Plush vs Firm Mattress: How to Choose Which is Best for You

Jonathan Prichard

Jonathan Prichard

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Comparing a plush mattress to a firm mattress is like comparing coffee to tea. Both are popular hot beverages, but they have different benefits and appeal to different folks.

Similarly, your mattress of choice depends on your needs and preferences, which is why this mattress guide will help you to choose the right one for you.

With that said, go ahead and grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and read on to see whether you’re in the plush mattress camp, the firm mattress camp, or somewhere in the middle!

Illustration of a plush mattress and a firm mattress

What Is a Plush Mattress?

As the name implies, a plush mattress is one that’s soft — almost cloud like — and provides superior comfort without compromising on support. Think: the feeling of being cradled. Plush mattresses are made by layering softer materials on top of the mattress support layer. Softer materials can be anything from memory foam to latex, and the more that are used, the softer the mattress becomes.

Thanks to its extra cushioning, a plush mattress is best suited to folks who experience sore pressure points or joint discomfort, especially if you are a side-sleeper. If you often wake up with aches and pains, a plush mattress may just be what the doctor should’ve ordered!

What Are the Benefits of a Plush Mattress?

More than just a comfortable “cloud” to sleep on, the benefits of a plush mattress are many, and include its ability to relieve pressure.

For this reason, a plush mattress is—

  • Great for side sleepers: A plush mattress cushions pressure points, which is a life-saver for side sleepers
  • Great for side sleepers with joint pain: Side sleepers with joint pain, such as arthritis, will appreciate the pain alleviating properties of a plush mattress
  • Other sleepers who suffer joint or muscle pain: Regardless of your sleeping position, if you suffer from muscle or joint pain — or any other chronic condition — then you may highly benefit from a plush mattress that cushions your pressure points
  • Lightweight sleepers: A plush mattress is also a great option for petite or lightweight people, as the cushioning of these mattresses will tend to be springier and respond better

What Are the Drawbacks of a Plush Mattress?

Let’s first all agree that there’s no such a thing as the perfect mattress. But there is such a thing as the perfect mattress for you and your needs/preferences.

When it comes to plush mattresses, it’s possible to end up with one that’s too soft. While “too soft” may not sound so bad, a mattress like this will cause you to sink too deeply into it.

This will compromise proper spinal alignment, which can lead to things like back and neck issues.

Can Plush Mattresses Work for Heavier People?

Broadly speaking, it’s believed that firm mattresses are the best option for heavier folks as they provide the most support.

This common belief is likely due to the fact that many people confuse firmness with support.

Let us explain.

Firmness refers to the immediate feel of a mattress when you lie on it, which often means less sinkage. Support, on the other hand, refers to how well the mattress can keep your spine in proper alignment.

Though firmness and support can influence each other, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re still two different concepts or measurements.

So, returning to our original question, can plush mattresses work for heavier people?

The answer is yes; it simply depends. On what? On whether the plush mattress you get has the right support system for your body weight.

As long as your mattress offers the right support for your body weight and the comfort you need for a good night’s sleep, it doesn’t matter whether it’s plush or firm.

What is a Firm Mattress?

As the name implies, a firm mattress is, well, firm! Firm mattresses have less of the soft layers that are added to the top of a mattress. Reducing the amount of soft layers means the mattress becomes firmer; more soft layers means the mattress becomes softer. 

Firm mattresses are generally best for people who tend to sleep on their back or stomach. When sleeping in these positions, a firmer mattress is required in order to keep the spin in proper alignments.

Side note: A lot of people are curious to know about back pain and mattress types. So if you’re wondering which is better for back pain, then the answer, we’re afraid, isn’t black and white.

Just because a mattress is firm doesn’t mean it will provide the support you need to prevent back pain.

When it comes to a plush vs firm mattress, the best one for back pain is the one that offers the right support for your body weight, sleep position, and preferences.

What Are the Benefits of a Firm Mattress?

You already know that a firm mattress is an excellent choice for many sleepers, which is why this type of mattress is:

  • Great for side and back sleepers
  • An excellent choice for people who just want a firmer bed!

But what about the drawbacks of a firm mattress? Surely there are some, right? Right!

Let’s take a look at what they are and whether they’re a deal breaker for your needs or not.

What Are the Drawbacks of a Firm Mattress?

As you already know, firm mattresses have many benefits and can be a great option for many people. But you also know that every body is different.

If you’re a side sleeper, for example, a firm mattress may not be the best choice for you. Why?

As you know, a firm mattress is great for spine alignment and back support, but as a side sleeper, this mattress won’t contour to your curves as well as a plush mattress.

This can lead to triggering or worsening pressure on the shoulders and hips. In general, however, firm mattresses are a great option for most people.

