These are exciting times for mattress shopping. Newer brands are introducing more affordable, premium-quality models. Old-fashioned manufacturers stay classy without shying away from innovation. As for consumers, you now have the option to order your item online. Whatever floats your boat, right?
But with the many fish in the sea, how can you tell which one is right for you? Your best bet is to anchor yourself in facts. Make your shopping experience smooth-sailing by doing some research. Speaking of research, we’ve got good news for you! This Mattress Buying Guide is just what you need to navigate the sea of choices and considerations out there.
Know if it’s time to replace your old mattress, what factors to think about before buying, which mattress type is right for you, and where to buy one. Expand your horizons by debunking some mattress myths. And if you’re busy, you may copy our shopping checklist below. Then return to this page when you can. We recommend browsing through our articles to get a complete and clear picture before shopping.
Here are some angles to look at when choosing a mattress:
- What are the Different Types of Mattresses?
- Full-Size Bed Dimensions Guide
- How to Buy a Mattress Online
The devil is in the details. But in your bedroom, the details can make it a sleep paradise.
- Do You Need a Box Spring?
- What Is A Platform Bed?
- Latex vs. Memory Foam Mattress
- King vs California King
- How Often Should You Change Your Mattress?
- How to Clean A Mattress
- How Often Should You Flip Or Rotate Your Mattress?
- How to Transition from Crib to Toddler Bed
And when you’re all set to buy a mattress, check any of these:
- Mattress Review
- Best Mattress
- Best Memory Foam Mattress Reviews in 2019
- Best Latex Mattress in 2019
- Best Hybrid Mattress Review in 2019
- Mattress Comparison
To find the right match for you, narrow down your search to a specific condition, category, or criteria. Find the best mattress according to the following factors:
- Memory Foam Mattress Reviews
- Latex Mattress Reviews
- Foam Combo Mattress Reviews
- Spring & Hybrid Mattress Reviews
- Best Firm Mattress
- Best Mattress for Side Sleepers
- Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers
- Best Eco-Friendly Mattress
- Best Mattress for Heavy People
- Best Mattress for Kids
- Best Mattress for Couples
- Best Mattress for Back Pain
- Best Mattress for the Money
- Best Cooling Mattress
- Best Place to Buy A Mattress
- What is Celliant Fiber?
- Do You Need A Mattress Pad or Mattress Protector?
- How Can I Create A Minimalist Bedroom Design?
Is It Time To Buy A New Mattress?
Knowing when to buy a new mattress is influenced partly by common sense and partly by your current mattress’s lifespan. That is if it still makes sense to keep the latter beyond its average life, who can stop you? But if you encounter some changes or conditions, like those stated below, it’s probably time to reconsider.
Is your mattress old/deformed?
Depending on the mattress type, you should be able to maximize your mattress’ benefits between 5 and 10 years. If you reach around 7 or 8, you should at least assess if it is still helping you achieve a good night’s sleep. Inherited ones need this evaluation, too, since they’re already used up by another person–even if it’s your sibling or relative.
Stuck with the one you snoozed on back in college? Be honest about sagging and body impressions. Even if you religiously rotate your mattress, it might have formed these signs of wear already. This is your cue to start mattress shopping.
Are you suffering from pain or soreness before/after waking up?
While you should be careful in determining the cause of your body pain, be sure to include your bed in doing so. A dependable model should relieve your stiffness and pain, not add to or create it. If you’re experiencing such symptoms, your bed may be partially to blame. Perhaps it’s been deformed or not suited to your body, leaving your spine and curves in a less optimal position.
Have your sleeping position and preference changed?
In the following sub-section, you will learn more about sleeping positions. For now, if you haven’t thought about it before, see if you’re more of a side, back, or stomach sleeper. Has it always been like this? If you tend to drift off in a different pose now and are feeling pain, your sleeping surface can be part of the problem.
Your discomfort may be caused mostly by the mattress firmness. Say, these days, you’re snoozing on your tummy with a plush mattress. You can feel like sinking in quicksand because of the minimal support for your sleeping position. Check out the Sleeping Position discussion to know which firmness is right for you.
Are you sharing your bed with someone?
If you’ve started sharing your bed with another person, like a partner or a sibling, then there’s one case where you obviously need to buy a new one. This is when your mattress is a Twin/Twin XL/Full. It’s necessary to upgrade to a Queen/King/Cal King. Another case would be when you must find a sleeping surface that both of you feel comfortable lying down on.
