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People prefer firm or hard mattresses for a variety of reasons. Among these are stomach sleepers, for whom a firm mattress is best, and also back sleepers. The latter is split between those who prefer a medium firm mattress and those who prefer a hard mattress.
The terms are relative, of course, and what is firm to one person might be medium to another. However, we have checked out a number of the firm or hard mattresses and chosen our best six for 2021. If you are a side sleeper, it is unlikely that any of the mattresses reviewed below would suit you, since you need a softer top to absorb the pressure of your shoulders, hips, and knees.
Here are our top 6 firm mattresses for 2021
NOTE: The comfort/firmness levels quoted in these firm mattress reviews refer to firmness levels on a 1-10 scale, where 10 is firmest. Where any deviate from this, that is with 1.0 as firmest, it will be stated.
Table of Contents
1. Avocado Mattress: Standard Model: Best Eco-Friendly Firm Mattress
The Avocado mattress features as the best Eco-Friendly Mattress in our list of 15 Best-Rated Mattresses. It is available in three options: Standard (7.0), Pillow-Top and Vegan (both 6.0), but it is the 11-inch thick Standard version we are reviewing here in our Best Firm Mattress Review, 2021.
This eco-friendly firm mattress contains only the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified textiles, and GOLS latex. Chemical adhesives are not used and all latex is natural. The mattress construction involves 3 inches of 65 Kg/m3 / 14 – 19 ILD natural Dunlop latex, 2 inches above and one inch below an 8-inch layer of fabric-encased steel coils manufactured using recycled steel. The coils are arranged in 5 zones with reinforced edges. Motion transfer is minimal and the layout distributes your weight evenly for correct spinal alignment. Natural hydrated silica and organic wool act as fire barriers and retardants.
Editor’s Notes: The Avocado natural Dunlop latex mattress is ideal for stomach and back sleepers. It is firm without being too hard. If you prefer your mattress to be made from 100% natural or recycled materials, then this is it! The Standard Avocado mattress is sufficiently firm and hard for those that sleep on their stomach or their back. It is particularly good for couples and those suffering from spinal alignment issues. This mattress also has zoned support – ideal for stomach sleepers. Check out our full Avocado Mattress review here.
2. Dreamcloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress: Best Economical Firm Luxury Mattress
The DreamCloud luxury hybrid mattress is one of our top picks due to its comfort and affordability. It is our #1 choice for ‘Best Economical Luxury Mattress’ in our 15 Best Mattress Reviews 2021. It is a medium firm mattress that provides a level of support suitable for all sleeping positions, including side sleepers.
It is 15 inches thick and comprises 8 layers, namely:
- 2 Inches of quilted cashmere. This is hand tufted and is a beautifully smooth, comfortable surface to sleep on.
- 0.5 Inches of memory foam, infused with gel to keep you cool at night.
- 1.75 Inches of quilted memory foam.
- 0.5 Inches of natural latex making it easier to move around and also offers some bounce.
- 0.25 Inches of high-density memory foam. This adds contouring and support.
- 0.5 Inches of HD memory foam for support and extra firmness.
- 8-Inch layer of steel micro-coils providing support, cooling and isolation of the movement of each partner. This layer is constructed with 5 separate zones that provide support where you need it most.
- Finally, a 0.5-inch layer of high-density support memory foam that provides firmness and contributes to a medium-hard sleeping surface.
Editor’s Notes: The Dreamcloud hybrid mattress would have figured higher in our list had it been a true firm or hard Mattress rather than medium firm. Most stomach sleepers need a truly firm mattress to keep their spine straight when sleeping. This mattress is a great all-rounder if you want firmness plus a good degree of comfort, but cannot be described as a hard mattress. However, the zoned micro coil layer helps keep your spine straight. More on this later.
3. Helix Mattress: Best Firm Mattress for Couples and for Customizing
When you order a mattress from Helix Sleep you must fill complete an online quiz or questionnaire. The information is used to recommend a mattress tailored specifically for you. If you sleep with a partner then, if you wish, each side of the Helix mattress can be designed specifically for each partner. The left-hand side can be soft and comfortable, while the right-hand half can be firm and hard.
The same is true for a stomach or back sleeper, who prefers firm mattresses, and a side sleeper who prefer softer top surfaces. Heavyweight sleepers with lightweight partners will find this a perfect solution to their problem. Twilight and Dawn are the two firm mattresses in the range, though they are modified to suit your needs as discovered in your quiz answers. If you prefer a super firm mattress, then they will make it for you.
The mattress consists fundamentally of three layers, namely:
- A proprietary Helix Dynamic Foam.
- A cooling transition layer of polyfoam.
- Individually pocketed micro coils.
- A base support layer of polyurethane (polyfoam).
