Mattress buying tips that will save you tons of time and money…
Need a new mattress? Experts advise replacing mattresses every seven to 10 years. If you’re not sleeping well, swap yours out in five to 10 years, says Prevention Magazine. We generally say eight years is a good marker these days, since human pieces and parts tend to accumulate on a typical mattress, skin cells for example, hair, and, well, a lot of things. Also, foam beds in generally will often lose their lively nature after 7-8 years. And because the mattress industry has typically become more efficient and competitive, it doesn’t cost that much to replace a mattress. But where to start? Likely, if you’re shopping online, it’s going to seem overwhelming at first. Best place to start? Narrow down your options by knowing a few general categories that mattresses fall into (tip: people these days are mostly buying hybrid mattresses)
Basically, here are the fundamental types of mattresses out there to consider:
Innerspring. You may have grown up sleeping on an innerspring mattress. It typically is the least expensive mattress type. It also is the most common, having been around the longest. Support in an innerspring mattress comes from wire coils, which also account for the familiar mattress bounce. Salespeople may say that the number of coils matters. It doesn’t. What does matter is the gauge (thickness) of the wire: The lower the number, the heavier the wire. For example, 12-gauge wire is heavier than 14-gauge. Heavier gauge coils make a firmer mattress. Thinner coils produce a springier mattress.
Memory foam. Memory foam isn’t springy. Its heat sensitivity makes it conform to your body, making it a good choice for people who are in pain. It can take time to grow accustomed to this different feel, though. What’s more, foam products differ one from the other. Density is important to a firm base layer, with a cushier and softer top layer to allow your body to nestle and distribute weight properly. If you like a tucked in feel, it’s a great option.
Latex and gel. Latex mattresses have a firmness similar to memory foam but springier and without lag time.When you move, the latex kind of moves you along, instantly responding to body movement. Latex is sold as a hypoallergenic product, but only if it’s all natural and not synthetic. One interesting characteristic is its ability to make you feel like you are above your bed, and not in it. Latex devotees are fiercely loyal to it, and they say once you go to latex, you don’t go back.
Gel foams are jelly like, or combinations of memory foam and gel type materials. They are body conforming and a bit jiggly, but can be very supportive and excellent at relieving pressure. Also, some mattresses have a layer of moldable, more flexible gel that’s supposed to make the bed breathe and feel cooler.
Digital Air Beds. Adjustable-air mattress let you control your mattress’s firmness by adding air or deflating it. These mattresses often contain layers of additional material, too. Excellent when you have a couple who have totally different sleep habits. Sleep Number makes the most sophisticated line of modern day digital air beds with lots of options.
Shopping for a mattress can feel confusing — with all the types, costs, whistles and bells — it’s worth spending some time to shop thoughtfully. Here’s our down and dirty 12 point guide on how to get a great bed at a most excellent price..
1. SHOP IN STORES, AT LEAST TO START-GET A FEEL FOR WHAT’S OUT THERE, THEN SHOP ONLINE
You may eventually buy a mattress online. But because mattress preferences are so personal, no amount of online research can substitute for the experience of trying out mattresses in a store.
After zeroing in on what you want, do some comparison shopping online.
2. FIND THE MATTRESS YOU WANT BEFORE IT’S ON SALE
Mattress shopping during a sale can be frustrating and difficult if you haven’t done your research first. Stores are crowded. Salespeople are busy and distracted. Shopping online can be frustrating. Take your time finding the mattress you like and then pounce on a sale price. Use the links we have on our site, throughout the pages. They will typically take you to a deal on the mattress we’re recommending.
3. TRY BEDDING SPECIALTY STORES
Often, salespeople in stores specializing in bedding may be most attentive, Consumer Reports found, in a study by their team. CR researchers found shopping in department stores less satisfying. Online shopping will be a bit more detached, of course, since you can’t wheel and deal with the sales team or sample the product before you buy…but..it is highly competitive in the web mattress marketplace, so most of the time, you’re going to get a killer deal. You’re also likely to get a bulletproof return policy as well.
4. BE SKEPTICAL OF PILLOW-TOPS
Mattresses with pillow-top layers can give you a false comfort reading because they can mash down quickly after purchase, Good Housekeeping says. Another downside: Pillow-tops are thicker, requiring the purchase of new “high-profile” or “deep-pocket” sheets.
