Buying A Mattress
Always Begin With Mattress Support
No matter how hard or soft you like your bed to feel, a mattress with firm support is always the best choice. A common mistake consumers make is to assume that a mattress labeled as extra firm provides adequate support simply because it feels hard. It is often said that comfort is what you feel when you lie down, but support is what you feel when you wake up in the morning. A mattress can easily be made to feel stiff through the use of dense padding materials, but research shows only a properly designed and configured support unit will keep your body in alignment and provide for long sleep set life. So when shopping, always being by asking to see a sample of the mattress support unit.
Most mattresses will use some sort of a metal innerspring unit to provide support. One of the most common innersprings uses hourglass-shaped knotted springs. This traditional design offers basic support, but does not conform as well as many modern offerings. Mattresses containing traditional hourglass springs are best suited for children, guest bedrooms, or shorter-term adult use.
Another innerspring design is one composed of individually cloth-wrapped coils, best known for their superior body conformation and decreased motion transfer characteristics. Many companies create innersprings with posture zones to take advantage of these unique coils, placing springs of thicker steel in the center area of the bed where most of a person's weight is distributed. This allows the outer regions of the mattress to provide better pressure point relief without sacrificing support. Better cloth-covered innerspring units will pre-compress their springs to provide superior support, and at times may also encase the innerspring unit in a high-density foam tub to prevent the individually cloth-wrapped springs form shifting.
A third style of innerspring is one assembled from open-ended sensory arm springs. These sensory arm springs have a higher profile and contain more working wire, providing progressive resistance that correctly responds to one's bodyweight. Because this spring is cylindrical instead of hourglass-shaped, it provides more stability and support. Because they are not knotted on top, all of the wire used in these springs works to provide support, extending sleep set life. This type of innerspring unit is usually twice-tempered to make sure that the springs maintain their shape and resistance. All of these features combine to provide proper postural alignment and prevent the mattress from sinking in the center (the sleep disruptive "hammock effect").
Continuous coil units are also another popular innerspring design. A continuous wire unit forms springs that locks into a grid network, providing progressive resistance as the unit is compressed. Better units are zoned for extra support, use thicker steel, encase their edges in foam and run their helical lacing fro head to toe to help reduce motion transfer. Although these units may not conform as well as some other types, they do provide a more solid feel underneath the padding layers that some people may prefer.
When looking at innerspring support units, spring count is often used by many retailers to indicate the quality of the sleep set. The higher the number does not always necessarily indicate the quality of the mattress. The spring count represents the total number of individual springs within the innerspring unit, as opposed to the coil count, which measures the number of turns in each spring multiplied by the total number of springs used (a coil count is often used by manufacturers to inflate the specifications of lower quality mattresses). A bed with a very higher number of smaller individual springs may allow for better body conformation, and pressure point relief, but may do so at the expense of proper postural alignment. Extra support may also be obtained by using a thicker gauge of steel in the spring. Just make sure that the spring is still of a modern design and that the overall spring count is not significantly reduced. Don't take spring counts to ridiculous extremes, simply realize that an adequate spring count of a quality design will make a huge difference in mattress longevity and sleep quality.
Mattresses without innerspring units, such as one made of latex or memory foam, comprises the fastest growing segment in the mattress industry. In fact, foam mattresses account for more than 20% of mattress sales in Europe, and the United States is rapidly approaching that percentage. Latex and memory foam mattresses can be some of the most durable mattresses made, making them a superior investment. These foams help reduce pressure points by promoting better capillary blood flow, are inherently antimicrobial and can be bent to fit into very tight areas. Additionally, latex foam is temperature neutral. And just like conventional mattress sets, latex and memory foam mattresses are available from extra firm to ultra soft. Latex foam has been in existence for more than 100 years, and memory foam has been used since the early years of the U.S. space program. Mattress Mart has extensive knowledge of the production, assembly, durability and support characteristics of these foams.
Your Comfort Is Key: Why A Mattress Feels Hard or Soft
After becoming familiar with the support unit, you should focus next on finding a mattress that meets your comfort preference. Comfort comes from the padding materials placed upon the support unit, and is commonly referred to as the upholstery and/or quilt. Typical mattress upholstery layers can include material such as: insulator pads, cotton, polyurethane foam, super-soft foam, convoluted foam, memory foam, and latex foam, all common upholstery layers. Mattress manufacturers frequently combine these foams with a natural or synthetic fiber to offer better comfort and flame retardancy. It is important that these fibers be pre-compressed so that they do not take a set. A good mattress should contain enough padding to conform to and eliminate the gaps between the bed and your body. Recent research proves a product with too little padding can constrict blood flow and create painful pressure points, so be sure to select a mattress with an adequate amount of high density foam of your preferred softness for maximum comfort.
Advances in technologies have allowed manufacturers to create a wide range of foams that vary in softness and density. A foam's density refers to the weight of a one cubic foot piece of that foam. A foam with a higher density has more material available to provide cushioning and support. A foam's softness is measured by its Indention Force Deflection (IFD). This IFD number represents the number of pounds of force needed to press an 8" diameter disc a distance of one inch into a 15"x15"x4" piece of the foam (e.g., a 25% deflection). The higher a foam's IFD, the harder the foam will feel. When a bed is labeled as extra firm or plush, the manufacturer is describing how hard or how soft the mattress feels (its IFD), not its level of support. These comfort descriptions are not standardized, and can be quite subjective, so be sure to lie down, as your initial comfort opinion is one of the strongest indicators of mattress preference.
