Firmness is one of the single most common considerations that comes up when shopping for a new mattress. If you ask someone what kind of mattress they like, the odds are good that they’ll respond with terms like “firm,” “plush,” or “soft.” If you start asking about firmness, you’ll also discover that it is extremely subjective and that there’s a huge range of preferences when it comes to the feel of a mattress.
If you’re someone who knows that you want a firm mattress, then this guide is for you. We know it can be overwhelming to seek out a new mattress, so we make it simple by offering our top 5 best firm mattresses. In addition, we’ll cover the key information you need about firmness and the types of mattresses that you may consider.
Our Top Picks
Finding the best firm mattress can be a difficult process. Researching all the different mattress types, brands, shops, designs, and reviews can quickly take up a stunning amount of effort. If you don’t have the time or the interest to do all this research, fear not — we’ve gone through the trouble already to select our top 5 best firm mattresses. You can find a quick guide to these top choices in this table with more detail about each mattress in the section below.
|BRAND||MODEL||MATTRESS TYPE||FIRMNESS SCALE||PRICE|
|Tuft & Needle||Foam||7||$575 (Queen)|
Luxury Plush (4-5)
Gentle Firm (7-8)
Tuft & Needle
Tuft & Needle, which entered the online mattress market in 2012, offers a foam mattress with a simple, straightforward design. It is built with only two layers — a polyfoam base with a comfort layer made of Adaptive foam, a proprietary polyfoam. This comfort layer has a reputation for being firm while also offering enough contouring to help offer pressure point relief to sleepers in any sleeping position.
Though the topmost foam layer has a density that is lower than what we normally look for in a foam mattress, the Tuft & Needle mattress has maintained a high level of solid verified reviews. In addition, this mattress can be purchased for $600 or less in a Queen size, making it one of the most affordable foam options on the market.
When it comes to track record and price, it’s hard to find a better foam option for a firm mattress than the original Tuft & Needle mattress.
Loom and Leaf
The Loom & Leaf mattress is an all-foam option produced by the same company that makes the Saatva innerspring mattress. It is designed with a hefty comfort layer made with high-density memory foam and is offered in two models — Relaxed Firm and Firm. The Firm option is able to provide the responsiveness of memory foam while maintaining a firm sleeping surface and preventing sinking too deeply into the mattress.
Customers have reported high levels of satisfaction with this mattress and with the service provided by the Saatva company. While more expensive than the Tuft and Needle, the Loof & Leaf mattress is made with higher-end materials and comes with free white-glove delivery.
For the quality of its design and materials alongside the strength of the company’s customer service, the Firm model from Loom & Leaf easily makes the list of our top 5 best firm mattresses.
An excellent all-latex option for customers who want a firm mattress is the Zenhaven. A unique aspect of the design of the Zenhaven mattress is that it is reversible with each side having a different firmness level. One side is labeled as “Gentle Firm,” which falls as a 7-8 on the typical firmness scale. If, however, you find over time that your firmness preference changes, the “Luxury Plush” side offers a feel closer to 4-5 on the firmness scale. All you have to do is flip the mattress over.
This mattress is built entirely with Talalay latex, which gives it extra bounce and offers responsiveness without the risk of feeling stuck in the bed. Though it is more expensive than other options on this list, it comes with free in-home setup and a 120-night sleep trial.
The Saatva mattress uses a coil-on-coil design that differentiates it from many other innerspring mattresses on the market. This construction places a layer of micro-coils above a thicker layer of coils and helps enhance responsiveness while maintaining a firm sleeping surface. The mattress is available in a Luxury Firm (5-6 on the firmness scale) and a Firm (8) option, giving you more choices for a firmness level that fits your preference.
As mentioned with the Loom & Leaf mattress, the Saatva company gets strong reviews for its customer service and offers free delivery, setup, and haul-away of an old mattress. It represents excellent value and performance for people who want a firm mattress.
The claim to fame for the Helix mattress is that it is customized for each individual customer. When buying the mattress on the company’s site, you take a sleep quiz that helps to identify your key needs and preferences. Based on this proprietary algorithm, the company then can select the most appropriate materials and layering for your mattress. The design includes a proprietary polyfoam, support foam, and micro-coils. For sleepers who want a firm mattress, this ability to have a tailor-made mattress greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll be both comfortable and well-supported.
With a price of under $1,000 for a Queen, the Helix is an affordable option for most people and can deliver mattress performance that fits your ideal based on firmness and other key characteristics.
All About Firmness
The firmness scale is a way to try to clearly and simply describe the firmness level of a mattress. Because of the subjectivity of the feel of a mattress, it’s hard to perfectly classify firmness, but the firmness scale helps to provide a common method for understanding and comparing the general feel of a mattress.
The firmness scale goes from 1-10. On this scale, 1 is the softest and 10 is the firmest. Virtually no mattresses are sold at the extreme ends of a 1 or a 10. Anything from 4-6 is considered medium firm, while 7 and above is firm.
Firmness vs. Support
Two of the most common terms that you’ll come across when reading about a mattress are firmness and support. Very often, customers think these two things are the same, but there is an important difference. While firmness is about the comfort feel of a mattress, support is about how well the mattress promotes proper spinal alignment.
