Polyurethane Vs. Latex Foam Mattress

Polyurethane is a synthetic material that adds comfort and softness to conventional spring-based mattresses, although pure polyurethane foam mattresses are also increasingly popular. Latex is known for its durability and is a popular environmental choice because it is biodegradable. Both types of mattresses meet consumer demands for comfort and softness, so quality and longevity are important considerations when making a choice.


Both latex and polyurethane mattresses can be comfortable and supportive.

Latex is made from the sap from the rubber tree, which makes 100 percent latex mattresses hypoallergenic as latex is resistant to bacteria and dust mites. Latex mattresses are known for their durability--a good quality latex mattress will last 20 years or more. Latex may help relieve pressure points and joint pain because it molds to the body's natural contours.


Polyurethane foam can be found in most traditional mattresses. The spring system provides support and the foam gives the mattress its softness and comfort. Most mattresses contain a combination of polyurethane foam and fiber, although mattresses made exclusively from polyurethane foam are also available.


Some consumers like latex because, being an organic material, it is cool in summer and warm in winter. Latex may be an option if you move around a lot in bed and disturb your sleeping partner, as it isolates motion. The comfort level of a mattress containing polyurethane is determined by the density of the foam.The Polyurethane Foam Association notes that more foam is being added to mattresses than ever before due to an increasing consumer demands for thickness and comfort, while the mattresses have become more durable due to more sophisticated manufacturing techniques.


Mattresses containing polyurethane might not be a good option for people who suffer from asthma or allergies, as it is a synthetic material. A study carried out at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand, found that synthetic bedding had higher levels of dust mites. People who don't want synthetic bedding should be aware that some latex mattresses also contain synthetic materials and so these individuals should look for one that is 100 percent latex. An inner spring mattress containing polyurethane may feel more fluffy and springy than a pure foam mattress. Consumersearch.com says that foam mattresses aren't for everyone, as some consumers find it hard to get accustomed to them. Polyurethane is cheaper than latex, although the price will depend on the quality and density of the polyurethane in the mattress.


A latex foam mattress will offer good support and pressure relief. Latex springs back into shape very quickly and is less likely to sag than cheaper mattresses. If you are considering a mattress containing only polyurethane foam, it may not continue to offer the same support as latex or a spring mattress composed of fiber and polyurethane. According to Consumersearch, a foam mattress containing “less expensive polyurethane might feel comfortable at first, but over time the material can degrade and compress.” However, the Polyurethane Foam Association says that new “high performance” foams offer increased support and durability in affirming that “Improvements in foam in recent years allow foam to produce the same support levels as spring systems.”

About the Author

Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.