Polyurethane Foam vs. Memory Foam: Which Mattress to Buy?

Latex Mattress Manufacturing

Let’s talk about mattresses. In this article we’ll cover a common misconception about foam, break down the different types of foam mattresses, and identify the key demographics.

Misconceptions: Polyurethane Foam vs. Memory Foam

This question itself carries a misconception because memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam! In the Foaming Industry, We Call Memory Foam viscoelastic, and it’s basically a denser, more elastic, and less-flexible polyurethane foam. Professionals in the mattress industry commonly call regular non-viscoelastic PU foam polyfoam, So we should rephrase the question: Polyfoam vs. Memory Foam, Which Is For Me?


This is your most traditional foam, most commonly seen on innerspring mattresses. Polyfoam density and stiffness are adjustable to a certain degree, and generally, denser foams are more expensive because they require more material. We have an upcoming article about foam density (to subscribe To keep up to date with the Sunkist blog), so suffice it to say that even denser foams last longer. Innersprings are cooler thanks to the inner springs, but also result in noise and bulk, requiring compression packaging to shrink and ship. Polyfoam mattresses make up the majority of the global market because they are A) widely known, and B) cheap to make.

innerspring mattress manufacture

memory foam

Viscoelastic also holds a large share of the global market, however, with many powerhouse manufacturers in the US having less flexibility. memory foam This makes it great for relieving pressure and pain. Side-sleepers, for example, can lie on a memory foam mattress without feeling much pressure on their shoulders and hips. Memory foam is also quieter for sleeping and allows for greater motion isolation, making it ideal for people who share a bed. This sensory difference is important when talking about polyurethane foam versus memory foam—memory foam sleepers feel like they are “in” the mattress, while polyfoam sleepers prefer to be “on” the mattress.

Possible disadvantages of memory foam are that it heats up and is not very reactive. For example, people with joint pain may prefer memory foam for pressure relief, but they may also find it difficult to get out of a memory foam mattress. As a solution, memory foam mattresses usually come with a mix of polyfoam for stiffness and cooling gels to block out excessive heat.

memory foam
By Johann – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Another problem with memory foam that people often ask is offgassing, which we cover in more detail here.


Last but not least, latex mattresses are also a major global player. Manufacturers typically position latex as a competitor to memory foam. Unlike the Viscoelastic, it is quieter, usually made of natural materials (though synthetic latex is also an option), and is bouncy and responsive. On the other hand, it provides less pressure relief, is generally heavier, and is more expensive. Memory foam can range from around $400 to $2000, but latex products all seem to be in the price range of $1000 and up.

latex mattress manufacturing


The three primary types of mattress foam are polyfoam, memory foam, and latex. When asked about polyurethane foam vs memory foam, our answer is that polyfoam is the cheapest and most prevalent globally. Memory foam is taking the market place by virtue of its orthopedic benefits as a new solution to comfort. Latex is a growing segment that is moving out of luxury use and entering the mainstream as an alternative to memory foam.

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