Helix Dynamic Foam is a proprietary synthetic foam, the composition of which is not revealed. It possesses the properties of latex and memory foam, with very low motion transfer properties. It is bouncier than memory foam and does not make you feel held down enclosed in your bed as memory foam can do.
It is not possible to state the relative thicknesses of each layer since these will depend on your quiz. There could be a significant difference between individual customers; easily by up to 4 inches. The density of the foams can also be personalized. If you are a heavyweight sleeper, then the density of the top two foams may be increased for a firmer mattress.
Dual Extra Helix Mattress: One of the advantages of the Helix mattress is its dual capability. The Dual Extra option can be used to create a mattress where one side is firmer than the other. Hence, a heavyweight guy and a lightweight woman can sleep comfortably on their own comfort or firmness level. If you like a hard mattress (say 7 -8 firmness level), then you can have that tailored to your needs while your lighter partner can have a more comfortable mattress (say 4-5 firmness level). The same is true of different sleeping positions.
Editor’s Notes: The Helix Sleep Mattress is constructed to meet the needs of each customer – and in the ‘Dual’ cases, of each partner. By meeting the individual needs of partners, you can both sleep on a mattress that suits exactly your personal needs or preferences. If you prefer a firm or hard mattress, that’s what you get – to your own specified firmness level. Temperature regulation is also good and the Helix mattress is at #1 in our Best Mattress for Couples Review, and our Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers Review.
4. Loom and Leaf Firm Option: Best Hard Mattress for Cooling
Loom & Leaf, manufactured by Saatva, offers two versions of its firm mattress: the Relaxed Firm version with a comfort level of 6 -7 on a 1 – 10 scale where 10 is firmest. The Firm version is harder, around 8 – 9. It is the Firm version we are reviewing here, though there is little between them other than the foam density.
The Loom and Leaf Firm mattress is an ideal firm or hard mattress for couples due to its excellent motion isolation and responsiveness. When you move position, the mattress rapidly reverts to its original smooth shape. It is also ideal for stomach and back sleepers.
The mattress comprises four layers:
- The top 2” layer is an enhanced 4lb conforming convoluted foam fitted with a cooling gel panel. It conforms to your body shape, providing comfort plus excellent support for your pressure points: shoulders, hips, buttocks, and knees. The egg crate design to provide a good flow of air and the lower back area of the unconvoluted side is covered with a panel of cooling gel.
- The second layer is 2.5” of memory foam (5 lb density) which provides deeper support.
- The third layer is a 2” loft pad that transitions the sleeper from the memory foam layer above to the dense support foam beneath it.
- The bottom layer is a 5.5” layer of high-density support polyurethane foam for maximum base support.
- Cover: The cover is made from organic cotton which is quilted with 5/8” of foam, and includes a natural thistle flame retardant.
Editor’s Notes: The Firm version of the Loom and Leaf mattress is an excellent option if you need a firm or hard mattress. It gets our #1 vote because of its excellent cooling properties and motion isolation, and also its suitability for couples. It may not be ideal for heavier sleepers of 230 lb or over. The Relaxed Firm option has a comfort rating of 6, and the level of hardness is less than that of the Firm version (8). However, it may suit those who like more comfort on top with a good firm base support. Check out our full Loom And Leaf Mattress review here.
5. Zenhaven Mattress: Best 100% Latex Firm Mattress
The Zenhaven mattress is made by Saatva using an American-made Talalay latex form. Talalay latex conforms well to your body shape for comfort while also providing a spring with good bounce for young couples. This mattress has a chemical-free flame-resistant barrier of organic New Zealand wool which covers both sides, top, and bottom. Over this is a cover of quilted organic cotton.
The beauty of Talalay latex is that it easy to create foams of differing densities and support. The Zenhaven mattress has five zones, each providing a different level of support for those areas of your body that require it. The lumbar (lower) area of your back is supported more than your shoulders and hips which like a more comfortable level of give. The base layer is also of 100% Talalay latex. The top Luxury Plush surface to sleep on (level 4 – 5) than the bottom Gentle Firm surface (level 7 – 8).
Editor’s Notes: Saatva’s Zenhaven mattress is flippable between medium soft and firm. The 5-zone construction makes it a great mattress for those that need targeted support, particularly stomach sleepers as explained above. Motion separation is very good, making this mattress excellent for couples. It has a slight bounce to it and provides support when needed to keep your spine straight. Check out our full Zenhaven Mattress review here.
6. Winkbeds Mattress Plus: Firmest Mattress for Heavy Sleepers
The Winkbeds mattress is available in Softer (4.5), Luxury Firm (6.5), Firmer (7.5) and Plus (8.0) options. The figures represent the firmness levels. It is an innerspring mattress with layers of foam above the individually wrapped coils.
The Firmer and Plus options are good for back and stomach sleepers, while the Plus option is best for heavyweight sleepers. It is designed to keep your spine and joints in their proper alignment. The mattress is fitted with lumbar support pads that provide extra support for the lower back.