Mattress Buying Guide
These are the six preferred sleeping positions of people surveyed in the United States.
Four out of 10 Americans sleep on their side all curled up like a fetus. This makes the fetal position the most common sleeping position. Perhaps it is popular because it feels natural to the spine, bringing it to its natural alignment. The demographics of this position is composed mostly of women.
One benefit of this position is that it can lessen snoring. But don’t get balled up too tightly. Give your lungs and diaphragm some room to keep your breathing easy and regular.
With your back straight and both arms down while sleeping on your side, you are assuming the log position. This is the healthiest for the body, according to experts. Sleeping like a log becomes literal here as it helps reduce your episodes of sleep apnea. Also, you can avoid waking up with neck and back pain.
The yearner position is described as placing your hands in front of your body as you lie on your side. Most fans of this pose are Baby Boomers. And they’re probably enjoying the positive effects, such as better brain health and blood flow. It can make you say goodbye to symptoms of acid reflux, too, such as heartburn.
Those who take on a fetal, log, or yearner position are side sleepers, and can do well with a mattress with a soft, medium, or firm feel.
Enjoying hitting the hay stomach first? You are a stomach sleeper if you prefer the freefall position. Specifically, you put your hands around the pillow or beside your head while your tummy and chest face the mattress. This may cause your neck and back pain if you keep at it. Fortunately, a medium or firm mattress should keep such a thing at bay.
Plopping down the mattress on your back, with your arms kept close beside you, is called the soldier position. This may be bad if you are prone to snoring. It can also trigger sleep apnea and leave you with a sore lower back. But those with acid reflux may find it a source of relief.
Starting with the soldier position, a starfish pose is different because your arms are raised beside your head and your legs are spread wide–much like a starfish. A few percentages of the population sleeps this way. And this can worsen the condition of those who have sleep apnea and/or back pain.
Either soldier or starfish position makes you a back sleeper. See if you can eliminate the issues concerning this preference with a soft, medium, or firm mattress.
Another thing you need to consider is your weight (and your partner’s). The size and firmness of the new mattress will depend on this attribute. So let’s look at the weight classification for sleepers to determine where you belong.
- Lightweight – Those who weigh less than 130 pounds are considered lightweight sleepers. They need a mattress with a close hug, which was more likely a plush feel (3 to 4/5 on the firmness scale).
- Average weight – Sleepers who weigh 130 to 230 pounds are of average weight. A soft surface with a firm core suits them. If you fall under this category, choose between 4 (Plush/Soft) and 5 to 6 (Medium), depending on whether you’re leaning to the lean or heavy side.
- Heavyweight – Individuals who tip the scale at more than 230 pounds are classified as heavyweight. Start with a 6 or Medium Firm 6 for the optimal experience. Raise it to 7 to 10 according to your needs and preferences.
Construction & Materials
There are two things that count here: the materials and how they’re arranged inside the mattress. It isn’t just the number of layers that matters but also the quality. Memory foam, latex foam, and polyurethane foam are the most common comfort layers. They can also serve as a transition or core layers. At the base, you’ll often find a high-density foam (all-foams) or a spring base (hybrids).
As for the coils, the good ones are individually encased and/or blended with offset coils. On top of the design, check for any certification of the materials as well. These are the familiar certification bodies to ensure you’re buying a safe, healthy, and authentic mattress:
- OEKO-TEX Standard 100
- Global Organic Latex Standard (GOTS)
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOLS)
Firmness & Feel
As you learned in our Sleeping Position sub-section, firmness should be considered to achieve superior comfort. While this is a highly subjective metric, the mattress industry has a way of quantifying its effect. A 5.5 to 7 designation means the mattress surface should feel just right you.
This figure is based on the Standard Firmness Scale ranging from 1 to 10), where 1 is softest and 10 is firmest.
Basing on this scale, the following are the ideal scores and assignments according to weight:
- Soft (3 to 4) – Those who weigh less than 130 pounds
- Medium Firm (5 to 6) – Those who weigh 130 to 230 pounds
- Firm (7 to 8) – Those who weigh above 230 pounds
There are cases when a company uses a reversed version of the firmness scale. You may also find some variations in the description per level. But basically, you should look for the following qualities to determine the right one for you:
- 1 to 2 (Ultra Plush/Ultra Soft) – The surface is super soft as the name implies. Expect a sink-in feel that reaches the bottom, which has no pushback. This firmness rating is not recommended because of its lack of support for the spine.
