A Great Mattress Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive. Knowing Where To Buy Is The Key.

One of the most frequently asked questions from customers I received while owning multiple mattress retail stores and e-commerce bedding sites was “How much should I pay for a decent mattress?” In other words, what should someone expect to pay for a queen sized mattress, in various categories, that would be comfortable, supportive, and would last for a reasonable amount of time, let’s say ten years?

On this page, we’ll discuss what you should pay for a queen size mattress, by type, that will out perform lower quality mattresses in their respective classes. So, we’ll discuss mattresses that would say, rank 8 out of 10 or higher for overall satisfaction and customer experience. It’s important to note though, that prices will vary by category because some ingredients and materials used cost more, or vary in cost depending upon the quality.

Generally, even an increased cost because of higher quality components being used in the design of a mattress will not really have an effect on the performance of the bed. An example would be a company using a cashmere covering for the top of the mattress. If the components underneath are similar from mattress to mattress, it will not feel dramatically more supportive or comfortable than a model without it. It might feel fantastic when you first climb into the bed, or it may have greater visual appeal, but it won’t impact the performance. 

Other factors, such as using dyes to create colored layers of foam will not influence the performance of a mattress, but is very powerful when you are comparing models and brands. Manufacturers need to create a brand identity, but these characteristics will not influence the comfort and support you receive. Unfortunately, the visual appearance and curb appeal of a mattress generally influences buying decisions for the average consumer, even more than reviews of the product, or written content.

When faced with long form content about foam layers, foam density, lamination, fabrics and textiles, 3-D diagrams, and written descriptions, eyeballs begin to roll backwards in most shoppers’ heads. Incredibly, people buy whatever mattress is being flashed at them the most. It generally takes about two years for reviews that have to be strongly negative to slow down the buying curve. A lot of bed in a box online retailers that opened e-commerce sites in 2015-16 are still enjoying considerable upticks in sales as consumers ride the wave before many of these mattresses start to fail.

It’s a good idea to compare mattress options especially when shopping online and look for company startup dates, checking reviews for complaints like depressions, gulleys, and mashing, which are the typical signs that a manufacturer used poorer quality materials in the fabrication of their mattresses.

Comparing mattress brand and models should be based on the caliber, thickness, and arrangement of the materials used, as well as the construction techniques used. An example of superior construction would be a foam mattress with multiple layers that are laminated together so they don’t shift over time, and what kind of adhesive is used. For example, it costs more for a company to use a water based non-toxic adhesive like Simalfa, which doesn’t off gas fumes, than a quick set formaldehyde and petroleum distillate based glue.

the most confusing industry on earth: how to decode it.

Understand that the mattress industry is the most confusing business in the world, and mattress manufacturers capitalize on this by intentionally trying to confuse you, wear you down, or at the very least, fail to try to simplistically explain how the mattress selection process should work. 

When a startup company, especially e-commerce sites, are born, they typically start out with one design, one model. Once they have saturated their market or find that other manufacturers are stamping out essentially the same design, additional models, which might add an additional layer of foam and a nicer outer fabric for the exterior encasement, are offered, and typically cost about $100-300 more. The actual cost to create this “upgrade” model might be only $50 to the manufacturer.

Often a customer who purchased the original model will shop for an additional bedroom in their home, order the new model for themselves, and place the old unit in their guest room. This is a typical business model for bed in a box operations that are 4-5 years old. Generally, the upgrade model is not significantly more comfortable or supportive, or offers any real benefit, than the introductory model offers. It’s a common mattress industry scam that I’ve reported on before, as far back as 15 years ago with memory foam mattress companies.

Ready To Hit The “Buy Now” Button? Hold On A Second.

Mattresses come in a wide range of prices, from less than $200 for a cheap Amazon mattress to $5,000 for a brand name hybrid mattress which might have memory foam, latex, gel foam, and a pocketed coil layer built in. Obviously the price will be largely a function of the components used, and in most cases, if you are shelling out more than $1500 for a mattress, it will be backed by some pretty good reviews and a solid no questions asked trial period and warranty. 

