Best Mattress Types by Durability
There are many things to consider when trying to find the best mattress, but a leading issue for many shoppers is the expected lifespan or durability of beds. Buying a mattress can be costly and time consuming, so coming up with a dud that falls flat in a year or two can be quite disappointing. In this article, we compare the major mattress types on durability, expected lifespan, comfort, satisfaction and other important information to offer some insight into what to expect.
Best Mattress Types Based on Durability
Like all products, mattresses have an useful lifespan and must be replaced periodically, however, comparing each one of the dozens (hundreds?) of mattresses brands individually is a monumental task. While variances exist, looking at the major mattress types for averages can offer trends and general information. We looked at owner reviews on retailer and third party websites, consumer guides, and data compiled by third-party website SleepLikeTheDead.com to see which mattress types last the longest and which offer the best value potential.
Mattress Lifespan Comparison
Below are the most common mattress types and subtypes ordered by longest to shortest average lifespan. We also included information on average owner satisfaction rates (the percent of people who report being satisfied with their bed) as well as the percentage of reviews that complain about premature sagging, impressions or broken parts, and the average price ranges. After the table, we take a closer look at the mattress types, durability information, and pros and cons.
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As a group, latex mattresses are the longest-lasting bed type with 8-12 year average lifespans. All-latex beds with 100% natural latex last the longest, followed by blended latex and hybrid foam core beds. Pure latex foam is the most durable mattress material because it is highly resilient (allowing it to resist impressions) and resists degradation. Latex foam made in both the Talalay and Dunlop processes score fairly similar in reviews according to Sleep Like The Dead, with primary differences being Dunlop is more supportive/more likely to be firmer, while Talalay is more yielding and more expensive. See our guide to getting the best latex mattress for more information on brands and features.
- 100% Natural Latex
- Pros: most responsive and resistant to impressions, natural materials, least likely to off gas
- Cons: can be expensive and difficult to find in retail shops
- Blended Latex
- Pros: more affordable and wider availability
- Cons: less responsive and durable
- Latex over Foam Hybrids
- Pros: affordable and widely available
- Cons: less durable, higher off-gassing potential and shortest warranties
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam beds can vary from fairly short to quite long lifespans depending the construction of the bed and the materials used. Higher density memory foam makes the best mattress durability-wise, because the denser material is more resistant to impressions over time. The density of the memory foam layers varies between low (2.0-3.5 lbs), medium (3.5-5.0 lbs) and high (over 5.0 lbs). The foam mattress cores also play a significant role in durability and supportiveness. Regular polyfoam is around 1.0-1.5 lbs, high-density poly foam is around 2.0-2.5 lbs, and high-resiliency foams are those over 2.5 lbs. Cores under 2.0 lbs tend to soften sooner, reducing support, though cores over 2.5 lbs are fairly uncommon even in luxury brands. See our latest article on memory foam mattress reviews for more in depth brand comparisons and density information.
- Low Density
- Pros: Less expensive, less likely to have strong odors, easier to move on
- Cons: Less durable, less contouring
- Medium Density
- Pros: Resistant to impressions, good contouring, easier to move on
- Cons: Somewhat likely to offgas and retain heat
- High Density
- Pros: Most resistant to impressions, best contouring
- Cons: More expensive, more likely to offgass & retain heat, difficult to move on
Water mattresses come in two varieties, hardside and softside. Hardside waterbeds are vinyl or rubber bladders designed to be used 5-sided wood frames. Softside waterbeds encase the water bladders in mattress covers, similar in design to air beds. With hardside waterbeds, there is nothing to compress or wear down, however un-patchable leaks and punctures can occur, heaters can give out, and seals can can become worn. Softside waterbeds have more protection from punctures, but the layers of foam and padding can create impressions over time.
- Pros: greater leak protection, better pain relief ratings
- Cons: more expensive, less contouring ability, padding layers can compress, maintenance
- Pros: good contouring and pressure relief, often inexpensive
- Cons: heaters use electricity, can be unsupportive, poor motion isolation, some odor when new, more prone to leaks
Air Bed Mattresses
Air bed mattresses can fairly long overall lifespans, as individual parts can usually be replaced if they fail or break. While there are no springs to compress, air mattresses do usually contain several layers of poly foam, memory foam or latex, which can create impressions. Bladders can be punctured or torn, and seals around hoses can fail which can create air leaks that require replacements. Pumps and hand controls can also fail over time. While replaceable, these items are often not covered or only partially covered after 1-5 years of ownership, so replacement can get expensive.
- Pros: adjustable pressure, replaceable parts, low odor and heat retention
- Cons: often expensive, noisy, requires assembly, uses electricity
Innerspring mattresses are the most common and widely available mattress type, but rank among the poorest in longevity and durability. The metal springs weaken and become less resilient over time, and padding layers compress and loose their ability to relieve pressure. While often cheaper then specialty mattresses, spring beds tend to have weaker guarantees (shorter, more restricted warranties and short to no return period). Pillowtop beds tend to develop impressions fastest, since the layers compress between the sleeper and springs. Higher quality memory foam and latex layers are usually more durable than poly foams and fiber quilting, but can raise mattress prices considerably.
There are four primary types of springs used beds, with slightly different performance. Bonnell coils, simple hourglass springs, and offset coils, similar to Bonnells but with flat tops and bottoms, tend to have shorter lifespans. Individually-pocketed coils and continuous coils (single wires wrapped in coils around a frame) tend to have longer lifespans. Coil count plays a small role in durability, but is more associated with support quality.
- Bonnell Coil
- Pros: most affordable
- Cons: lower durability, low motion isolation
- Continuous Coil
- Pros: affordable, greater durability
- Cons: less supportive, least motion isolation
- Offset Coil
- Pros: supportive
- Cons: lower durability, low motion isolation, higher price
- Pocket Coil
- Pros: supportive, greater motion isolation
- Cons: less durable, higher price
How do you know which type is the best mattress for you?
Some shoppers prefer to maximize value (cost versus longevity) while others prioritize comfort, natural materials or other features. While natural latex beds might be the best mattress based on lifespan, they can also be too costly for some. Conversely, while hardside waterbeds may be the cheapest long-lasting option, many people find them uncomfortable or difficult to maintain. Within each mattress type there will always be quality variations to contrast as well.
Based on the sheer number of options available, it’s clear that people have individual ideas of comfort, so no one option will be the best mattress for everyone. Choosing the best mattress for your needs is a matter of personal preference based on your own priorities and criteria, though knowing how bed types compare on durability can be helpful information to have when shopping and comparing.
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