How To Avoid Buying A Mattress That Will Eventually Sag And Develop Indentations And Gulleys: A Mattress Designer’s Insider Tips
After working for 25 years as a mattress engineer, designer, and fabricator, it’s amazing what you learn, especially about the quality of components that are used in the construction of a mattress.
To be able to compete in the marketplace today, it is important for retailers and big brands to be able to buy their products at the lowest possible wholesale price. Remember when we were all accustomed to paying $2,000 for a mattress? Now, we can skim through online e-commerce sites for a bed in a box, and we feel like we’re being ripped off if we pay more than $800 for a bed.
Competition is so fierce, that big brands haggle and argue with their fabrication companies (almost all of the online stores you will buy from have third party fabricators build their mattresses for them) to keep the price down, buy more lower quality imported foams, and stuff the mattresses with fill material they gives the impression that the mattress is big, fat, and overstuffed with great ingredients.
Just to let you know, the bigger brands that you see everywhere, TV, subways, buses, in flight magazines, and on and on, are paying huge dollars to get their message to you. Out of that $800 price tag, today’s recognizable brands eat up probably $200 in advertising alone-per bed. I know this, because I used to do exactly the same thing by being forced to advertise on Google.
Bottom line, you need to be careful where you shop, to make sure you’re getting a mattress that is made using superior components that won’t mash, pack down, rut, or develop indentations over time. Let’s talk about what kind of mattresses are likely to fail long before you might expect, and the types of materials that are likely to pack down and for gulleys, and most importantly, where to buy a well made mattress.
As a retailer and manufacturer, we would get complaints occasionally from customers who had issues with depressions and sagging. Sometimes they were overweight, sometimes they would be bed bound 24/7, and once in a while, their mattress would simply sag. There are occasions where one mattress out a few hundred were developing depressions due to a faulty batch of foam or pocketed coils, and we would replace those.
What I always did after creating a mattress build and figuring out the layer positions, and how they would be laminated together with a particular kind of adhesive, would be to test them with heavy weights that would be left for cup to a month in the exact same spot. I learned to avoid certain materials, certain kinds of foam, the density of those materials, where they came from, until I had the perfect recipe in a bed that simply would not mash down or develop ruts or sags.
Fact is, mattress manufacturers haven’t yet invented a mattress that doesn’t become compacted, crushed and degraded over an extended amount of time beneath the weight of a human body that weighs one hundred pounds or more. The best you can hope for is to buy a mattress that holds firm in the middle as long as possible.
You also want to make sure as a consumer that the mattress is equipped with a durable and long lasting warranty, too, and a return policy that extends for 100 nights or more, in case you do have issues early on, and the warranty should cover full replacement if depressions or rutting is a problem, even way down the road.
Depending upon the kind of mattress we’re talking about, a well crafted unit will provide about 10 years of ability to resist compressing and showing obvious or detectable ruts and indentations. In my opinion, if a manufacturer or retailer tells you that your $1800 mattress will not develop defects even after 20 years, that’s a real stretch and likely not accurate at all.
In my experience, about 80% of mattresses, regardless of what they are made of, will show some form of indentation in about 10-15 years, at best. A handful of them, though, will not, simply because of the materials they are made of. Mattresses that are made using natural latex, pocketed coils, thinner outer coverings will typically survive the longest.
Typically the first thing that fails is the top section, above the foam or coil layers, such as a duvet top piece, because filler materials like batting, woven fiber, wool, and anything else that is surrounded by a lot of air simply begins to naturally collapse in just a few years. Tip: if you can buy a mattress with a replaceable outer covering or duvet, it’s totally worth it.
Let’s talk about the different types of mattresses and how they rate on the likelihood of developing ruts, depressions, and gulleys, that can ensnare us in an abyss of mattress hell.
While we are here, we’ll recommend particular brands that you should consider, based on our knowledge of the components used, the configuration of the components, and the reviews we have analyzed using our proprietary evaluation process.
Coil Mattresses Or Hybrid Mattresses Made Using Pocketed Coil Layers: Generally Recommended As Resistant To Depressions
Though inner-spring mattresses represent about 80 percent of the market in American mattress sales, very rarely do people buy the old school “rack” type coil mattresses that your grandparents slept on. While they really did resist depressions and sags pretty well, they bounced around the room, were notoriously hard, and often squeaked and cried out.
