The Difference Between Latex and Innerspring Mattresses
You've been doing your homework on a new mattress, and you have a pretty good idea of what you want. Something that sleeps cool, has a bit of springiness, and relieves pressure on your hips and shoulders.
Sounds like a job for a traditional innerspring mattress with a nice, cushy comfort layer. But given your list of requirements, another option might also fit the bill: a latex mattress. When comparing the two, there are many similarities and differences between an innerspring vs latex mattress.
Like innerspring, latex has a bit of the bounce that you likely associate with a traditional mattress, as well as the softness and contouring ability that you'd get from a premium comfort layer. But latex is a completely different material with its own unique properties and its own set of pros and cons.
Innerspring vs latex mattress: What you need to know
If you're curious to know how innerspring vs latex mattresses compare, here are the ways that they are alike and the key ways they differ.
How they're made
An innerspring mattress gets its primary shape and support (and its name) from a series of steel or titanium coils at the bed's core. The coiled core then gets covered with layers of fabric, foam, or other padding, and sometimes (as in the case of Saatva's coil-on-coil construction) even another layer of springs.
“With a coil strength and density appropriate to the size and weight of the sleeper, many people find [innerspring mattresses] the ultimate in comfort," says Mark I. Leavey, MD, a primary care specialist in Lutherville, Md. Innerspring mattresses are what most people grew up with, and still the best-selling type.
Latex mattresses, on the other hand, are made from layers of latex foam, which is produced from the sap of the rubber tree. Since latex is a natural material, purchasing a latex mattress can be appealing to people who are looking for a sustainable, eco-friendly product. Natural latex is also hypoallergenic and naturally resistant to mold and dust mites.
How they feel
The hallmark of an innerspring mattress is bounciness, thanks to all those springs at the bed's core. Though how an innerspring actually feels when you lie on it depends on the particular model, as comfort layers made from foam, wool, and other materials can give innerspring mattresses very different feels, explains Terry Cralle, RN, a certified clinical sleep educator, Saatva sleep consultant, and co-author of Sleeping Your Way to the Top: How to Get the Sleep You Need to Succeed.
A latex mattress, too, has buoyancy and responsiveness—but also conforms to the shape of your body when you lie on it, a quality most often associated with memory foam. That molding-to-your-curves property means it provides good spine support for most types of sleepers. Like innerspring mattresses, latex mattresses come in different levels of firmness, depending on the density of the foam and the method by which it is produced. (Here's a closer look at how latex gets from the rubber tree to your bedroom.)
Learn More About Saatva's Innerspring and Latex Mattresses
How they handle motion transfer
Innerspring mattresses used to perform poorly when it came to minimizing the disturbances one sleeper feels from movement on the other side of the bed. But innovations like pocketed coils (individually wrapped springs that can move independently ) and foam comfort layers have helped innerspring mattresses do better on this score.
All foam beds, including latex mattresses, tend to perform well when it comes to absorbing movement, so you're not likely to feel a lot of rustling from the other side of a latex bed.
How long they last
When deciding between a latex versus spring mattress, longevity should be considered. Natural latex mattresses are known for their durability and longer average life spans than other beds (that's not necessarily the case for synthetic latex, or mattresses that mix the two). Innerspring mattresses can run the gamut when it comes to life span, depending on the quality of the materials, coil count and construction, and the type and number of layers in the mattress. Most innerspring mattresses will last around seven to 10 years with normal use, while latex mattresses can last 15 years or more.
How much they cost
Durability doesn't come cheap. Because of the cost of harvesting and processing the material, natural latex mattresses tend to come with a higher price tag than other beds. The cost of an innerspring mattress, too, varies widely. While you can find lower-end innerspring mattress models for a few hundred dollars, those made with quality materials tend to be pricier—starting at around $1,000—but will provide far more support and last longer, too.