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Types of Mattresses – Pros and Cons

by John Stewart

Mattresses as with any other home fittings exist in many types, forms and sizes. What type of mattress you like is a pure personal choice. However, some mattress types are more comfortable than others while some mattress types are better suited to certain situations than others.

A mattress is just one of many factors that determine how you sleep at night. In my opinion, I think a mattress is one of the major factors.

To decide then on what type of mattress to go for, one surely needs knowledge and understanding on some of the major mattress types on offer around. Most of these mattress types are standardized but it is no surprise should you encounter a variation between manufacturers.

1. Air Mattress

air mattress

From its name, an air mattress is an inflatable mattress. This mattress can be inflated using an automatic or manual pump with some mattresses coming with their own inflating mechanisms. The air mattress is used for camping because on deflating, it can be folded to a compact size for easy carriage.

In some cases, the air mattress can be used as a floatable on a pool due to its buoyancy. Air mattresses are very flexible both literally and figuratively. Some air mattresses are custom built to fit certain people and pickup trucks’ beds.


  • Suitable for people with back pains
  • Have adjustable firmness by controlling the amount of air


  • Not suitable for infants

2. Memory Foam Mattress

memory foam mattress

Memory foam mattresses are made of foam (if the name does not give that away). They are very dense. The foam used to manufacture these mattresses is open and helps the mattress feel flexible.

The memory foam mattress softens in reaction to body heat but recovers to its original form once the heat is removed.

As a side note, memory foam cushions are used for wheel chair seats as well as hospital bed pillows. Memory foam mattresses retain a lot of body heat which works well during winter.


  • Mold into the shape of a warm body
  • Retain heat
  • Better than other foam mattresses


  • Very expensive
  • Memory foam is very combustible and is a fire risk

3. Latex Mattress

latex money

A latex mattress uses latex foam as it’s main component which is then combined with either springs or another form of foam e.g. reflex foam.

Latex is essentially rubber and so is very elastic as well as natural. The elastic nature makes a latex mattress suitable for pressure relief for your body.

Latex occurs naturally from a rubber tree and so a latex mattress is very eco-friendly. It also lasts long without losing it’s properties and is also easy to maintain. Basically, a latex mattress will last forever with little or no problem at all.


  • Pressure relieving because it can adapt to your body shape
  • Resistant to dust mites
  • Long lasting
  • Eco friendly


  • Very pricey

4. Innerspring Mattress

innerspring mattress

Innerspring mattresses are very popular as they are within most people’s price ranges and are adequately comfortable. They use a steel coil support system where the springs are within foam, fiber or even smaller springs.

An innerspring mattress gets its name from the use of springs within its construction but it is worth noting that different materials can be used alongside the springs.

These materials include memory foam and pillow top which may be used on a completely different type of mattress. This can be a little confusing but innerspring mattresses are naturally bouncy.


  • Support a range of sleeping styles
  • Support any kind of body weight


  • Not suitable for people with back pains

RELATED: 9 Tips for Buying a New Mattress

5. Natural Fiber Mattress

natural fiber mattress

As the name suggests, natural fiber mattresses use a variety of natural materials in their construction. Natural fibers are deduced from animals and plants. When buying a natural fiber mattress, look out for hybrids which combine natural and synthetic fibers that is if you want a pure natural fiber mattress.

Natural fibers are moderately priced with some materials especially animal based fibers being very expensive due to overhead processing costs.

It is almost impossible to manufacture natural fiber mattresses and most combine the use of synthetic foam. Incorporation of synthetic foam is not as bad as incorporation of synthetic fibers. Again, always look out for that when purchasing your mattress.


  • Natural fibers like wool and mohair are eco friendly


  • Some people may be allergic to natural fibers especially those extracted from animals

6. Pillow Top Mattress

pillow top mattress

Pillow top mattresses have an additional layer of upholstery on top of the mattress to increase softness. These layers are often referred to as pillow tops and have a cushiony feeling.

The pillow tops vary in softness and as a mattress buyer, you have the liberty to decide what level of softness works for you.

Pillow tops allow you to sink further into the mattress for more comfortable sleep. These pillow tops can be added to any type of mattress and so pillow top mattresses can be based on a variety of mattresses.


  • Very comfortable
  • Adaptable to most types of mattresses as a base


  • Favor those who sleep on their side

7. Specialty Foam Mattress

specialty foam mattress

Specialty foam mattresses are manufactured by using one or more types of foam. The combination of foam is done on consumer request and this is done to achieve certain levels of comfort, heat dissipation as well as durability because some foam types are more durable than others.

Specialty foam mattresses are best suited for people with back or joint pains but they do not want a pure memory foam mattress. They can also be used to correct heat levels in bed to get them just right.


  • Very user based
  • Properties can be controlled


  • Can get expensive

8. Gel Foam Mattress

gel foam mattress

Gel foam mattresses are manufactured by adding gel to a foam mattress. The gel is added in the support system or even the upholstery layer. Gel foam offers different comfort and feel depending on preference.

Gel foam also helps with heat dissipation. It can also increase comfort levels. Gel foam mattresses benefit from the fact that that they are based on a foam mattress but take that experience over and above to create a better overall mattress.


  • Greater levels of heat dissipation.
  • Greater comfort levels.


  • Some may not see the necessity of upgrading from a foam mattress.

9. Water Bed Mattress

gel foam mattress

Water bed mattresses are classic pieces of mattresses or beds filled with water. The beds exist in two types: hard sided and soft sided.

Hard sided waterbeds consist of a water containing mattress inside a wooden frame while soft sided waterbeds consist of a water containing mattress inside a frame made out of sturdy foam.

Water beds are mostly heated. Temperature is often set to personal preference. Water beds offer comfort levels that cannot be matched by any other type of mattress. However, water beds have a following of extremes who either like them or hate them.


  • Comfortable


  • Not safe for children under the age of eight

10. Hybrid Mattress

hybrid mattress

Hybrid mattresses are mattresses that combine a steel coil support system with other types of foam in their construction. A hybrid mattress may incorporate one or more types of foam within their construction.

They can also incorporate foam that contains gel in them. Hybrid mattresses offer a little of everything with the combinations of build materials. They do so while maintaining the comfort levels of a classic inner spring mattress.


  • Based on an inner spring mattress
  • Utilization of various materials for best results


  • Can get quite pricey