They were typically made using what was called a “bonnell” type rack, which was simply covered with some cotton batting and sewed inside a tufted outer covering called the “ticking” I doubt you could even find one in a mattress store, and you will never find one on an e-commerce site, because they are impossible to fold and roll into a box.
There’s no doubt though, that a coil mattress is probably the most comfortable and durable mattress you can buy, if you get the right combinations of ingredients combined in the right fashion. Most coil mattresses today are made using individually pocketed coils, which perform independently form one another, allowing your body to conform to the mattress and apply pushback in different levels of pressure, as your specific body areas are cradled by the coils.
On top of the coil units are typically layers of foam, like memory foam, latex, or rigid high density foam layers. I advise considering a pocketed coil mattress with a layer of latex and high density foam on the bottom. The top or duvet piece, what is typically called the “body contact layer” should also contain some foam in it as well.
Steer away from memory foam when used around pocketed coils, though, as memory foam if not properly supported by other kinds of foam underneath, can collapse much easier. We have consistently recommended several brands of pocketed coil hybrids which are highly sag resistant.
Pocketed coil hybrid are very comfortable, support, uplifting and buoyant. You won’t feel like you are immersed in the mattress as much as you will feel like you are above the surface, turning is very easy and effortless. Side sleepers love it, because the coils will fill in the void areas between hip, ribs, and shoulders. Back sleepers seek them out too, because the pocketed coils fill in between shoulder blades with ease.
BRANDS OF POCKETED COIL MATTRESSES WE RECOMMEND THAT RESIST SAGGING
Memory Foam And Other Foam Beds: Great Pressure Point Relief But More Susceptible To Sagging, Depressions, And Rutting.
Memory foam is made using a unique process that allows body heat to soften and offers a “melting sensation”, which envelopes your body, offering a nest like feel. It is available in many different degrees of firmness, and most consumers who have purchased them seem to prefer slightly softer memory foam mattresses which are built using a firm high density foam base, or foundation layer, with the memory foam layers stacked above these layers.
Quite honestly, there simply isn’t any material that offers better pressure tint relief than memory foam. If you need pressure relief, especially at shoulder, hips, even neck pain, it is the best way to cradle your body and to allow a mattress embrace and encase your body, uniformly distributing your weight. One downside: if you are a hot sleeper, you might be better off with a latex or pocketed coil/hybrid mattress.
The problem with even the firmest foam is that over time, it often will become degraded and soften, unless you purchase a memory foam mattress that is made using a higher density material. I have recommended 4lb or 5lb density memory foam vs. what I call promotional grade 3lb density. They all feel somewhat similar, but the higher the density, the more integrity it has an open cell foam, and the longer it will survive the constant dynamic of pressure before it collapses.
Generally, though, you will probably find that it stands up better than a traditional inner spring mattress with poofy, quilted materials stacked on top of the coil unit. In general, the denser a foam, whether memory foam or other kinds of foam used to fill out a mattress or as the underlying foundation layer, the more resistant to sagging it will be, though this resistance isn’t really cheap. Be prepared to spend a bit more for a decent memory foam mattress, say $800-1,000 for a queen.
BRANDS OF MEMORY FOAM MATTRESSES WE RECOMMEND THAT RESIST SAGGING
Number Style Air Beds: Control The Pressure On Your Own Side, Combat Sagging And Depressions By Adjusting Firmness Or Softness
If your partner prefers a completely different degree of firmness or softness than you do, an adjustable number style air mattress might be your best bet Today’s number style air beds are technically advanced, and often have features that allow you to find a perfect sweet spot, with memory settings on an LED hand control unit. More advanced systems offer warming features, anti-snore options that tilt the bed upwards, and other features.
By increasing the pressure in an air chamber lying underneath the top outer encasement and with several foam options to increase the comfort level, you can make your side firmer, and by dumping air, the mattress becomes extremely soft. The obvious solution to sagging with a number style air bed is to merely increase the pressure, but again, the quality of the foam layers above the air chambers will determine the lifespan of the bed and whether you are bottoming out into the air chambers underneath.