Mattress Buying Guide
Polyurethane Foam Mattress 101
Polyurethane foam is a common component of mattresses. Even very high end mattresses make use of this material to provide a comfortable and supportive sleeping surface. Most people sleep on a mattress which contains at least a little bit of polyurethane. However, not many people know much about it. Here's a look at the ubiquitous polyurethane foam how it's used in mattresses and what it's good for. Understanding what goes into your mattress can do a lot to help you choose the right bed for you.
Mattresses perform better based on three factors: durability, comfort, and support. A mattress which contains properly used polyurethane foam can provide a comfortable surface with all three of these properties. Foam also offers the benefits of being noiseless, dustless, and resisting crumbling and matting. Polyurethane foam does not aggravate the majority of allergies and lacks a residual odor. It also has an open cell structure that lets the material breathe and reduces the chance of mold and mildew infestation.
Polyurethane foam dates from the 1950s, when it first started appearing as an upholstering layer in traditional innerspring mattresses. It was also used to provide a solid core for mattresses made entirely from foam and was considered a "space age" material. It offered multiple different firmness grades, allowing buyers to choose the right mattress for their sleeping preferences. This material also met the Federal Flammability Standard, since it was resistant to smoldering cigarettes reducing the chance of fires from smoking in bed.
One of the biggest benefits of polyurethane foam is its resistance to body impression. Body impression, or loss of height due to mattress fatigue, is the most common reason that consumers replace their old mattresses. Adding the right amount and firmness of foam in the right places can help mattresses stay in good shape a lot longer. Unlike many other materials, the regularity of polyurethane foam means that lab tests can predict how much it will compact over time. Manufacturers can then decide how to build a mattress based on how it performs in the lab. The best response is from foams with an unfilled density of at least two pounds per cubic foot.
Foam also helps reduce changes in mattress firmness. As the natural and synthetic materials in a mattress compact, they often become firmer. Customers who originally chose a soft mattress may find that as their bedding ages, it becomes less comfortable. Polyurethane foam generally loses between fifteen and twenty percent firmness over the course of its life, most of which happens at the beginning of the foam's life span. That means that foam beds compact a little right after they're purchased, but don't change much thereafter. This behavior can actually help protect materials under the foam and alleviate the effects of some of the changes they go through.
Choosing the right foam mattress means picking the correct foam density. The density of the polyurethane foam used in a given mattress has a lot to do with how much height the mattress can lose, how much the firmness can change, and how the foam performs in ignition tests. A higher density foam will last longer, be firmer, and provide more support. It also usually costs a little more, however. Some higher quality foams include a few random-size cells inside, which help make the foam feel a little more plush. These are called high performance foams and sometimes exceed the performance of latex foam.
Nearly every mattress on the market includes polyurethane foam, and for good reason. This versatile, predictable material is very useful and can provide a really comfortable sleeping experience. Not all polyurethane foam is equal. Some foams have more support, a greater resistance to compaction, and a better feel. The best way to choose the correct one for you is to do a little research and make sure you ask for all the information you can get before you buy a mattress. The end result is a bed that starts out comfortable and stays that way for many years. If you've never checked out the properties of different types of polyurethane foam, now's the time to do it. After all, they make a big difference in how you sleep.