While firmness and support can be related, they are not synonymous. For example, a very plush mattress may be comfortable to some sleepers, but it also may have too much sag, causing the lower back to become out of line with the hips or neck. Similarly, a very firm mattress might feel comfortable, but it might create a lot of impact at those same pressure points. In both of these cases, even though the mattress may “feel” right, it ultimately isn’t supportive.
A key factor that influences the support level of a mattress is its responsiveness, which describes how well the mattress cushions different parts of the body. A mattress that can compress more to cushion the heavier parts of the body — such as the shoulders or pelvis — is more responsive than a mattress that just offers the same level of cushioning to all parts of the body. A mattress can be both firm and responsive, and this is the ideal for people who are reading this guide.
Choosing Your Firmness Level
If this is your first time shopping for a new mattress, you may be wondering how you know what firmness level is right for you. It can be difficult to know exactly what firmness to select, but these considerations can help guide you in making this choice.
- Past experience: a good starting point is to think about any previous mattresses that you’ve owned as well as any other mattresses that you’ve slept on (in a hotel, in a guest room, etc.). From those past experiences, try to gauge what type of feel made it easier for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up pain-free and refreshed. If you know you prefer a mattress that is on the firmer side but have found some mattresses to be too firm, err toward a 7 on the firmness scale.
- Sleeping position: firmness preference often corresponds with sleeping position. People who sleep on their back tend to like firmer mattresses that don’t permit the abdomen to sink in too deeply. Side sleepers, on the other hand, usually find that a very firm mattress is uncomfortable at the shoulder or hips. Stomach sleepers tend to like medium-firm mattresses but some may also like the strong base provided by a more firm model.
- Weight: people who weigh over 230 pounds generally are best served by a more firm mattress. Softer mattresses usually have too much give and cannot appropriately accommodate people of this weight. People who weigh under 130 pounds may find that a very firm mattress does not have enough give or sink.
- Sex: if a mattress is too plush, it is hard to move on top of, which can inhibit sex. At the same time, a very firm mattress may be too hard to comfortably handle sexual activity. Customers who want a firm mattress but with less risk of the mattress creating barriers to sex should lean toward a 7-7.5 on the firmness scale.
Types of Mattresses
What are foam mattresses?
Foam mattresses are made completely with foam and not with other materials, though these mattresses normally employ multiple types of foam (such as memory foam, polyfoam, and latex foam) layered on top of each other. In the comfort layer, memory foam is a popular choice because of its responsiveness and contouring to the body. Foams can be manufactured with a broad range of characteristics, and then these foams can be stacked in a multitude of ways, which means that there are many different firmness levels that can be created using foams.
Are foam mattresses good for people who want a firm mattress?
Yes, sometimes. Given the variety of foam mattresses on the market, there is also a great deal of diversity when it comes to firmness. Most foam mattresses are built to have a medium-firm feel, but many are available in a more firm style.
What are latex mattresses?
If a mattress is made of only latex rubber, it is a latex mattress (also known as all-latex or true-latex). There are two types of latex — Talalay and Dunlop — that differ based on their production method and feel. Talalay is normally bouncier and softer. Latex is resilient, which means that it quickly bounces back to its normal shape when weight is removed. Given this resilience, latex in general has a reputation for a firmer feel, but it can also be produced to be softer.
Are latex mattresses good for people who want a firm mattress?
Yes, often. Latex is often made with a firmer feel relative to memory foam, yet it is still responsive enough to maintain a high level of support for sleepers in virtually all sleeping positions.
What are innerspring mattresses?
Mattresses that have a support core of metal coils are innerspring mattresses. These coils are usually several inches thick, and then may have layers of foam placed above them to adjust the comfort feel of the mattress. Innerspring coils tend to offer significant firmness, although the exact feel changes based on the design of the coils and the comfort layer.
Note that for classification purposes, if a mattress has a comfort layer that is 3” or thicker, we consider it to be a hybrid and not an innerspring.
Are innerspring mattresses good for people who want a firm mattress?
Yes, often. Innersprings frequently have less give than foam mattresses, and their bounce helps give the mattress a firmer overall feel. While the firmness level will vary in large part based on the composition of the comfort layer, innersprings are quite commonly a good fit for people who want a firm mattress.
What are hybrid mattresses?
A hybrid mattress is built with a base of innerspring coils with a comfort layer above it that is 3” or thicker. The comfort layer can be composed of one or more of the following materials: latex, polyfoam, memory foam, or fiber (natural or synthetic). The feel of any given hybrid mattress will change dramatically based on the specific materials that are employed in this comfort layer.
Are hybrid mattresses good for people who want a firm mattress?
Yes, sometimes. Given the consistent spring provided by the coils, hybrids can work well for people who want firm mattresses as long as the comfort layers are not made to be plush.
What are airbeds?
Airbeds are built to be adjustable in their firmness. Adjustments are made by adding or subtracting air from a chamber that is inside the mattress. Inflating or deflating the mattress is as easy as pressing a button on a remote or on a smartphone application, and adjustments can be made “on the fly” during the night. Many airbeds also have some comfort layer above the air chamber, though the thickness and composition of this layer can vary.
Are airbeds good for people who want a firm mattress?
Yes, sometimes. Because they can be made to be very firm, airbeds often are comfortable for people who want a harder mattress. However, the issue that can arise with airbeds is a lack of support as in many cases the comfort layers are not sufficient to respond to the body’s main pressure points.