Make Your Own Memory Foam Bed

High quality memory foam beds such as the Tempur line are incredibly comfortable, with a price tag of thousands of dollars to match. The construction of these beds is relatively simple however, evidenced by the number of “clone” beds on the market today. Unfortunately, some of these mass-produced “clones” have cut corners in quality, which can make selection challenging.

This page will tell you the typical components of memory foam beds, with instructions on how you can mimic each of these components with high quality substitutes. The cost savings can be significant.

For instance, I currently sleep on a queen size memory foam bed constructed in this manner. It cost me approximately $500, versus a memory foam mattress with comparable specifications which would have put me back over $1500.

It’s a lot easier than you might think – you need three layers. The major issue is quality control and determining the appropriate products which are the best value for each layer.

main-memory-foam


sub-memoryfoam Memory Foam Layer
This contouring soft upper layer is what gives memory foam mattress their unique “feel”.

sub-foam Base Foam Layer
This layer provides a supportive base which distributes your weight evenly across the bed.

sub-base Platform Layer
A sturdy flat base supports the memory foam mattress and prevents a “hammock” effect.

35 thoughts on “Make Your Own Memory Foam Bed

  1. Hello Geoff;

    Very nice research and DIY project on a popular topic. The question I have is how did you mesh the 2 types of foams together ( viscoelastic & poly-e). Some type of natural glue or resin? My thinking is that if they are not fused together they can move with shear forces created by the individual entering and exiting bed. Not to mention turning during the night. Further, I would expect the top and bottom of the matress to deflect upwards thus separating the 2 foam layer since the central part of the body is the heaviest . Any thoughts or solutions on this? Thanks

    Cheers;
    Cornelius

    • Hi Cornelius,

      That was initially a concern for me as well, but turned out to be a nonissue.

      The foam itself is both incredibly heavy and very soft – there is zero upward deflection at the edges as a result of one laying on the bed (even with a more concentrated load such as someone sitting in the middle of the bed).

      Movement due to shear is more of a concern, but limited due to high friction due to the high weight of the memory foam. In addition, my bed frame provides a small lip that tends to keep the memory foam topper in place.

      I personally haven’t found it to be an issue, but if it’s a concern for you, a general purpose adhesive suitable for foam should be fine.

  2. Geoff,

    Re your back: It’s just possible that it was caused by a rotated
    adductor (correct spelling) muscle in your upper leg. This can cause severe lower back pain. Sadly, this rarely gets picked up, even by a good physio. And it is a primary cause of lower back
    pain.

    The adductor; NOT abductor, muscle, runs from your groin to just
    above your knee on the inside of the leg. Its job is to pull your
    legs together.

    If the adductor becomes twisted, it starts pulling the lower back out of alignment, leading to severe back pain.

    It can be untwisted in about two minutes by someone who knows that they’re doing.

    The best way to help prevent this happening in the first place, is to make sure you stretch the muscles in the back of your legs.

    I find walking on a treadmill angled at about 15 degrees, does this best.

    I hope this is of some help to either you, or your readers.

    Best wishes,

    Don Maddocks
    Melbourne, Australia

  3. Hello Geoff,

    I think your idea is brilliant! Memory foam mattresses have been proven to positively benefit many people with back issues, but as you mention, these foam mattresses are not always so affordable.

    If you truly can replicate a memory foam mattress at a cost that is more consumer friendly, then I think you are on to something. In times like these, we definitely can use more cost effective ideas like yours!

    Thanks!

  4. Hello there Geoff:
    Was considering your info for a mattress topper from the company you suggested, I’m wondering if you are still happy with the quality you purchased from IsoFoam. The price has increased dramatically and given the exchange rate these days (I’m from Montreal) I was hoping to check in with you before dropping the ‘dough’ so to speak! :o) They say they have a 5 year warranty and 90 day trial but in the end I’d rather just skip the hassle if you have any concerns after having used their product for some time now!
    My Hubbie complains of the twistin’ and turnin’s all night with loss of circulation in his arms and legs on pressure points, all that sleeping on a $3500 Sterns and Foster that’s only 4 years old…Go Figure! We were hoping a Memory Form topper would solve his problems!? Suggestions?

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Christine

    • Hey Christine – yeah, I think I bought mine at a good time! I am now regretting not selling off my RRSP 2 years ago and investing it all in memory foam.

      My topper is holding up great, but since you’re in Montreal, you should check out Essentia. They’re based in Laval and produce some great stuff. I know they do some deals through Costco from time to time. If you like I can forward you a contact for a sales representative.

      I wouldn’t advise a memory foam topper on top of your Sterns and Foster mattress – you’ll likely just end up with “hammocking” that seems ridiculously comfortable for the first few minutes and then proceeds to grind your vertebrae into dust. If the mattress itself is really firm you might be able to get away with it, but it’s a risk.