5. BRING YOUR PARTNER
Don’t delegate your mattress shopping to someone else. If two of you will be sharing the mattress, both of you should test the options in stores.
6. DON’T BUY SALES HYPE
Consumer Reports cautions against being sucked into paying lots for fancy features, saying that years of testing have shown that all but the cheapest are sturdy. Keep it simple, typically the basic model, or original model that the company first designed is the one to go with, especially if you are shopping online. The upgraded model with the mint green layer may not be worth the higher price.
7. ASK ABOUT PRODUCTS NOT ON THE SALES FLOOR
Brick and mortar stores tend to use their display space for higher-end products. If you find something you like, ask if you can see a lower-end model. Believe it or not, online stores will often have boxed deals also, say for mattresses that were sent back, without ever being opened or touch. Ask in an online chat.
8. PAY ATTENTION TO THE WARRANTY
Most manufacturers’ defects are evident within the first year, according to Good Housekeeping. After that much time passes, defects are difficult to prove anyway. So, one hundred year warranties are kind of “meh”, but a good 10-20 year deal on the warranty is decent.
The advantage of shopping online for a mattress these days is that the bedding business has become so competitive and so crowded that it gives the buyer some definite edges. Every company has there own unique product, their own recipe if you will, but what they don’t necessarily have is the most important part of the equation. And, it bulletproofs you from getting stuck with a mattress that sucks. The trial period is by far the best safety net when buying online. Used to be, when you bought a mattress at a brick and mortar store, once you left, you owned it. Not anymore. A solid warranty is now becoming pretty commonplace in most online e-tailers programs. We recommend a warranty of at least 10 years, covering any defect or damage to the bed. Actually, a 20 year warranty is pretty typical, with a 10 year free replacement component, and the backside 10 years being prorated, with a little less coverage on the bed from year 11-20. We’d say 20 year minimum, although it isn’t uncommon these days to see lifetime warranties on a lot of beds out there.
Also, Look for companies that are BBB A+ rated companies, and display the live link logo. If you can’t find these on a company’s web site, you shouldn’t really be shopping there, in our opinion. Beware of strangely unheard certifications on web sites too, like “TrustDoctor” or “Certified by The American Foam Institute”, often creative graphic design by the owner of the web site, and not a genuine third party organization. Honestly, BBB and Consumer Reports are the only two organizations that are truly vetted and believable. Good luck!
9. LOOK FOR A LIBERAL TRIAL PERIOD AND RETURN POLICY
Buy from a store that offers “comfort returns,” meaning that you can return the mattress if you’re unhappy for any reason, though you may need to pay a fee. Before buying, understand exactly how the return policy works. Most sites are offering 90-120 day trial periods and free return shipping if you simply don’t like it, don’t want to talk about it, just want your money back. And competition between online stores for the best trial period is fierce. We say look for at least a 90 day trial. Most new owners are going to know within a couple of nights, but we recommend giving your body at least 3-4 weeks to adapt to a new sleep surface.
10. BUY A NEW PILLOW, TOO
With a new mattress, “the gap between your head and shoulders will change with the change in mattress firmness, Definitely pair your mattress purchase with a new pillow or three…look for companies that throw in pillows for free. We’ve found that people who ask for free pillows with their new mattress often get them.
11. HAGGLE AND BARGAIN
Mattress retailers typically mark up prices four to 12 times over the cost of producing the mattress, BuzzFeed says. With margins like these, there’s room for you to bargain, and you should — even during a sale. If you can’t get a lower price, ask for nonmonetary perks, like new pillows or bedding thrown in. This would apply to retail brick and mortar stores. Online, again, you’re going to get a great deaL due to the heat of the compeition.
12. SKIMP ON THE BOX SPRINGS-MOST OF THE TIME THEY’RE A RIPOFF
Focus your money on a good mattress and don’t feel obliged to buy an expensive box spring. Ask if the less-expensive box springs can be substituted for the one shown with the mattress you like. Get a simple platform, with either 3″ wide slates spaced no more than 3″ apart, or some kind of solid “hardtop” foundation.