Most consumers are conditioned, even if they are not aware of it, to believe that mattresses are supposed to be expensive, and if you spend less than $1,000, you are likely not getting the features and benefits that you’d get buying a more luxurious mattress. I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve designed, engineered, tested, manufactured and sold dozens of mattress models on my own web sites, from memory foam, to natural latex, to hybrid pocketed coil mattresses, topper pads, and sleep number style air bed systems. I have built plenty of excellent, long lasting mattresses that retail for $800-1000, and there are plenty of them available in the marketplace.

In fact, consumers have a clear advantage in many ways because the online bed in a box category has become so competitive with lookalike and “unicorn” mattresses (the mattresses everyone idolizes in the moment, like Casper, Purple, and a few others) that pricing has dropped dramatically, and there are some price point markers and tipping points where sales dramatically fall off as the price rises.

As an example, a simplistic foam type mattress, typically made up of a thicker base layer of firmer support foam on the bottom, might be made with one or two layers above the thicker bottom piece, say a 2” piece of memory foam, and another layer of a softer or firmer “transition layer” which separates the memory foam layer from the firmer bottom layer. Typical price point for this kind of mattress : $600 for a queen, and maybe $200-300 more for a king. A reasonable price point, right?

Yes, if the quality of the foam pieces and the outer encasement fabric, the part you can actually see when you unroll your new mattress, is of a decent quality. The covering should be cotton, or perhaps a bamboo blend, or a synthetic fabric which regulates body temp, like Cool-Max. 

The typical bed in a box foam hybrid mattress in a queen will sell for around $600-800, depending upon the caliber of materials used. When shopping, you can ask the vendor, either on a live chat or by phone, to give you the specific details about the materials.  If they cannot answer these questions, that’s purely by design- and you should move on. Full disclosure about the materials goes a long way to showing that a company is transparent and appreciates an informed shopper.

Here are some general guidelines you can follow and inquire about when shopping for a mattress, especially online. Note that depending upon a few factors, such as if the top outer covering is quilted like a duvet cover vs. thin material, called a “smooth top”, can affect the price. Also, use the material specifications below as minimum requirements for the components advertised. If you can find a mattress with the ingredients you want with the specs we have listed below, you’ll be getting a really good deal at let’s say $700-800 for a queen and $900-1100 for a king in the same model.

Component Specifications You Should Look For When Considering A Bed In A Box Type Mattress Purchase

  • Outer covering encasing the mattress should be 100% cotton, or a blend of cotton and other fabrics, bamboo blends with synthetic fabrics are also excellent, and temperature regulating fabrics like Cool-Max materials are also considered excellent. Avoid 100% polyester or rayon as they sleep hot.

  • The bottom piece of foam used on virtually all bed in a box type mattresses should be high density urethane foam with a minimum density of 2.2 lbs, and the ILD (Indentation Load Deflection) should be 30-32 for medium firm beds. For firmer beds, the ILD needs to be 34-40. ILD is a value that represents the force needed to compress natural latex, polyurethane and several other types of foam.

  • Memory foam, if included, should be 4lb density, not 3 or 3.5 lb density which is far less expensive and will tend to mash or bottom out very quickly and will not provide durability over time.

  • Latex foam should preferably be all natural, or botanically derived latex, not synthetic latex, called SBR (styrene butadiene rubber). The ILD should be 24-28, enough to provide good pushback and give you a flotation or slightly levitating feel.

  • Column buckling foam, the waffle shaped, jelly like material that is similar to what Purple uses in their models is expensive, so be prepared to add $100 to your price for that kind of material. It does provide some better pressure point relief, but can also be too collapsible and some have complained that they feel like they are swimming in it.

  • Pocketed coils are ideal for following our body contours and providing support for hips, shoulders, and for maintaining proper spine alignment, but can add $100-200 to the cost of your queen mattress. The coils should be individual coils, not wound bonnet type coils which form a rack like piece that does not deliver pinpoint pressure relief.