- 3 to 4 (Plush/Soft) – This is the right kind of plush if there ever is one. You’ll feel that combination of sink and hug, supporting your spine gently. A mattress with this score conforms to your curves well. It’s typically found in memory foam beds with deep contouring features. This is a good option for side sleepers.
- 5 to 6 (Medium) – Featuring universal comfort, this is considered the medium feel. It means it’s not too soft or too hard–it feels just right. Close conformity and sink-in feel are balanced across its layers. Moderation is the key when it comes to this one. You’ll encounter many beds in boxes and some traditional ones falling under this category.
- 7 to 8 (Firm) – Lying down on a firm mattress, you can experience some conformity and little sink-in feel. Models with this firmness score are usually thick and tall, catering to those who are on the heavier side. If you snooze on your back or prefer hard surfaces, you’re going to love this feeling.
- 9 to 10 (Ultra Firm) – Take caution when you’re faced with this option. There’s minimal to no conformity and sinkage here. It can really be hard on the body–some say it’s akin to lying on the floor. So very few manufacturers make models in Ultra Firm. Some people may need this because of a condition, an injury, or a physically demanding lifestyle.
Whether you sleep hot or not, you need your mattress to deliver cooling/temperature neutrality. The first one is about wicking heat and moisture away from your body. The second one is focused on regulating your skin temperature while you sleep. Meaning, the mattress cools you down during hot nights and warms you up during cold nights.
Cooling components are often infused in all-foam constructions or foam layers in hybrids. Examples would be gel, copper, and graphite. These elements can absorb heat quickly, preventing it from getting trapped in the foam. Meanwhile, technologies such as phase change and open cell structure can either regulate temperature or enhance breathability.
Edge Support & Sinkage
Ask yourself: Is the edge support of this or that mattress good? It should be. Those who roll toward the edge when they snooze should be wary about this factor. If there’s a roll-off feel or deep compression at the perimeter, this could mean poor support in the said area. You’ll need a solid and stable performance here to feel safe and protected. Also, it expands your sleeping surface area.
Without proper edge support, the spots you often sit or sleep on can sink quickly. In turn, this can result in premature sagging. Body impressions and dips can be formed, causing an uneven surface which can eventually be hard to lie on.
Motion transfer is another performance-based factor you have to consider. It refers to the transfer of movements across the sleeping surface. The less motion transfer a mattress produces, the better. The best ones can even eliminate it. This capability is called motion isolation.
This should be a top priority for people who share one mattress. If you or your co-sleeper tend to sleep lightly, it would be a disaster if the other person shifts in their sleep frequently. This can interrupt your sleep. As a result, your sleep quality suffers, especially if you cannot catch a deep, distraction-free sleep.
The good thing about today’s plethora of bed options is that there are high-quality selections to match any budget. One important thought to remember here is to prepare money for the type of mattress you’re eyeing. Here is the average price (Queen) for each group to guide you:
- Innerspring – $100 to $2,500
- Memory foam mattress – $500 to $1,500
- Hybrid mattress – $1,600
- Latex mattress – $2,000
- Adjustable mattress – $1,000 to $3,500
Read the fine print and understand the terms that come with your mattress purchase. Doing so will prevent some headaches in the future. Shipping and returns are free when you order online, as is the case for the likes of Casper, Tuft & Needle, and Brooklyn Bedding. But the terms apply only to those who live in the contiguous United States. Sometimes, manufacturers don’t even deliver outside the said area.
When it comes to sleep trials, generous offers are often provided by online mattress brands. The market average is 90 to 120 nights. The best ones last within 365 days. Depending on a few factors, you can test out your mattress bought from an e-commerce site for around 30 nights (e.g. Amazon) and around 90 nights from retail stores (e.g. Macy’s).
Lastly, know that the range for warranty coverage is between 10 and 25 years. Make sure to study your policy because companies can be strict about claims. For instance, they won’t honor your warranty if you don’t use a box spring or foundation with your mattress.
Types of Mattresses
To further gauge a mattress, you must have a good grasp of the mattress types and what they’re for:
Innerspring mattresses are the classic choice. The oldest model of mattresses there is, they are known for their durability and bounce. Bonnell coils are the cheapest materials to use. But modern and better versions rely on independent, pocketed coils. Such construction allows for more solid and sturdier support.
