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Foam vs. Polyurethane Foam

Foam

Mattress foam comes in multiple different types: memory foam, polyurethane, and latex. Memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam that has lower resistance so it reacts and slowly reforms when pressure is released. It generally makes up the surface layers of a mattress.

Polyurethane comes in multiple different forms - making it useful in the middle and base layers of many foam and memory foam mattresses.

Latex is the natural alternative to memory foam and polyurethane foams. It is created from sap from a rubber tree and is treated to create different densities to cover both soft and firm requirements. Like rubber, it is highly responsive and has a bounce that some sleepers love and some others hate.

Pros: Depending on the foam type, it can be quite comfortable, safe, and responsive.

Cons: Lower quality foams can break down quickly, causing sagging issues within only a few months or years.

Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam is a blanket term that includes any foam that is synthesized using polyol and diisocyanate. These include but are not limited to: memory foam, high resilience foam, and high density foam. Since polyurethane foam can contain additives, a manufacturer that comes up with a new formula can name the new foam whatever they like.

Many memory foam mattresses are a combination of polyurethane foams, layered from dense on the bottom to less dense on the surface layers.

Polyurethane is a synthetic blend of organic compounds and has a tendency to off-gas. If you are susceptible to lung issues, please do additional research on the quality of foams before purchasing.

Pros: Many different types of foams exist under the polyurethane umbrella -- some are excellent for bedding and offer different firmness varieties!

Cons: Off-gassing and durability problems with lower quality foams.

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Material Scores

Overall Score:
Foam: 9.3/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.4/10

Comfort:
Foam: 9.4/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.4/10

Softness:
Foam: 9.5/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.5/10

Cooling:
Foam: 8/10
Polyurethane Foam: 8/10

Hypoallergenic:
Foam: 8.1/10
Polyurethane Foam: 8.1/10

No Odor:
Foam: 8.4/10
Polyurethane Foam: 8.4/10

General Support:
Foam: 8.7/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.5/10

Eco-Conscious:
Foam: 8.5/10
Polyurethane Foam: 8.5/10

Price Value:
Foam: 9.4/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.5/10