Memory Foam vs. Coil Mattress

In This Article

Determining which mattress is best for you is a difficult task. Many factors contribute to whether you will feel comfortable on a mattress, and if it will provide the restorative sleep your body needs.

Ultimately many consumers choose their mattress based on their desired level of firmness. For those who prefer a softer mattress, a memory foam mattress will be preferable to a coil mattress. Prefer a firm mattress with some bounce? Then an innerspring coil mattress is the best choice.

What is Memory Foam?

Types of Memory Foam Mattresses

It’s no secret that NASA invented memory foam. The rocket scientists are quite proud of their invention, and mattress makers love advertising their use of material designed for space travel.

Viscoelastic Polyurethane Foam

Viscoelastic Polyurethane Foam, more commonly known as memory foam was initially intended for use in astronaut seating aboard the space shuttle.

The defining characteristic of memory foam is how it reacts to weight applied to its surface.

When weight is applied to the foam surface, it is enveloped by the foam, which contours to the shape of the weight.

Memory foam is also responsive. It returns to its original shape once the pressure of the weight has been removed.

Much like Velcro, however, enterprising individuals soon capitalized on the material’s potential. Memory foam contours to weight minimize motion across its surface and is highly responsive, all of which make it exceptionally qualified for use as bedding material.

Traditional Memory Foam

Traditional memory foam mattresses incorporate multiple layers of polyurethane foam to provide a sleep surface that contours to the shape of the body.

Traditional memory foam mattresses are designed to envelop the body while remaining supportive.

The conforming effect cradles the body, thus providing support while simultaneously relieving pressure points and strain on sensitive areas.

Latex Rubber Foam

Due to the conforming characteristics of memory foam, it can be challenging to find a firm memory foam mattress. To combat that affect mattress makers infuse memory foam with Talalay latex.

Latex rubber foam mattresses are quicker to respond to pressure and provide a firmer sleep surface than traditional memory foam.

Open Cell Memory Foam

A common complaint from those who sleep on a memory foam mattress is the material’s tendency to overheat.

Memory foam mattresses envelop the body, substantially encapsulating the sleeper in a layer of foam. Thus body heat is trapped close to the body and prevented from escaping.

Utilizing an open cell design, memory foam mattress makers increase airflow through the mattress which assists in maintaining a neutral sleep temperature.

Gel-Infused Foam

Gel-infused memory foam is another way in which mattress makers combat overheating. In much the same process as latex rubber foam, cooling phase-change gel is infused into the memory foam.

The effect is a mattress that draws in body heat and dissipates it away from the body.

How are Memory Foam Mattresses Constructed?

A single layer of memory foam does not have the density to support the weight of a full-grown adult. The weight of an average adult will compress a single layer of memory foam beyond its ability to support and respond to the body.

Thus, multiple layers of memory foam are used in the construction of a typical memory foam mattress. The number of layers utilized in the mattress varies by mattress brand and type.

However; most memory foam mattresses consist of three layers that, when combined, provide the sleeper with adequate conforming support and comfort.

Top Layer/s- The top layer/s of a memory foam mattress typically consists of a fabric cover and a layer of low-density memory foam.

The first layer of the mattress contours to the entire body and forms the first layer of pressure relief and support. The first layer is also critical to properly aligning the body and supporting the spine.

Core Layer/s- Core layers of high-density memory foam provide the deep support the body needs, and prevent the body from sinking too far into the mattress.

Core support layers around the edge of the mattress provide additional edge support and make it easier to get in, and out of bed.

Base Layer/s- The base layers of a memory foam mattress typically consists of very high-density and provides a stable platform and supports all other layers of the mattress.

Memory Foam Mattress Brands

Some of the popular memory foam brands include:

Memory foam mattresses are very popular with consumers. So popular in fact that many mattress makers utilize memory foam in conjunction with traditional innerspring to create a hybrid mattress that combines the best of both worlds.

Memory Foam Price Range

Memory foam mattresses vary in price according to mattress quality, brand popularity, and any additional features.

At $300-$1,500 memory foam mattresses are more affordable than innerspring mattresses.

Additionally, a memory foam mattress is easy to buy, ship and deliver. Memory foam mattresses are generally purchased online and shipped rolled up, or in a boxed and delivered via FedEx, UPS or another delivery service.

What is a Coil Mattress?

