How to choose a mattress?
Replacing your existing mattress or buying a new one is exhausting since you are overwhelmed with never-ending choices available in the market. Not just are their thousands of styles to select from, but a significant part of what makes an ideal one is quite personal; a buyer may want a luxurious mattress while the same can be a source of back pain for another. In addition, the cost of the mattress is another factor. The cost can go up to even hundreds of dollars. To a certain extent only you actually get what you pay for, as stated by many sleeping experts.
The thing is that the mattress that you want to sleep on each night for the next 5 to 10 years, you want its materials to be of high-quality and durable. As per market information and current trends, a good-quality and durable material that is able to bear such daily use for a long time period is hard to find under $1,000. We recommend buyers not to pay full price and to always look for the sales. You should also negotiate with sellers either for some discounts or for additional items like sheets, pillows, frame etc. This article serves as a comprehensive buying guide for mattresses, whether you are replacing your mattress or planning to make a new purchase.
Since we have already started talking about negotiation with salespersons, showrooms and online stores full of different kinds of mattresses, let’s start with some savvy tips to do this with confidence.
Begin by examining the support
The very first decision here that you have to make is regarding mattress’s core that gives the support. You should know the general kinds available, which include foam, innerspring, latex and air-filled.
Want a bouncy feel?
If you are interested in a bed having a bounce, innerspring mattresses are good since they have a bouncy feel. Still, various degrees of how springy the mattress is, are available to choose from. The metal coils are usually gauged from 12 to 18, with 12 as the firmest and thickest and 18 as the most compressible and thinnest. Heavy people usually prefer a thicker gauge. The interconnected coils are more durable; however, the individual pocketed coils covered with the fabric, decrease the ripple effect that occurs when you move on one side of the bed.
Innerspring mattresses are usually embedded with a foam outer layer or fiberfill, covered with quilted ticking. If you need an uber-plush feel, don’t go for the thick-looking pillow top. A highly puffy layer may look great in the store, but after a few months, it compresses badly and doesn’t come back. Hence, it is best to select a well-quilted and a firmer one and then cover it with some replaceable feather bed or mattress pad.
Want an extra-foam base?
Memory foam mattress having a polyurethane core has less spring. Sitting on it, you don’t feel sinking or budging beyond its topmost layer. In order to evaluate its quality, you should ask for the specifications regarding the thickness of the foam’s layer and foam’s density. Keep in mind that thickness usually ranges from 2 to 6 inches, which determines how deep someone sitting on it will sink. If we talk about density, usually 5 lbs. per cubic foot is taken as of high-quality, while 3 or less than 3 lbs. per cubic feet is considered as of low quality.
Want a little buoyancy?
When it comes to firmness, the latex and memory foams share high similarity; however, latex is bit more spring-back. Natural and also few synthetic latex mattresses are resistant to dust mites, molds and these are antimicrobial. These mattresses are costly but can last for even 20 years or more. Two kinds of latex are commonly available in the market; Dunlop latex, which is heavier and denser than the second one Talalay Latex, which offers a softer feel.
If you are interested in a highly custom-made mattress, you can consider an air-filled rubber chamber or vinyl, which is controlled via remote in terms of how much air you need inside. Many such mattresses possess two side-by-side chambers, enabling mattress firmness to be tailored separately for you and your partner. The topmost surface looks identical to an innerspring: quilted foam or fiberfill.
What is your lifestyle?
Apart from the four kinds of mattresses mentioned above, there are other factors that you should consider. From body type to sleep preference, to talking with a bedfellow, your lifestyle helps you choose the best mattress.
Do you sleep on your side?
If you are a side-sleeper, you would want a surface offering much pressure relief and a feature to disperse while supporting the weight of your body and conforming to its shape. Think of lying on a firm floor and Imagine that there is a heat map demonstrating the points at which your body produces the highest pressure. Cushy memory mattress or a foam having a fluffy topper usually offers the highest pressure relief, while a very firm one offers the least. Innerspring mattresses also bring more pressure relief than a latex or foam mattress. You can test the mattress by lying down over it to determine the feel.
Do you sleep on your stomach?
As per the heat-map analogy, the thing that a stomach-sleeper would need is an enveloping memory foam- but it would feel something too much! Rather, a firm top surface can offer the best support. Go for the dense air-filled, innerspring or latex. The best mattress for stomach sleepers
Do you sleep on your back?
Here you would need something in the middle, i.e. the surface that gives support but keeps your spine in a healthy alignment also. All four types of the mattress may be suitable; however, you really have to test each to determine the best one.
