Inner Spring Mattress or Memory Foam, Which Should You Buy?

Here's 5 inner spring mattress vs. memory foam bed comparisons that make choosing easy. Directly compare mattress prices, support, comfort, durability, and special features for each type

Inner spring support systems are made of wire coils. Memory foam mattresses are made of open micro celled foam. Each has advantages when you compare mattress prices and features.

This video takes a funny look at one disadvantage. The punchline at the end is worth it.

1) Support

Coil number Not a good indicator for firmness. But, look for at least 400 coils for a queen size bed anyway. That's enough to provide support. Coil count makes wonderful sales copy, but more is not always noticeably better.

The wire coil structure of a spring bed is attached to a perimeter wire border that holds the coils in place and prevents sagging. An edge wire is padded and provides support right to the rim of the bed. This makes falling out of bed due to 'edge failure' less likely. Memory foam mattresses do not have a harder edge.

The top decorative fabric is separated from the wire supports by a tough padding layer which keeps the upholstered comfort layer you sleep on from falling into the springs.

Coil gauge Almost all coils come from the same manufacturer, Leggett & Platt. And the pattern in which they are arrayed is irrelevant to sleep. Some inner spring mattress makers use thicker in a more spread out pattern, some use thinner wire for coils in a denser array.

Memory Foam
A memory foam mattress conforms to your shape on a microcellular level, reducing pressure points. Support is provided by the memory foam getting harder the further away it is from the softening warmth of your body. Look for a top memory foam layer at least 3 inches high with 3lb to 6lb density foam. There is also an inner core of harder foam to supply additional height and firmness.

2) Comfort

Coil bed comfort is provided by layers of padding on top of the hard wire springs. This can produce a 'hammock' effect and lead to painful pressure points which can wake you up.

Memory Foam
Microcells that soften at body temperature almost eliminate pressure points in memory foam mattresses. The drawback is that some memory foam beds collect heat. Look for fabric covers that wick moisture away from the body and newer models with 'breathable' foam top layers.

3) How Long Will It Last?

Depending on your age and weight, a typical inner spring mattress should be replaced within 5 to 8 years. If you're over 40 or overweight, replace closer to 5 years.

Memory Foam
A quality memory foam mattress can last 15 to 20 years, unless your new puppy eats it. Some dogs just like the texture. It happened to my sister. She got a new mattress and kept the dog.

4) Compare Mattress Prices

All of the big manuracturers that you've heard about sell these. Major suppliers are Sealy mattresses, Serta, Spring Air and Simmons. Quality beds are available from $300 up to $3,000 and more for luxury models.

Memory Foam
From $300 up to $2,000. Don't buy a cheap mattress under $200. And the Maniac is sure that you could find more expensive ones than my best mattresses picks, but why?

5) Special Features & Considerations

Over 80% of all mattresses sold are spring mattresses. They're everywhere. Inner spring mattresses can be found very inexpensively for those on a budget. In addition they:

  • Weigh less
  • Have fewer odor complaints
  • Sleep cooler

Memory Foam
Microscopic open celled support spreads your body weight evenly, preventing painful pressure points that can wake you up. If you have health problems with muscles, bones or inflammation they'll help you get a more restful sleep than an inner spring mattress. Also, memory foam mattresses are naturally hypo-allergenic. There are no spaces between coils to collect dust mites either.


The Memory Foam Maniac's ever so humble opinion is that a memory foam mattress is a better deal than an inner spring mattress. They have better, more even and fine support. I experience longer, deeper sleep because I don't wake up with a pinched shoulder and my hand asleep from pressure points. And there's lots of people with health problems such as fibromyalgia who love them.

If you can afford the slight cost difference between an inner spring mattress and a memory foam one, get the memory foam bed.

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