A coil mattress, also known as an innerspring mattress is the standard mattress type for most consumers.

Innerspring and coil mattresses are still the most popular mattress type in the eyes of the consumer. Coil mattresses are generally considered to be firmer and provide more bounce than memory foam mattresses.

Coil mattresses include multiple sets of metal coils that support the sleeper, absorb weight and disperse it across the surface of the mattress.

Types of Coil Mattresses

Coil mattresses are manufactured in 5 different types that are defined by the type of coil used, and how they are arranged within the mattress.

Bonnell Coil Mattress – A Bonnell coil mattress is the mattress type that comes to mind when most consumers picture a standard mattress. Bonnell coil mattresses utilize hourglass-shaped coils that absorb weight and engage when compressed to provide support.

Bonnell coil mattresses are the most affordable coil mattress type because they are relatively easy to manufacture in a variety of different firmness levels.  Simply by increasing the gauge of a coil and mattress maker can increase the firmness level of the mattress.

Pocketed Coil Mattress – Pocketed coil mattresses include barrel-shaped coils individually wrapped in fabric casings. A pocketed coil mattress provides more support,  and superior motion isolation than a Bonnell coil mattress, but are generally more expensive.

Pocketed coils provide the mattress with greater “point-elasticity” which is a fancy way of saying the mattress contours to the shape of the body, similar to a memory foam mattress.

Offset Coil Mattress – Coil mattresses that feature an offset coil design include hinged, hourglass coils that enable the mattress to better contour to the shape of the body. Offset coil mattresses are generally very sturdy and provide the most stable sleep surface.

Continuous Coil Mattress – Continuous coil mattresses feature a single wire, shaped into row after row of “s” shaped coils. Continuous coil mattresses are exceptionally durable and generally less expensive than pocketed and offset coil mattresses.

How are Coil Mattresses Constructed?

How well a coil mattress performs is dependent on how well it was designed and constructed. Unlike the relatively simple memory foam mattress, coil mattresses consist of several different parts that must combine to provide a comfortable sleep surface.

Coil Number – Coil number determines the stability and firmness of a coil mattress. The more coils a mattress has, the firmer and more responsive it is going to feel to the sleeper.

Coil Shape – Coil shape determines how well a coil mattress conforms to the body and how quickly it responds to pressure.

Barrel coils are more responsive than hourglass coils and provide a springier sleep surface.

Coil Gauge – Coil gauge refers to the thickness of the coil. The thicker the coil used in the mattress the former the sleep surface.

Tempered Coil – Tempered coils are more durable than non-tempered coils and increase the lifespan of a coil mattress.

Fabric Pockets – Coils encased in fabric pockets transfer less motion and generate less noise when in use. Pocketed coils also react to pressure independently enabling them to better contour to the body and provide support where it is needed most.

Popular Coil Mattress Brands

Some of the most popular coil mattress brands include:

How Much Do Coil Mattresses Cost?

The price of a coil mattress is dependent on many factors including:

  • Mattress brand
  • Coil design and construction
  • Mattress cover
  • Type of Materials used (environmentally safe, hypoallergenic, organic, etc.)
  • Additional support
  • Adjustable base and controls
  • etc.

Coil mattresses are available in all price ranges and levels of quality. Lower quality coil mattress available online for as little as $100 while high-quality luxury coil mattresses can cost as much as a small car.

Comparison Between Memory Foam and Coil Mattress

The similarities between a memory foam and coil mattress are few. Both mattresses are capable of providing astounding levels of comfort, but the ways in which they provide that comfort are very different.

Layered Construction –  Memory foam mattresses feature a layered construction which enables multiple layers of contouring comfort and support.

Coil mattresses rarely feature more than one layer, not including the mattress cover. If a coil mattress includes multiple layers, it is generally considered a hybrid mattress.

Firmness – Though it is by no means difficult to find a soft coil mattress or a firm memory foam mattress, a coil mattress typically provides a firmer, more springy sleep surface than a memory foam mattress.

Edge Support – Edge support is typically poor in memory foam mattresses. Coil mattresses provide a high degree of edge support in comparison which makes them the better choice for people who have trouble getting in and out of bed.

Motion Isolation – Due to the conforming characteristics of memory foam, memory foam mattresses provide a higher level of motion isolation than coil mattresses.

The coils in a coil mattress vibrate and transfer motion, whereas memory foam absorbs and dissipates motion across the surface of the mattress which is better for couples who don’t wish to disturb their sleep partner.