If you don’t sleep alone
If you have a tossing partner all night, you should think of an innerspring mattress having memory foam, pocketed coils, latex or dual chamber air-filled mattress. This is because all these offer a good motion isolation. However, these mattresses can actually be less comfy for the body of restless sleepers.
Check our recommendation for Best Mattress for couples
If you and your partner have different sleeping preferences
In that case, you should consider an air-filled mattress having dual chambers. In case if you don’t find the top surface comfortable as desired, add a separate topper.
If you want to feel warm
The mattresses that are topped with latex or foam can keep the body heat in, in particular, if these are quite soft and much of your body sinks in. In this case, you can go for the fiberfill-topped innersprings . As a better option, you can consider a removable feather mattress or fiberfill topper that can easily be separated and washed.
Do you have allergies?
Latex and foam both are antimicrobial and highly resistant to mold and dust mites. However, if you are having an air topped or innerspring with fiberfill, make sure you have encased it with an anti-allergen cover.
If you can’t determine what matters the most
Some reputed manufacturers offer a hybrid mattress that blends the motion isolation feature of a memory foam with the buoyancy of the innerspring core. It is the best 2 in 1 option that satisfies many sleeping styles and diverse sleeping preferences of you and your partner. Though, these luxury models usually accompany with higher cost.
Check Life-cycle of mattress & Warranty
Many buyers mistakenly associate longer product warranty with product’s longer lifetime and high quality. But, this is not always the case. In addition, a lot of warranties contain much fine print: If your mattress is stained since you didn’t apply a protector, or if you didn’t use a matching foundation under the mattress, the warranty is not valid. The industry, generally, wants customers to replace their mattress every 5 to 10 years, though a good-quality mattress should be working for up to 8 to 10 years at least. Hence, never base your decision on whatsoever said by a warranty.
What Components a Good Mattress Has?
Up till now in this article, we have discussed how to choose a mattress in terms of your preferences and the kinds available in the market. The aim of the previous section was to help you increase your awareness regarding the features and find the best match for your needs. Now, in this section, we will figure out the key components that are found in high-quality and durable. In addition to matching your preferences to the kind of mattress, you should also be able to determine if the mattress is of good quality. Here are the components that you should examine.
The springs & coils of a mattress, providing back support
As discussed before, the wire fitted in the coils are of varied thickness, where the lower gauge number shows that mattress has stiffer, thicker wire and higher firmness. A greater number of steel coins indicate a higher quality of the mattress; however, this doesn’t mean that higher concentration of these coils is always best. You should be able to use your own judgment when it comes to choosing the best mattress that can provide a support and help relieve your back pain.
The padding of a mattress, providing comfort
Along with the mattress’s spring coils, the padding fitted on its top shows its quality. Mattress padding is generally made from stuff like polyurethane foam, cotton batting or puffed-up polyester. The higher degree of padding is usually more expensive but a lot of people find it comfier and worth the higher cost.
The Middle Padding in a mattress
This kind of mattress padding fitted just under the quilted top layer is generally made with the foam. When watching the mattress’s cross-section, softer foams feel very moist to touch while the firmer ones don’t spring back as fast. The second layer of the mattress is based on cotton batting that might differ in thickness across various mattresses and even in a single one. This makes mattress looks and feels firmer in certain areas like higher firmness felt in mid of mattress.
Insulation padding of a mattress
This is the padding that is placed on the top of coil springs and you cannot feel it from the top of the mattress. It also prevents coils from damaging the top layers.
Quilting & Ticking of a mattress
The exterior layer of the mattress is based on ticking that is generally cotton-polyester or a polyester mix in a high-quality mattress. The mattress quilting ties this ticking to padding’s top layers. It is always recommended to check the quality of quilting, its stitching and make sure that the stitches are consistent and unbroken.
The box spring or mattress foundation adds an extra layer support to the high-quality mattress. Foundations are generally made of metal or wooden frame having springs. A simple wooden frame may keep mattress feel harder, unlike the frame having springs. A wooden foundation should only be considered when the wood is straight and there is no crack. It has been recommended that buying a mattress and a foundation as a set also helps to preserve it.
As a great substitute to a conventional mattress, some kinds of a mattress are built entirely or mostly from latex foam or memory foam. They are also available in varied densities. There are certain foam types that are built with various foam layers stuck together, while others contain a foam core in the middle.
Foam mattresses are also available in a range of firmness so as to give you a higher margin of selection for comfort and back support. Selecting between a traditional and a foam mattress is though based on your personal preferences and lifestyle also.