    Differences Between Popular Mattress Types

Once you realize that an ideal price point for a queen mattress is around $800 for a queen, and $1000 for a king, the next question might be, what kind of mattress should I buy? There are many options, and of course, as some of you might know, if you’ve read other articles on this site, I favor latex mattresses, which can sell for considerably more. A pure latex mattress is an investment, but it’s a bed that will last decades, when other synthetic foam mattresses will only last 4-5 years. But, should you buy an innerspring bed, memory foam, latex, or some other type of mattress? Let’s take a closer look at each of the most common mattress materials.

Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring beds use a system of coils for their main support, though the shape, quality, and design of the coils varies greatly. Considered the most traditional variety of mattress, innerspring mattresses are typically layered up with upholstery materials like fiber or foam. 

Again, avoid continuous racks of coils and instead opt for individually pocketed coils that are wrapped in a fabric covering to protect them and to keep adjacent supportive foam layers from being damaged or punctured. Here are some key terms that are often tossed around in mattress stores and on web sites that can be confusing. I’d advise not paying a lot of attention to these, but if you are familiar with them and you are buying in a brick and mortar store, just regurgitating them to a sales person lets them know you’ve done your homework and could get you a much better deal on a name brand coil type mattress.

Coil Count: Upscale innerspring mattress models tend to have a higher coil count, thought this doesn’t translate necessarily to either more comfort or longer lifespan. Higher coil counts can provide better support and contouring, so consider a mattress with a coil count of at least 300 for a Full bed, 400 for a Queen, and 480 for a King. Often, companies will use a single layer of something called micro-coils which are smaller in diameter and can have 1,000 coils or more across the surface. These coils are often just 1-2 inches tall, not 6-8 like standard coils. The micro-coil layers that I’ve used in my own beds are pretty cool and offer a unique pressure relieving sensation to them.

Coil Gauge: Coil gauge refers to how thick each wire strand is in the wound coil. High-gauge coils are thinner with a springier and softer feel, and low-gauge coils are thicker with firmer pushback and thus more durable.

Pocketed Coils: In my opinion, pocketed coils are an ideal ingredient in most hybrid mattresses. Wrapping each coil in fabric can reduce motion transfer and noise significantly, so this quality can increase the cost of innerspring models, but generally not by too much.

Coil mattresses, or at least hybrid mattresses with a combination of coils and foam layers are great for obese people or big and tall types. Their ability to distribute weight and provide even pressure point reduction is excellent, and might be a good choice. Also, if you enjoy a bouncier, livelier sleep surface, pocketed coils are a good option. If you visit our Trusted Dealer page, you’ll find our recommended dealers broken out by category with helps finding the perfect bed at a reasonable price far easier.

Latex Mattresses

Latex is a highly elastic, springy yet yielding, and buoyantly supportive material that is excellent at pressure relieve, like memory foam, but it different in a few regards. Latex is bouncier, and gives pushback, keeping your body off of the mattress, and makes turning very easy. If you tent to move around in your sleep a lot, latex is ideal because it allows for easy movement without waking you. Light sleepers love latex for this reason. 

Natural latex is more expensive than blends of synthetic and natural, but it has a much longer lifespan, contains no petroleum products, and is naturally dust mite and microbe resistant due to its low pH. Bugs and organisms generally do not like acidic environments. If you are chemically or fragrance sensitive, a latex mattress could be a great option.

Another really great feature about natural latex is that it pushes pressure away from the body sideways, much like your fingers spreading pizza dough across a pan. Instead of downward pressure, lateral pressure tends to provide a floating sensation.

Latex mattresses are also known to be extremely durable and because you are not immersed in the latex, people often describe that they sleep cooler. sleep cool since you sleep on top of the mattress rather than in it, as you do with memory foam. Latex mattresses can be heavier though, so keep that in mind. The material, despite being open celled and breathable, tends to be heavier than synthetic foam.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is hugely popular, and shows no sign of disappearing from the list of popular components used in most bed in a box type mattresses, either by itself on top of a base layer, or in combination with latex, gel foam, or coils systems. The cradling, immersive quality of memory foam is fantastic, and many people enjoy the hugging effect you receive from the boy conforming material. Instead of being bouncy or springy, memory foam responds slowly when pressure is applied. It is also temperature reactive, become much squishier and more easily molded when heated, and very firm if it is cold in your bedroom. Highly soft and absorbent, memory foam is very effective at distributing your weight evenly and millions of consumers have excellent experiences with the unique feel of memory foam.