  5. Geoff,
    Much thanks for the info and the blog overall. I recently purchased an 11-inch memory foam mattress (http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/11-inch-Select-A-Firmness-Memory-Foam-Full-Size-Mattress/3158653/product.html) from Overstock.com. I am very disappointed with it and will be purchasing a new one from a reputable manufacturer later on this year.
    Right now, I’m stuck between deciding on Tempflow, Isoform, or Essentia. Do you have a recommendation? Also, do you think getting a pillow from each manufacturer could prove to be a decent metric on the quality of their mattresses?

    • Hi Harley –

      I am not familiar with TempFlow, but I have used Essentia and Isoform products and have been very happy with them. A pillow may certainly help you become familiar with the foam itself, but may not be the best metric simply due to varying manufacturing techniques and the simple fact that you’re resting your head rather than your body on it.

      One major consideration for memory foam that is often ignored is shipping and transportation to your home. I’d recommend checking up on this, and also if you can get a deal by picking it up from a warehouse/Costco/local distributor. Often, “free shipping” means they’ve just rolled the cost of shipping into the mattress – good to know when negotiating.

  6. Hello Geoff, very useful and to the point website. Many thanks.

    Could you possibly give the figures for the various weights and densities in metric as well as imperial? Those of us in Europe (even old ones in the UK) only get figures in kg per cubic metre.

    • Mark – As a Canadian, I’m deeply ashamed of myself for the lack of metric. I’m planning on revamping the memory foam website soon (grad school is a timepit but it’ll happen) and I’ll put those values up for you.

      edit: Should be up now, let me know if I’ve missed anything!

  7. I need a new mattress (queen) and like the rest am not spending mega bucks. Got any links/#s for companies where I can get these foam pieces? Thanks

    • Hi Tony,

      Check out the section on the memory foam top layer for an overview of the major manufacturers.

      Since memory foam is so heavy and bulky, a major component of your cost will be transport and shipping, even if this is not stated explicitly. “Free” shipping typically means the cost has just been already incorporated into the price. As such, it is best to get it from a distributor in your area. Since there are so many distributors the best I can do is describe the manufacturers and specifications you need to look for.

      On the other hand, I’m sure there are some great distributors out there that may be great for for a large number of people – if you have any highlights, don’t hesitate to post them here!

  8. As a UK resident I am concerned at the general lack of research when it comes to selecting a memory foam mattress. My primary concern is the market sacturation of cheap inferior eastern imports from China and the surrounding area’s. These products may contain harmful toxic chemical’s used during the manufacturing process which in turn could prove dangerous to the sleeper in the long term. My advice would be to check the country of origin and play safe even if it costs a few bucks more and go for a memory foam mattress from a country that has strict code of conduct in the production of memory foam or visco elastic as often referred to. Also check the fire regulations for each mattress as these seem to vary from country to country.

  9. Hey Geoff,

    I made my bed over 3 years ago and still love it. Bought the memory foam 3″ from isoform.com and the bottom 5″ layer from JcPenney.com. We LOVE it!

    My question to you…since it’s been so many years since we did ours and I can’t find the original website that instructed me, I was wondering if you think the size of the layers matter. My parents want one for their camper but don’t want it so thick…maybe 6 or 7″ total. So should I go with a 2″ memory foam and 5″bottom or 3″ memory and 3″ bottom. They want to do 3 and 3 but I don’t know if that will work?

    HELP! thanks!!!

    • Hi Bridget – Good to hear that it worked out well and is going strong three years later!

      In regards to your question, I’d say the biggest factor is making sure the bottom layer supports your parents adequately. The memory foam should be considered a “comfort” layer, rather than one providing support and structure.

      I’m not sure if 3″ and 3″ is the best idea, just because they may “bottom out” the base foam layer since it’s only 3″ thick. This could cause back issues down the line.

      I’d first find a base foam layer that your parents can lay on and they feel it’s a bit firm but supportive. For a 4″ base layer, try polyurethane foam in the 3lb/ft3 range perhaps – stiffness will vary so you’ll have to try it out. Then perhaps a 2″ memory foam layer to top it all off and make it nice and comfy.

      Hope this helps! If you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask.

  10. I want to make pillows for my couch they have to be solid foam 24”x24″ can you help me by telling me were to buy the foam.
    Thanks for your help

  11. Geoff, I’ve been writing some articles for a marketing company, and this week’s topic was “memory foam mattresses.” I just finished one about making your own, and all your posts here were extremely helpful.

    So much so that if I can get any financial stability back, I’m going to try to make my own as well. I certainly know where to go to get the information, now.

    Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  12. You could also buy a memory foam bed for about $500 from Alamo Bedding of San Antonio Texas. They began manufacturing their own version of the Tempur line using the same foam via a NASA source. It is a two layered matress, bottom layer very firm memory foam with top layer lesser firm memory foam )the firmness comes in 4 firmnesses I heard). I’ve had mine over 2 years and it’s great!
    PhilMan
    SA TX USA

  13. Hello! With the materials you have suggested, can they be cut into a round shape w/o compromising the quality/ comfort of the bed? I want a soccer shaped bed for my son, but I refuse to pay $1000 plus for a toddler’s bed.

    Thanks

    • Hi Shannon –

      The materials can certainly be cut into a round shape – my only concern would be the actual cutting. A foam wholesaler should have appropriate tools or be able to point you in the right direction.

  14. I didn’t see Bragada mentioned in your links, but I’ve been thrilled with mine. It made such a difference, my parents got one too. Their prices are great compared to some of the other brands, and they offer great specials all the time. Even the “Luxury” level mattress topper seems reasonable to me, in 3.5-5″ thicknesses 5.3lb foam.

  15. Have anyone recently purchased a great base foam with the minimum specification recommended by Geoff? Can you share the manufacture info or the store info? Thank you so much.
    Excellent DIY column, Geoff. Thank you.

  16. Great idea, but you are overlooking the incredibly toxic fumes coming off of the memory foam. Keep in mind that your face is just inches off of the mattress and that memory foam (and to a certain extent regular mattresses with foam padding) off-gasses for about 10 years. ‘Google’ some of the experiences that people have had with these petroleum based foam products and you may want to keep looking. I bought one and had the windows open for three weeks and still could not sleep on it without getting burning eyes and nose. I finally returned the product.
    I eventually found a guy in Montreal that makes an all natural memory foam and am waiting for delivery.

  17. Do you reccomend using a layer in between the memory foam and base layer? I was reading that some use a layer in between the two to help it “breathe.”

    • Hi Jeffrey –

      I am of the opinion that this “airflow layer” (a layer of lower density or convoluted foam below the memory foam layer) is a lot of marketing hype with very little real benefit attached. Major issues:

      1. How exactly is airflow supposed to occur? While the “airflow layer” may be lower density or convoluted foam which intuitively “should” allow more air through, this is all cosmetic – there is no convincing mechanism where sustained airflow through the layer could be obtained.

      2. Even if some airflow did occur, it wouldn’t do much. Foam is a good insulator, and it is unlikely that a small amount of ambient air circulating at the bottom of the memory foam layer would result in perceptible heat transfer from the other side of the memory foam layer that you’re sleeping on.

      In short, I think that any product with an “airflow layer” should be looked at very skeptically if not avoided outright as the marketing guys appear to have won over the engineers. A moisture wicking cover (made of CoolMax or similar) is a more reasonable approach.

  18. Thanks for the response! One more question, what base layer do you recommend? I see the one you used is no longer for sale…

    • Yep, it’s a bit of a pain – you best option is to check around for a local foam distributor (they’re more common than you think), or an online outfit with reasonable shipping costs. This is heavily dependent on your location.

  19. Hey Geoff,

    Great website. I too live in Kingston and I thought I should seek your advice. I recently borrowed my mom’s tent trailer and let me tell you that the mattress in it is less than comfortable. Since my mom uses it for 2 month in Florida in the winter, I thought I should do her (and myself) a favour and buy a memory foam mattress topper.

    The dimension of the beds in the tent trailer are 48″ wide and most of the mattresses out there are either 39″, 54″, 60″ or 76″. I could got either a bit short or a bit long but I would much prefer to have the exact size so that there is no problems when forlding it. Do you think it would be best to get a 54″ wide and cut it down or should I make research to find a custom sized one? Budget is an issue as you can imagine.

    Thank you in advance.

    Sébastien

    • Hi Sebastien –

      There are not a lot of local memory foam distributors around – which limits our options here in Kingston. 🙂 I would be concerned that a custom sized mattress would be more expensive than simply purchasing a slightly larger mattress and cutting it down.

      There are a few options – you could purchase a 54″ wide mattress, but there are limited uses for a 6″ strip of memory foam. A 76″ wide mattress would leave a 28″ by 80″ piece (assuming standard king sized) which could be cut evenly into four 28″ by 20″ pieces which could be used as pillows (standard queen pillows are 30″ by 20″). This is assuming you want pillows however, and that the thickness of the topper is appropriate!

      This all depends on your costs – but I don’t think that a custom approach would be ideal, unless you get a great deal on it.

  20. I would love to build my own mattress like this. But for the life of me, I can’t find where to buy the differen layers of foam! Any suggestions would be a huge help.

  21. I’m considering going the route of building my own foam mattress. Are there locations where you can purchase the “mattress cover” that will fit the thickness of the various layers I might select? For example, if I have a total of 13 inches in a King size, can I purchase a mattress cover for such a size? I haven’t found anyone offering the mattress covers separately.

    thanks

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