Mattress Categories

Mattress Brands


Get The Best Memorial Day Mattress Deals!
Unlock Today's Coupons

Gel vs. Polyurethane Foam


Gel is a recent newcomer to the mattress space. It is being used as both a standalone layer and an infusion into foam. Gel benefits mattresses by retaining less heat than memory foam. Also, newer gels compete against memory foam by being more responsive and less toxic.

Gel is similar to foam because it is a polymer made by blending plastics and other chemicals.

Because of gel's heat diffusing properties, it is generally found in the top layer of the mattress under the cover.

Pros: Cooler sleeping surface vs memory foam. More responsive feel when not combined with foam.

Cons: Similar to foam, it is a synthetic blend of chemicals.

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.

Learn More About Gel

Learn More About Polyurethane Foam

See Our Top Mattress Choices

Material Scores

Overall Score:
Gel: 8.6/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.4/10

Gel: 8.7/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.4/10

Gel: 8/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.5/10

Gel: 8.1/10
Polyurethane Foam: 8/10

Gel: 8.1/10
Polyurethane Foam: 8.1/10

No Odor:
Gel: 8.9/10
Polyurethane Foam: 8.4/10

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

Gel: 8/10
Polyurethane Foam: 8.5/10

Price Value:
Gel: 9.2/10
Polyurethane Foam: 9.5/10