What We’re Looking For
All of this wouldn’t be much good if they didn’t sell memory foam by itself. Luckily enough, they do – as mattress toppers. We know we’re looking for open-cell viscoelastic polyurethane foam, with a minimum density of 5lb/ft3 (80 kg/m3) . It should be reviewed well for comfort, as well as come with a wicking cover to ensure comfort in humid or warmer conditions.
The only thing left to decide is size and thickness. Mattress size is completely up to you, but I suggest getting as much quality memory foam as you can afford. A thickness of 4 inches appears to be the sweet spot in terms of cost versus benefit. Anything beyond that provides little benefit, and cost increases drastically.
What I Did
I’ll save you the research trouble, and just tell you who I found that satisfies our conditions. That’s not to say there aren’t a ton of vendors out there with great products – this is simply one I’ve used personally and can vouch for. Finding the best deal at any given time is going to be a little bit of work – prices and products change rapidly, but at least your evaluation method will not.
In 1Q 2008 when I built my bed, Bergad Inc’s Isoform mattress division provided a very high quality, well reviewed memory foam for a very reasonable price. I purchased a 4″ queen mattress topper with a wicking (“CoolMax”) cover for approximately 215 USD. The price has increased since that time, but remains a very good value. As of the time I ordered, shipping was free to the US and Ontario. I cannot vouch for any other provinces as I live in Ontario, but to be frank I cannot believe I was not charged extra (or anything!) for cross-border shipping.
I would not recommend Ebay or other assorted sites. The deals present can be matched easily by careful shopping with more established merchants, and any deals “too good to be true” usually are. The advantage of having a company you can phone up and contact for issues such as warranty is invaluable. Here are some major manufacturers to get you started.
|Bergad||Two parts: the retail Isoform side, and the wholesale Bergad Specialty Foams and Composites Division which produces wholesale foam and unique products such as glow in the dark memory foam.|
|Carpenter||The “largest manufacturer of comfort cushioning in the world”. Produces the Isotonic line of memory foam products for consumers, but the majority of their memory foam is sold to other manufacturers.|
|Essentia||Canadian based memory foam manufacturer. Does not use the typical polyurethane approach, but instead has developed a process to add viscoelastic properties to latex foam.|
|Foamex||A large manufacturer of foam products, including the Venus, Aerus, Energia, and Sensus memory foams. Currently restructured due to bankruptcy, the future of these products is uncertain.|
|Sleep Innovations||Best known for its Novaform line, they also produce a wide range of products for private labels at retailers like Target, Sears, Kohl’s, Costco and Sam’s Club. Also produced the deeply ironic “Cuddly Comfort” pillows that were recalled for containing jagged metal bits.|
|Tempur||The original. This is on here only for completeness and comparison’s sake – their memory foam toppers are ludicrously expensive.|
There are actually very few companies manufacturing their own memory foam, and even fewer who do it domestically. Foam is rebranded and resold, and it can be very difficult to trace where your memory foam product really came from. If you’re aware of other companies that actually make their own foam as opposed to brokering it through other sources, please leave a comment!
There are a few things you should be aware of. One, the thing is going to be heavy. Remember our density calculations in the differences between memory foams section? A 4″ queen topper will be almost 60 pounds! Make sure you’re home the day of delivery so you don’t have to go pick it up yourself, and let the delivery guy drop it in your bedroom, not your front door. This isn’t a major issue for younger people, but if you have difficulty lifting and moving heavy awkward objects, recruit a helper!
Additionally, memory foam, due to it’s open-cell foam structure, can be compressed quite compactly. This saves on shipping, but often causes people to get confused when they see a compressed shrinkwrapped thing that looks more like a Pilsbury roll than a mattress cover. It will take several hours for the topper to unroll itself and expand. Don’t attempt to “stretch” it back into shape, you could damage it. Just let it be. As the pictures show, it can take a while, especially if delivered in the cold which will cause the memory foam to stiffen up significantly.
The mattress topper cover can be a pain to put on too. Easiest way I found way to lay out the cover flat, put the mattress topper on one side of it, then fold the cover over and zip it up. The weight of the mattress topper makes typical approaches to zipping it up very awkward.
Remember there will be a mild odor to start. My mattress topper had no appreciable odor after 2 days.