Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide: What Do Foam Densities Actually Mean?


When buying a memory foam mattress it's easy to get confused. Some are specific about the different layers of foam in the mattress as well as the densities of those layers. The problem is that it doesn't mean much to the average consumer.


So what is foam density? Density measurements show how much memory foam is in the foam layer of the mattress. Lower density mattresses have fewer raw materials within the memory foam and more air cavities to give the mattress a softer feel. However, if the mattress is a higher density that means that it contains a lot more raw materials and smaller air pockets to give the mattress a firmer feel. A higher density mattress will also have more resistance when it is pressed. These mattresses also rebound more quickly when weight is removed from them.


So what does that mean? The foam density is the actual weight of the foam, not the amount of support it gives. The weight of the foam is divided by the volume and expressed as lbs/ft3. In other words, if your cube of foam is 12 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches, you have one cubic foot of memory foam. If the cube weights 4 pounds, then your foam density is 4lbs. It's important to note that density is not related to the pore size (the holes in the foam).


Mattress firmness is measured by IFD (Indention Force Deflection) which is a test used to measure the load bearing capacity of the foam. The amount of force, in pounds, it takes to press the foam down %25 of it's original height for one minute is the IFD. The higher the IFD the more firm the foam is, regardless of the density.


Common Misconceptions:
  • Density is not related to the firmness, softness, or weight support. It is merely the actual weight of the mattress per cubic feet.
  • Usually it is a factor in how durable the foam is but that can differ depending on the manufacturer of the foam.

  • What Does this Mean to Me?
  • Lower density mattresses are usually considered to be less than 3lbs.
  • Dense mattresses can be 5lbs or more.
  • It's recommended that high quality 3 - 4 lbs density is the best overall density for a mattress.


  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Is the price of a mattress linked to the density?
    Usually higher priced brands do use a higher density memory foam (5lbs or higher). While lower priced brands will use a lower density. Always do your research.
    Do higher density mattresses last longer?
    Generally, yes. However, it can depend on the manufacturer of the foam and the quality of the materials used in production.
    Do higher density mattresses work better to relieve back pain?
    There's no definitive proof that memory foam of any density reduces back pain for everyone. However, most people with back pain who use memory foam report that it significantly reduces their sleeping issues. It's important to find the right mattress for your sleep style and comfort needs.
    Is there a relation between the chemical odour memory foam reportedly emits and the density?
    Reports show that the higher density foam do take longer for odours to dissipate, this is due to the number of raw materials used in their production.
    Is the lack of motion transfer in memory foam related to the density of the foam?
    Memory foam is said to eliminate motion transfer and is perfect for couples. However, indicators have shown that higher density mattresses have less motion transfer than low.
    I heard Memory Foam sleeps "hot". Does this differ based on density?
    Consumer reports show that the "sleeping hot" issue is greater in higher density mattresses. If you can find memory foam that is infused with Gel or a Gel Memory Foam Mattress, you can help eliminate this problem all together.
    What is temperature sensitivity?
    Higher density mattresses are often temperature sensitive. This means that when the mattress itself gets cooler the mattress will get firm. The opposite is true of heat, people tend to "melt" into the higher density mattresses. Sometimes this can make it hard to move as the foam takes longer to rebound when it's warm.
    Is it easy to move on high density mattresses?
    Depending on your back pain issues a higher density mattress is perfect for sinking into and contouring to your body to relieve pressure points. However, sometimes it can be difficult to physically get out of bed or change positions. This issue is increased with temperature sensitive mattresses.


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