for hot sleepers

🗸 Open-cell structures allow the mattress to remain cool

x Cooling effect doesn’t last forever

x Expensive

Polyurethane Foam

Need to Know: 

Lifespan: 8 years

Costs: $2,400–$3,600

The term ‘polyfoam’ refers to polyurethane (PU) foam. This is the most common type of foam found in most foam mattresses. Polyurethane foam is essentially a foam with a urethane backbone structure. It is a polymer that is used for a variety of purposes. When utilized in mattress foams, it provides a low-cost manner of delivering comfort while simultaneously serving as a high-density support layer.



🗸 Used as the raw product for mattresses

🗸 Firm texture

🗸 Inexpensive

🗸 Waterproof

🗸 Hypoallergenic  

x Body impressions develop over a period of time.

x Sometimes emits a chemical odor known as ‘off-gassing’

Latex Foam

Need to Know: 

Lifespan: 15 years

Costs: $1,800

Although latex foam isn’t strictly a type of memory foam, it is plush and cozy. A notable advantage of latex foam mattresses is their hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties, making them ideal for people who suffer from dust allergies. Although, if you’re allergic to latex, we wouldn’t recommend buying one.



🗸 Most eco-friendly mattress

🗸 Excellent airflow

🗸 Body ache relief

🗸 Antimicrobial

x High priced

x Heavier than the average mattress

x Not the best choice if you are allergic to latex

Features to Look for Before Buying 

Before you click ‘order’ or commit to that new king-size mattress memory foam you’ve been eyeing, we have listed a few things you need to consider before buying the best bed for your sleep. 

Mattress Type 

First and foremost, before you buy a new mattress, you need to determine which type of mattress is the right one for you. Each has its own individual features that are ideal for a variety of different sleepers who like to lay on their side, back, stomach, or a combination of any of these positions. The best mattress type for you is within your budget and helps send you off to dreamland without a sheep-counting delay. 

Comfort Level 

You want to make sure that your new mattress is soft and supportive in all the right places before upgrading. After selecting your mattress type, it’s time to test out the firmness levels of your future mattress. Most mattresses range in firmness, from ultra-plush to extra-firm — it all depends on the type of support you need when you sleep. Plusher mattresses tend to help reduce pressure points and are great for those who sleep on their sides or deal with shoulder, hip, and lower back pain. Mattresses with a firmer comfort level focus more on supporting spinal alignment and are great for those who go to bed sleeping on their stomachs and backs.  


It’s crucial to know the dimensions of each mattress size to find the best fit for your bedroom. It’s also important to ask yourself if you need a mattress you can grow into or if you’ll need a bed that’s large enough for you and your partner, like a queen-size memory foam mattress. Regardless of what side you choose (king, queen, full, twin, and twin xl) to replace your old mattress, you’ll need at least two feet of space around your bed to have enough wiggle room to move around or add other bedroom furniture. 

Memory Foam FAQ

Now let’s answer some of the hard-hitting questions our mattress shoppers have about the different types of foam mattresses!

Q: Which is better, PU foam or memory foam?

Polyurethane foam (otherwise known as PU foam) contains different chemicals which affect viscosity and density. PU foam is generally found to be more pliable or buoyant than memory foam.

Q: What are the disadvantages of a memory foam mattress?

In the past, memory foam mattresses could be quite warm and cause users to sleep hot. Innovations in memory foam technology and improvements in quality have resolved this issue for the most part.

Some people do not care for the cradling or contouring sensation typical of foam mattresses.

Memory foam mattresses may or may not emit a chemical-like odor for the first few days.

Shop Memory Foam Mattresses

Why Trust Mattress Land?

Since 1996, Mattress Land has been making strides in the mattress industry to provide our customers the sleep experience they need — and deserve. We do that by offering the ultimate customer experience, complete with our trained experts, BedFIT™ computerized diagnostics, and our impressive showroom. We’ll make sure that you find the right sleep solution for your sleeping habits so you can feel energized in your day-to-day life.

We are also proud of our diverse, employee-driven culture, where our teams work hard toward a common goal. We know that better sleep makes all the difference, and our commitment to changing the landscape of traditional mattress shopping is how we know Mattress Land is one of the best mattress stores around.

Shop Specialty Mattresses at Mattress Land

At Mattress Land, we provide quality name-brand mattresses for great prices. Our sleep experts are always happy to help you learn more about the types of foam mattresses available. With locations throughout California, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington, Mattress Land is bound to have a sleep solution for everyone. We are more accessible than ever! You can call us at 800-909-9299, visit our website to shop Mattress Land sales, and check out Mattress Land reviews online. Or better yet, stop by one of our showrooms to discover why we are everyone’s favorite local mattress store. Visit us today!

Learn More: It’s Time to Get Cozy: Tempur-Pedic Mattress Reviews