Non-memory foam mattress
January 7, 2018 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Mattresses in the U.S. are hard to transport, expensive, and complicated. In Costa Rica, I slept nicely on a block of foam - the yellow stuff that is light, firm but not rigid, and not viscoelastic. Polyurethane? Where can I get a block of this, to use with one of these? What are the potential downsides? I assume there's a reason why other mattress styles are more common.
posted by gray17 to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You probably want to search for upholstery foam. But it’s hard to find online any wider than 30 inches.

You might try a local fabric store or upholstery shop.

Oddly, I remember a local department store selling mattress sized slabs of such foam years ago.

Also, I’d put a sheet of plywood, or even Masonite or cardboard on that bed frame.
posted by The Deej at 6:25 AM on January 7, 2018

You can get any kind of foam in any custom size from Foam Order. Depending where you are, you may be able to find a local alternative so you can pick up rather than pay for shipping. Check out the upholstery foam section for the kind you want, you'll have a choice of thickness etc.
posted by cushie at 6:32 AM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

It looks like you might be in a smaller town, but if possible, I would try a futon shop or an unfinished furniture shop. The ones I've been to sell foam along with futons to go with their platform beds.
posted by 8603 at 7:36 AM on January 7, 2018

Here in the uk, at least, IKEA’s cheaper mattresses are simple foam.
posted by A Robot Ninja at 7:39 AM on January 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ikea's foam mattresses are probably cheaper than buying PU foam from an upholstery shop.
posted by bradf at 7:51 AM on January 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Our household has been super happy with our Tuft and Needle foam mattresses. It's not memory foam. We've had them on all our beds for over a year now and they're still great.
posted by erst at 8:55 AM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I live near foam factory and made my mattress from their materials. It is size full. It is a slab of 4" poly foam topped with 2" of memory foam. I'm very happy with it-it provides firm support with a soft top.
The problem I see is that it will be very hard to know what you want. The first slab of poly I bought seemed good but was too firm. I couldn't tell until I actually slept on it. Unfortunately I don't remember which types I bought. They will probably sell you samples of the various types.
They will sell and ship slabs of foam or they will put the layers of foam in a cover to make a mattress (I just put a mattress pad over the foam, works fine).
posted by H21 at 9:15 AM on January 7, 2018

You can have that! Or something very similar. My mother sleeps on almost that very thing, though the frame is one with wooden slats that replaced the previous 7 year old $50 Ikea wooden slat frame about 15 months ago. She loves it.

Several years ago I ordered the piece of custom cut foam from (I can't find the email from 10 years ago, but I'm resonably sure this is the place) Foamsource. If you don't mind the cut not being absolutely perfectly sized, ordered as a custom rectangle, even with a custom sized knit cover, it is cheaper than ordering as a custom mattress. The foam I got is about 6 or 7 inches of high density, medium or medium-firm firmness polyurethane with an inch or two of latex bonded to the top. You don't need to add latex. It was just the cheapest way to get a mattress with a layer of it. It is holding up beautifully. No sagging or breakdown.

I'd suggest a layer of firmer high density foam and maybe a layer of less firm high density foam, just to give it both body and spring. If you get at least 8 inches of (high density) foam it will sleep two people (~ 400 lbs) on wooden slats with no problems. But do spring for the high density foam, it is heavier but it is sturdy. I don't know how well it would work with the thinner metal wire of the frame you linked supporting it.
posted by monopas at 10:22 AM on January 7, 2018

This isn't exactly *close* to you, but House of Foam in Baltimore could surely help you!
posted by mccxxiii at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2018

And plugging numbers into the site, foam has about doubled in price since I bought mine. I'd definitely try somewhere more local, like maybe where mccxxiii suggested above.
posted by monopas at 10:34 AM on January 7, 2018

I have an Ikea cheap foam mattrss and its very similar to those slabs of yellow foam in feel. But comes in bigger sizes and has a fire proof cover (not PBDEs, IKEA has a pretty good policy on that on their website). The fireproofing is the reason you can't just buy plain foam here, it's easier to fireproof the cover than the foam itself.

Having said that Fred Meyers sells big slabs of foam but only up to about twin size. People use them on boats etc
posted by fshgrl at 11:03 AM on January 7, 2018

Try the places on this Thomas list:
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2018

I wanted foam to make cushions for the sofa I'm making. I ended up buying a king size Spa Comfort foam mattress on eBay—4.5" foam topped with 1.5" memory foam—and I cut it into cushions. At $160, it was at least half the cost of buying foam.
posted by she's not there at 2:24 PM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have done this using If you're handy, you can probably save some money by sewing the mattress cover yourself. (I did not do that.)

I'm a side sleeper, so I ordered multiple pieces with different firmness ratings and put the softest ones at the head of the bed, so that my shoulder has something soft to sink into.

One disadvantage of foam is that it contains a tremendous amount of combustion energy. Don't smoke in bed.
posted by clawsoon at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ikea's cheap foam mattress is the most uncomfortable thing I've ever tried to sleep on. It is only about 4 inches thick, and hard as hell. I bought one for a daybed, and there's no level of topper that will make that comfortable. Including 2 layers of eggcrate and a wool comforter as a mattress pad.

When I gave the daybed frame to a friend, I insisted that she buy another mattress (cheap memory foam from Amazon). It is just as cheap, but much better.

On re-reading your question, I can speculate about some of the points you brought up as to why they are not very common or popular in the US. Don't know how much help it will be, but I went through the same thoughts when I bought that custom cut about 10 years ago.

Single chunk of foam mattresses have a few drawbacks. At anything over a twin, foam that is both thick and high density enough to be durable gets pretty unwieldy. It is floppier than a spring mattress, and often heavier. If it doesn't have a cover, it will eventually deteriorate from friction and uv light. One important drawback is that is is essentially a giant sponge, a giant and uncleanable sponge that will trap forever the solids of any fluids it absorbs. Many people don't like any kind of foam because it sleeps hot. Considering those two those attributes (sponge, heat retention), there is now silica gel bead impregnated memory foam that will absorb moisture from person and atmosphere and somehow feel cooler when used.

And foam doesn't breathe as well as a spring mattress. You shouldn't stick a foam slab on top of a box spring, because given the wrong environment, it may not dry out enough and could get moldy underneath. So until Ikea came along and made slat frames easily available, that was a potential issue.
posted by monopas at 3:00 PM on January 7, 2018

Beware that cheap poly foam breaks down almost immediately. Latex is a good alternative and tends to last longer, as do many of the mattress by mail companies, who generally use a mixture of different foams. I'd also recommend Foam by Mail.
posted by cnc at 6:23 PM on January 7, 2018

Every ikea beddinge I've owned has had this type of yellow foam you describe.
posted by laptolain at 8:36 PM on January 7, 2018

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