If you sleep with someone who tosses and turns, you might consider a memory foam mattress as its ability to absorb and minimize motion transfer can’t be compared with any other material.  On the flip side, memory foam is known for sleeping warmer because it fully embraces and molds around your body. However, most modern mattress companies have found ways to combat this with cooling technology, whether added to the memory foam mixture, or by using fabrics and textiles as we described earlier, to wick away heat and moisture.

Combination Or Hybrid Mattresses

A hybrid mattress is basically any mattress which incorporates more than one kind of supportive foam or coil layer in its construction. Hybrid mattresses often combine the support and localized pressure relief of coils with the plusher comfort of natural latex or memory foam. 

These mattress types aren’t as bouncy as an all coil mattress,  but are still easy to move around on and retain some springy, bouncy quality while at the same time, provide minimal motion transfer and help to ease pressure points.  The latex or memory foam layers above the pocketed coils help to absorb motion as well.

If you sleep hot, a hybrid mattress could work well for you. They tend to sleep cooler because the coils in the mattress prevent sink, and along with latex, keep you above the surface of the mattress instead of being swallowed by it. 

One warning: a hybrid mattress, like an all natural latex mattress can be much heavier than a typical foam bed. Just keep in mind that hybrid beds are very heavy because they contain both coils and foam or latex, which can make them difficult to move.

Number Style Air Mattresses

An air bed is a bed that uses air chambers as the support system, rather than coil or foam layers. Higher end air beds tend to be more expensive than almost any other kind of mattress, primarily because of the system of air chambers, pump, and remote controls incorporated within the mattress.

For some people, though, a digital air bed can be a life saver, or a marriage saver. Many couples who have completely different requirements of soft vs. firm for their sleep needs, opt for a digital air bed since you can independently control each side of the mattress for a customized feel.

A number style air bed can offer luxurious support and sumptuous comfort too, by incorporating latex, memory foam, and other kinds of support layers which are typically positioned above the air chambers within the bed. They generally don’t sag or bottom out over time, and since individual components can be replaced if they fail, the modular qualities of a digital air bed will deliver a long lifespan for this kind of mattress.

Cost By Mattress Type

As a general guideline, based on comparing over 250 mattress options by mattress type, here’s what you might pay for a mattress, by type. 

  • Innerspring/Coil Type Mattress: A decent pocketed coil type mattress will cost you $800-1500 for a queen sized mattress. This will not include additional comfort layers like latex and memory foam.

  • Latex: Latex beds will cost between $1,500 and $2,500 on average, with the most common price being around $2,000 for a Queen

  • Memory Foam: Memory foam beds often cost between $600 and $1,200, with an average price of $900 for a Queen.

  • Hybrid Foam Combination: Hybrid beds usually run between $1,200 and $2,000, with an average price of about $1,650 for a Queen, especially if you are including pocketed coils, latex, gel foam, or memory foam layers, and a quilted, duvet style top piece.

  • Digital Airbed: Air mattresses cost between $1,500 and $2,500 on average for a permanent model you can use in your bedroom. A Queen will likely cost around $2,250. If you buy a factory direct model, you could  pay a lot less, say $1800 for a queen system.

  • Basic Bed In a Box Mattress: Average price $800-1000 for a Queen. This get you a decent and simplistically designed all foam mattress that will likely last 4-5 years, be moderately firm, and will include a decent outer covering and components that I would consider acceptable.

Durability: Expected lifespan and durability will play a key role in the price point of an innerspring bed. The cheapest options on the market will usually only last for three to five years, whereas more expensive models, with more durable coils, may last a few years longer.