Memory Foam and Memory Foam Mattress Buyer's Guide:
Part 3 - Not All Memory Foams are Created Equal
Many manufacturers have begun producing memory foam in recent years. This has allowed the retail price of memory foam to drop and become an affordable product. And while this has meant that a good number of quality memory foams have come onto the market, it also means that a greater number of low quality, cut rate foams have also appeared.
Memory foam is not a commodity, and not all memory foams are created equal. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid the noticeably inexpensive pads or pillows you will find on the market. They are generally made of either low density memory foam or layered with other, cheaper foam products and ingredients. These inexpensive memory foams just won't give the same comfort as higher quality pads and will wear out relatively fast.
So what type of memory foam should you look for? This issue is somewhat different depending on whether you are looking to buy a memory foam mattress or a memory foam topper pad to put on your existing bed. This is because the memory foam in a mattress is bonded to the "mattress core", and as such, can't be replaced, so it must not only be comfortable, but durable as well. A topper pad, on the other hand, is less expensive and can be replaced if it wears out after a few years (usually 4-5 years with our 4 lb density memory foam). So when you are researching a memory foam mattress, you need to look for one that uses memory foam which is both comfortable and durable. With a topper pad, comfort alone is the main issue since you can easily replace the topper.
With a mattress, you should look for at least 3 inches of medium to high density memory foam. 3 inches of memory foam gives you a proper amount of material to cushion and conform to your body. While you could get by with 2 inches of memory foam in a mattress, 3 inches is plusher and a more comfortable feel for most people. It's a nice depth of foam where you wouldn't sink uncomfortably into the bed or lose the support of the base foam. I've seen memory foam mattresses that offer much thicker memory foam layers and they feel too cushy - you get sucked in, and adjusting from side to side can be a real problem. And you just don't have the same support for your body and back as you would with memory foam mattresses that are 3 inches or so of memory foam depth. Our 10" Memory Foam Mattress
offers 4 inches of memory foam, and we've had a great response from customers on their feel and comfort.
As for densities of memory foam used in a mattress, for a long time I've often heard from customers that they liked the feel of the "less dense memory foams" (memory foams 4 lb density or so, or what I refer to as medium density memory foams) better than that of the high density memory foam of the "leading brand" (memory foam of 5 lb or greater density). That was because people felt these "medium density memory foams" had a softer, more user friendly feel while the higher density memory foams could feel stiff and could be difficult to move around in.
Lately, I've been seeing some memory foam mattresses coming out with even lower density memory foams in their layering (by this, I mean memory foams of 3 lb density and lower). Personally, I still like the feel of the 4 lb density memory foams over the 3 lb memory foam. And also at these lower densities I think you need to ask about that particular foams durability and comfort.
If you are looking for a memory foam topper pad to put on your mattress, you have many options. In general, you will pay more for a higher pound density memory foam pad - it just costs more to produce denser memory foam. Which ones do we recommend? We've looked at many topper pads, and we feel the 4 lb memory foam we decided to use in our Memory Foam Topper Pads just had the nicest feel. And after selling thousands over the years, we know they work extremely well for our customers. Often a 2" pad is sufficient for making a mattress much more comfortable, but we decided to offer a 3" version, as well, for those looking for a plusher feel. We've tested the 5 lb density pads, but decided not to carry them because they really didn't offer any more comfort than our 4 lb pad - in fact, the 4 lb pads were softer and had a nicer feel to them (the 5 lb pads often felt stiff and not as user friendly). And we didn't feel that the premium you pay for the 5 lb density foam was worth it. All you get for the extra price is a denser pad - and density doesn't equal comfort, it just means that the pads weigh more. We've found that our 4 lb memory foam pads perform very well and really offer more comfort than denser pads. In our experience, they really do offer the best value for the money.
Now a word of caution. When you are researching memory foam, you need to be careful what foam you buy. In my research into memory foam suppliers, I was horrified at the different insider stories I heard, such as manufacturers putting inexpensive fillers (like sand, etc.) into foam to save money, rather than using the more expensive materials used in making true memory foam. I also was cautioned about manufacturers who unload bad pours of foam on unsuspecting customers in order to recoup their costs in pouring this foam.
Horror stories like these from foam manufacturing veterans were eye openers to me. I had no idea that these practices were going on, and I surely didn't want my customers to end up with these lower quality products. That is one of the reasons I settled on my current mattress and topper pad suppliers. They are both very concerned about the quality of the memory foams they use, and only use those foams that are certified to meet very rigorous quality control standards by the manufacturer.
Given these issues, I would urge you to really look closely at not only the density of the memory foam you are buying, but the source as well. You can trust the big name brands like Tempur-Pedic ®, who have a vested interest in assuring that their customers get only the highest quality products, and don't sell bad pours of their foam. However, if you buy off-branded or house brand memory foam, such as ours, you really need to ask questions about the source of the foam to see if the reseller really knows whether the foam is the actual specification they are advertising. While resellers probably won't tell you the specific supplier they are using (which, after all, is part of their competitive advantage), ask them if their supplier has a long standing relationship with the foam manufacturer, and whether their supplier independently inspects each batch of foam after it was received from the manufacturer to ensure that the quality is what it should be. And, like all things, if the price seems too good, it may well be an indication that something isn't right and the foam may not be up to the advertised specifications.
Part 4 - Density - the Real Story
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