How well padding materials are attached to their support unit is also very important. When assessing a particular model, turn the mattress on its side and see if the top panel falls away excessively. Some manufacturers attach their foam layers loosely to create the illusion of a very luxurious product. Unfortunately, constructing a mattress in this manner allows the foam to shift, shortening mattress comfort life and creating excessive body impressions. Bed making is a skilled science and quality manufacturers pay attention to detail at every step of the assembly process.
One additional point. There is no substitute for visiting a well-appointed sleep shop and trying out different mattresses. Selecting a mattress is a very subjective process and the guidance of your individual opinion is the most important tool we have in finding the product that best suits your needs. Marketing devices such as online surveys and pressure mapping pads are represented as being able to select your bed. Nothing could be further from the truth. While well-thought questions help to fine tune your mattress selection process, preprogrammed pictures and results from a machine can in no way serve as a replacement for your lying down and sampling these products.
Boxsprings And The Purpose They Serve
The boxspring, or foundation, is the bottom piece of your sleep set. Just as a house needs a strong foundation, so does a quality sleep set, so don't overlook this part of the mattress equation when making a purchase. For a mattress set to function properly, the foundation needs to maintain a firm, flat surface at all times. Older large-coil boxspring designs are good shock absorbers, but they have a tendency to allow the mattress to sag. None of these designs are appropriate for modern one-sided mattresses. Today's one-sided mattresses will work best with heavy duty semi-flex or wooden platform foundations. These foundations are both rigid and provide a solid surface to minimize the possibility of a matterss sagging or depressing.
"Should I replace my foundation?" This is a question we are often asked. A new mattress will not be warrantied when placed upon a worn foundation. The reason for this is not to force the consumer to buy a complete mattress set, but to instead help ensure that your new mattress will not sag prematurely. We are happy to help you purchase only the product that you would like, but a careful examination of your existing boxspring for defects is imperative if you are considering a mattress-only purchase. Another, and equally important aspect pertaining to the longevity of your mattress and boxspring, is to be certain that your bed frame has the proper required center support.
Bedding Warranty Versus Expected Comfort Life
The warranty is an important part of a bedding purchase, but it only covers defects in workmanship - not the gradual loss of comfort and support. A mattress warranty does not describe mattress quality or predict how long the bed will last. This is instead expressed as the comfort life, an estimate of how long the bed, with proper care, will maintain a consistent feel. Some companies offer excessive warranties on products of inferior quality, knowing that many consumers mistakenly equate a longer warranty with higher product quality. You should never equate a mattress warranty with quality or comfort. When salespeople focus on mattress warranties instead of mattress components, they usually do so because the actual mattress features are not worthy of consideration. Expect a ten-year full warranty with any premium sleep set. With proper care, many quality mattresses can last twice that length of time.
Realize that the manufacturer, not the retailer, provides sleep set warranties, and these warranties apply only to matching sleep sets (with few exceptions). While the warranty does originate from the manufacturer, the warranty will only be valid if the product was purchased new from an authorized retailer. Avoid resellers, wholesalers or people selling products out of a remote location. Should you need to have your sleep set replaced, a large national company is usually easier to deal with. They maintain larger customer service networks, do not require you to transport items to their factories and generally replace instead of repair defective merchandise. As part of our superior customer service, Mattress Mart is certified by all the brands we offer to inspect and replace products that qualify for warranty service.
Reserve a fair amount of time when shopping for a mattress. Wear comfortable clothes and test the beds in your normal sleeping position. Bring your partner along and consider at least a queen size set for optimal comfort. Begin by defining your comfort preference. Lie on a few beds that offer the same grade of support, yet feature different levels of comfort, such as a cushion firm, a plush and an ultra plush. When evaluating comfort, trust your initial impression - research shows it to be very accurate. Once you've picked a favorite, ask to see other mattresses providing similar levels of support and feel. Evaluate the costs, benefits and features of the beds, paying particular attention to the support unit, foundation and padding layers. Compare two beds at a time, always eliminating the one you least prefer. It's that simple!
If It Sounds Too Good To Be True...
...it probably is. At Mattress Mart, we never participate in these or any other deceptive pricing policies.
50%-75% Off Claims: Factually, these 50%-75% "reductions" are false. A store will claim an inflated regular or comparison price and subsequently promote that mattress set as 50% off, even though it is always offered at that "reduced" 50% off price. Don't be fooled - perceived savings have no actual value.
Large Discount Coupons: Another deceptive practice occurs when stores offer large discount coupons. This looks like a great way to save, but a bed that should sell for around $499 might be priced at $899. Just before you leave, the salesperson will produce a special "comeback" coupon dropping the price by $100-$300. You think you're getting a great deal, but in the end you'll still pay too much for a bed that should sell for only $499.
Free Televisions: This is the newest gimmick, where the price of a television or applicance is added to the cost of the mattress and represented as being free. A mattress set that previously cost $1099 will now be advertised at $1599 with a "free" television. As one marketing specialist once said, "It's amazing how much people will pay to get something for free."
Clearance/Wholesale Centers: Beds here are often represented to be first quality, slightly damaged or overstocks with a full factory warranty. In reality, these tend to be the warranty returns or defective items that are sold off by many manufacturers, and mattress companies never offer a warranty when mattresses are used, defective or damaged. Be sure to do your research.
To avoid these and other pitfalls, simply look at the final price you'll pay and compare. At Mattress Mart we offer the guaranteed lowest price every day.