There are three underlying problems:
- Most consumers are unaware of what goes into a mattress: that is, what determines quality and durability.
- It's easy to make something last a long time if it's hard. An asphalt mattress would last 1000 years; a cloud mattress wouldn't last 10 seconds. The challenge is: how does a manufacturer make something soft and supportive that is also durable?
- Manufacturers have been incredibly successful at keeping secret what goes into a mattress. Slick marketing has manipulated buyers into believing that price has a relationship to quality. Manufacturers use fancy fabrics and cushy foams that they know will not hold up, but make great showroom impressions and sell well.
Even in the alternative mattress industry, many kinds of memory foam and latex (which is also in the foam category) are simply not made with durable materials.
One measure of foam's durability is its density. Typical synthetic latex blends vary in density from about 1 pound/cubic foot to about 2.5 pounds per cubic foot. Memory foam varies from about 3.0 pounds to about 7.0 pounds. Bigger numbers mean more durability; lower density generally means lower quality and less durability.
Other than foam density, however, there is no widely recognized or standardized test that measures the durability of mattress materials.
The most durable material available today is made into natural latex mattresses. Typically, natural latex mattresses are advertised as "all natural," but many actually contain 20% - 40% synthetic materials or fillers such as ash or clay, which will degrade rapidly. Sometimes they are even referred to as organic latex mattresses, which is misleading. A mattress's casing materials can be organic, but there is no official organic certification for latex rubber itself, which is derived from tropical trees.
If you are looking for a very durable mattress, be sure to get high-density foam or natural latex. If you want the best material there is, a natural latex mattress will outlast one made with any other material.