The innerspring is the least expensive bed one can own–with a few exceptions. Its thinner foam layers differentiate it from a hybrid.
The closely conforming memory foam is a popular choice as a comfort and transition layer. Its contouring properties align the spine naturally, helping relieve pressure points. Observe how it easily returns to its original shape when not in contact with a body or an object. This material was derived from a cushioning tech developed by NASA for preventing injuries during flight emergencies.
With reliable motion isolation, memory foam mattresses can reduce the ripple effect of movements made by sleepers. However, memory foam can also trap heat, at least the traditional one. You’re in luck, though, hot sleeper. Savvy manufacturers now dish out models of this type with cooling/temperature-regulating properties.
The memory foam mattress is the most common option as it is also the most affordable.
Check out our memory foam mattress buying guide in 2019.
Hybrids combine the power of foam and springs in one bed. This is why they are one of the more preferred models on the market. Here, you can enjoy the bounce of innerspring and the close conformity of memory foam. The best versions give you superior pressure relief and support while staying responsive to your couple bonding needs.
The hybrid mattress caters to couples, as well as those who are suffering from back pain. Its average price is in the mid-range.
With natural cooling properties, latex is a premium material in luxury mattresses. It also delivers support, bounce, comfort, and responsiveness. It doesn’t hug your curves as closely as memory foam does, but it does offer some conformity. Latex goes through two processing: Dunlop or Talalay. It can be natural (100% latex), blended, or synthetic.
A latex mattress can cost more than your typical memory foam and hybrid mattresses.
You probably have seen an adjustable bed on TV, in one of those hospital scenes. Adjustable mattresses can be elevated and angled in a way that suits the sleeper’s requirements. For example, you can raise the top or foot of the bed for extra comfort. This mattress type is often recommended to people with chronic lumbar pain.
The adjustable mattress often comes with a price that falls on the expensive end.
This mattress type features air chambers instead of support foam or core layers. Old-school models contain two air chambers, but newer ones sport up to six air chambers. You can inflate the bed manually or remotely while setting it up. With some versions, this means you can customize the height and firmness of your sleeping surface.
Airbeds are versatile. They can be used in master bedrooms and guest rooms, and an outdoor camping or recreational vehicles (RVs). Also, they’re pretty durable. The price depends on how thick the mattress can be. On average, you can own an airbed by shelling out something between $1,500 and $2,500.
Where Should You Buy A Mattress?
There are mainly two ways to shop for a mattress today. It’s either you do it online or in-store. Online mattress shopping is further broken down into two distinct ways: Company Direct and Marketplaces.
Buying directly from a mattress brand, whose business can be purely online, is a good place to start. This route lets you learn more about the available choices on the site without the pressure of buying then and there. Although the exclusive promos and discounts on top of the affordable prices can be quite tempting.
For your ease and convenience, you can get perks like free shipping, free returns, warranty, and sleep trials. The latter cancels out the downside of not being able to see or touch the product before you buy it. Home trials usually span 90, 100, 120, and 180 nights. But a few companies can be uber-generous with their 365-night trials.
E-commerce sites now populate the web, with the biggest one being Amazon. Some old and new mattress brands market their offerings on the said online marketplace. These companies widen their reach by being on the site. Thus, you can come across the pages of bed-in-a-box brands here, such as Casper, Layla, and Tuft & Needle.
If you shop via Amazon, you can enjoy fast and free shipping, reliable customer service, and the favorite among repeat consumers, abundant promos and deals. There are also verified reviews for the mattress models to consult. One thing to take note of, though, is that some manufacturers won’t honor your warranty claim or return request if you buy from Amazon.
Aside from Amazon, you can also check out US-Mattress.com.
Moving on to the in-store mattress shopping options.
Showrooms, of course, are the turf of traditional names in the industry. There’s the appeal of walking into the store and experiencing the mattress for yourself. The interiors are designed to showcase the beds. However, the test drive can be too short and some salespeople can be pushy.
The high markups in stores also drive prices up. You can observe this when canvassing traditional brands. But with the opportunity to purchase directly from trusted brands, some people may still prefer this method. You may consider it, too, especially if money is not an issue.
Think about your local JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears, and Wayfair. Aren’t they the first thing to come to mind when you’re planning to shop for a mattress?
