Mattress manufacturers often pepper their product names with descriptive terms like “firm,” “soft,” or “plush.” But what do those marketing terms really tell you? Not much.

Rather than take the manufacturer’s word for it, we measure firmness precisely for each mattress we test. Using an objective industry test standard, we apply a load of up to 1,000 newtons (4.4 newtons equal a pound) to the mattress and then plot the results on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the firmest.

That makes it easy for you to compare the firmness of one mattress with that of another. A 7 is a 7, regardless of how the manufacturer describes it. Indeed, our tests have shown that the descriptor in a mattress name doesn’t often match its firmness rating, and a so-called firm mattress can be anything but. 

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Take, for instance, Saatva’s Ultra Luxury Firm Eurotop mattress. It’s a 3 out of 10 on our firmness scale, putting it on the plush side of the scale. The Beautyrest Silver High Tide Luxury Firm Summit Pillowtop gets a 2 for firmness.

Keep in mind, though, that 10 is not inherently better than 1. It depends on what you prefer.

“Don’t assume the firmest mattress you can find is going to be the best mattress for you,” says Chris Regan, CR’s test engineer for mattresses.

If you’re not sure where your preferences fall on our scale, head to a mattress retailer and feel out a few models we’ve tested for yourself. “I recommend that people start more in the middle of our firmness scale and make adjustments from there, moving softer or firmer based on what they feel when lying on the mattress,” Regan says.

That said, chiropractors typically recommend firm mattresses to their patients, something to keep in mind if you experience back problems.

“Patients will tend to prefer and benefit most from mattresses that are a bit more firm and supportive than average,” says A. Jay Khanna, M.D., vice chair of the department of orthopedic surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

We measure more than firmness, of course. To test mattresses, we use lab equipment and human subjects to evaluate how well a mattress supports the body for both back and side sleepers, how easily sleepers can shift their weight without disturbing their partner, and how well the mattress keeps its shape over time.

Top 9 Firm Mattresses From CR’s Tests

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of nine firm mattresses that earn our recommendation and a score of 7 or above on the firmness scale. (We’ll spare you the one that earns a 10 out of 10 for firmness because it doesn't deliver solid performance across our full battery of tests.)

And if you want more choices, you can browse our full mattress ratings chart and sort the results by firmness. (Click the Firmness rating column at the top right of the chart.) The mattresses below appear in order by CR Overall Score.

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