- The cover consists of a Tencel fabric cover quilted with 2 inches of a high-density foam that resists body impressions.
- The next layer is a highly responsive 7-zone latex support layer for excellent responsiveness.
- Next, there is a 7.5-inch layer of triple-zoned TexasQUAD individually wrapped coils.
- The bottom layer is 3 inches of high-density polyurethane support foam.
- Finally, the edges are covered with an extraEdge Support System that improves edge support.
The Winkbeds Plus mattress is 15 inches thick. The alternative three comfort levels are each constructed differently.
Editor’s Notes: The Winkbeds Plus mattress is ideal for those that prefer a firm mattress for any reason, and also for heavier weight people of 230 lb or higher. It is also ideal for stomach and back sleepers and comes with free delivery and a white glove service for $99. In fact, it is among the best innerspring mattresses available on the market today.
If you find the Winkbeds Plus too hard for you, you can change it for the Luxury Firm or Firmer options during your 120-night trial. Stomach sleepers benefit from the zoned latex and spring units since they provide pressure relief for areas that could become painful is pressed onto a hard mattress with no give. Also, if your hips sink into the mattress your back can become arched in an unnatural position, also leading to back pain. Zoned areas help to prevent both of these occurrences.
Who Benefits From a Hard Bed?
We have presented above our six best firm mattresses. Who would deliberately choose a hard mattress rather than a softer mattress that most people might believe to be more comfortable? The general answer to that question is those that sleep on their back or stomach, and also heavier weight people would normally benefit from a firm mattress.
Zoned Mattresses: A firm mattress helps back sleepers to lie flat with the correct alignment of their spine. Stomach sleepers also benefit in this way, although it is important that they do not sink into the mattress, particularly the hips, or their back may arch in an unnatural angle leading to pain. That’s why we recommend a zoned mattress such as the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress which provides areas of less and more support where needed.
Heavyweight Sleepers: A hard mattress is also best for heavyweight people who may sink too much into a softer mattress. Even heavy side sleepers may find a firm mattress to suit them best. If your weight is around 230 lb or more (104 Kg+) you may also find a hard bed better for you, particularly a zoned mattress, which may even be suitable for heavy side sleepers. The majority of the mattresses in our review, including our top two, have zoned areas, although those without them are also excellent options.
Lightweight Sleepers: Those weighing less than 230 KG, particularly significantly less, are best with a softer mattress – for example, the Softer or Luxury Firm Winkbeds mattress or a bespoke Helix mattress. If you are light in weight but have a heavy partner, then check out the Helix Dual Extra mattress.
The above firm mattresses may not be suitable for everybody. We have tended to focus on back and stomach sleepers. Although these choices are suitable for heavyweight people, there are other options that have been designed specifically for those over 200 lb or more. Check out our Best Mattress for Large or Heavy People Review for other options.
Buyer’s Guide to Best Hard Mattresses
Here is some advice on finding the best firm or hard mattress suitable for your needs. A lot depends on how firm or hard you want your mattress to be. You can judge this from the mattress description: Plush (definitely not firm), Medium Firm, Firm and Extra Firm or Firm Plus. There are others in between these, but it’s the latter three we are interested in. They can each mean something different between manufacturers.
Unless there is a pressing need why not, the majority of people will prefer a medium firm mattress. This offers a balance between comfort and support. Both are very important to most people when they consider the sleeping surface they will have to live with. We have explained the differences above, and why some people prefer harder or firmer mattresses.
Mattresses are usually expressed numerically on a scale of 1 – 10 when 10 usually refers to the hardest mattress. Occasionally, you may find a scale where 10 is softest and 1 is firmest. The more popular scale relates to the following comfort levels:
- 1-2: Very soft
- 3-4: Soft
- 5-6: Medium
- 7-8: Firm
- 9-10: Very firm
Various different mattress companies may use different descriptions, such as 5-6 being Plush and 6-7 being Medium Firm. However, that is simply terminology. The closer to 10 the harder the mattress and the closer to 1, the softer.
The materials used to construct the mattress may or may not be important to you. The three most popular materials are memory foam, latex, and innersprings. Innersprings often appear in reviews as hybrids: a combination of innersprings and foam. Find out about the various types of foam mattresses here.
Memory Foam: Memory foams are not firm due to their nature. This type of foam may be used as a thin top layer on a firm mattress in order to offer a slightly more comfortable sleeping surface, with the support foams or innersprings below it. On the other hand, it can be used as the primary foam in soft mattresses with firmness levels of 1- 4 or as thicker comfort layers in medium-firm mattresses.
- Contours closely to your body shape.
- Reverts back to original shape and adjusts quickly to your new shape when you move position.