Department stores continue to be favored by customers because they feature various brands and models. With a more open layout than that of showrooms, they can make you feel free to look around. Some also provide top-notch customer service. Like online shops, you can pay using your credit card or through financing.
However, some stores may carry a bias toward certain brands. Their collection can also be limited, so they may not have the best match for your mattress requirements. Plus, the prices are also relatively high. While you can take home your mattress on the same day, those who’ll request delivery may have to pay and receive their item on a different day.
Specialty Stores/Hybrid Mattress Shopping
Put simply, hybrid shopping can refer to visiting a brand’s showroom but buying on its online site. Or, you can buy an online mattress in a brick-and-mortar shop, such as a pop-up store. Some online mattress brands have seen the need to put up physical stores. Casper, Brooklyn Bedding, and Tuft & Needle have showrooms in cities and states. The prices are a bit higher here, as expected
Manufacturers that sell directly from their factories also belong to this category of specialty stores. One example would be the Original Mattress Factory. The brand invites customers to watch their mattress is made. And then they can complete their transaction in a showroom attached to the factory.
There are myths concerning mattresses. Here, we are touching on five common ones:
A mattress with medium firmness suits everyone.
While there is something called universal comfort–which translates to the sleeping surface being not too hard, not too soft–it doesn’t automatically mean it is the right firmness for you. As mentioned earlier, you need to factor in your sleeping position and weight.
Consider your individual needs and preferences. If you have a co-sleeper, you have to discuss individual comfort requirements. You may end up looking for a bed with split firmness option or find a compromise. Remember, there are several firmness levels out there to choose from.
Testing out a mattress in a store is the right way.
Sleeping on a mattress in a store can happen fast. And sometimes, it can be awkward. While these aren’t the main reasons the statement above is incorrect, they provide context to why this kind of test drive is incomplete.
Your body will need at least 30 days to adjust to the mattress. That’s one month of allowing yourself to assess comfort, support, and other qualities you want in your sleeping space. Some manufacturers go to lengths to give you up to 90, 100, 120, or 365 days.
Warranty period equals mattress lifespan.
Warranty periods can signal to consumers that companies are confident about their products. However, it does not mean the longer the coverage provided, the longer the lifespan of the mattress as well. There’s simply no proof this is the case.
Think about this the next time you discover a product comes with a lifetime warranty. No matter how durable a mattress is, its average life is around 7 years. You should consider replacing yours if this is its age by now.
Latex mattresses last a long time.
Latex is a durable mattress material. And it has multiple benefits to offer. But it is not true it can last decades or a lifetime. A latex mattress is subject to daily wear and tear as other mattresses do.
It does command a high price depending on the source and processing of latex. Natural ones tend to last longer than blended and synthetic. Yet, it is necessary to replace it after it has reached its estimated lifespan. In general, an average of around 7 years is enough to evaluate your old mattress.
More expensive mattresses are better.
Premium brands may cost higher, especially those sold in retail stores and showrooms. But not all that bear a more expensive price tag can ensure high quality. Multiple factors are at work here. It is important to understand the nuances before you buy them.
For instance, online mattress models are more affordable than brick-and-mortar store ones. But some of the former can be on a par with some of the latter in terms of performance and design. We’re referring to construction & materials, firmness & feel, cooling, and motion transfer, among others.
Check out our mattress comparison guides to further understand this, starting with Casper vs Tempurpedic.
Your Mattress Shopping Checklist
If you jumped to this section, make sure to dip into the discussion later for a better understanding of this process.
Assessing Your Current Mattress Situation
- Is your mattress old/deformed?
- Are you suffering from pain or soreness before/after waking up?
- Have your sleeping position and preference changed?
- Are you sharing your bed with someone?
Considering the Factors
Things to know before you buy:
- Your sleeping position
- Mattress qualities, i.e. construction & materials, firmness & feel, cooling, edge support & sinkage, motion transfer, pricing, and other factors
- Types of the mattress to choose from
Buying A New Mattress
- Where you should buy a mattress
- What mattress myths you should know
If you are in a hurry to buy a new mattress, you may still have a lot of questions. Browse through our mattress reviews and guides, as well as sleep education articles to soak up all of the details you need. We are here to support smart consumers like you all the way.
Buying a mattress now? Be sure to share this guide with your family and friends if it has helped you in any way. Drop us a comment or question below with regard to topics you want us to cover in the future.