The 8 Most Common Mattress Types – Which option is best for you?

Last Updated April 01, 2022

Buying a new mattress might not seem like much, but I say that it is a big deal. A mattress is the most crucial factor in determining your quality of sleep, so when going out to get a new one, make sure to choose wisely.

If you haven’t been mattress shopping for a while, you’ll be surprised to see how much technology has advanced and how many different kinds of mattresses are available.

To help you understand the key differences between them, I’ve composed a detailed analysis of the seven most common mattress types in today’s market.

Sounds interesting? If yes, then please, read on.

1. Memory Foam Mattresses

These mattresses are very popular with many consumers both old and young. Memory foam is a combination of chemicals and polyurethane, and another name for it is viscoelastic polyurethane foam.

Few people know that this material was developed by none other than NASA in order to create safer seats for their pilots.

Most doctors and health workers recommend them for their patients, especially those who suffer from back pains as they are believed to have a positive effect on the body.

If you are interested in memory foam mattresses, there are various models you can get for under $500.

Memory foam reacts well to heat, and this is important because the parts of the body which are aching have different temperature as compared to the rest of the body.

It is believed that this material adjusts its pressure to these parts, thus treating pain. Due to its ability to contour to the body, it can also prevent pain in some cases, which is its main benefit.

A downside of memory foam is that it contains a plethora of possibly dangerous chemicals such as methylene dianiline, vinylidene chloride, methylbenzene, etc. all of which might damage one’s health.

However, most folks do not worry about this, but it would be smart to look into this topic a bit more.

A memory foam mattress from Tempur, whose name has become synonymous with the memory foam mattress industry 

2. Waterbed Mattresses

 A waterbed mattress contains, as the name would suggest, water. It is not very expensive, and you will find many under $300.

An interesting fact about waterbeds is that they predated innerspring, as they were invented by a Scottish physician named Neil Arnott in the 19th century.

Those who have used it (including myself) will attest to the fact that this type is very comfortable. The bed comes with sturdy foams, and not all of it is covered with water.

For those concerned about leaking, know that the bed has durable covers to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Let’s take a look at the good and bad sides of waterbeds:


  • Adjustable wave action (full, partial, or none)
  • It can make one’s back more limber


  • Maintaining heat levels requires electricity
  • Troublesome to move it around
  • There is a risk of puncturing

3. Innerspring Mattresses

Two-sided, innerspring pillow-top mattress on box-spring foundation. Woven damask cover. (Manufacturer: Shifman Mattress)

Some consumers find the innerspring mattresses to be just the right mattress for them, and you too might start to like them after learning what they are all about.

These particular mattresses use a steel coil support system. The ones currently available in the market are made of independently encased springs or coils, used for better support and added durability.

To this very day, innerspring mattresses are the most popular type of mattress, and there are several good reasons for this. However, know that with innerspring you get what you pay for, so cheaper models are often poor quality.

Here is what makes innersprings relevant:

  • Many firmness options available
  • Easy to find
  • Convenient to transport

Now, let’s see their downsides:

  • Limited lifespan – sagging occurs after a few years
  • Usually one-sided

4. Foam Mattresses

Foam mattresses are not very common because they have been replaced mostly by the memory foam. They are made of polyurethane foam or poly foam minus the many chemicals which are typically added to memory foam mattresses.

This material is derived from petroleum, and when some of its compounds mix with water, we get a flexible foam that turns out to be perfect for sleeping.

A standard foam mattress has three layers :

  • thick polyurethane base
  • buoyant transitional polyurethane layer
  • hyphen comfort layer

Even though they do not contain any (potentially) harmful chemicals like memory foam, the popularity of foam mattresses has gone down due to their inferior durability. However, if you are determined to buy a polyfoam model, look for one with a high-density level.

This might prove tricky as manufacturers often don’t include this information with their products but be persistent and ask.

5. Innerspring Latex Hybrid Mattresses

If you are lost as to what type of mattress you are looking for, you can still go for the hybrid mattresses. This particular one is a combination of latex and innerspring mattresses.

With innerspring latex hybrids, there is the benefit of having latex’s antimicrobial properties. Another huge benefit is the excellent comfort that innerspring provides as well as the support for one’s back.

Also, when you compare these hybrids to other mattresses of the same price, they tend to be much more durable, and if this concerns you definitely go for this type.

A potential problem might be its structure due to the combination of materials which have different features. A good idea would be to find a brand that offers a long trial period and see how it behaves during this time.

If you decide this is the one for you, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of each type of mattress together with comfort plus support.

6. Polyfoam Latex Hybrid Mattresses

As you’ve probably guessed from its name, this mattress is a combination of latex and polyfoam.

One of the main things to know about polyfoam latex hybrids is that they are made through two distinct processes – Talalay and Dunlop. A Talalay mattress is more breathable so those who tend to get hot during the night should opt for this one.

Other important characteristics to look for when buying include:

  • Non-toxic materials
  • Materials with a high Certipur rating
  • Appropriate softness for your way of sleeping (stomach, side, or back)

7. Air Mattresses

I am sure you’ve come across an air mattress or even used one in your lifetime. They are inflatable beds made mostly of PVC materials.

Though you will find some individuals who prefer to use air mattresses as their bed of choice, most of them are used for temporary purposes, especially in cases of people who have just moved into a new place and are still unpacking.

Besides this, airbeds can commonly be found in vacation houses, dormitories or used for camping purposes.

There are, however, some high-quality air mattresses which serve as full-time beds. They have a number of desirable features such as the lack of sagging, adjustable firmness (sometimes even separately for two people), and low off-gassing.

Some of the reasons why you might not like them are:

  • the inflation may take a long time
  • use of loud pumps and air compressors

8. Latex Mattresses

What is latex? It is a material that is made from the sap of rubber tree and has wide use in many different industries.

As mentioned before, there are two different methods of manufacturing latex mattresses, Dunlop and Talalay with the main difference being that the latter has better breathability.

There is an array of good qualities when it comes to latex beds.

First, they are environmentally friendly and will reduce your carbon footprint.

Second, no chemicals are employed in the manufacturing process.

Last, there is little to no off-gassing which is undoubtedly a positive feature.

They are often recommended by orthopedists and doctors due to the health benefits they provide. Compared to other types, latex mattresses are expensive, and it is hard to get one at under $500.


Ok, so this was a lot of information to take in so to simplify the situation for you, I’ve broken down the mattresses into their most significant feature and placed it all in the table below. Have a look:

TypeCostHeat RetentionDurabilityMotion TransferOdor
Memory foam75888
Water bed76629
Innerspring latex hybrid66776


As you can see, buying a mattress isn’t as simple as you might have thought it would be, as there are a lot of factors to consider before laying down your cash.

You could, of course, go for the old recipe “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, and buy the same type that you’ve used for years, or you could try something new. Who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Milos Milos


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