Latex: Latex is more responsive than memory foam, meaning that it rapidly adjusts to changes in pressure. When you change position in bed, a latex mattress will get back to its original shape faster than a non-responsive foam. Latex foam is generally natural unless the latex is synthetic. It is bouncier than memory foams and better for young couples who like a bit of a bounce at nights.
- Latex is a comfortable foam to lie on.
- Latex foams conform to your body shape, though perhaps not as well as memory foams.
- More affordable than memory foams.
- Bouncy and responsive
Innerspring: Innerspring mattresses are usually firmer than foam mattresses. Even if the mattress has layers of foam over the steel spring unit, it is still usually firm to very firm. Many modern innerspring units use individually pocketed steel coils or mini coils. Most people are familiar with the properties of innerspring mattresses.
- Pocketed coils can help with motion isolation.
- Provide a firm layer for medium to hard mattresses.
- The space between springs can cool down the mattress.
Hybrid: A hybrid mattress generally refers to an innerspring mattress with memory foam used for comfortable contouring to the body shape. Some latex/innerspring mattresses are also described as being hybrids. Generally, hard mattresses and some medium firm-mattresses contain innerspring units. Almost all firm mattresses have a core of steel coils, hybrid or not. Four of our top six above contain steel coils in one form or another.
- Conforms to the shape of your body.
- Can adapt to various sleeping positions and body types.
- The spring unit helps to keep the mattress cool.
Edge Support: Edge support can be important to many people, though not necessarily essential. It is often a necessity for those sleeping with a partner. It is an important property to many young couples, where good edge support can prevent them from falling off the edge of the bed in their passion. If this is you, then look for that property in your mattress. Often a larger bed (such as King rather than a Queen) precludes the need for edge support since there is more room to move about.
Cooling Properties: This can be a very important factor for some people, particularly for couples. You don’t want to wake up sweating in the middle of the night. The DreamCloud, Helix Mattress, and Loom and Leaf Mattress are the two best for cooling in our top 6 firm mattress review. Gel-infused memory foam, gel pads, innerspring units, and superior airflow are used to cool your mattress down.
Importance of the Pillow
If you are a stomach sleeper your choice of pillow will be very important. Too thick a pillow will raise your head too much, putting a strain on your cervical (neck) vertebrae and your neck muscles. It is important that your whole spinal column is straight when sleeping. Check out our Best Pillow for Neck Pain Review and look for information on the stomach or front sleepers.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Firm/Hard Mattress Reviews
Here are some questions we have often been asked regarding hard mattresses:
It depends on your sleeping position and your weight. If you weigh 230 lb or more, then you need a firm mattress with a comfort level of 7 or over. If you are a stomach or back sleeper, then 6 – 7 may do you.
Of course, it is! Otherwise, few would do so and firms would stop offering mattresses online. Think about the trial period. You often get sleep trials of over 100 days, though some are only around 30 days. If you don’t like the mattress, return it for a full refund. We tell you if you have any return transportation to pay in our mattress review for the relevant mattress.
No! Ratings are usually on a 1-10 scale where 10 is firmest. However, for some reason, some manufacturers use a 1 rating as firmest. So make sure you understand what the figures mean. We generally use the 10 firmness scale on our site but is there is any deviation from that we always tell you so.
The firmness of your mattress is important if you are a back or stomach sleeper because it is very important for you to keep your spine straight. Stomach sleepers will be best to use a mattress that has zoned areas that provide greater support for their hip region. This prevents the hips from sinking and forcing a curve in your spine to develop. This can lead to serious spinal injury and pain.
Side sleepers need a level of softness in the area of their main pressure points – the hips and shoulders. Ideally, their mattress should absorb these areas and support the rest of the body so that your spine remains laterally straight. If your hips did not sink into the mattress, not only would they develop pain, but your body above the hips would be forced down to the mattress and your spine would lose its straightness. It all focuses on maintaining the natural shape of your spine.
Yes, definitely! Side sleepers can rest their head on a deeper pillow than back and front sleepers. Think of lying on your side with your spine and neck in a straight line. Your shoulders will be on the mattress while your head will a few inches above it. You need a pillow that fills up that space. If you lie on your stomach, too high a pillow will force your head back into an unnatural position. Lying on your back it would force your head forward, again in an unnatural position. So back and stomach sleepers are best with thin pillows. In fact, stomach sleepers can sleep OK with no pillow if they wish.
- Avocado Mattress
- Dreamcloud Luxury
- Helix Mattress
- Loom and Leaf Firm
- Zenhaven Mattress
- Winkbeds Mattress
Here we have provided you with our best firm mattress reviews using the best six hard mattresses we could find. We have also explained why certain types of people need a hard mattress, and provided you with a buyer’s guide to help you make your choice. The Question and Answer section answers six of the most common questions we are asked regarding firm mattresses. If you have any questions to ask us, please use the form provided.