Temperature Neutrality – Coil mattresses sleep cooler than memory foam mattresses because they do not encapsulate the body to the same degree as memory foam.

Though memory foam mattresses often include a cooling component they tend to overheat more than coil mattresses.

Price Range – Memory foam mattresses are cheaper to produce, and ship and are therefore the more affordable option.

Durability – Memory foam is highly durable. Memory foam mattresses last longer the coil mattresses and keep their shape better over time.

Support- Coil mattresses are generally more supportive than memory foam mattresses. However, memory foam mattresses provide even support which relieves pressure points, whereas coil mattresses have been known to apply uneven support and create uncomfortable pressure points.

Off-gassing – Off-gassing is associated with most new mattresses; however, the odor is more commonly reported with new memory foam mattresses than coil mattresses.

Additional Considerations


Memory foam is more effective and isolating and dampening vibration, which means couples are more likely to enjoy a memory foam mattress than a coil mattress.

Additionally, memory foam mattresses are more likely to feel comfortable to couples because they are more adaptive to multiple sleep types, and can accommodate multiple sleep types simultaneously.

Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleepers often report pain in their lower back, hips, and neck. This is because those areas tend to sink too far into the mattress causing discomfort.

Stomach sleeper benefit most from a firm, supportive sleep surface. A coil mattress provides a firmer, more responsive sleep surface than memory foam.

Back Sleepers

Back sleepers will feel the most comfortable on a memory foam mattress. Memory foam more effectively cradles the body and contours to the shape of the spine, resulting in a neutral spine posture and a more restorative night of rest for the body.

Side Sleepers

Sleeping on one’s side allows for a large gap to form between the head and the surface of the mattress.  The further the shoulder is allowed to sink into the mattress, the less space the head needs to travel to rest on the pillow.

Side sleepers will benefit most from a memory foam mattress because the soft characteristics of the foam enable the shoulder to sink into the mattress, thus easing strain on the neck.

Heavy Sleepers

Heavy sleepers most often report pain, and excess pressure caused from sinking too far into a mattress and overheating during sleep.

In that regard; a coil mattress is going to provide a more comfortable mattress for heavier individuals than a memory foam mattress.

Coil mattresses prevent the body from sinking into the mattress and causing strain on the neck and lower back. Additionally, coil mattresses sleep cooler than memory foam.

Budget Sleepers

Budget sleepers will find the most value with a memory foam mattress as they are generally cheaper and last longer than a coil mattress.

And the Winner is… The Memory Foam Mattress

The memory foam mattress is the winner of our head-to-comparison. Memory foam mattresses not only provide a conforming, supportive sleep surface they are more affordable than coil mattresses.

Though coil mattresses are more supportive and responsive, they are generally more expensive and do not provide the same degree of body contour as their memory foam counterparts.

What’s more, the inclusion of gel and latex-infused memory foam effectively addresses the most commonly reported complaints with traditional memory foam.

Most Affordable/Cheapest Memory Foam Mattress

The three most affordable/cheapest memory foam mattresses currently available for purchase online are the:

  • Classic Brands Cool Gel Ventilated Memory Foam 8-Inch Mattress
  • Zinus Memory Foam 12 Inch Green Tea Mattress
  • Best Price Mattress 8-Inch Memory Foam Mattress

Most Affordable/Cheapest Coil Mattress

The three most affordable/cheapest coil mattresses currently available for purchase are the:

  • Signature Sleep Mattress, 6 Inch Hybrid Coil Mattress
  • Sealy Response Performance 12.5-Inch Cushion Firm Tight Top
  • Zinus Ultima Comfort 10 Inch Pillow Top Spring Mattress, Full

Best Mattress for the Money

The best mattress for the money is the Zinus Ultima Comfort 10 Inch Pillow Top Spring Mattress, for its seamless integration of memory foam and coil springs.

The Zinus Ultima Comfort 10 Inch Pillow Top Spring utilizes pressure relieving comfort foam and pocketed coil springs to provide exceptional comfort and support.

A memory foam mattress is not only the affordable choice, but it is also the smart one. Memory foam lasts longer, provides more support and even contributes to the proper alignment of your spine.

Ultimately the best mattress for you is going to be the one that provides the most support and comfort and enables your body to receive the most restorative sleep it can.

Similar Posts