Why Are Plush Mattresses So Popular?

Photo of a white frosted cake with text overlay reading, "Why Are Plush Mattresses So Popular? & Why So Many Mattresses Look Like Fluffy Layer Cakes"


Step into a mattress store and you can tell the whole world’s gone plush crazy.

Look around and you’ll see beds like layer cakes — 16, 18, 20″ deep from foundation to quilt top, with swirls of plush padding rising to the top. It’s as if manufacturers are playing a game of How Tall Can YOUR Mattress Get?

Why the craze for plush? Is it simply that a plusher mattress is what feels good to many buyers?

What shoppers think they want

In our Seattle store, what we see is that more customers than ever before want plusher, thicker mattresses, rather than thinner, firmer ones. In fact, firm mattresses now account for fewer than 25% of mattress sales on the West Coast.

People are under the impression that plusher means more comfortable, and maybe, that a plusher mattress will last longer because there are more comfort layers to ‘wear out’ before body impressions become a problem.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

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Old school mattresses 101

Prior to the 1990’s, when all mattresses on the market were two-sided and hard, thin mattresses were the norm and body impressions weren’t typically a problem. Back then, usually the only material on top of the spring system was a firm pad, similar to a thick carpet pad. These pads had very little compression ability, plus the warranty would call for regular turning and rotation of the mattress. So a properly cared-for mattress retained its smooth top over time but offered little in the way of comfort.

Enter the era of plush.

How the plush mattress became so popular

Plush density mattresses lessen pressure points and help reduce tossing and turning. In response to customer preference, manufacturers have come up with many types of soft foams and fiber combinations to provide this soft surface. Almost all of these materials have some degree of compression.

The addition of soft surface materials allows for more body impressions in the mattress. In plain speak: if your mattress is one-sided — which many are today, as mainstream mattress manufacturers and dealers often don’t sell two-sided ones to anyone but hotels — you’ll see the impressions of your body shape in the mattress within months or a few years.

I once had a conversation with a foam manufacturer who said a soft foam (i.e. plush) would lose 20 to 25% of its thickness within five years. This means the less soft foam, the less of a body impression you’ll see and feel. If a mattress has four inches of soft foam above the spring unit or other core, the compression will be up to an inch deep. If there are eight inches of padding, a 2″ impression can form. It never happens on the edge of the bed or down the middle (no man’s land), just where you and/or your partner sleep.

All of the comfort, less of the body impressions

After all these years of selling mattresses, I haven’t found a brand that won’t develop some body impressions if not turned and rotated to ensure an even break-in. I suspect that many people are unwilling to perform even minimal maintenance of their own mattress to ensure a long-lasting product and are then surprised that pocketing occurs right where they sleep.

At our store, many of the mattresses we sell use botanical latex for the comfort layers and/or core support, because we know how good a quality latex foam sleeps (not to mention how earth-friendly it is). So how does latex foam stand up to body impressions?

Before I answer this question, it’s important to note that there are several types of rubber latex cores and padding layers in the market. It’s been our experience in almost 30 years of carrying latex that botanical latex does NOT take body impressions as much as blended latex (often called ‘natural’ latex) and synthetic latex (SBR) do. Although latex can be molded into different densities, it’s still comparatively firm and so sometimes other materials are layered on top to provide plushness.

The lower the volume of soft materials in the sleep surface, the less chance of body impressions. Latex-only mattresses (like our Wallingford Plush, which uses our Botanicore™ botanical latex core) shouldn’t develop impressions in the latex, as there are no softness layers on top to ‘take’ the impression (the cotton fire barrier in the cover will show some slight compression).

Long live your quality mattress

Here at Bedrooms & More, we have about 30 latex mattress models on our showroom floor. Most of these use Botanicore™ as the support system (core) in different firmnesses, but some use softer layers of latex cushioning over different core spring units. We have Botanicore™ mattresses made especially for us and, like all mattresses we sell, they’re made two-sided: both sides have identical comfort layers. We recommend to our customers, in person and in writing, a turning and rotating schedule to get the longest life and most comfort from the mattress.

Often, we recommend one of the latex core models that uses only latex and suggest a separate mattress topper that can be replaced or flipped and rotated as necessary for the longest life. A comfort topper can be a great choice as our bodies change over time. Introducing a new or different topper during the long life of a latex mattress can keep you comfortable for years without the major expense of a new mattress.

If you don’t want to worry about body impressions, get a botanical latex-only mattress and add a topper. Even if the mattress is not latex-only, you can expect your mattress to last longer if you maintain it reasonably by flipping and rotating regularly.

We also offer high quality, simple latex core mattresses with a zip cover. The zip cover allows you to change out or modify the core as desired, as your body changes through the years. The Thackeray Plush (also available in Firm and Extra Firm) is a great example of this type of mattress.

Still want plush?

You might. And that’s okay. A sleep preference is a sleep preference. As a consumer, it’s important to notice how your mattress affects your body, and to learn to ask the right questions of the right people.

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