What’s In Your Mattress? Understanding Mattress Layers

Understanding Mattress Layers

Back in the day, mattress shopping was as easy as choosing a brand and a firmness. Today, it’s all about the mattress layers. Each layer is engineered to customize support, firmness or special features. From bare bones springs to 18-inch behemoths, every mattress offers something a little different based on what’s inside.

Plush & Loom’s Serene Foam

The Plush & Loom mattress features a unique type of foam called Serene Foam. In our quest to design the perfect sleep surface, we quickly ran into some issues with traditional memory foam. It’s hot, sometimes manufactured with toxic materials and lacks deep support many sleepers crave. It’s also expensive, and we wanted to provide an affordable mattress alongside our Give Sleep, Get Sleep donation program.


Enter Serene Foam, the top layer of the Plush & Loom mattress. This cost-effective, premium material contains billions of air cells that act like tiny cushions. They react when pressure is applied for individualized support. Serene Foam has all of memory foam’s star features plus a few improvements.

We love it for its:

Mattress Layers

  • Reduced motion transfer
  • Heat dissipation for a cooler night’s sleep
  • Marriage of body cradling and supportive bounce, like a blend of memory and traditional foams
  • Deep hip and back support for up to four times more peak pressure reduction than memory foam
  • Durability, lasting just as long as premium memory foam
  • Recyclability
  • Non-toxic material and low-odor right out of the box

High Density Foam

High density foam (HDF) is a popular base for foam mattresses. We use it as the base for the Plush & Loom mattress, and most popular memory foam mattresses sneak HDF in as a base layer. HDF provides structure, a little bit of “bounce” depending on the top materials and support for peak pressure areas of the body. It’s a top choice in orthopedic mattress materials. HDF can feel stiff and unforgiving without cushioning layers, so its rarely used on its own.

Plush & Loom’s Plush Foam

When our sleepers were testing sleep surfaces, we were noticing a common problem. A lot of mattresses are missing something. Some seem too firm no matter how cushioned they are. Other times, the cushioning layers negate the deep support from the firmer layers. We jumped on the problem and developed our proprietary Plush Foam. This transition layer helps maintain the cushioning of the Serene Foam without composition the support from the HDF base. You get everything you need in just three simple mattress layers.

Inner Spring

The classic inner spring mattress has come a long way. While you can still buy plain spring mattresses with minimal padding, most are part of mattress-foam “hybrid” systems. The springs provide “push back” structure and support, are easier to get out of than memory foam and come in many firmnesses.


We turned away from inner springs for two key reasons. The first was cost, since metal components are almost always more expensive than foam. The second and most important was pressure. Inner springs, even pocket coils, tend to create pressure points on weight-bearing joints like the hip and neck. We preferred the best-of-both-worlds HDF, which is both springy and distributes pressure.

Memory Foam

Memory foam was the unrivaled king of premium mattresses for many years. Unlike inner spring mattresses, memory foam creates no pressure points when you lie down. It doesn’t transfer motion, perfectly contours to your body and now comes in different firmness grades.


Memory foam has a few flaws, but one is unavoidable no matter what you do. Even on an HDF base, memory foam doesn’t provide enough deep support for major pressure points like the hips and lower back. For some people, long term use can actually contribute to back pain. Without expensive treatments, it’s also temperature sensitive, soaking up heat and staying hot all night long.

Gel Foam

Gel foams are the latest mattress marketing craze. In these layers, a standard foam like memory foam is impregnated with gels similar to those in cushioning shoe inserts. The gels might dissipate heat, provide bounce or improve cushioning.

Our concern is that while they sound intriguing, gel foams seem like expensive crutches to poor design. While they can be used to tweak otherwise perfect products, they’re often used as marketing gimmicks and a reason for a huge price tag. The right combination of foam and other materials will do almost everything gels can.


Don’t get swallowed by the marketing free-for-all surrounding mattress layers. When you strip away the buzz words, it’s easy to see whether or not each layer is necessary, efficient and right for you. You may not need a 10-layer monster mattress. All you need are the mattress layers that give you exactly what you’re looking for.

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