Before you Set out for Mattress Shopping
A mattress is your major purchase that may turn out to be the most frustrating task if you are not prepared for it in advance. As discussed so far, there are a lot of sizes and types available, so in order avoid confusion and wastage of time, you should be prepared before you set out for mattress shopping. Here are some of the valuable tips to consider during a mattress shopping:
Know your needs and budget
You must first determine your needs and budget before going for a mattress shopping. Are you unable to sleep well? Are you waking up with severe aches? If there is something like this, chances are there is a need to replace your mattress. Before you start searching for the options, also take into an account your wallet. This is because the good-quality mattresses can be as high as hundreds of dollars.
Have you done your homework before shopping?
You must do the necessary homework before you start your mattress shopping. The most important thing to do is to search the available options online, as per the mattress type, size and price you are looking for. You can browse through local online stores, review sites and brand comparisons to determine the best match in terms of your needs and budget. Over the internet, you will find never-ending choices and thus you may feel confused. Sit back and recall where you slept the best; a friend’s place, a hotel’s room etc. Use that experience as the starting point to narrow down the choices. One advantage of online research is that it helps you get familiar with the technical terms used in the market. Hence, while talking to a savvy salesperson, you feel confident being aware of these features.
Which store should you buy from?
Well, you must shop from the right store. As a beginner, you can start from the stores that you have personally heard of or someone in your circle has recommended for. Furniture stores, sleep specialty outlets and department stores all sell different mattresses nowadays. Search for the retailers who can provide you an accurate information. Usually, most of the manufacturers, including the leading ones like Helix, Saatva, Loom & Leaf, The Bear etc. have long been selling all kinds of mattresses online. However, we don’t recommend you to always buy online since sometimes the reality is somewhat different from the pictures displayed over the internet. Generally, all big mattress manufacturers have their authorized network of retailers, vendors, and suppliers having different outlets across the state. Once you find something best online, you can check the same physically at these outlets.
Take an advice from Retail Sales Associate
If you are still confused, you can take an advice from a reliable retail sales associate. Contact knowledgeable and reliable salespeople around your town who can provide guidance for your bedding choices. You can ask them questions for having a detailed explanation of features, models, quality etc. Usually, such associates are available on a toll-free number or customer helpline. You can easily call them whenever you need an advice.
Test driving the mattress
Once you are in the right store, follow the SLEEP test. Test the mattress comfort and quality by lying down on different types in different sleeping positions. It’s advised to go for mattress shopping in cozy and loose pants so that you can easily move around and check the mattress easily.
Don’t be in rush during testing
During testing the mattress, always take extra time in your normal sleeping position. It may take up to 10-15 minutes to relax and feel the true comfort and support of the mattress. So, don’t rush while testing it out. The more time you consume in the store, the less likely you would have buyer’s remorse afterward.
Check Mattress Return Policies
Though a lot of manufacturers of mattress now offer a free trial, yet it is still wise to check the return policies thoroughly. Make sure the mattress can be fully refunded or credited towards another one in case of unsatisfied performance or defect. Return policies, sometimes termed as comfort guarantees, often range from few weeks to 120 days. There are retailers like Macy’s and Sears that charge $15 as stocking fee, while Costco and few other online vendors offer free pickup in case if you want an exchange or refund, otherwise, in most of the cases, you have to bear this cost. Hence, you must read all the policies thoroughly and in case of any confusion, clear it out first.
Once you decide on your desired mattress, you should try to bargain the price and make it down. Many businesses like warehouses, clubs etc. offer fixed prices and won’t bargain. However, the retailers do negotiate, in particular, those who belong to specialty chains since heavy markups enable them lowering the price by 50 percent or more in the peak sales times. We recommend that any time of the year it is, you should always bargain on the sale price as per the price you have observed for the mattress you know you need. Don’t hesitate to leave if you ever feel you are not getting a justified deal.
Know the warranty
We have already discussed above that how the warranty is misperceived by the buyers, and misused by the manufacturers. Usually, warranty ranges from 10 to 25 years, for a good-quality brand, and covers just manufacturing defects like loosening or breaking of coil wires and mattress sagging. Coverage is often prorated, implying that it declines with the passage of time.
Once your mattress arrives at your place, you should never accept it without a careful and thorough inspection. Look for stains, spots, and other damages. In addition, always make sure that it is pasted with a label stating “all new material”. If you don’t find this label, don’t accept the delivery. You should also keep this label afterward since it is needed to file a warranty claim, if required, in the future.
Shopping for a mattress can be difficult and time-consuming, yet these tips would help ease this task. We have tried our best to make this buying guide as comprehensive and helpful as possible, even for the buyers who are new to the market and planning to make a purchase.