Plush and Firm Mattress Recommendations

Best Plush Mattress - 8″ Luxury Gel Foam

Luxury Mattress in Bedroom

Rating: ‘Best plush mattress’
Type: Gel Foam
Thickness: 8″
Customizable: Yes

Why We Love the Luxury Gel Foam Mattress

There are three kinds of people in the world of mattresses: those who love firm mattresses, those who love plush mattresses, and those who love something in between.

If you’re the kind of sleeper who appreciates something on the plush side, then the 8” luxury gel foam mattress was designed with you in mind. Years of testing to find that perfect balance result in this — a mattress that offers the support you expect but doesn’t let you down in comfort.

With cooling gel foam that’s designed to contour and instantly adjust to your body’s movements, plus a plush organic cotton cover on both sides (this mattress design is flippable!), the 8” Luxury Gel Foam Mattress offers the perfect balance of support and comfort.

You’ll also be glad to know that it’s the ultimate crowd pleaser, being loved by side, back, and stomach sleepers.

What Makes This Luxury Gel Foam Mattress Great

  • Cooling gel-infused foam
  • Flippable design (adjustable firmness)
  • Free from toxic chemicals
  • Supportive and contouring
  • 20-year warranty

Potential Negatives Worth Considering

  • Though many love them, gel memory foam mattresses aren’t for everyone

Best Firm Mattress - 8″ Park Meadow Pocketed Coil

Park Meadow Mattress in Bedroom

Rating: ‘Best firm mattress’
Type: Pocketed Coil
Thickness: 8″
Customizable: Yes

Why We Love This Pocketed Coil Mattress

From the breathable cell foam that helps you sleep cool to the luxurious quilted cover, there are plenty of things to love about the 8” Park Meadow Mattress.

The advanced pocketed coil system ensures that your mattress gives you firm and superior support, but that’s not all — it’s one of the highest-quality innerspring mattresses you can find on the market.

What does this mean for you and your sleep?

It means that in addition to support, your mattress will conform to your shape so you get the cushioning you need in the places you need it.

On top of that, the insulated and luxurious quilted cover is designed to prevent that classic coil feel. This way, you sleep feeling extra supported.

The firm base and soft top also means that you get the best of both worlds!

What Makes This Pocked Coil Mattress Great

  • Eco-friendly
  • Helps with back pain
  • Supports larger sleepers
  • Long-lasting

Potential Negatives Worth Considering

  • This firmness level may not be ideal for side sleepers and those with joint issues

Best Medium-Firm Mattress - 8.5″ Latex

Latex Mattress with Model Sitting on Top

Rating: ‘Best medium-firm mattress’
Type: Latex Foam
Thickness: 8.5″
Customizable: Yes

Why We Love the 8.5” Natural Latex Mattress

Imagine drifting off to sleep in no time and then waking up with no aches or pains. No, it’s not a dream — this is what sleeping on our all-natural latex mattress is like!

Our luxurious plush organic cotton cover is not only silky to the touch but it’s also designed to regulate body temperature so you can sleep cool.

Sourced from rubber trees found in the rain forests of Brazil and Sri Lanka, our all-natural latex is free from chemical dyes, bleach, toxic additives, pesticides, fillers, chemical flame retardants, and more.

If you’re after a firm mattress but don’t want to sleep on a hard surface, then you’ll love how comfortable and supportive this all-natural latex mattress is.

What Makes This All-Natural Latex Mattress Great

  • Made from all-natural latex
  • Luxurious at an affordable price
  • No sinking into your mattress
  • No waking up feeling sore and achy
  • Sleeps cool

Potential Negatives Worth Considering

  • Latex mattresses generally weigh more
  • Not ideal for those who don’t like firmer mattresses


Remember, everybody is different, and everybody experiences a mattress differently. The mattress you choose will depend entirely on your body, needs, sleep position, and preferences.

  • Plush Mattresses — Great for side sleepers, folks struggling with joint pain (hips and shoulders), and anyone that likes a softer feel!
  • Firm Mattresses — Great for back and stomach sleepers, as well as those suffering from back pain


Which mattress firmness is best?

Just as there’s no such thing as the perfect mattress, there’s no way of saying which mattress firmness is best. But there is a perfect mattress for you, your needs, and your sleeping position.

The best mattress firmness for you could be a nightmare for someone else. In short, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all in mattresses!

Do hotels use plush or firm mattresses?

Hotels get all sorts of people, and it’s important for them to accommodate different types of sleepers. For this reason, hotels don’t use simple plush or firm mattresses.

Instead, they opt for medium or medium-firm mattresses, as they’re more likely to please different sleepers.


We know there was a lot to take in with this Plush vs. Firm Mattress Guide, but we’re hoping some of your questions were answered.

If you need more help deciding on the mattress that’s right for you, why not reach out to one of our friendly mattress experts?

They’ll help you find the perfect mattress for your needs so your search takes minutes instead of hours!

Feel free to call us at 888-488-1468.

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